Framebuilders

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Kris Henry on His New 44 Bikes Full Suspension Steel MTB: the Snakedriver

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Kris Henry on His New 44 Bikes Full Suspension Steel MTB: the Snakedriver

My first taste of full suspension came when I was working as a wrench at a shop in Quakertown PA just after graduating from college and not really having a plan. On mornings off, I’d take out a demo and ride the local trails up on South Mountain in Emmaus. Those bikes were terrible. But at the time, I was young and loving any bicycle I could get my hands on. That was 1998. A degree project when I went back to school confirmed I didn’t have a clue about geometry, handling, let alone suspension kinematics. Fast forward to 2012 when I hung my shingle out starting 44 Bikes, I became solely focused on honing geometry and understanding fit. But deep down, I wanted to build a full suspension bike but I knew I wasn’t ready. Which brings us to the here and now. Things began to click after building hundreds of bikes and dozens of prototypes where I finally felt like I had a grip on geometry and handling. I wanted a new challenge. So in the Spring of 2019, I started acquainting myself with a platform I had largely ignored.

Sturdy Progress: Inside / Out at Sturdy Cycles

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Sturdy Progress: Inside / Out at Sturdy Cycles

Andrew stops mid-sentence, pauses, “ooooooh!…….. Oooooh…. oooooh!” his pitch rises to a maniacal school child giggle of surprise and wild childlike delight, like a two-year-olds first taste of cake. Visceral and uncontrollable joy. “Tom!?! Is this a prototype or is this a FUCKING!…. ok…. That’ll do it!” a long pause of wild-eyed observation glancing desperately around the room, eyes hungry for an affirming reaction but forced to settle for Tom’s grinning but nonchalant response of “yea, they’ve gotten lighter as well”. Another longer pause as dust from Tom’s stoic “yogi bear” response settles, a mumbled and affectionate “asshole.” The recording tapers off into minor expletives, mumblings, and the low noises people make to indicate affection for bits of metal when they’re together in sheds.

the Fairlight Secan MKii

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the Fairlight Secan MKii

The Secan MKii and Faran MKii sit together as a family of products as they share many of the same design features including tire clearance, tube shaping, and dynamo integration. Both models are extremely versatile and they can cover everything from commuting to self-sufficient touring. Whereas the recently launched Faran MKii is a dedicated off-road tourer, the Secan MKii is an all-capable gravel bike.

The Secan MKii features custom-shaped and butted Renolds tubing: 853 DZB down tube, 853 seat tube, 853 top tube, and a 631 CNC’d oversized head tube. Both the Secan MKii and the Faran MKii utilize 14mm stays.

Think of the Secan as a more robust off-road machine with an oversized head tube, larger tubing, but the same fat tire (68mm) clearance as the Faran. Both have integrated dynamo setups, Fairlight’s signature dropouts/brake mount design, and beautiful paint jobs.

Head to Fairlight to see more.

Introducing the Vanilla Classic Road Bike with Custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace

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Introducing the Vanilla Classic Road Bike with Custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace

My normal yearly schedule usually includes a visit or two to Portland, Oregon, a mecca for bicycle framebuilders. Over the years, I’ve been a part of documenting the projects that come out of the Vanilla Workshop, so when a sweet project like this comes along, I like to elevate it to the Reportage section of the site. Sure, this bike isn’t going to be for everyone, nor is it by any means accessible, but as cyclists, we should be able to appreciate beautiful pieces of craft and thoughtfulness. At least that’s how I look at it!

Anyway, this Vanilla Classic road bike build with custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace is a blast from the past… and that’s its intent! Read on below for more words and beautiful photos from the Vanilla Workshop.

Haute Neanderthal: Inside Rock Lobster Cycles

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Haute Neanderthal: Inside Rock Lobster Cycles

Just before Covid hit the US and races were canceled indefinitely, I had a conversation on a ride with good friend Brendan Lehman (who is sometimes, more often than not, known as the official unofficial mis-manager of the Rock Lobster race team) about joining the risk of Lobsters and racing on a custom frame built by Paul Sadoff himself. I’d been riding with the Rock Lobster crew here in Santa Cruz for several years and we all seemed to share a common bond in doing remarkably stupid endurance rides, putting mental and physical limits to the test for fun and adventure. Since I first laid eyes on one, there has always been something alluring to me about a classic, team issue, seafoam green Rock Lobster. Not only will I get to ride and race on this custom bike built for my body dimensions, but I also get the pleasure to ride it with the builder himself. As a photographer, I figured it would be great to capture the build of my custom frame from start to finish and get to know Paul a little better in the process.

The Bikes of the 2020 Chris King ‘Not So’ Open House Part 02: Pursuit, Rock Lobster, Sage, Speedvagen, Sycip

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The Bikes of the 2020 Chris King ‘Not So’ Open House Part 02: Pursuit, Rock Lobster, Sage, Speedvagen, Sycip

With Covid-19 throwing a wrench in the spokes of the traditional tradeshow schedule, even open houses have had to switch to an online, or virtual, format. We saw this earlier in the year with ENVE and now, the 2020 Chris King Open House. While it wasn’t safe to travel to Portland to document the bikes, Chris King’s in-house photographer Jacob Olsen did a stellar job at documenting all ten bikes, while videography team Modify Content knocked out some great, in-depth video profiles of these handmade marvels. We’ve got part two today, featuring Pursuit, Rock Lobster, Sage, Speedvagen, and Sycip, so let’s jump right in…

The Bikes of the 2020 Chris King ‘Not So’ Open House Part 01: Bingham, Breadwinner, Caletti, DeSalvo, Mosaic

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The Bikes of the 2020 Chris King ‘Not So’ Open House Part 01: Bingham, Breadwinner, Caletti, DeSalvo, Mosaic

With Covid-19 throwing a wrench in the spokes of the traditional tradeshow schedule, even open houses have had to switch to an online, or virtual, format. We saw this earlier in the year with ENVE and now, the 2020 Chris King Open House. While it wasn’t safe to travel to Portland to document the bikes, Chris King’s in-house photographer Jacob Olsen did a stellar job at documenting all ten bikes, while videography team Modify Content knocked out some great, in-depth video profiles of these handmade marvels. We’ve got part one today, featuring Bingham, Breadwinner, Caletti, DeSalvo, and Mosaic, so let’s jump right in…

Kyle From Outer Shell’s 160mm Travel Falconer Hardtail MTB Ultra Light Loaded for the CDT

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Kyle From Outer Shell’s 160mm Travel Falconer Hardtail MTB Ultra Light Loaded for the CDT

Northern New Mexico’s section of the Continental Divide Trail is quite the experience and with its popularity, more and more cyclists are coming to New Mexico to ride 70 miles of singletrack over a 90-mile route. One of my friends, Kyle from Outer Shell, recently came through town with his Falconer hardtail to take on the CDT, so I shuttled him to Cumbres Pass and bid adieu. After his trip, I linked back up with him and shot his wild Falconer hardtail, “loaded” for his time on the trail…

The Service Course: Legor Cicli LWTUA Gravel Bike

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The Service Course: Legor Cicli LWTUA Gravel Bike

Hot off the press, fresh out of the kitchen, or brand spanking new. However you want to put it, today’s new build is one mightily impressive gravel bike! Built for Girona-based creative director, Nik Howe, this Legor Cicli LWTUA is inspired by the very place Nik will be riding it in – and specced according to match. But don’t take our word for it; read on what Nik has to say below and check out more photos of this dream bike.

John’s Retrofit Retrotec 27.5 Hardtail with Paragon Machine Works Rocker Dropouts

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John’s Retrofit Retrotec 27.5 Hardtail with Paragon Machine Works Rocker Dropouts

Steel is real. We all have personal paths when it comes to cycling and it’s serendipitous when our favorite bikes can adapt to align with these twists and turns within this cycling journey. My Retrotec has long been one of my favorite bikes. In the time I’ve owned it, I’ve swapped out the drivetrain, brakes, fork, wheel size, yet this latest permutation is easily the most drastic…

Condensare Pack List: Bailey’s Moné Hardtail 29er Loaded Up for Touring the Northern New Mexico CDT

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Condensare Pack List: Bailey’s Moné Hardtail 29er Loaded Up for Touring the Northern New Mexico CDT

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing our Reportage from our tour of the CDT in Northern New Mexico but today I wanted to give Bailey a showcase on his Moné and how he packs for a three-day trip…

The poet Basil Bunting, while poring over an antiquated German-Italian dictionary, found the German verb dichten (to write poetry) translated as condensare (to condense/shorten). This became one of the guiding principles of Modernist poetry;  which would state; “Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost degree.” In my early 20s, I fancied myself a student of Modernist writing and, unsurprisingly, many of its ideologies found a place in my daily life. This concept in particular is one that has remained important to me and thus, my approach to touring/bike packing. If one can distill their gear down to items that have the utmost meaning or necessity, while doing away with any superfluities, the result is a light and nimble bike, allowing the rider maximum enjoyment of the terrain to be traversed without compromising their safety and comfort along the way.

Keeping World Cup CX Metal: Drew’s Aluminum Rock Lobster Race Whip

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Keeping World Cup CX Metal: Drew’s Aluminum Rock Lobster Race Whip

Dearest Reader,

What follows is a recalled conversation between a bicycle racer and his bicycle’s maker. Even at the time, the exchange was fuzzy at best, and over the years, it has grown even furrier, as memories made under these circumstances are apt to do.

However, both parties involved reviewed it and then concluded that the following retelling is about as accurate as it’s gonna get about the origins of Rock Lobster’s current World Cup CX Species, whose latest evolution began a little something like this…

Sage Titanium offers Campagnolo Ekar 13-Speed on their Gravel Bikes

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Sage Titanium offers Campagnolo Ekar 13-Speed on their Gravel Bikes

This morning Campagnolo announced their 13-speed gravel groupset dubbed Ekar and similarly, brands rolled out their build kit offerings with the new group. Sage Titanium is one of those brands and they now offer Ekar on their two gravel models, the Barlow race machine and the monster gravel machine, the Storm King. You can now build a Storm King as pictured with Ekar, a dropper, Shamal wheels, and the whole 9, err 13, for $9,500. It might not be for everyone’s budget but it sure is nice to look at! See this build in detail below and check out more at Sage Titanium.