Look at the product pages of any industry-leading race bike manufacturer and you’ll find selling points riddled with esoteric jargon: “Kammtail aerodynamic tube shapes; seatmast decouplers; integrated rotor covers; weight-saving carbon layup for stiffness and compliance…” The works. The language is so overly technical nowadays that, without pictures, you might question whether you’re even browsing bicycles at all.
If you’re a competitive roadie on the quest for race-winning marginal gains, then these features appeal to you. But what if your days of getting between the barriers are seldom few? Instead, what about bicycles for those who ride?
You know them. You see them interspersed in every local weekend get-together. The prospectors of panache, the café connoisseurs, the two-wheeled traditionalists. These folks prioritize such things as “outright dependability, unrivaled ride-feel, and minimally clean aesthetics” over any minuscule technological advancement that might make-or-break a World Tour professional’s chance of winning on race day. Consider them the prideful “pros of going slow” and a bunch who savor every pedal stroke of those long days in the saddle. A collection of peddlers near & dear that shares a mentality I wholly endorse.
When fatherhood came along, riding became less frequent for me. Now, when I go out for a pedal, my priorities are very simple. I ride to clear my mind and focus on the present; to truly experience what my eyes see in the moment. Not to just pass things by, but rather truly experience them.
I’m rarely without a camera on my bike. The two share a symbiotic relationship. The bike is my tool for escape; the camera helps keep record. Riding is about venturing out, physically and emotionally far away from my day-to-day reality; indulging the senses and experiencing a good dose of humanity; and bringing home a captured collection of special moments that I can share with my family and friends. Photos serve as reminders of moments that coalesced into being present with nature.
In order to get to these moments free of distraction, I chose a build kit that requires little to no maintenance, just “chain lube and go.” According to today’s standards, we may as well call this an “analog” bike. No batteries that might run out, no hydraulic brake lines to bleed, and certainly no motors to help me up a hill… Powered by hard work and controlled by steel cables.
When MASH SF designed their steel All-Road frameset, they got it all right. Combining legacy aesthetics with modern frame geometry, MASH created the perfect Swiss Army knife. All form and function. The All-Road features linear tubing; sharp, iconic angles; and a no-nonsense, zero-fuss look. These subdued framesets are spec’d with phosphate dipped butted steel, then sprayed with a matte clear finish and gloss clear artwork. At the tubing joints, you’ll find neat & tidy welding beads; the braze-on cable guides are a nice handcrafted touch.
To complement the frameset, I carefully chose specific bits that honor the ‘workhorse nature’ of this frameset, while retaining just a bit of understated style. The build spec is as follows:
● MASH steel All Road frame and fork (12mm thru axle F/R)
● Chris King R45 center lock hubs (red)/ HED Belgium plus rims
● American Classic 700 x 35 Kimberlite tires (tubeless setup)
● Easton EA90 cranks (50/34 rings)
● Chris King bottom bracket (black)
● Shimano 105 11/34 cassette/Ultegra chain
● Shimano Ultegra front and rear derailleurs
● Shimano Ultegra mech shifters (cable actuated brake)
Now, I’m not gonna get up on here and tell you how light this bike is or how much faster it is than other bikes. You probably already know the quality of each part selected on the build too. This bike is purpose-built for strength and reliability. The frameset comfortably clears 35mm tires, I think I will be switching these Kimberlites out for something a little smoother. The thru axles provide a nice bump in stiffness and give the bike an overall contemporary look. The frameset rides firm and predictable, yet supple both on and off road.
After compiling this original photoset, I polished off the build with a Simworks Obento rack, Wald 137 basket and (you guessed it) a Swift Industries Sugarloaf. Now complete, I had to include a few more updated images (see the final portion of the gallery above).
This photo set is an ode to the type of riding I do as of late. Observing the details of life and enjoying the movement of cycling out here in Santa Cruz, California. The route pictured here started in Felton, went up and over Bonny Doon, and down into Davenport. It was your classic California summer day with some modest cloud cover here and there. A nice slow jam to make sure I caught the sunset proper.