I love bourbon but over a year and a half ago, I quit drinking, so my love for the brown Kentucky whiskey has been put on hold. Last year when I drove up to Portland to shoot the bikes of the Chris King Open House, the team there hooked me up with a set of their ultra limited Bourbon hubs and headset as a thank you for shooting 19 bikes for them. When this color was teased at NAHBS, almost three years ago, my head imploded. No matter what I could do, however, Chris King said that Bourbon wouldn’t be a color in their catalog. Something about not being able to get the color consistent. Bummer! They did however, have a small batch aging in their archives. When I was gifted the Bourbon parts, I had to make a bike worthy of such a kit.
Ok, that’s not fair, to be honest, I’ve wanted to make a drop bar touring bike ever since my Geekhouse was stolen, but have just waited until the opportunity presented itself. Enter Darren Larkin, the builder of the Crust Dreamer frames. Darren lives in Los Angeles and makes the Dreamers for Crust. Usually, they’re just stock geometries, but Darren and I worked with my custom parameters to make a custom Dreamer to fit my specific fit requirements. I took my Bourbon parts and looked at complimentary colors, settling on Prismatic Powder Coat’s “Bullfrog Belly,” which is a departure from the Earthtone themes of my other bikes, but still visible without being fluoro.
I’m sold on SRAM’s Eagle technology, but right now, there’s no compatibility with drop bar levers, so you’re stuck with either a trigger shifter on the flats of the bars, or hacking away at a Shimano shifter like Benedict has done, or Microshift has a 12-speed barcon that works with Eagle – much better than I expected I might add! Paired with my favorite cranks made by White Industries, I had the drivetrain figured out. For bars, I went with the Sim Works GSC bars, a Paul Boxcar stem and post, Paul Klampers, TRP Levers, Brooks Cambium with a new Outer Shell saddle pack, Serfas bar tape, those King hubs with Santa Cruz Reserve rims and WTB’s Venture 47mm tires. I even saved a pair of the King Cage cerakote cages we made with Black Magic Paint for this build. Eventually, I’d like to add a SON hub for USB charging and lighting, but that will probably be a bit down the road.
Currently, I wanted to shoot the bike without bags, but the Dreamer is suitable for light touring with a front rack, a rear bag support, and a frame bag. Any number of bags will fit this bike, including a randonneuring bag, or a Fab’s Chest, or even a bikepacking bar pack. My frame bag fits in nicely and any number of rear saddle packs or micro panniers will work on the rear. Looking at this bike’s profile, you’ll note the wheelbase, chainstay length, and trail as being a bit more like an all-road and less like a touring bike.
I’ve accepted the fact that long distance, multi-week tours are not realistic for my schedule these days, and when I do tour, it’s usually ultralight, so a bike like this is perfect for what I view as touring. Don’t expect to see four panniers and a trailer on this thing! I am however hoping to do some all-road touring this year and even if that means taking to my backyard in the Angeles National Forest.
Thanks to Darren for working with me on the geometry, Chris King for the Bourbon gift, and Golden Saddle Cyclery for building up the bike!