The playful, go-anywhere-themed Element + Pelago Silvo collaboration hits Richard Pool hard with a heavy dose of teenage skateboarding nostalgia. Read on for his review (and accompanying playlist!) for this bullmoose-equipped and gravel-ready commuter, built around an eccentric bottom bracket for the singlespeed conversion this bike is asking for…
Let me set the scene: it’s summer 2002 and you’re going into ninth grade. Your best bud and your entire family are on a road trip to your grandparents house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You’ve both been watching Transworld Sight Unseen on repeat and the VHS is for sure in your backpack. Tosh Townend is a young pro rider for Element Skateboards, and his part in that video is burned into your memory as a building block for style and motion. You’re an instant fan. When his part ends, you hear The Shins’ “Caring is Creepy” for the first time during a rider transition montage. Without a doubt the editing and timing with the music is nothing short of art in your eyes. It is five minutes and fifteen seconds of perfection that lays the foundation for your life to come as a designer. For most of the 11-hour drive you are swapping pirated mixed cds with stolen songs from a collective of skate videos owned by a rotation of friends.
During your family’s trip to Santa Fe, you go off on your own; you’ve grown up in a town of 2,000 people and this is your first taste of traveling and exploring a new city on wheels. You stumble onto Ramierez Skatepark and spend a few long hour days there. You have enough money in your pocket for some Taco Bell for lunch and nothing else. You leave the park to find street spots and stumble upon a huge set of concrete bleachers at the Santa Fe High tennis courts. You spend hours filming here, even then preferring to be behind the lens, not in front. This is your youth, it’s a week of unforgettable summer. It’s before cars, or relationships, jobs, or drama. This shapes you as a person.
Twenty-ish years later, you are a full-grown adult, who has just bought your daughter her first skateboard. You goof around on your board as she learns the basics, (she’s still at an age and skill level that a nollie big spin, or pressure flip, is impressive and frankly you will never let go of those tricks, so you’ll take the cheers). Every morning starts with a commute in a city that still makes you feel like you are that kid exploring, though this time in a much more efficient manner. One headphone is in your right ear and “Caring is Creepy” pops on thanks to your Spotify DJ. You ultimately “left” skateboarding back in college when bikes became the next life chapter and is still the only passion that has ever come close to rivaling skating. The song instantly transports you back to that summer in 2002 as you look around and notice ledges, small stair sets, and skate spots you otherwise would have blown by.
At the right time, with the right ingredients, life can hand you such a heavy dose of nostalgia it hits like a drug.
Now, that intro is hefty, but it points to this: you never escape your past, you simply mold into a new version of the same person with each new experience. Did all of that have me clamoring to review this bike the second I saw it? You fucking bet. I’m a firm believer that nostalgia and a killer story are the best marketing tools of all time. So Pelago and Element, y’all got me, but I’m stoked to be here.
Pelago Bicycles is a European brand based in Finland that many people stateside probably haven’t heard of, and if you have, it’s likely because of their racks and accessories. The brand is built on a foundation of using the bike as a means of transportation, and as a way to break out of urban gridlock and put some wind in your hair. Most of all, they are skateboarders and this has tremendous influence on the company and the bikes across their entire line, not just the Element Collab. Their bikes are affordable, simple, well designed, and built to be ridden hard.
The Element + Pelago Silvo can best be described as a true hybrid. With large enough tires to be a fully capable gravel bike (specced with 700 x 45c WTB Riddlers) and bullmoose bars for cozy maneuverability, it’s a commuter that can do more by all definitions. It retails for 1495.00€ or roughly $1600 USD. The frame shows off classic elements—capped seat stays and a lugged fork—blended with a tig-welded main construction. The bike features an eccentric bottom bracket shell which, to me, seems like a very European standard though it’s not seen as much in the US, yet it’s a practical and smart way to make a frame quickly adaptable. The Silvo could easily be converted to singlespeed by loosening the two pinch points and rotating the BB insert that the actual bottom BSA bottom bracket threads into. The fork has a cast lugged crown and classically curved fork blades, finishing in QR dropouts front and rear. All cables are routed externally and my pre-production review sample had a Shimano parts kit rather than the production specced microSHIFT version.
Visually, the paint scheme is clearly the first thing that will grab you. The vibrant mix of orange, blue, teal, and hawt pink of the “Element Camo” colorway is almost brush-stroke painted on over the off-white base. It gives me bird vibes but I could be rorschach-ing that into existence. As you take in the bike, the bullmoose bars are another eye-catching feature. They give a vibe of vintage mountain bikes, yet on this build with such a classic frame shape they push the build toward the mean side. Like a killer deck graphic, a bike’s style is something that can always grab me. Everything I know about style comes from skateboarding and this bike looks like it was made for a skateboarder—it only looks better in motion. The Silvo comes with Pelago’s own Aluminum Commuter Rack (note: production models ship with the silver version; I had a black one already built, so I installed that instead).
Off the bat you feel the idea here; you know that friend who you ride with that can’t stop bee-boop-ing off every single curb, log, or hump in the trail? This bike was made to turn you into that person. Without the rack mounted, the bike is maneuverable, smooth, and utterly skid-able. The handling definitely lands on the snappier side of things with such a short stem and wide back-sweeping bar. With a board and beers up front the handling is slowed down a hair, but stops short of being floppy. Big tires are confidence inspiring and make the ride quality as smooth as they come.
In terms of fit, with the short bullmoose setup the bike is fairly upright and a hair compact for my body type. Often, I found myself riding with untucked fingers, palms as far forward as I could get them to increase the length while on smooth flat pavement. By no means is that a deal breaker. The Silvo comes set up with an impressively large gear range with a 34T up front and 11-48t cassette in the rear. There is not much this bike can’t handle in terms of hills or light singletrack, though you can find your top-end speed if you are hammering on the road rather quickly.
Pelago’s Commuter Rack is a product I am super familiar with after having owned one for three years and using it on three bikes. The setup process is simple with eleven bolts to assemble the rack and connect it to the fork. It does need a drilled fork crown and eyelets near the dropout. The rack has three different plates that mount at the bottom to accommodate for different angles and distances between eyelets. There’s even a low cross bar so you can run front panniers. Pelago’s website lists an acceptable axle to crown range of 357 mm – 401 mm, which a lot of forks on the market fall into. I’ve carried everything from 24 beers to my ILE Porteur Rackbag stuffed to the gills with picnic materials on it with no issues. It’s a great rack and I mean that with all sincerity; it can be found online for about $80.00 USD.
While on the Silvio, I took joy in the constant reminder of my skate past, and found myself taking new routes instead of the traditional commuting patterns I’ve settled into over the past seven years. Cutty alleys, and new roads lead to new “cycling spots” and ideas of out-and-back one-on-one cyclocross drag races popped into my head (hey Portland, who wants to help me make this happen?!). Bikes and skateboarding have this in common: they can bring energy and unlock creativity in you, through motion and enjoyment. It’s a state of mind where you don’t actively feel like you are thinking, but then a big idea pops into your head, sometimes one so big you are compelled to chase it. This bike did that. Almost every single good idea I’ve had in my career can be pinpointed to a ride. It’s simply where I think the best. What else could you ask for in a commuter than to help foster these ideas, this openness as a human, while navigating your community?
I pedaled this bike home from my final day of work at Speedvagen. That day a new chapter of life was beginning but it ended with a commute, just like every other work day of the last seven years. My eyes were especially open, focusing on each pedal stroke. As the bike propelled me into the unknown future and what might be next, I was actively trying to take in the moment.
“O-o-h Child” by The Five Stair Steps came on Spotify, a classic soul song used in Transworld’s First Love video from 2005. Ryan Gallant skates to the music and opens his part with some dialogue. Ryan says: “There are plenty of people who say, ‘What? You are how old? And you still ride a skateboard?’ I can explain to them why I love it, but unless you do it, you will never really understand it.”
To me this hits the nail on the head, and I put bikes and cycling on this exact same level. You don’t know the feeling unless you do it. There are no two other things in life that feel so similarly in my soul. I’m seeing more and more skaters cross into the cycling world and I love it, from the Crust crew, to John Rattray here in Portland doing the Why So Sad Mission. I’m here for it, this crossover of the two most creative worlds I know is only just beginning and I know there will be an explosion in due time. Element and Pelago were just first to do so and they did a killer job.
You will never know how a bike review can lead to self-reflection and optimism for the future, until it does; once you feel it you want to do more. Maybe this isn’t even a review? But I must say it feels pretty damn good to put it on paper.
Thanks to Element and Pelago for making this happen. I love brands who do things differently, who follow their own path. Pelago is doing exactly that and I’m excited to see what’s next from them.
- Frameset: L (60 cm) Pelago Silvo TIG-welded DB 4130 Cr-Mo (in Element Camo) w/ Pelago Silvo lugged DB 4130 Cr-Mo
- Fork: Pelago
- Handlebar: Pelago Silvo Bullmoose integrated handlebar and stem, Polished
- Headset: 1 1/8” Aluminum, Cartridge bearing, Polished
- Shifters: microSHIFT ADVENT X Shifter SL-M9605 1x10s Trail Pro shifter
- Brakes: Shimano BL-MT401
- Brake Levers: Shimano BL-MT401
- Cassette: microSHIFT ADVENT X Cassette CS-H104 10s 11-48T
- Chain: KMC X10 EPT
- Drivetrain: microSHIFT ADVENT 10-speed
- Cranks: Forged Alloy w/ chain guard, 34T, 175 mm, Silver
- Bottom Bracket Sealed cartridge BB, 68 mm BSA, 117 mm
- Hubs: Shimano FH-M4050, 32H, Black (rear); Shimano HB-M4050, 32H, Black (front)
- Rims: Pelago STD Double wall aluminum rim, 700C, 32H, Black
- Tires: WTB Riddler 45C, Tanwall
- Seatpost: 27.2 mm One-piece Aluminum, Polished
- Saddle: Pelago Outback, Black
- Kickstand: Aluminum double kickstand
- Included Accessories: Pelago Commuter Front Rack Aluminium Large Polished, Pelago Bottle Cage Black
Crumbs’ Skating Playlist
- Montage – Transworld “Sight Unseen” / The Shins – “Caring is Creepy”
- Shiloh Greathouse – Transworld “First Love” / Echo and the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
- Marc Johnson – Video Girl “Yeah Right” / Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
- John Rattray – / The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
- Guy Mariano – Fully Flared / Band of Horses – “Funeral”
- Chris Cole – Transworld “in bloom” / Misfits – “Die, Die My Darling”
- Mike Mo – Fully Flared / Arcade Fire – “No Cars Go”
- Stefan Janoski – Transworld “Subtleties” / Modest Mouse – “Paper Thin Walls”
- Dustin Dollin – Baker 2G / The Pixies – “Where is My Mind”
- Heath Kirchart – Transworld “Sight Unseen” / The Moody Blues – “Nights in White Satin”
- Kevin Long – Emerica “This Is Skateboarding” / The Cure – “Close to Me”
- Ryan Gallant – Transworld “First Love” / The Five Stairsteps – “O-o-h Child”