Category Archives: Reportage
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Squid’s Fuck Off Johnny SSMTB

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Squid Bikes: Fuck Off Johnny Single Speed Mountain Bike

Squid owners Chris Yoshio Namba and Emily Elaine Kachorek brought their newest frame platform, the Fuck Off Johnny. These hardtail mountain bikes were serendipitously named by Paul Price, owner of Paul Components when he expressed “So what’s going on with your new bike? The Screw Off Susie? Or the Fuck Off Johnny?” to which Squid replied, “you mean the Shred to Eds?” So when the time came to name their new mountain bike, they knew what to call it.

These hardtails fit a 3.0″ 27.5″ tire or a 2.2″ 29″ tire, are designed for a 120mm travel fork, use stealth dropper routing, and come in at a pricepoint of $1,400 for the frame. From there, buyers can pick up some cans of Spray.Bike and go to town, designing their own custom paint jobs. For Chris and Em, they take their painting jobs to heart, designing elaborate schemes in vibrant colors.

Chris used random scrawl from his travels to cover his frame, wheels, and bars in a green color scheme, while Em focused more on pastels. Each bike has loads of character and it was damn impressive watching them crush these steep mountain rides on single speeds.

The Fuck off Johnny will be in stock early August. You can make a deposit and see more details at Squid.


Follow Squid Bikes on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 17, 2018 3 comments
Golden Pliers is Portland’s Newest Bike Shop!

Just a few, short years back, when people shifted their nomenclature from “bicycle touring” to include the term “bikepacking,” there weren’t many brands or shops for that matter, that catered to outings such as overnighters all the way through extensive tours. At least not compared to today’s offerings. Just about every day I read about a new product that claims to make our time on a loaded bicycle easier, or more pleasant, and as you can imagine, there is a lot of filtering that has to happen in order to cull this seemingly endless parade of new products.

That’s where the local bike shop model comes into play. My favorite part about visiting any city are the shops that make these places tick and in Portland, Oregon, there are so many shops around that specificity is the name of the game for survival in the ever-struggling retail economy.

One of the ways shops – and brands for that matter – have found the key to survival is by carefully cultivating a selection of products that have been thoroughly vetted by either the shop’s staff or close friends of the shop. The only way to determine the feasibility of a product is to actually use it, right? I’ve noticed this happening a lot, the culling down of the bike shop. In many ways, this makes for an easier retail experience, from the customer’s perspective and the owner’s. (more…)

Jul 16, 2018 20 comments
I’m Not Stopping: Lael Wilcox on the Navad 1000 – Rugile Kaladyte

Day Two on the Navad 1000
Words by Lael Wilcox, photos and intro by Rugile Kaladyte

In June, Lael Wilcox raced the Navad 1000, a 1000KM mountain bike race in Switzerland with over 100,000 feet of climbing. Bikepacking races are typically a lonely affair, where riders pedal in solitude without support or company. Switzerland is a small country with huge mountains and heart.

Willi Felix, the race organizer, would like this race to be more accessible to newcomers. As such, he encourages people to come ride with the racers and allows the racers to accept unexpected trail magic. In addition, at the halfway point in Finsterwald, there is a Navad 1000 depot where racers can leave a box of supplies to refuel them for the rest of the race.

On the first day of the Navad 1000, Lael rode nearly 300KM, riding past all of the other riders while they were sleeping. She slept for a couple of hours in a hikers’ hut, packed up her bivvy and got back on her bike. (more…)

Jul 12, 2018 24 comments
Rule the Mountain on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 Titanium 27.5+ Hardtail

One of the challenges of writing about and riding bicycles is finding your flow. Sometimes both just seem to propel themselves, and other times you hit a dead end. Luckily, my time on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 was not the latter. Rather, upon the first shakedown ride, I knew I was going to love riding this bike because of one reason: specialization.

Now, hardtails, while simple in their form, come designed for many specific uses. Within this realm of mountain bikes there is an endless combination of design and geometric tweaks, resulting in a bike that can either be tuned for a broad spectrum of riding, or a very specific niche. All this goes without saying, but you can design a hardtail that will climb exceedingly well and descend like a three-wheeled skateboard. Or descend like a banshee and climb like a one-legged pig. While most of these experiential data is subjective, a few key features are just straight up objective.

Currently, the cycling industry is at an all-time low, as in, the bikes are longer and lower – which is a good thing, but there’s a tipping point. A bike that rides well going up as well as going down, is going to have to strike a balance to reign supreme on the mountain. Luckily, that’s where the Vendetta rules in the Kingdom of mountain bikes. (more…)

Jul 10, 2018 27 comments
Vote for Your Favorite Speedvagen from the Workshop Build Off

Being a part of this project, if by only being the person who shot the photos of each bike, was a lot of fun. The Vanilla Workshop was brainstorming about what the next bike should be in their Ready-Made program when someone had the bright idea of including the public vote in the decision. That’s when the #WorksShopBuildOff was born. The idea is simple; ping some people/personalities/bike shops/artists to design their bike of choice, with or without concept, be it merely style, or art canvas. Then, Vanilla would build the bikes up and YOU, the public would get to vote on each, determining which will be part of the Ready-Made program.

You can do this a few ways; take to social media, use the #WorksShopBuildOff hashtag and post one of these photos of the bike of your choice, vote at our Instagram, or you can simply vote in the comments here, by saying 01, 02, 03… for your vote, and last but not least, you can head to web and vote at Speedvagen. Let’s get it started! (more…)

Jul 9, 2018 69 comments
Into the Woods for a Dungeons and Dragons Themed Wildcat

Into the Woods for a Dungeons and Dragons Themed Wildcat
Photos by David Smith, words by Hans Van Housen

On the 1st of July 30-some people showed up for the Dungeons and Dragons-themed Wildcat. Wildcats are alleycat-style checkpoint races, but on dirt, and with no experience necessary. These champions came to the Santa Cruz Forest above UCSC to prove that the Sharpie was indeed mightier than the sword. Four checkpoints scattered about the woods stationed with wizards and space wolves. Each racer had to throw a 20-sided dice and if they threw an 11 or lower they would have to spin in a circle 20 times. If they threw higher then a 12, they’d get their manifest signed and head to the next checkpoint. It was madness. (more…)

Jul 8, 2018 16 comments
Skip Town on the Speedvagen GTFO

I’m up in Portland to document the Vanilla Workshop Build-Off bikes and hang out in town for a few days. We’ll go into the event in-depth later, but the gist is, there are six bikes on display designed by various brands and individuals, of either completely new concepts, or simply a new paint scheme. The attendees and web-users will get a chance to vote on the best bike and that will become the next ready-made bike.

One of those bikes is perhaps the most unique builds to come from the Speedvagen brand. The team began with the idea of the Urban Racer – a stripped down, fast-paced, innercity bike – and expanded on its usage to the city and beyond. After design meetings and prototype, the GTFO was born, a bike designed to get you out of the city as fast as possible for an overnighter.

The GTFO will come with Syntace dropouts, making it easy to run either geared or singlespeed, in two models; the PRO model will come complete with Andrew the Maker bags, a painted to match bullmoose cockpit, and ZIPP wheels, or the normal package, which comes sans bags, a standard painted to match stem, and EA70ax wheels.

If this bike gets the “people’s choice” vote, it’ll join the ranks of the OG-1 and Urban Racer in Speedvagen’s Ready Made program and price will be determined then. We’ll be posting at a later date with details on how to vote!


Follow Speedvagen on Instagram.

Jul 6, 2018 41 comments
Golden Saddle Rides: Andrew’s Fairdale Rockitship Chubby Road Bike

This build, like many that arrive as a box of parts and roll out the door of Golden Saddle a beautiful, functional completes, is just filled with great details and components but the thing that ties it all together is the fork. The fork was made by our friend Carlos, aka Weld Street Loco / Dark Moon Fab Works. Carlos lives in Los Angeles, where ha has worked for numerous fabrication companies over the years, before switching to work full-time on frames for Aaron Stinner, and finally, setting up his own shop. Andrew wanted a steel fork for his steel Fairdale Rockitship and Carlos built one to the same spec as the stock fork, but with a few added bits of functionality. He was planning on building it up as a chubby road bike but equipped for light touring and bikepacking. Hence for the need to have bosses on the fork to carry a rack or cargo cages.

The rest of the component selection is on-par with a lot of builds rolling out of GSC’s doors. Not because of the trend but because these are made by people like you and me, who really love bicycles. They love them so much that they want to make the best parts to their abilities, right here in the USA. … and Japan!

Andrew plans on taking on the Oregon Outback route this fall, so wish him luck!


If you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.

Jul 5, 2018 37 comments
Riding Mountains on the New Santa Cruz Bicycles Bronson and 5010 in Los Angeles

Tyler wanted to get a limited slip differential installed in his Volvo 142. The problem is, Tyler lives in Santa Cruz where he works for Santa Cruz Bicycles in the design department, and the Volvo experts were down in Long Beach. No one wants to drive from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles on the weekend, and the shop was closed then anyway, so what’s a dude with a slick Volvo to do? The genius of this whole ordeal was that Tyler, and David – two design department dudes at Santa Cruz Bicycles – were able to convince their bosses to let them ride the newest bike models down in Los Angeles, allowing Tyler’s car to get worked on while we shredded some of the area’s best trails. I’m sure it didn’t hurt to have me offer to show them around, ride the new bikes and obviously tell a story about the whole shindig. Sure, this is about the bikes, as much as it is about showing Tyler and David Los Angeles’ best trails in a condensed, two-day experience.

Playing host in Los Angeles is as much fun as it is hard work. Hard in the sense that these are my local trails that I ride quite frequently, so seeing the “new” in the familiar can be photographically challenging. Add to that, technically I’m injured. I found out right before the guys rolled into town that my pinky was indeed broken from a collision with a Prius’ side view mirror one day while I was riding home. That incident happened almost a month prior. Bummer for me, my bike control, and the potential to have a full-on shred fest, but I was so excited to ride the new 5010, so I sucked it up, taped my finger, and clipped in… (more…)

Jul 3, 2018 20 comments
Keep Santa Cruz Cross – Chris Corona

Keep Santa Cruz Cross
Photos and words by Chris Corona

I’ll never forget when I first moved to Santa Cruz, standing in line at the grocery store and seeing mountain bike mags where tabloids usually sat. I rode XC MTB for several years in Philly and I just moved to MTB heaven. The dirt here is soft, smooth and loamy. The scent of the redwoods paired with the ocean mist is a smell like no other. The weather is mild and fog can roll in just as fast as it burns off, depending on nature’s mood. The scenery is like no other here – seeing a visitor’s look on their face staring at a giant redwood is priceless. Seeing the look on their face when they are standing on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, just 20 minutes after the giant redwood is even better. (more…)

Jul 2, 2018 39 comments