Category Archives: Reportage
Rudi’s Left-Hand Path and Supernatural Frame Wizardry at Black Magic Paint

Supernatural events are attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature and are not limited to mysticism or black magic, the ability to cull power from these supernatural powers in ways that benefit the holder’s will. Black magic, traditionally, has been linked to the dichotomy of the Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path, two forms of magic, both opposing in the natural and supernational world. While neither is necessarily evil, the notion of Black Magic and the Left-Hand Path has been equated with a rejection societal convention and the status quo, two notions that can hinder the desire for individualism and thus, creativity. Pardon the lesson on black magic here, but bear with me.

In 2016, Rudi Jung of Gold Coast Bicycle Manufacturing and Black Magic Paint was injured in a motorcycle accident, rendering his right hand suffering severe nerve damage, forcing Rudi to adapt his life to only use his left hand. After extensive physical therapy and as you might imagine, much mental adjustment, Rudi decided to leave his Gold Coast frame building operation and focus solely on Black Magic… (more…)

Jul 23, 2018 6 comments
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Sklar Titanium XC 29er Hardtail

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.

Sklar Titanium XC 29er Hardtail

Before the swoops and curves he’s known for, Adam Sklar began his cycling experience riding XC mountain bikes outside of Denver, Colorado where he was born. That was a while ago – at least when you consider Adam is 25 years old – and since then, he’s moved onto making equally capable as beautiful, curvy mountain and all-road bikes. At some point in the last year, Adam decided he wanted to make an XC frame to ride. As humans often do, we tend to revisit our past experiences.

With a tighter wheelbase, a slightly steeper head angle of 69º, and a 120mm fork, the bike might look like some of Adam’s other trail bikes, but the handling of this bike is significantly different. With the Builder’s Camp approaching, Adam took a few days to whip up this frame, in the middle of organizing the whole event. While there’s no set pricing for a Sklar, his frames start at $3,950 for titanium and $2,650 for steel.

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

Jul 20, 2018 5 comments
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Horse Cycles Hell Cat Hardtails

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.

Horse Cycles Hell Cat Hardtails

I’ve always loved the aesthetic of what Thomas Callahan at Horse Cycles produces in his Brooklyn-based workshop. Over the past few years, he and his team have pulled together some beautiful frames. For the Builder’s Camp, Thomas and his friend Nik came out to Bozeman with these two Hell Cat hardtails. These bikes are 27.5+ “East Coast Rippers.” With a 66.5º head angle, designed for 130-150mm forks, and room for 3” tires. Each there are options for the seatstays, downtube, and paint colors. For the stays, a wishbone with scalloped ends is an option. No matter what the tubing selection or details you end up choosing, the work of Ben Falcon Paint will give your bike a unique look with empeccable detailing.

The Hell Cat hardtails start at $2,100 for a frame, plus a fork of your choosing. Head to Horse for more details.

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Follow Horse Brand on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 19, 2018 20 comments
When in Bozeman: Come Together on the Alter Cycles Supper Club Shred Group Ride!

We interrupt what would be more bike galleries from the Builder’s Camp in Bozeman, with an interjection of stoke. Stoke for the ride we did last night and the community at large, with emphasis on that word, large.

Every Tuesday night in Bozeman – during the warmer months – Alter Cycles throws an event they call the Supper Club Shred. It’s an open invite, all-are-welcomed ride, which ping-pongs around the various trails surrounding this quaint lil’ mountain town. Since meeting Mason and Steve from Alter, I’ve been following them on Instagram, checking out the local scene through their lenses and I must say, the internet doesn’t do it justice.

For one, the riding community here is as superb as the riding. Last night, over 50 people showed up for the party ride up to Emerald Lake via one of the chillest and most stunning singletrack climbs we’ve taken on thus far. As a self-described desert rat, I don’t often find myself deep in forests, or lush thickets such as this. With this form of riding comes a summoning of throwback skills from learning to mountain bike in the hills and mountains of North Carolina. Steep, slick, rocks and roots await! (more…)

Jul 18, 2018 23 comments
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.

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

Jul 17, 2018 17 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 34 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