In addition to riding some amazing purpose-built singletrack in my former hometown of West Michigan this past summer (more on that to come!), another highlight was linking up with Mitch Mileski for a very unexpected type of trail riding. Mitch manages the Fulton Street location of the Grand Rapids Bicycle Co. and, having also grown up in Grand Rapids (just much more recently than me) he knows the city very well and was generous to show off a few hidden gems. I met up with Mitch early on a moody weekday morning with a typical summer weather forecast calling for a 50% chance of precipitation.
During a visit to my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI this past summer I stopped in at Velocity USA, purveyors of finely shaped and colorful formed aluminum. Jill Martindale – resident endurance racing aficionado and winter weather lover – graciously took time out of her day to show me around their manufacturing facility. I’ve been a fan of Velocity for quite a while (still have a 20ish-year-old set of Deep Vs kicking around) and was very geeked out roaming around the factory with Jill, observing the precision processes that go into creating each rim and wheel build, and meeting the folks that make it all happen.
In the mountains of the State of México, about two hours by car to the west of México City, there’s a little town named San Simón el Alto; in this town, there’s a house which would pass as any other house save for the sign that reads “Bebidas exóticas”, exotic drinks, and an outdoor bar, a Biergarten if you will, with chairs in an inviting position. Wandering in the garden, a big turkey makes sure everything is in order and slowly approaches whoever stays idle for too long, be it dog, cat, or person. To the right there’s the house and one of the doors opens up to reveal two sewing machines, rolls of Xpac and Liteskin, and a few half-made bicycle bags. This is Peregrinus Equipment, the bike bag enterprise run by physicist, cyclist, and nature enthusiast Nicolás Legorreta.
Here in the Quaker City of Philadelphia, we’re blessed with a number of reliable shops in just about every corner of town. Shops for very serious racers, shops for mountain bikers, shops just for anyone in the neighborhood in need of help getting around on two wheels. We’ve got ‘em all and plenty of ‘em. Keystone is one of Philly’s newest shops catering to all kinds of bikes with an emphasis on everything rando, touring, and bikepacking.
My partner Karla and I find ourselves in México City after what feels like going in and out of a pipe from Mario’s world. The truth is we took a plane, but after so much time of having this trip in mind, it takes a while to assimilate that it’s actually happening. We spend an afternoon putting our bikes together and some bolts later they’re ready to take us around this city; we feel quite intimidated by its size and the never-not-honking cars but the bike paths that have emerged over the recent years make riding much more manageable. Coming from a place that’s pretty much at sea level, the 2200 meters of elevation squeeze our lungs on the slightest uphill and when we arrive at the address on our map our hearts are beating fast. There’s no sign outside the place but a rack full of bikes indicates we’ve made it to Básica Studio, home of frame builder Eli Acosta.
In a dank and dark industrial basement lies the realm of a modern wizard’s apprentice, where they envision, then create their disruption. Where they derive their power and what sacrifices have been made to get to this point are a mystery, though the products of their spells are obvious: rideable works of art, built to enable transcendence for those lucky enough to partake.
While Em has been known as the WZRD. for many years, I feel like they truly began their apprenticeship when they began crafting their dreams from raw steel. Harnessing the divine intelligence of ancient magic, Em’s long-standing moniker became their expressive direction. The alchemy and creativity of the craft became their passion, but this is no average wizard.
WZRD. bikes officially launched in early 2020 with a focus on progressive geometry and progressive politics. Unapologetic about their radical ideologies, Em forges forward. At the front of the wave, WZRD. geometry is the kind of thing you’re going to see on “progressive” production bikes in years to come. That’s always been the beauty of custom, but not all custom builders have such radical ideals.
Based in Victoria, BC, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Em’s designs are inspired by their own relationship with the environment as much as the shortcomings they see in production bikes. We’ll get a bit deeper into the numbers side of Em’s bikes tomorrow, but suffice to say they like their reach long, their bottom brackets low, their seat angles steep, and their head angles slack.
I have been internet friends with Irlanda for so long that I don’t even remember how we started communicating. What I do remember is that she told me she had the dream of making bicycle bags and accessories but at the moment, sewing fancy dresses are what paid her bills. Settled in the México-USA border city of Tijuana, she has been dressing brides and quinceañeras for over twenty years and it was around fourteen years ago that she started riding a bike to get around. As she took part in organizing group rides, she sewed hip bags and gave them away as an incentive to attract more people to ride, and that’s how sewing bike bags became a hobby. Along those two decades, she started growing tired of the high fashion world while at the same time she made more bicycle accessories, but still, the money flowed mainly from the people who came to her from either side of the border to get their dresses made.
I shoot as many bikes as I could at the ENVE Builder Round Up in a relatively small timeframe and while I wish I could have gotten to them all, there’s only so much one can do in ten hours. Still, I feel like these last five builders represent the kinds of bikes the readership here at the Radavist enjoys. There are some real gems in this last gallery. Without further adieu, here’s an in-depth look at Weiss, Breadwinner, Moots, a new brand called Pine, and Mosaic…
We’ve got a few more galleries to go through from this weekend’s ENVE Builder Round Up and today we’re featuring the wonderful work of 22 Bicycle Co, Ritte, Speedvagen, Alliance, and Utah’s own, Salt Air. Enjoy!
Continuing on with our 2021 ENVE Builder Round Up coverage – we posted the first Gallery on Friday – today we’re featuring the show-stopping work of Prova Cycles, Naked Bicycles, 44 Bikes, Spooky, Retrotec, and Argonaut Cycles. Each of these builders brought something special to the showcase and a few raised the bar considerably in various ways. There’s a lot to go over here so let’s get to it!
After 2020, I wasn’t sure when I’d be back at events documenting bikes, races, and places. So far in 2021, things seem to be picking up steam and this weekend I found myself in Ogden, Utah at the ENVE Builder Round Up Open House and Grodeo gravel race…
It’s that time of year again! ENVE’s Open House, aka the Builder Round-Up and Grodeo event is this weekend in Ogden, Utah, so I packed up my bike portrait kit and drove up through beautiful summer monsoons to document a selection of bikes from this year’s event. Check out a thoroughly documented stable from the Round Up below, beginning with Chumba, Falconer, Firefly, Mariposa, Scarab, Sklar, and Tomii…
Just past the Animas River and tucked into a neighborhood back alley lies a modified garage holding one of the newer secrets of Durango. There is no signage, no storefront, no Google Maps locator. Nope, your only hint at what lies behind these doors is a subtle triskelion logo on the side door. This is the headquarters for Myth Cycles, the most recent continuation of handbuilt bicycles in Durango, Colorado.
A while back, we featured the photography of Shaun Marcus and the writing of Jon Yazzie in our Reportage section, documenting the Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series. That story took place in Nazlini, AZ, and it served as an introduction to the readers of the Radavist about the Silver Stallion Bicycle and Coffee Works. All last year, the Navajo Nation fought the Covid-19 pandemic, as it spread across the expansive reservation which covers over 27,000 miles of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. This year, with the vaccination efforts pushing forward, I felt like it was finally safe to travel three hours south to Gallup, New Mexico upon invitation to get a first-hand experience of what the Silver Stallion has been up to…
It’s not often that I have to buy a fishing permit to do a Shop Visit but when Why Cycles and Revel Bikes offered up a good time riding and fishing in and around the Western Slope city of Carbondale, Colorado, I couldn’t resist the offer. The collision of outdoor activities is my favorite and knowing a whole weekend of mountain biking and fly fishing awaited me, I was eager to see how it would play out, all while learning about the brands the entire bike industry seemed to be talking about…
Adaptability. Sometimes life provides us with circumstances that are not exactly beautiful. Somewhere among the ugly bits, though, these cracks emerge from the rubble of things seemingly falling apart. I think of that space the cracks create as portals to a different way. These chasms are opportunities if you will. And that’s just it – you must have will.
I walked into the shop and was greeted by an animated guy covered in tattoos. While talking to him, I noticed he was locked onto what I was saying. Paying attention to every detail or timid question I asked, he was ready to help me. Understanding that I was new to mountain bikes, he took the time to deconstruct explanations of the mechanics of a mountain bike. No matter how silly I felt asking a question or calling something by the wrong name, he was quick to politely correct me to ensure I was informed. As we walked through my bike’s features, I could tell he was extremely knowledgeable. Without any hesitation, he was able to explain things, while simultaneously working away. He was in a flow state of mind at this point and there wasn’t much that was going to take him out of it. This ability only comes with an expertise that is unmatched.
Hear me out here, set your preconceptions aside for a bit. Before jumping into today’s Shop Visit, I have to clear the air and give an introduction to the iconography and ideologies which represent this particular framebuilder’s brand…