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Inside / Out at Bender Bicycle Company of Fort Collins, CO

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Inside / Out at Bender Bicycle Company of Fort Collins, CO

I’ve always wondered if there was something special about the water in Fort Collins that makes it a hotbed for legendary bicycle frame builders. Is the Poudre River’s clean mountain water that so famously supplies New Belgium, Odell, and numerous other local breweries in some way responsible for the wildly beautiful frames made by the likes of Black Sheep Bikes, Oddity Cycles, or Moonmen Bikes? Well, the answer is probably not, but Fort Collins’ water is delicious and it’s a great place to build bikes. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting with the Choice City’s newest framebuilder, Will Bender, of Bender Bicycle Company. Will has been making frames part-time for a handful of years now, with some truly beautiful machines under his belt, and he just recently moved into a new shop space to start building full-time.

Below, let’s take a look at Bender Bicycle Company as well as some of Will’s recent customer builds!

A Shop Visit to Wildflower Cycles in Superior, Wisconsin

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A Shop Visit to Wildflower Cycles in Superior, Wisconsin

Back in June of 2021, I found myself way up north in Duluth, Minnesota. I was there with my teammate Kait Boyle for a Backcountry Bike Challenge fundraising event for the local advocacy organization, Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) and to ride the Duluth Traverse. COGGS had been working on the 45-mile-long Duluth Traverse for years, building and linking together trails on the highlands above town, and we wanted to experience what they had created. But this was also a trip back to where I spent quite a bit of time as a kid that grew up just a couple hours to the south near Minneapolis, albeit in a decade when there were far, far fewer trails in the area. I’ll save the story of just how impressive the Duluth Traverse is for another time since you’re probably here to read about Wildflower Bicycles’ beautiful bikes rather than beautiful trails. But first, let me share why I was especially excited to visit the shop of a new-to-the-Midwest frame builder and the only one in the Duluth-Superior area.

TUNED: A Black and Asian Owned Boutique Bike Service Shop in Brooklyn, NY

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TUNED: A Black and Asian Owned Boutique Bike Service Shop in Brooklyn, NY

It seems like only yesterday, Tijon Randall was wrenching client bikes in the basement of his Brooklyn apartment due to COVID-19 shutting down shops across the country. Prior, Tijon was one of the mechanics at a local bike shop in Manhattan when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak, including the one he worked at. Thankfully, Tijon’s relationship with clients was strong enough that the demand for repairs, maintenance, and builds kept him afloat as everyone was trying to figure out how and when it was safe to re-open stores and businesses again. This new reality showed that he might be able to fulfill his once-longshot dream of opening his own shop. And just like that, TUNED, a boutique bike shop in Brooklyn, New York, was born.

Megan Dean’s Frame Building Class at Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown, PA

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Megan Dean’s Frame Building Class at Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown, PA

The Philly Bike Expo brings together folks from all over the country each year, many of whom have transformed the event into a gathering of some of the finest frame builders in the world. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years attending the show and documenting these awesome builders. While at the show in Philly, I often approach it with a mission in the back of my mind to bring good friends back to Johnstown, PA where I live. It’s a place that desperately needs more cycling culture.

A couple of years ago I did just that and, with fingers crossed, I sprung this question on Megan Dean of Moth Attack: “This bike is unreal, it’s truly a work of art, have you ever thought about teaching a frame-building class?” I think Megan said something like “Funny you should say that… I actually have been.” I responded by telling her that I have a friend in town with a special spot we could use called Center For Metal Arts. It’s filled with light, a fire, and the glow of forged metals most days of the week. Not familiar with CMA? No problem, read on.

A Pit Stop at Roly Poly Coffee in Bozeman: Vintage Threads, Old Trucks, and a Madrean Touring Bike

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A Pit Stop at Roly Poly Coffee in Bozeman: Vintage Threads, Old Trucks, and a Madrean Touring Bike

I still look back at my time in Austin, Texas, with the fondest of memories, thanks to the many people I met while living there. I got to know the most amazing, down-to-Earth, truly unique souls in the five years I called Austin my home. Many of which I’m still quite close with today. A few have since moved on to other cities and are doing big things in their respective new homes.

One of which is Taylor Wallace, a fella I met at Flat Track Coffee years back and have since gotten to see the life he’s made for himself in Bozeman, Montana, where I’ve been visiting for a little over a week now. Taylor owns a coffee company which he operates with his brother, Gavin, called Roly Poly Coffee. We haven’t featured many coffee shops here at The Radavist but Roly Poly, as an extension of Taylor himself is much, much more…

Analog Artisanship in the East Bay: A Shop Visit with Vernacular Sewn Storage

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Analog Artisanship in the East Bay: A Shop Visit with Vernacular Sewn Storage

You might recall seeing the half-frame bag from Vernacular Sewn Storage (VRNCLR) on the prototype Super Something gravel bike Adam Sklar had at Ruta del Jefe. VRNCLR is the Oakland, CA – based bag company of maker Tom Gilpatrick. Tom has been working in sew business for some time now, currently focusing on bags for bikes and also Go Fast Campers (GFC). Earlier this summer I was in the Bay Area with filmmaker Justin Balog and we had a slice of time before heading to the airport to catch flights home, so stopped in to visit with Tom and check out his space in the eclectic O2 Artisans Aggregate.

Inside / Out at Santa Barbara’s Boom Boom Bike Room

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Inside / Out at Santa Barbara’s Boom Boom Bike Room

I met Alex when he was probably 15 or 16 years old in our local Santa Barbara bike shop Velo Pro. I had recognized him from punk/hardcore shows and I vividly remember him wearing a Minderaser shirt. He came up and was like “what’s up dude I’ve seen you at shows I had no idea you were into bikes!” After that he and I became close friends and over the past 10 or so years I’ve watched him and his wife Erin get married, open two businesses, and have a child. These two not only have, but live, that DIY lifestyle they are no bullshit about anything and it’s been awesome to watch. As soon as they told me they were opening a bike shop next to their barbershop I knew it would be something special. They’ve curated a style unlike anything seen in Santa Barbara and have built an entire community around the bike shop. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gravel grinder, BMX wheelie kid, or a commuter you will be welcomed into the Boom Boom family. If you’ve never been to Boom Boom Bike Room just imagine the video of Bad Brains playing CBGB in 1982 as the intro to The Big Take Over is starting and then the entire room explodes. That’s the energy that Boom Boom is putting out in our community!

You’ve Got a Friend in Middle Tennessee: A Shop Visit with Amigo Frameworks

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You’ve Got a Friend in Middle Tennessee: A Shop Visit with Amigo Frameworks

When I started working here at The Radavist full-time last fall, one of my first projects was collaborating with Jarrod Bunk on the builder galleries he photographed at the 2021 Philly Bike Expo. It was a great project for me at the time, as I got to interview many of the builders about the bikes they showcased and, more generally, their individual framebuilding ethos. Designing and building bicycle frames is, for the most part, an individualistic pursuit and I always enjoy learning about how builders’ personal backgrounds and experiences become physically manifested in their craft. As alphabetical order would have it, the file folder labeled Amigo Bug Out was the first I opened and I instantly fell in love with the bike I found inside. The Bug Out had everything I’d been looking for: shreddy geo, setup versatility, innovative design solutions, beefy tire clearance, and badass artwork from my buddy Casey Robertson.

After a few emails and brief phone calls with builder Zach Small of Nashville-based Amigo Frameworks, I was more than stoked to put my name on the list for the initial run of Bug Outs. Zach and I ended up talking even more over the following weeks and when we determined the bike would be built and painted in time for the annual Gosh Darn Gravel Gathering, we hatched a ridiculous plan for me to travel to Nashville, build up my bike in his shop, and then ride GDGG together. Ergo, from the coverage we’ve already shared, I had a great and productive time with Zach and I not only returned home with a hellova fresh bike, but also a new friend… or I should say amigo.

Continue reading below for an immersive look inside Amigo Frameworks and to hear more about Zach’s path toward becoming a full-time framebuilder!

Inside Caletti Cycles: Bikes Made In Santa Cruz From Ti and Steel

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Inside Caletti Cycles: Bikes Made In Santa Cruz From Ti and Steel

Santa Cruz, California, is home to many wonderful framebuilders and many of which we’ve documented here on The Radavist over the years. From Rock Lobster to Black Cat, and Hunter Cycles, there’s no shortage of Shop Visits from the area to browse. However, one shop I’ve long wanted to document is Caletti Cycles, so when the Chris King Guest House event happened earlier this month, based out of the Caletti Cycles shop, I made sure to photograph this wonderful space along with one of John Caletti’s recent personal builds.

Let’s check out what goes on Inside Caletti Cycles below!

Rock Lobster Has a New Cobble and a Look at The Chris King SSMTB 29er!

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Rock Lobster Has a New Cobble and a Look at The Chris King SSMTB 29er!

Lobsters don’t have a home, per se. Rather, they move across the rocky ocean floors searching for a cobble or den. In many ways, Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles has been looking for a new cobble for the past few years, bouncing to and fro various shop spaces, all within a mile of each other. His new space, however, might just be the best yet.

On my recent trip out to Sea Otter, I swung through to catch up with Paul. It’d been over two years since the last time I saw him and as he’s one of my favorite builders to hang out with, I was looking forward to spending some time talkin’ tubes with him. Read on below for a Shop Visit as well as a look at the Rock Lobster singlespeed 29er from the Chris King Guest House event…

Campfire Cycling in Tucson Stokes the Bicycle Camping Flames

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Campfire Cycling in Tucson Stokes the Bicycle Camping Flames

The intersection of cycling with other outdoor activities is where my mind has been for the past few years. Bikefishing, bikerafting, bicycle touring, and the like all bring together cycling with outdoor recreation. A few retail environments come to mind that encourages not only cycling but these adjacent activities. Most prominently in my mid-term memory is Circles in Nagoya Japan, and recently, I found myself at Campfire Cycling in Tucson with camera in hand. While there, I documented a few of the shop employee’s personal bikes, as well as the space itself. Let’s take a look below!

Developing a Craft: A 35mm Look into Chumba Cycles Production

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Developing a Craft: A 35mm Look into Chumba Cycles Production

It has been a little over a year since we relocated Chumba Bikes to our new, bigger, and brighter shop space in South Austin. We have yet to host an open house here due to COVID and trying to keep our staff as safe as possible. I approached Vince about doing a 35mm photography project to share our new shop space along with the hands that have moved Chumba forward. To showcase our new shop I shot a month’s worth of photos and compiled this gallery. I’m excited to give you a peep into our world at Chumba!

Punk Rock Stitchworks: A Shop Visit with Alpine Luddites Custom Bag Makers

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Punk Rock Stitchworks: A Shop Visit with Alpine Luddites Custom Bag Makers

“Our driveway is rough.” Those are the words John Campbell of Alpine Luddites used to describe the windy, undulating, treelined drive, freshly blanketed in seven inches of snow, tucked away in the quiet town of Westmore, Vermont. It’s an understatement — a theme that emerges as you pick Campbell’s brain about his work making ultralight and durable bikepacking bags and backpacks for outdoor endeavors.

His shop is located on a picturesque fourth-generation Vermont family farm of 1,100 acres, a place secluded enough that your cellphone welcomes you to Canada as you crest the hill of his aforementioned driveway. Around the back, past the woodshed and out toward the fields, you’ll find Campbell’s workshop. It’s an idyllic setting that easily could have been the setting for a Hudson River School painting in the mid-19th century.

Visiting Atom Cycles: Handcrafted Steel Bicycles and Components From the State of México

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Visiting Atom Cycles: Handcrafted Steel Bicycles and Components From the State of México

Dulce Ortiz and Wladimir Labraña are the couple behind Atom Cycles, the handmade bicycle building project in Ojo de Agua in the State of México, just outside of México City. What started as a love story between a Mexican woman and a Chilean man isn’t mine to tell, but it resulted in the fusion of the expertise of a graphic designer and a metal construction technician to bring to life fillet brazed bicycle frames, racks, and an expanding range of bicycle accessories.

Grand Rapids Urban Singletrack with Mitch Mileski, His All-City Electric Queen, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company

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Grand Rapids Urban Singletrack with Mitch Mileski, His All-City Electric Queen, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company

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.

Manufacturing with Passion: Velocity USA’s Grand Rapids Wheel Factory

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Manufacturing with Passion: Velocity USA’s Grand Rapids Wheel Factory

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.