In this shop visit with Saffron Frameworks in London, UK, Sam Rice traces a line from Matthew Sowter’s previous life as a chef to his current trade as one of the most awarded frame builders in the world. Matthew’s skill in transforming basic ingredients into magnificent dishes transfers over into his ability to turn a box of tubes into a frame deserving of the word “perfection.” Materialism may be a concept of the past, but it is very much alive in Matthew Sowter’s craft.
Striking a Different Kind of Gold in Beechworth: Tor Bikes Shop Visit
With the headlights pointing north, I departed at sparrow’s fart, my destination: Beechworth. It’s a little over a three-hour jaunt from Melbourne along the Hume Highway. The drive is punctuated by rolling hills, bouncing kangaroos, and petrol (gas) stations. Historically known for the gold rush of the late 1800s, I was heading there in search of the slightly less precious metal of steel – crafted by the hand of Shane Flint of Tor Bikes.
R+E Cycles Celebrates 50 Years of Community and Manufacturing in Seattle
There have been several storied chapters in R+E Cycles‘ 50-year history but, as Katie Sox describes, the through line has been a commitment to crafting the bikes that best fit their customer’s needs—even when those bikes have five seats. On the brink of new ownership and as they celebrate 50 years of frame building and service, read on for a closer look behind this stalwart in Seattle’s cycling scene.
Bike Piles Filled with Dreams: A Visit to Iron Wheel Trading
On a side street of Hayden, Colorado is an unmarked historical building. At first, I couldn’t even find which door led inside. Essam greeted me and invited me to wander around. Before long I’m enraptured with the stacks of bikes and parts that fill the small space. Once I pull my jaw back off the floor, Essam bends my ear with the tall tales from Hayden, how his shop got its name, Moots history, and the crazy injury that lead him down the path of owning Iron Wheel Trading. In a town that is mostly blown through by people on their way to Steamboat Springs, there is a special treasure waiting for those who stop to pay a visit to Essam and his shop.
Bicycle Boys Clubhouse: The Fixie Kingdom of Bangkok
Up at the crack of dawn, we start our ride through the bustling streets of Bangkok. As the sun struggles to break through the dense smog that engulfs the city, we wrestle and weave through the maddening metropolis. People flood the streets. Market stalls pop up around us, and woks roar as they fire up and perfume the air with an explosion of rich Thai aromas. For once we won’t stop. We’re on a mission, we tell ourselves as we ignore the pull of the pad thai, and arrive at our destination: Bicycle Boys Clubhouse (BBCH).
Tucked away on Charoen Krung – the first road ever built in Thailand – Bicycle Boys Clubhouse is a breath of fresh air. A bike and coffee shop specializing in fixed/track bikes, high-end components, and kick-ass food. Surrounded by an array of artisans, specialty coffee hideouts, and a lowkey vinyl record store, the space exudes a sense of style. But BBCH is more than just a trendy bike shop: it’s a statement and a community.
Centuries of Saddle-Making in Birmingham: A Factory Visit with Brooks England
Although I’ve struggled with a lifelong tendency to overcommit, I’m not a total megalomaniac. A few months ahead of this year’s Bespoked, I asked Josh to make the trip over from Arizona to London to cover the event while I (along with my business partner, another Josh, and an amazing team of volunteers) administered it. Running the show was already a massive feat, and I’d have done a disservice to both the show and the builders by trying to document it at the same time. Josh flew over and covered a huge number of bikes and builders with the diligence and dedication that they deserve (for a refresher, you can view those pieces here and here). It was cool to finally meet the guy on the other side of the emails, as we’d been working together for the better part of a year. During the show we were both focused on very separate tasks, but we made some time for a little road trip to visit the factory where Brooks England manufactures leather saddles, which is just outside of Birmingham in the little industrial town of Smethwick.
Cute, Durable, and Ethical Cycling Bags: A Workshop Visit with Wizard Works
London-based Wizard Works makes decidedly cute, sturdy, and durable bags for cyclo-touring and bikepacking. Founders and owners, Harry and Veronica, are committed to producing everything in-house, sourcing materials from within the UK and Europe, and supporting their small staff with livable wages and a positive work environment. They’ve turned what was once a hobby into a robust brand, now with stockists around the globe. Following this year’s Bespoked, Josh got to play tourist and eat biscuits while getting treated to some behind-the-scenes time at Wizard Works’ new workshop in Greenwich. With their cheerful space, happy colors, and employee-first practices, this is some wizardry where you very much want to look behind the curtain. Read on for more from Josh’s shop visit!
Quirk Cycles and the Kintsugi-Inspired Mamtor All-Road
The Mamtor from Quirk Cycles is UK-based framebuilder Rob Quirk’s all-road model, designed for mixed paved and gravel riding with clearance for up to 700 x 38c tires. The Kintsugi-inspired Mamtor was one of our favorite bikes from this year’s Bespoked where it won “Best Finish,” and today, along with a brief glimpse inside Quirk’s workshop, Rob gives us a full rundown of this ornately-finished machine by Velofique Designs, accompanied by a gorgeous photoset from Nikoo Hamzavi. Enjoy!
Goldfinch Cyclery: A Reason to Come Home
Growing up in rural Iowa, you would’ve never been able to convince me bikes would be a way to go camping. I suppose you would’ve also had to convince me that bikes were cool in general. Either way, my younger years weren’t spent in a saddle cruising down the now coveted gravel roads. Iowa isn’t really on a whole lot of folks’ radar for bikes….heck it’s what most people consider a flyover state. But, back in 2016 I decided to race JingleCross on a whim and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was in Iowa. The only bike I had to race with was my pink Cake fat bike. While putzing around waiting for my race to start, I was approached by two guys who recognized my bike and were familiar with Erik Noren’s work. Logan and Thaddeus told me they had just opened a shop in Cedar Rapids called Goldfinch Cyclery and it sounded like a dream.
Wack Packs and 4.5 Star Bathroom Experiences: A Shop Visit to Oveja Negra
Many moons ago I was looking for a place to park my car as a shuttle vehicle in Salida before the beginning of the second DFL the Divide trip when a friend suggested, “See if you can park at Oveja Negra.” A few Instagram messages later and I had secured a parking spot behind their shop in downtown Salida, CO. When we returned at the end of the trip – unkempt and raucous – we were nonetheless treated to showers and a tour by the incomparable Lane. Her tour was full of ghost stories and other fun histories of their historic building. Coming back so many years later to similar open arms is truly a lovely thing.
The Shed of Shred: A Workshop Visit with Starling Cycles
Midlife crises come in all shapes and sizes. For some, a bright red Mustang relieves the itch. For others, some Eat Pray Lovin’ on a beach in Bali is just the ticket. But for Joe McEwan, Founder of Starling Cycles, chucking in his job as a successful aerospace engineer to build steel mountain bikes in a garden shed was just what the doctor ordered.
In this shop visit, we dig into the brand’s origin story, go behind the scenes at their Bristol workshop and learn why their signature single-pivots and retro rear shocks prove that simplicity never goes out of fashion.
Shawn Gillis Helped Build the Mountain Biking Community in Salida, Colorado
If you stop in at Absolute Bikes, a bike shop in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, Shawn Gillis, with his welcoming grin under a distinct ginger mustache, will likely be there to greet you. Whether you need a flat fixed on your commuter or the brightest bike light money can buy in order to finish the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, Gillis will lend a hand and have you riding again in no time.
But what he really loves is setting someone up on their first mountain bike, hearing about the adventures they want to tackle, and giving them tips about which local trails to start on.
Russ Pope Studio Visit: On Skateboarding, Arting, and Bikes
The artist Russ Pope is a west coaster-turned-New England émigré. Growing up as a skateboarder and an artist, he brought his two passions together at a young age. Creativity has been intertwined with all his outdoor pursuits since, with a portfolio that boasts many skating and cycling collaborations. Hailey Moore recently had the opportunity to sit down with Russ to talk about it all—Read on for a rundown about his life of skating, arting and bikes and to learn more about a Russ Pope drawing giveaway! Thanks Russ!
Inside/Out at Oddity Cycles: Mastering the Dark Arts of Framebuilding
Looking at an Oddity Cycles-designed frame, handlebar, or fork, you might think that it was welded in a circus sideshow tent by a depraved, frazzle-haired, torch-wielding, radical. That these wildly bent steel and titanium tubes, contorted and bonded into freakishly beautiful forms, could only have originated in the darkest corners of a PT Barnum exhibition. And that’s exactly what Sean Burns, founder, designer, and fabricator wants you to think. So, on this eve of All Hallows, let’s pull back the curtain on this iconic framebuilder, and his assistant “Spooky,” along with a close look at a couple of Sean’s personal two-wheeled creations…
Introducing the Argonaut Cycles GR3 Gravel Bike, Shop Visit, and Interview with Founder Ben Farver
Over the years, we’ve done a lot with Argonaut Cycles, from documenting its first shop location to photographing its race team at the Rouge Roubaix and shooting bikes at various showcases. The brand has come a long way in that time and today, after three years of design, testing, and research, they are releasing the GR3, a next-gen custom carbon gravel bike.
While in Bend, OR, recently, Josh caught up with the Argonaut Cycles team for a tour of their facilities and sat down for an interview with founder and designer Ben Farver. The conversation covers the brand’s fully custom in-house carbon frame and component production methods and more. Below, find Argonaut’s GR3 introduction, Josh’s interview with Ben, and an extensive photo gallery detailing the Argonaut fabrication process!
Custom With a Conscience: A Shop Visit with Terra Rossa Gear
It’s 8am and we’re out in the not-so-salubrious outer suburb of Campbellfield, a 45-minute drive north of Melbourne CBD. A bruised-up Subaru sits parked outside an industrial workshop with all its doors flung open, and the sound of Don Williams’s country classic “Tulsa Time” fills the air. With some trepidation, we draw closer. A pair of skis erupt from the passenger side window. Anoraks and half-finished sleeping bags lay strewn across the backseat, while a huge roll of fabric pierces through the car, like that motorway scene in Final Destination 2. Did we take a wrong turn somewhere off the highway?
Singing with Don as he walks down the stairs, Evan spots us loitering by his car. “Hey guys!” he shouts. “Welcome to the Terra Rosa playground! Apologies for the car, it’s not stolen. There’s been an unreal dump these last few days and I’m getting ready for some snow adventures in the high-country.” Of course we were in the right place: we were standing at the palace gates of Terra Rosa Gear.
Inside the Adventure Dojo: A Visit to Curve Cycling in Melbourne Australia
In this shop visit, Sam swings by Curve Cycling’s Melbourne digs and chats with the team about the brand’s history, their team of riders, and, of course, their range of adventure-first titanium and steel freedom machines. Read on to get the full rundown.
Under No Pretext Should Radness Be Surrendered: Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Review and Factory Visit
The Trail Pistol is Guerrilla Gravity’s short travel trail bike with 29″ wheels and 120mm of travel. It’s the type of bike that seemed to fit my riding style, and I was super excited for the opportunity to spend some time with one for a long-term review. Since the factory where these bikes are made is just a short drive from where I currently live, it made sense to combine the review with a more in-depth look at the brand, their manufacturing process, and the modularity of their bikes. The original article was close to 6500 words, so we decided to split it up a bit for everyone’s sake. Next week, we’ll share a slightly shorter article that takes a look at the modular frame platform, new paint schemes for the brand, and the next-gen Gnarvana, which is GG’s long travel enduro bike. Let’s get to it!