Big tires, short chainstays, double crankset, pick two. Normally. Then there’s the concept of a boost road bike, in which case, pick all three. I call it a concept because there’s a lot that has to go into making a boost road bike a reality. To go from 142mm rear spacing to 148mm rear you’ve got to move things outboard a bit. I’ve seen a number of cobbled together solutions for this, which usually revolve around adopting a complete MTB drivetrain from the bottom bracket spindle, to the cranks, cassette, and chainline. But what about a road bike? Or a chubby road bike? That’s where it gets interesting.
For the past few years, Chris King has opened their doors to the public as part of an entire weekend of events dubbed the Chris King Open House. This event’s intent is to be coordinated with a product launch of their new colors for the year, as well as to showcase what makes their operations tick, and to display a selection of custom bikes, built by some of their best builder customers.
the two new colors for this year: matte turqoise and matte mango.
This year, they sent out an open invite to 30 of their best builder accounts, offering up discounted pricing to them to build a bike for the show, passing on the discount to their customers. Out of those 30 builders, 17 showed up, and they were displayed alongside a Pegoretti bike, which we looked at on Friday. These bikes lined the halls of the Chris King factory, where visitors could look at their features in great detail, chat with the builders about their process, and if they were so inclined, purchase their dream bike.
I was invited up to the Open House to document these bikes for the builders and for Chris King, as well as offering up an ultimate dream bike gallery for you, the readers of this website. Please enjoy! Which bike do you like the best and why? Oh and if you’re interested in one of the bikes showcased here, be sure to reach out to the builders, who are linked in the bike descriptions below.
As noted last year, we lost our 2015 Image bucket do a server swap error. It was a huge bummer when I found this out and have been slowing re-uploading the files. Since NAHBS is right around the corner, I wanted to re-up a few from my favorite frame builders and makers. Included in this re-up are:
An Afternoon with Paul Component in Chico
Inside / Out at the Vanilla Workshop
Inside / Out at Black Cat Bicycles
Todd’s Black Cat Steel and Carbon Road Has 8 Lives Left
Inside / Out at Hunter Cycles
Watch out for the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster!
Inside / Out at Strawfoot Handmade
A few years ago, Todd from Black Cat Bicycles was on a road ride with a friend of his when they were both struck by a car, exceeding the speed limit on the narrow, remote road they were on. It was a terrifying experience as Todd fought to save his friend’s life, while working through his own sustained injuries. At the end of the ordeal, both of them survived, yet with some serious injuries. Luckily no one died and both cyclists can still ride. Ok, something died: Todd’s love for road cycling. Ok, maybe “died” is a bit extreme, but after an experience like that, I can’t say I’d be stoked to kit up and hit the road again.
Todd Ingermansen has been working in the cycling industry for a long time. Too long if you ask him. Since the age of 13 he’s had a presence in bike shops. What began as sweeping the shop floors eventually culminated into being a mechanic, riding bikes and living bikes. Yet, Todd wanted something more. Running parallel to his bike shop jobs was his art school education, where he realized his 2D and 3-dimension eye for details. In his early 20’s he chased his love of singlespeed MTB riding and racing to Oakland, California where cycling completely enveloped his life.
Back then, there weren’t any US manufacturers of singlespeed MTB frames. Or at least none that piqued Todd’s interest, so he began building his own. A few friends helped him out, some frames worked, some didn’t, yet every frame taught Todd something. Eventually he moved back down the California coast, to San Luis Obispo and began fillet brazing. He had built a dozen or so frames before landing a job with Rick Hunter of Hunter Cycles. Under Rick’s torch, Todd began to realize the importance of actually making a bicycle frame, something that stands true even today.
For the past 14 years, Todd’s been building a brand, and a modus operandi to how he believes bicycles should be made. Black Cat Bicycles are unique, arguably unlike anything else I’ve witnessed in my years of documenting framebuilders. Much like his mentor, Rick Hunter, Todd doesn’t just weld a mail order kit of parts together and paint it. He engineers his own dropouts, builds stems, machines metal into whatever he pleases, carves his own lugs and bends his tubing in very unique shapes. For instance, how do you make chainstays that are bent, yet have an ever-so-slight arc to them?
… you better chase it down! After years of knowing Todd from Black Cat Bicycles, I finally got to ride mountain bikes with him and check out his shop. Next week we’ll take an in-depth look at Black Cat Bicycles and how much of a shredder Todd is!
Mark’s Black Cat Gatto Disc All-Road
Photos by Derek Yarra, words by John Watson
Grinduro, the timed segment gravel race in the Sierra Nevada mountains approaches (10.10.2015) and for people like Mark Riedy, it’s the perfect opportunity to get a California builder to construct a dream bike for the event. An race like Grinduro will bring about polarizing opinions regarding what the ideal equipment might be. Some would say a hardtail or a rigid mountain bike, since the descents are technical and the last 12 miles of the course is singletrack.
Others would say a disc “all-road” or ‘cross bike because of the timed road segments and the 20-mile climb. Mark Riedy, Giro’s longtime PR guy, is clearly in the drop bar camp, so he looked to Santa Cruz’s Black Cat Bicycles to build him a bike.
Now, for those of you who know Mark, you can attest to his love of the Gios Torino road frames. They’re classics and Mark is always on the lookout for one in his size. Perhaps this was his motivation when contacting frame painter Keith Anderson, or perhaps he just wanted to have the word “Gato” on his head tube.
I reached out to Mark and asked him what he was trying to accomplish on Grinduro weekend. To which he replied, “I’m riding Grindruo just for fun and to be able to get in a weekend of camping with my family, so it doesn’t matter to me if I win or finish last, but I do want to have the most fun.”
SRAM 1x, Zipp and yes, white bar tape with a white saddle topped off this very modern bike inspired by an iconic classic. A guy who spends most days riding the dry, gravel fire roads of Marin County, Riedy wanted a bike that handled exactly like a performance road bike, but featured clearance for up to 38c tires and disc brakes. For most rides, Riedy runs Continental 28C Gatorskin Hardshell rubber, but for Grinduro he’ll definitely go with something bigger, like a Conti CycloXKing.
See you at Grinduro, Mark! I’ll be on my rigid…
Grinduro still has spots available, so head over to check it out.
Thanks to Above Category‘s Derek Yarra for the photos!
Follow Derek on Instagram.
Todd from Black Cat Bicycles knows a thing or two about mountain bikes. Living in Santa Cruz provides a more than ideal testing ground for everything related to dirt. Over the years, he’s dialed in the geometry on his hardtails and recently, this process culminated in what he’s dubbed the Thunder Monkey.
A few months back, Todd emailed me asking if I wanted to review a production bike he was making. His description was right up my alley “slack and low 29r with a tight rear end.” Some time passed and this incredible frame showed up at Mellow Johnny’s to be built up with various SRAM and RockShox products.
Since then, I’ve been putting this bike through the hell that is Central Texas limestone. How does a bike designed to conquer Santa Cruz bide in Texas? Damn well. Check out more below.