Remember that fancy, lightweight, and supple rear tire Bené René used on his Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt build? The one where he got in the freezing water in his skivvies? How could you forget? Well, the testing period is finished with the Cava tire, a file tread, fast-rolling, gravel tire with a plump profile of 47.99mm wide on a 650b diaphragm. Head on over to Ultradynamico to see the specs on the Cava and to pick up one or a pair.
Philly Bike Expo isn’t just about high-end custom, builds, it’s also home to some pretty fine production steel bikes as well, albeit this one is made by Crust bikes out of a Reynolds 831 Tubeset. It has some special parts, special paint, and some one-off parts that haven’t existed ’til this moment. Matt built this romantic Romanceür with a Campagnolo shifter setup friction 11speed that make it through the whole 11speed SRAM X-Dome cassette. The only René Herse cranks set-up with a Made in Maine narrow-wide ring by Derrick Girard and it even has an old Shimano Sharkfin, a new 0deg Nitto X Crust stem, and a set of carbon clinchers. This steel bike is real…light even loaded. If you’re in the market for a new Crust hit them up, you may even be able to beg for that ring, but probably not.
Crust Bikes gives the people what they want and that ranges from frames, to complete bikes, accessories, parts, and yeah, handlebars. Their small-time operation allows them to pivot easily to follow trends and in a lot of ways, set the trends themselves. With road bikes permuting into even more capable off-road machines, a lot of the ideologies of mountain bike design and technology have found its way onto drop-bar bicycles. Sure, the obvious moves are those shorter-travel suspension forks but something that not many people have touched on is bar width.
That’s where Crust Bikes and Ultra Romance have really influenced and inspired the question: what is the appropriate width for a drop-bar bicycle? We already looked at my Sklar with the Towel Rack Bars but after much demand – and my own curiosity – I decided to try out the Made in Japan by Nitto Shaka Bar.
It has been a month since returning from the most recent trip to the US. That’s 4 weeks to digest all the colours, flavours, energy and emotions that come from every foray into the wild world of the United States of America. For this write up I am picking my favorite part – Soft time Tour d’Idaho w. Friends – Not the official name but rather what I recall it as. It was a modified version of the Idaho section of the newly formed Wild West Route. Pioneers of fresh route from Bikepacking Roots!
18 lbs? 17 lbs? 16 lbs? What is weight anyway? Weight doesn’t matter but it doesn’t hurt either. Especially when your golden locks and bronze tan lines float effortlessly across white gravel roads, coating the roadside flora in a light layer of sedimentary seasoning. Dust, baby. It’s good for you. Yes, Ronnie Romance knows how to build a bike from a fine assortment of vintage components, exotic, supple rubber, and a bit of suntan oil. Case in point, his Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt is lighter than a soft whisper.
What do you get when Bené, aka Ultra Romance, aka Ronnie McFly, aka Glistening Gandolf coerces an XC/roadie racer boi into embracing the long and slow lifestyle? Well, you’re about to find out. While Benedict and Sean from Team Dream were working closely on those nifty merino wool bib shorts, Benedict convinced Sean with his silver tongue to build up a dream bike. A veritable ex-roadie 2.0 cruiser, complete with all the iconic componentry of MTB and randonneuring’s heyday, which pinch me if I’m wrong, is always the present time. What you see here is the result of much toodlin’ and many man hours spent scrounging for parts. All aboard a Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt.
If you’re intrigued by Crust Bike’s lineup, particularly the Bombora, then check out this review from Path Less Pedaled.
A bike that’s perfect for its one imperfection. Mick hasn’t ever owned a new bike. Not new, new. Like pulling a brand new frame out of a box, new. It’s not that he was opposed to new bikes, he just never really found a company or a frame that fit his ideologies. Over the past few months however, Crust Bikes‘ offerings have really piqued his interest. He works at Golden Saddle Cyclery, a shop that churns out balleur Crust builds all the time. When he saw the new Nor’Easter, it strummed his heartstrings.
As with all Crust Bikes models, they arise from necessity. The Lightning Bolt is no different. Matt from was on a mission to be able to fly and travel like he used to, but instead of the BMX bike, he wanted to roll with something a little bit faster. Something with bigger wheels that could get him from point A to point B with ease. He wanted to be able to pack it on a plane and roll from the airport to his destination.
Words by Coach Ronaldo Romance Jr. and photos by Team Brooks
(Gallery Photos are 95% disposable film cams that I handed out to the team. Felt like it captured the inner “race” pretty authentically; and the medium was pretty fun in a “trip to the water park” “safe grad night” sorta way)
Booming Billowing Blooping Blurping Gravel.
Even with DK getting as much coverage as the TDF, I trust the pace of the news these days has left your mind blank of such cognizance once again. That’s good, as my memory of competing in the event 2 years ago has also been selectively erased, perhaps that’s why I reluctantly agreed to participate in this particular edition.
I was looking at everyone’s legs. The group of 13 included professional and semi professional racers, life-long athletes focused specifically on their relationship to the bicycle. There aren’t six packs; there’s, like, eight to ten pacs. Some even have muscular faces! How is that even possible to accomplish? Seeing my own soft animal body as lesser than their impressive builds. The grass kept getting greener and greener on the other side of my eyeballs and I felt myself getting smaller and smaller. Where in my body is this discomfort living? I had three days and the grand views around beautiful Big Sur to find the site of where this discomfort lived in my body. Aside from physical discomfort from physical exertion, I came up empty. Instead, I found an interstice where feelings of awe grew and that became my saving grace.
This bike. This freaking bike. When I first built up my Sklar, it was built on the 700c wheel platform. At Lost & Found last year, I swapped out the i9 wheels for the new ENVE G27 650b gravel wheels and haven’t missed the 700c wheels one bit. From there, the bike slowly went under transformations but it wasn’t until I put the Crust Towel Rack Bars on it that I feel like this bike has finally come into its own.
For those not wanting to go into the full commitment into the even large at size small 615mm Towel Rack bars, Crust Bikes worked with Nitto to manufacture a 560mm wide Shacka Bar. There are a few more differentiators, too. Including bar clamp. Shacka Bars are 31.8mm, Towel Rack bars are 26.0 and can be shimmed. The shape of the Shacka Bar is more traditional as well. Got any questions? Head to Crust to see more information and to sign up for an alert when these are in stock!
Crust Bikes Scapegoat V2
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
The Crust bikes Scapegoat or Goat’s pro model has seen some revisions for the upcoming run of frames. In an effort to bring the original model in line with today’s “standards” geometry is based on the longer/slacker mantra but in a completely rigid package. The swap from a 135mm F/R axle spacing to boost spacing allows for a more readily available dynamo hub, and the inclusion of through-axles makes for a more solid, loaded bike. The V2 Scapegoat, in the larger sizes, is designed to be ridden with a 27.5+ tire but will accommodate a 26×4″ tire setup as a single speed, or with an internally geared hub.
Live in the Northeastern Atlantic states long enough and you will come to learn of the macro-scale extratropical cyclone known as a Nor’easter. These storms bring rain, wind, can cause severe erosion on the beaches and in general aren’t that fun, unless you’re a surfer. Coincidentally, that’s where Matt from Crust Bikes came from. The surfing world. If you can call it a world at this point, it’s more like a galaxy. Matt spends a majority of time in New Jersey, at his super sweet shop, and he still surfs, so when a Nor’easter hits, Matt paddles out… These storms inspired the latest from Crust Bikes. While at the Eroica California weekend, I took his Nor’easter ‘light tourer’ out for a sunrise photo session. It still had spider webs covered in dew draped from the salmon pink tubing.
Have you ever found yourself cruising Instagram late at night wondering, lusting after someone’s bike build, and wondering… “what tires?” Well, you’re not alone. We all do it.
And lucky for us, the folks behind WhatBars.com have now put together What Tires? The Bicycle Tire Database. Since launching WhatBars.com, they’ve had a lot of requests for a similar resource for tires, and couldn’t help but give the people what they wanted.
Sim Works and Crust Bikes jumped on board to help support the project, and here we are. The database is still being built out, but you’ll find tires from Sim Works, Rene Herse, and WTB up on the site. Head over to What Tires to compare and keep the rubber side up!
The Crust Bikes Evasion is a production bike that set the bar for versatility in a production bike made overseas. Previously, this sort of frame was only tapped into by small, one-off framebuilding outfits, which can run a pretty penny and have long wait times. Wanting to address this market with affordable options, Matt from Crust Bikes has built his brand off of supporting the niche cycling world’s demands. Only thing is, what was once a small niche is now a substantial portion of the market’s interest and Crust Bikes has grown with it.
Take the Evasion for instance. A do-it-all dirt tourer, designed for the 26+ platform, but will also roll just as smooth on 27.5″ wheels and tires. As Matt from Crust describes the Evasion: “It’s a randonneur bike on steroids, “The Satanic Rando” if you will. Comfortable for the long haul, but fast and nimble, while still being ready for some pretty technical/rough riding; if that’s what the route throws your way.”
What a genius copywriter!
Hanson’s Evasion is raw steel, with a few coats of spraypaint clear, 27.5″ wheels, a 1x drivetrain, and loaded with his brand’s, Dark Realm, prototype bags. How else can you tell if your bags really work without putting them to the test? He races XC MTB races in Austin on this bike, does tours, dirt road rides, trail ripping, and straight up rips the rocky trails of Austin’s Greenbelt on this beast. An ex-pro BMX’r maybe he just feels more comfortable on a rigid bike?
As for the Dark Realm bags, keep an eye on their Webshop for new product drops, or hit him up on IG if you have a request.
Matt’s Crust Bikes What-Would-Weigle-Do
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Matt’s brain – the owner/operator/designer for Crust Bikes – always has rats spinning on a hamster wheel. His affinity for the modern randonneur is apparent in a lot of the bikes he designs. What does a person who could essentially develop any conceivable bicycle that their hearts do, well they start with a simple question? What would Weigle do? Call it an homage or a cap nod to the Concours de Machines that Peter Weigle made a few years ago, the top tube and downtube are cut from longer butted tubes and only the thin-walled center section is used. Matt is a lighter rider so he can afford to run this type of tube set without worry. Fabricated by Darrin Larkin in LA, this is one of one and it’s a beautiful example of pushing the custom bike limit especially when built around a smaller rider.
The build kit is compiled of a lot of René Herse, Compass and of course Honjo fenders, as well as a Chris King Hub/Headset, Ti Record Post and a Berthoud saddle. Yeah, the bike is really light, of course, and there are ways to make it even lighter. Your eyes don’t deceive you there are no bolts in the rear posts, that’s cause the posts are flared. Does anyone have any guesses on the weight?