As the Transcontinental Race approaches, riders all over the world are getting their equipment dialed in. Jeff from Factory5 is taking on the Vlaanderen to Istanbul course on top of a new disc cyclocross bike the shop has been developing. He’s running a super tight setup with Revelate bags, a SON hub, the Plug and other essentials. Head to Factory5’s blog for more information and best of luck, Jeff!
Photo by Kyle Kelley
That has gotta be one of the slickest chainring and crankset combination. The Factory5 Lattice ring and vintage Suntour track. It’s almost like they were designed for each other.
After looking back through all 800 photos I shot while on bicycle tour through China with Mission Workshop and Factory 5, I had a hard time breaking it down to a cohesive gallery show.
What I began to notice were themes in the photos, not apparent as I flipped through the files, but when I printed out a selection of photos, they began to tie in together. These themes represent not only my eye for cycling in urban environments, but also my background education and professional career as an architect.
China really changed my perspective on the world as a whole. I saw beautiful landscapes destroyed in the name of progress and capitalism. I witnessed a precious and old culture wiped out to assimilate with a preconceived notion of luxury. Everywhere I looked, I saw western civilization to blame.
Globalization, our desire to own and consume had changed China. Granted I had no benchmark for the status quo, I could only gather enough information through examining the landscapes.
The Chinese build for the sake of building. Supply and demand is a skewed balance, tilted in the former’s favor. This growth is unwarranted and most importantly, uncontrolled.
So where did this bike tour fall into place? It was, after all, Mission Workshop’s idea. While I was given no direction, no instructions, I did have really, complete freedom to do what I wanted.
We had an agenda: test out the new US-manufactured Acre clothing while riding a bicycle through some of the most polluted areas of China and document the trip for a gallery show. Was it successful? I’d say so…
Which brings me to this post: a selection of 50 photos, all shot with my Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400. These photos break down into illustrative observations, all of which are noted in the photo’s title. Some are obvious, others are not.
You’ll see the themes fairly easily and I’d like to hear what you have to say about them. Feel free to critique / comment, just be polite and constructive.
Factory 5 has refined their F550 frame and debuted the F550S. 1 1/2″ tubing, carbon fork and a slick new paint job are just a few of the upgrades. See more information at Factory 5!
The guys at Factory 5 in Shanghai just launched their newest product, the Lattice chainring:
“The Lattice Chainring is one of our proudest moments in F5 history. We went back to the drawing board with this one and came up with something technically innovative and intrinsically beautiful. In other words, it’s freaking light and euphemistically gorgeous.
Precision CNC milled from a single piece of 7075 aluminum, the dual-plane cutouts maintain strength whilst reducing the chainring’s weight to a mere 78g. We’ve radially brushed the ring and had them deep anodized to give the industrial feel we strive for at F5… and the result is something we’re chuffed to say is made in China.
It comes in 144BCD, Black, Slate and Silver, 47, 48 and 49T.”‘
I’m stoked on these! Pick one up here!
The crew at Shanghai-based Factory 5 are some talented folks. They’ve been working on designing, developing and fabricating track bike goods in China. For them, it’s actually quite an easy task because they live just miles from the factories. One of their recent developments is this precision CNC milled, intricate dual-plane lattice cutout, prototype 7075 aluminium track chainring that weighs less than 80g.
So solid guys! I’ll post more once they’re available.
Here’s a video trailer promoting a series of webisodes that Mission Workshop is working on with the Werehaus, showcasing our bike tour in China:
“Setting out from Shanghai, John Watson and Mission Workshop began their cycling tour of China’s Yangtze River Delta. Using both film and digital formats, Watson photographed the surroundings and encounters with the local community. Led by their friends from Factory Five, they headed into a frenetic network of massive residential complexes, large industrial parks, and super highways. At first glance, the route seemed straightforward, however, the reality of the 1,000km trip was far more intense than anyone expected.”
This is the sixth layout of the 2013 PiNP Calendar, entitled “Into the Void”. The camera, lens used and location are noted on the bottom left of the document.
During my tour in China with Factory 5 and Mission Workshop, we often found ourselves riding into the unknown. When visibility is low and you can’t see more than half a mile ahead of you, who knows what lies ahead. Part of that mystique is what made that trip so unique and photos like this barely scratch the surface of what it was like to ride through the countryside.
Right Click and Save Link As – 2013 PiNP Calendar: June
It’s almost the weekend and I shouldn’t even have to tell you to get out and ride. I haven’t shown any of my film photos from China but I can let these two slip through. It’s Jeff, MMC and Tyler from Factory 5 ripping out of the bamboo forest…
Last month’s tour was one of the best months of my life. China was, albeit a bit taxing at times, incredible and that’s all thanks to the crew at Factory 5. One of those dudes is Jeff and this is his no frills Factory 5 F550 track bike. Bare aluminum, black components and my favorite rims, this bike is clean!
I have to admit, it’s my favorite from the group and that’s mostly due to the utilitarian nature of the setup. Sometimes, there’s risers and a front brake, other times, compact drops. The gear range is spinny and as Jeff proved by smashing it up some serious climbs, he’s well equipped for anything…
Another one of the Factory 5 track bikes that was on the bike tour was Tyler’s. This 61cm frame has quite the component kit on it. Most interestingly, one of five pairs of H+Son carbon fiber wrapped Formation Face rims. The aluminum rims were thinner, to compensate for the wrap, resulting in a lighter rim. They’ll never see full production, because they were a pain to fabricate, but they look great laced to Dura Ace 7600 36h single side track hubs. Tyler’s also riding Paul Royal Flush cranks, which he’s had for over four years in China with no issues.
This is the third prototype of the forthcoming Factory 5 aluminum low pro frame, with smoother welds. The final version will still have a few revisions. Factory 5 has been working on this particular model frame for over a year, revisiting the geometry before making the final version. It makes their motto “We Build. We Ride” even more fitting.
I wanted to photograph his bike after the tour, muddy and all, as a recording of how fucking dirty his bike got riding through China. I’m going to miss hanging out with Tyler. He’s like my metal brother in China…
Check out Factory 5’s current frame offerings here and more photos in the Gallery.
As I ease back into normal blog content, I’ll be posting some of the bikes that the dudes rode on our bike tour. The first of the bunch is owned by one of the most famous track bike riders in China, MMC. The story goes that MMC was one of the first people in Shanghai to really embrace track bikes. When he wasn’t tearing through the streets, he was scouring the internet for deals on vintage Italian and Japanese components and frames.
Once he started working for Factory 5, the guys made sure he was on one of their new prototype aluminum low pro track frames. These frames look great with their classic lines, true track geometry and a 1″ threaded fork mixed in with oversized and shaped tubing. This particular frame is the third prototype. Many changes will be made for the final production model.
You can build them out however you want (you’ll see more examples). MMC usually rides his Zipp 404 laced to gutted Novatek hubs (upgraded to titanium bits and ceramic bearings) but we put the HED3 on for the photo shoot. Even his cranks are balleur. Campy C-Record Pista with a custom manufactured carbon chainring. He literally contacted a local factory to make it for him (53 x 18).
It’s a slick bike and he rode it like a champ on our tour. It really has one of the meanest stances I’ve seen recently in a track bike… Check out Factory 5’s current frame offerings here.
These past few weeks have been absolutely incredible. Our bike tour was easily one of the most exhilarating rides I’ve ever been on. To be concise, it was an eye-opening experience. I really thought that I knew what China was all about but almost immediately, I realized my preconceptions vastly polarized. My anxieties about some situations subsided, as the harsh reality of globalization’s effect on a ancient land settled in.
There’s nothing that can prepare you for the realities that hide on the outskirts of the city. As my film gets processed and scanned, I’ll begin think about how I’ll present my experience on paper. Right now, I feel like I’ve been nursing a two week long hangover. My body aches, my head is pounding and my lungs need some recovery time. So would I do it again? Of course.
When it’s all said and done, I’ve met some truly amazing people and had the opportunity to share all these experiences on bikes with them. I’ll say in confidence that we all will walk away from this trip with some great memories and for that, I’ll always be thankful to the communities that we rode with, the towns we stayed in and the guys at Factory 5.
Until next time, Shanghai, zài jiàn.
As the culmination of the Mission Workshop China Bike Tour with Factory 5, we threw a huge party last night. 700 bottles of beer, 2 Pocari Sweats and a few 2 liters of Sprite brought in around 400 people throughout the evening. Shanghai’s bike scene is a mix of ex-pats and local Chinese riders, so the crowd was quite interesting from a westerner’s point of view. I had a mini-photo show from some photos I posted on the site, James played some rough-cuts of the Mission Workshop videos and Shanghai brought the fun.
Tomorrow morning we all leave China and I still haven’t even begun to process this trip. I’ll share with you some thoughts later on, but for now check out some narrated photos from the party in the Gallery!
Last night, we arrived in Shanghai, where we’ll stay until Monday night. Saturday night is the Mission Workshop party at Factory 5 where I’ll be displaying some of my favorite digital photos from the trip. There will be mountains of free beer, good music and great people. If you’re in Shanghai, roll through!
Unfortunately, Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook and even Gmail (sometimes I can load it up) is blocked in China, so regular blog posting won’t commence until I’m in Australia on Tuesday (your Monday). Thanks for understanding and if you sent an email, there’s no need to forward it again and again, I received it…
Expect some more Shanghai-related posts to go up periodically over the next few days, including bike portraits, so stay tuned.