Mert Lawwil had already been a legendary motorcycle racer for years and was building and selling Harley Davidson flat-track racing frames with Terry Knight when they got the idea to weld up a batch of BMX bicycle frames. But Don Koski of the Cove Bicycle Shop in Tiburon, California (hangout spot of mountain biking progenitors, The Larkspur Canyon Gang), convinced them to make a production run of “mountain bikes” in batches of 50 at a time instead. Mert and Terry had to label and sell these bikes as “cruisers” because most other bicycle shops didn’t understand or want to sell “mountain bikes”…yet.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate something special, the 30th anniversary of Paul Component Engineering. Paul is a close friend, and when asked to come down for the weekend, tickets were booked quickly and preparations began in good faith.
Problem-solving and developing solutions for their customers is one of many jobs that a framebuilder faces when building a custom frame. It’s often said that how well a builder designs a smaller-sized bike that their true talents are revealed and in this case, Amanda’s Falconer is a shining example of Cameron Falconer’s capabilities.
I went to grade school in Chico with Jeremiah and still have a very distinct memory of us running laps around the field at Citrus Elementary. He still has some cartoons I drew of a triangle guy riding a skateboard from back in those days. So it’s a real trip that after all these years, and what feel like many lifetimes to me, life has come full circle and I now find myself riding bikes and going to shows with him all the time in Chico. He almost always answers yes to the last minute “Swimming hole ride after work?” texts I send out, and as a long-time Chico rider, he knows all the cutty local trails.
ENVE has been supporting frame builders, both in the US and internationally for years now and has developed a symbiotic relationship with these artisans, who choose to put their forks, bars, and wheels on customer’s build kit lists. With this catalog of talent at their fingertips, they decided to have an Open House to celebrate not only their factory and offices in Ogden, Utah but the frame builders who choose ENVE to build out their complete bikes.
A few towns over from Downieville, California, where John works at Yuba Expeditions during the summer months, is Quincy, California where Cameron Falconer‘s workshop is. John and Cam knew each other back when they both lived in the Bay Area and since relocating to what is called the “Lost Sierra,” John really wanted a road bike that could handle the area’s veritable Sierra chunk.
It all began with an Instagram post: “why do I have to be Mr Pink?” Selling my road frame and fork, 74 head angle, 73 seat, 59cm effective top tube. Fits someone 6′ to 6’3″ or so. Frame is all True Temper S3 and has less than 3k miles on it. Paint has some flaws and cracking in it, nothing too bad. Frame clears a 27mm tire, fork a 25mm, could also substitute an Enve fork for better clearance for an upcharge. 1000$ with a King headset OBO, buyer pays shipping. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, no direct messages please.”
Isao’s Falconer Mini Velo Got the Baja Bug Treatment
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
When Cameron Falconer posted what looked like a miniature bike on his Instagram a few weeks ago, I don’t think I had ever seen so many people so intrigued by a Mini Velo in my life. It was kind of like that time when Ultra Romance decided to let the world know how cool Recumbents actually were. While I’m still not entirely sold on Recumbents, the Mini Velo has been on my list of super cool bikes that I’d love to own for a while now.
Do you all know what a Mini Velo is? It’s not just a miniature bike, with miniature wheels. It is a bike that fits a large range of cyclists using very few frame sizes, it usually has 20in wheels, a short wheelbase, and a rigid non-folding frame. And do you all know why this bike came into existence? As our cities become more and denser and real estate becomes more and more expensive, people wanted a small compact bike that could fit anywhere and everywhere, but still ride very much like a full-size bike. People wanted something that was compact, able to be brought inside and stored easily, without the proprietary parts and complexity of many folding bike frames.
Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.
Falconer Slacker 150mm Travel 29er Hardtail
The work of Cameron Falconer is for the shredders. The people who put function before fashion, or thrashin’ before fashion. Either way, Cam’s work is thoughtful, exact and to the point. Like a succinct text message, a Falconer gets to the point. The beauty about Cam’s personal bikes is they represent a moment in time, or a perspective on how Cam believes a hardtail steel mountain bike should ride, or rather, could ride. Granted, a lot of this experimentation might be a bit much for the average rider to consume. Take for instance a 150mm travel 29er hardtail. It’d take me some convincing to believe that platform was the right bike for me. Hell, that’s a LOT of bike to be delivered in a hardtail, yet it doesn’t hold Cam back at all.
With an effective top tube of 660mm, a 65º head angle, a bb drop of 70mm, chainstay length of 440mm, a seat tube angle of 72.5º, geometry aficionados might nod their heads in approval. These numbers just make sense. For tubing, Cam uses Vari Wall, Columbus, and a Paragon head tube. To top it off, Cam powder coated it to match his 4Runner in a Canfield blue.
This bike is stout, but secure in its shred-pedigree and watching Cam shred it in Bozeman brought me joy. I’ll be seeing this bike in Downieville this weekend, where it’ll be right at home there as it was in Montana.
This bike was one of my favorite shoots last year and now Travis gives you a look at it in the latest video from Paul Component Engineering. Did you miss the original gallery? Check it out in the Related sidebar to the left!
Shred on You Krusty Diamond: Travis T’s Falconer Throwback Machine
Photos by John Watson, words by Travis T
After an afternoon of looking at cool vintage bikes at Cameron Falconer‘s house, I asked him if he’d be down to weld me a single speed mountain bike frame inspired by old klunkers, with a fork inspired by a Pro-Cruiser (first production mountain bike) with a loop tail. I basically wanted all of my favorite things about a lot of historic mountain bikes, all on one frame, built for me. BUT, I also wanted to showcase as many PAUL Component parts as possible, and I wanted it to feature the new Set-N-Forget thru-axle skewers. I also wanted to ride the shit out of this bike, so I wanted it to have legit shredworthy geometry and no weaknesses or tolerance issues.
Paul Camp is a magical week where Paul Component Engineering invites journalists from all over the US to check out their day to day operations through a series of hands-on workshops. Each journalist is assigned a CNC machine, or workstation and is taught the skills needed to machine brakes, stems, and other components. From there, they camp out on the property, eat sandwhiches and run the machines 24 hours a day, in shifts. This gives the employees of Paul a chance to ride during the week. Everybody wins!
Just kidding. In reality, Paul gives the journalists a tour of the shop, where he walks them through the process of fabricating everything in the Paul Component Engineering catalog. From there, they are able to select a bike from one of eleven builders and go on a ride in the hills of Chico. Swimming usually ensues, along with a Sierra Nevada Brewery tour, some dinner and then everyone goes home. It’s a rad time, or at least I’ve heard it is, because each year, for one reason or another, I cannot attend this Bicycle Journalist Spring Break.
Feeling like I owe Mr. Paul something, not only because we’re friends, but because he had these eleven bikes just hanging out, waiting for a proper photoshoot, I planned on heading up to Chico once I got back from my European travels. Last week, I loaded up the truck and drove straight up California for 10 hours until I reached Chico, Paul and these bikes.
Road bikes. They’re still a lot of fun, especially when you can fit a chubby tire like the Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy in them. Garrett from Strawfoot wanted a new road bike when his daughter Olive was born, thinking it’d be a fun and easy way to get in a ride between daddy duties. A while back, he bought a fork from Rick Hunter and contacted Cameron from Falconer to build a road frame around the fork, resulting in one of the slickest and most subtle road bikes I’ve seen. Painted in creamsicle Orange – or Molteni orange if you prefer sausages to ice cream snacks – this beaut was built with Sram Force 22, DT Swiss to H+Son Archetype wheels and Sim Works parts.
Living in the hills of Santa Cruz means easy access to beautiful road riding. It’s easy to drop everything and hit the road for an hour. Unfortunately, all this bike really ended up seeing was the rollers. Garrett didn’t have a lot of time to actually ride the thing when Olive was born, so while she was napping, he’d hop on the rollers and sweat it out for an hour or two.
As a small business owner however, sometimes projects need to be sold to make way for other, more important purchases. Strawfoot is in constant need of materials, machines and extra revenue,
so Garrett is selling this beaut for $3,000 shipped anywhere in the continental USA. As is. Complete. The size is 55cm top tube and 54 seat tube. Center to center. Just to sweeten the pot, if you purchase this bike, I’ll throw in a Radavist Sage Jersey… just mention this post in your email. Holler at Garrett for more information. SOLD!
Cameron Falconer makes some of the nicest hardtails. What they lack in ostentation, they make up for in construction and thoughtfulness. RJ‘s bike is no exception. His 27.5″ hardtail is straight as an arrow, with a few key details to make life on the trail easier. Take for instance the asymmetrical chainstay yoke. Cam uses a plate yoke on the drive side and a smooth, non-crimped bend on the non-drive. This ensures ample tire and chainring clearance. He also uses stealth routing for a dropper, leaving a lot of interestingness going on at the bottom bracket cluster. The nice weldline at the seat tube cluster is so he can step down the seat tube diameter to fit a standard size dropper, without having to go super oversize or use a shim. Even the thru-axle and disc brake support just looks beautiful. All these details were then coated in a sparkle gold powder and vinyl decals, which as you can tell, show plenty of use!
We all know that the frame is only part of the bicycle. RJ selected some tried and true components to keep his bike rolling with minimal upkeep. Including a Shimano XT drivetrain, Race Face ring, XFusion fork, Giant dropper and a specially-machined dropper remote that began as an XFusion trigger, hacked to work with the post. It’s hard to explain… but it works! For wheels, RJ is testing and providing feedback on some carbon MTB wheels for Ritchey. That’s all I can say about those.
Yeah, this bike rules, it looks great sitting here, propped up in the Los Angeles morning sun, but looked even better during our weekend of trail riding!
“I don’t have a studio, I have a workshop. I’m not an artist, I’m a fabricator…”
We were talking about the mystique surrounding custom frames and the public’s perception, or in many cases the perpetuation of preciousness associated with “bespoke” frames. Cameron Falconer isn’t an artist, he makes straight forward, utilitarian machines meant to shred. Sure, they’re tailored to fit and Cam’s years of racing and riding influence a lot of their nuances (water bottle cage placement for example) but these are bicycles, not art…
This bike is not as it seems. Sure, it says Falconer and it uses Cameron’s signature no-nonsense solid color powder coat but it’s not technically a Falconer.
When Jason at Montano Velo was looking for a local frame builder to produce a new road frame for his in-house brand Broakland, he was introduced to Cameron at Falconer Cycles. Cam, as they call him, had some extra time and enjoyed making production bikes, so he built this frame as a job interview for the position.
The tricky part: tig welding S3 tubing, a True Temper offering that has a bad reputation for being brittle and in general, difficult to work with. Difficult to work with yet a pleasure to ride. Since S3’s seat tube offerings are limited to a 1.125″ diameter and the S3 top tube measures 1.25″ in diameter, Cameron took to Solid’s seat tube cluster sleeve to solve not only the difference in diameter but as a reinforcement for what is essentially a crack-prone area of an S3 bike.
For the fork, Jason’s a fan of the Wound Up. A fork that’s polarizing in terms of consumer’s aesthetic preferences. Some hate it, some love it and for Bay Area cyclists who began their passage into cycling on a track bike, Wound Ups offered a bomb-proof solution to a street-thrashed track bike with a bent or cracked fork. As Cameron and I were discussing the fork, we both concluded that we’re not a fan of them aesthetically, but they ride really damn well.
Oh, he got the job and began making the frames… Months later, Cameron still had this frame in his shop and it wasn’t until a customer requested pink powder for his own bike that he decided to get it coated. From there, it became a home for his thrashed Dura Ace group and now it’s Cameron’s only road bike.
There’s more to the Falconer story coming soon. If you want to know more about the Caballo road frame, head to Broakland.
The more I see the work of Cameron Falconer in person, the more I love his bicycles, especially his rigid 29’r model. Designed for everything from trail riding to multi-day bikepacking, these bikes have multiple layers of functional details. From the multiple water bottle braze-ons, to the segmented forks and custom racks, these bikes can be outrigged to take on anything you throw at them.
Gabe‘s bike in particular is a prime example. I first saw it in person when we went on our little camping trip Saturday night. The British Racing Green disappears in the low-laying shrubbery lining the hills outside of San Francisco, perfect for stealth camping and the no-hassle component build is easily serviceable from any number of spare parts bins you might find at shops while on the road during a trip.
While much of the drivetrain is no-nonsense, Gabe splurged a bit on the Thomson parts, the Jones H-bar, Paul thumbies and Spurcycle bell. Maxxis ardents provide ample puncture protection and trail bite while loaded and the Brooks saddle will continue to ripen with age. Yep. This is about as good as it gets in my opinion.
My favorite detail? The size small Revelate frame pack, cleverly hooked on the cable boss and bottle cage and the front derailleur mounting under the seat tube bottle cage…
The grass is good and dead here in Austin. That means cyclocross season is nigh. Jonathan recently relocated from Omaha to Austin, at the height of the summer heat, to replace the wrench of my buddy Chris at Mellow Johnny’s.
Even though it’s well over 100 degrees here, Jonathan’s Falconer cross bike scorches the ground it traverses. This thing is molten lava and the paint even matches the dried, dead grass. I think this might be one of my favorite bikes I’ve shot this year.
Accent points are the Chris King Mango bits, orange PAUL Minimoto brakes and a nice sparkle clear coat. My favorite detail however are the seat stays and Solid’s tapered head tube to match the ENVE fork.
I can’t wait to see this thing at the races this season!