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WZRD Bikes: Em’s Personal Collection

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WZRD Bikes: Em’s Personal Collection

A framebuilder’s personal collection is a window into their mainstays and their experiments. Yesterday we brought you the story of BC-based builder WZRD. bikes, where Em is expressing their viewpoint on the world through fillet brazing, progressive geometry, and progressive politics.

Today we take a look at three bikes Em has built for themselves: their BCXC “big” bike, their XCXC “little” bike, and their 26” park bike. These three bikes, WZRD. frames 11, 18, and 22 respectively, represent a lot of what Em is up to with WZRD.™ geometry, but is just skimming the surface of what they’re up to down in that dungeon.

These bikes are all ridden, HARD. That means they’re not perfect and that’s exactly how it should be. Since these are Em’s personal bikes, I’m going to pass the mic to them now. Make sure to click through to the gallery to peep all the details.

Inside / Out at WZRD. bikes

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Inside / Out at WZRD. bikes

In a dank and dark industrial basement lies the realm of a modern wizard’s apprentice, where they envision, then create their disruption. Where they derive their power and what sacrifices have been made to get to this point are a mystery, though the products of their spells are obvious: rideable works of art, built to enable transcendence for those lucky enough to partake.

While Em has been known as the WZRD. for many years, I feel like they truly began their apprenticeship when they began crafting their dreams from raw steel. Harnessing the divine intelligence of ancient magic, Em’s long-standing moniker became their expressive direction. The alchemy and creativity of the craft became their passion, but this is no average wizard.

WZRD. bikes officially launched in early 2020 with a focus on progressive geometry and progressive politics. Unapologetic about their radical ideologies, Em forges forward. At the front of the wave, WZRD. geometry is the kind of thing you’re going to see on “progressive” production bikes in years to come. That’s always been the beauty of custom, but not all custom builders have such radical ideals.

Based in Victoria, BC, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Em’s designs are inspired by their own relationship with the environment as much as the shortcomings they see in production bikes. We’ll get a bit deeper into the numbers side of Em’s bikes tomorrow, but suffice to say they like their reach long, their bottom brackets low, their seat angles steep, and their head angles slack.

The Stooge Scrambler is the Evolution of the Modern Klunker

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The Stooge Scrambler is the Evolution of the Modern Klunker

Rigid bikes. The roots of riding off-road, yet now the arena of weirdos, quacks, and masochists. Mountain biking started out long before telescoping forks and complex linkage designs, but the bikes of those early days are now a far cry from the activity most consider “mountain biking”.

Of course, those weirdos, quacks, and masochists still have a place in this world, and it turns out I’m one of them. It wasn’t always this way. I used to ride and write about my experience with suspension mountain bikes as a full time job. I could go on all day about spring curves and axle paths, dampers and volume spacers, sag and suspension setup.

But, in the past five or so years, my focus has shifted. I’d rather spend a weekend riding to small places and sleeping out under the stars than shuttling the local loamers and crushing parking lot beers. And in that time I’ve come to value a mountain bike that requires less maintenance.

Having ridden a lot of high end suspension bikes, I know what it takes to keep them running tip top – and I just don’t have the facilities to do that at home, nor the money to pay someone else to do it. A rigid bike makes sense for my sometimes bi-weekly, sometimes monthly mountain bike hobby.

Return of the Dadbike: Morgan’s Velo Orange Polyvalent

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Return of the Dadbike: Morgan’s Velo Orange Polyvalent

You ever have a bike that was super rad, but you just didn’t ride it? My Velo Orange Polyvalent was that bike for the past few years. Beautiful, capable, and yet, neglected. This past winter, during a bout of organization, I wondered about this bike that sparked joy aesthetically but didn’t really get ridden. What’s the point in keeping something around that doesn’t get used? I committed to riding it to work for a week to see if I could get at that very question – and I ended up riding it daily for the next four months.

What Butts: Getting Under the Paint with a Wake Robin Cycles Rando Bike

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What Butts: Getting Under the Paint with a Wake Robin Cycles Rando Bike

Why do some bikes get up to speed with seemingly less effort than others? Why do some bikes leave me less fatigued after long rides? My idea of the ultimate road and adventure bike is one that has all the wonderful vertical compliance that we know can be built into a bicycle as a system, but that also responds to and rewards its rider by flexing just right in the lateral axis as well.

We all know custom steel bikes have the potential to be a rider’s one and only. And that leads us to Wake Robin Cycles and the subject of this review. The Wake Robin is a low trail, rim brake randonneuring bike, custom built for Chip over at What Bars. If there’s one kind of bike that’s revered to ride smooth over long distances, rim brake rando bikes are it. But, not all custom bikes are equal, particularly those built for someone who isn’t you – so this one’s got plenty for us to talk about.

The Ritchey Outback is an Instant Classic

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The Ritchey Outback is an Instant Classic

Over the years, having had the chance to ride a lot of different bikes, I’ve whittled my personal preferences down to a few assumptions about geometry and materials. Based on these preconceptions, I wasn’t sure I’d be into the Ritchey Outback.

Gravel bikes with carbon forks are pretty predictable in my experience: more capable and adaptable than the ‘cross bikes they evolved from, but too stiff to be enjoyable on rough terrain or long days in the saddle. Gravel bikes have also evolved to have longer rear ends than ‘cross bikes, and yet the Outback has the longest rear end of any performance-oriented drop-bar bike I’ve ridden.

I will also say that I’ve learned to keep an open mind about this stuff, and in the past couple of years I’m finding myself excited to ride bikes that don’t fit into neat and predictable categories. The chance to review oddball bikes helps me expand my experience and therefore become a better bike reviewer. I’m open to being surprised!

Well, there must be exceptions to rules and there must be challenges to preconceptions, and the Ritchey Outback fits into both of those categories for me.

Jason’s Rivendell Sam Hillborne… It Tastes a Bit Like Socks

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Jason’s Rivendell Sam Hillborne… It Tastes a Bit Like Socks

This is a story of how progressive values and a penchant for both unusual bikes and unusual beer can combine to create the ultimate rambling ride. Most bike designs fit into neat little categories, and while those neat little categories work for most people, there’s a wild world of flavour out there, if you’re willing to take a risk here or there.

Throw the Parts Bin At It: Morgan’s 26+ Surly Pugsley

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Throw the Parts Bin At It: Morgan’s 26+ Surly Pugsley

Considering I’ve reviewed three Surly bikes here on the Radavist and have loved every one of them, it’s a bit surprising that I don’t have one of my own. Thing is, we live in a two-bedroom apartment, and our family collection has room for three bikes each not including cargo bikes: slow, medium, and fast (still slow by many folks standards).

Review bikes come for tryouts, but in the past two-and-a-half years, none which have been able to displace our collection, which includes my Kona Unit (slow), our Soma Wolverines (medium), and my humongous Rock Lobster (OK, pretty fast). There’s a slim chance that a bike could be added, but for the right bike it is possible, and that’s where this story begins.

Shifting the Paradigm with the Titanium Knolly Cache

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Shifting the Paradigm with the Titanium Knolly Cache

Are you ready for the next paradigm shift in drop bar bikes? In news that will come with little to zero surprise, this same shift began in the mountain bike world nearly a decade ago. It took a while for people to jump on the bandwagon, but once they were on, the entire industry figured it out. Now it’s drop bar’s turn. Here we go with the titanium Knolly Cache.

Living Car-Lite with Surly’s Big Easy Electric Cargo Bike

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Living Car-Lite with Surly’s Big Easy Electric Cargo Bike

Nesting projects. While some families go crazy building out and decorating a “nursery”, we mostly tried to figure out how to continue our bike lifestyle once our baby arrived. When Stephanie was pregnant, we fawned over Larry vs. Harry’s Bullitt, tried out the very-Euro Riese and Müller Packster, and bought into the front load aesthetic right away.

But, long term practicality was never too far away, considering the astronomical cost of an electrified front-loader. As it turns out, our friend Adam, whose Bullitt we borrowed for a couple months in 2018, let us know that his daughter was in fact outgrowing the bike’s kid canopy at only 4 years of age. Not only was her helmet hitting the top of the enclosure, but she was losing interest in riding in the “trailer” on the front of the bike.

High costs mixed with the prospect of the bike possibly lasting only three years before its primary cargo turned on it meant we were wary of dropping into an electric box bike. When the opportunity came along to review the first Surly Big Easy to make its way into Canada, we were very, very stoked. The dream of a car-lite lifestyle was alive!

I immediately swept out and scored an older Yepp seat with the requisite (and obsolete) adapter off the local buy and sell, and we got scheming on how to adapt to the longtail lifestyle.

The World’s Fastest Human is Naked (Bicycles)

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The World’s Fastest Human is Naked (Bicycles)

Over the years Stephanie and I have visited some out-of-the-way frame builders, but Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles is one of the more out-there. Pedaling our camping bikes on the ups and downs of Quadra Island, an eclectic community of 2,700 people off northern Vancouver Island, we’re reminded that this is a two-speed kind of place – where the only gears you need are your easiest and your hardest.

The road narrows and the hills become even steeper, and we eventually come upon a gate, with a kind note asking us to close it after entering, for there are horses inside. We put Denver on his leash and grind the final few hundred metres to Sam’s shop, a quirky metal-roofed building with lots of windows, reflecting the even-more-whimsical shape of his house on the other side of the driveway.

If people make the effort to get here, Sam makes them feel at home. He arrives on the porch with a smile, and invites us in to his frame building shop in the woods.

Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

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Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

When most people think “I’d like to take on my first bikepacking trip,” they don’t think of going to the Peruvian Andes. Well, most people aren’t my friend Ben Johnson. Ben’s a filmmaker and a storyteller, and once an idea gets into his head, it’s hard to shake him of it.

Ben had long been following Ryan Wilson’s work here on the site, and lusted to pedal in the high mountains of Peru. With another film project taking Ben down to Lima, the flights were paid for, and the idea of this side trip and a passion project was sparked.

Lots of people ask Stephanie and me for advice about bike traveling and we’re happy to help. Ben came to us with an ambitious plan, a short timeline to get a bike built, and enthusiasm through the roof. He needed help.

I had recently transitioned away from full-time work to focus on creative projects: the right place and the right time to help Ben get set up for his adventure in the Andes. I’m happy to present the film here, and will get into the details of the bike build below.

Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor

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Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor

Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Finally. The day we’ve all been hoping and/or waiting for. You can now buy aluminum cranks from Easton.

This was one of the big pieces of feedback that came from my review of Easton’s super-compact double rings on my EC90 SL cranks last year: people loved the idea of the 46/30 ring combo, the adaptability of the Cinch system, and the option to add a spindle-based power meter – but the price of the carbon crank arms was somewhat prohibitive.

So here’s the deal. EA90 crank arms will run you a cool $120 USD, in comparison to $400 for the EC90 SL arms. You still have to buy a bottom bracket for $50 and choose a chainring setup ($80 for a single ring or $150 for a double). But the bottom line is, you can get into a complete EA90 crank for about half the price of the EC90 SL. Cool.

Vancouver! Stoked Spoke at Musette Caffè this Thursday!

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Vancouver! Stoked Spoke at Musette Caffè this Thursday!

Heads up Vancouver! Morgan and Stephanie at Found in the Mountains are bringing Swift Industries’ Stoked Spoke Adventure Series north of the border this Thursday, March 28th.

The night will feature bicycle travel stories that’ll be sure to get you pining for adventures near and far, including the world premiere of Admissions of an Amateur Bikepacker, Ben Johnson‘s self-shot short film from Peru.

Thursday, March 28th @ 6:30pm
Musette Caffè
1325 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC

$5-20 sliding scale
all proceeds donated to WTF Bikexplorers and Our Community Bikes

RSVP at Eventbrite!

All Roads with Teravail’s New Rutland Gravel Tires – Morgan Taylor

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All Roads with Teravail’s New Rutland Gravel Tires – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Teravail’s Rutland tire is the newest of their gravel-oriented tires, available in 38mm and 42mm sizes for 700c wheels, and 47mm for the 650b wheels – which is what I had the chance to try out for this review.

The Rutland is a relatively chunky dirt road tire, with tightly-spaced knobs in the center section, and more widely spaced intermediate and side knobs. It resembles a scaled-down version of a semi-slick mountain bike tire, and has the manners you’d expect of such a tire: relatively quick on any surface, but with enough bite to give confidence when the going gets loose.

Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent – Morgan Taylor

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Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent – Morgan Taylor

Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Looks can be deceiving. The Velo Orange Polyvalent looks like a classic randonneuring bike, particularly when dressed in an all-silver build kit. But, after many miles and various tire and bag changes, a different story emerged for me. While its handling characteristics are markedly different, the Polyvalent is a peer – and interesting alternative – to the popular all-steel drop bar adventure bikes out there like the Soma Wolverine, Surly Straggler, Kona Rove, and so on.

Now in its fourth iteration, the Polyvalent for the first time gets disc brakes, and that’s exactly what prompted me to reach out to Velo Orange about doing a review. Over the past few years I’ve been exploring how the widely varying combinations of steel frames and wide tires manifest in ride quality. Yes, I’m still on the hunt for the elusive smooth-riding production disc brake bike. Could the Polyvalent Mk4 be the one?