Will Bender is a bicycle frame builder based in Fort Collins, CO. His custom frames run the gamut from all-road to gravel, touring, and modern hardtails. Last summer, Josh paid Will a visit to document his shop and learn about his background and approach to building bikes. While he was there, he enlisted Will to build the touring MTB of his dreams — a comfortable 29+ rig capable of carrying heavy loads and designed to harmonize with the Oddity Squid Fork made concurrently by another Fort Collins frame builder, Sean Burns. Continue reading below for the full rundown on this build…
Here’s our video that accompanies today’s Reportage from the shop visit with Oddity Cycles!
Looking at an Oddity Cycles-designed frame, handlebar, or fork, you might think that it was welded in a circus sideshow tent by a depraved, frazzle-haired, torch-wielding, radical. That these wildly bent steel and titanium tubes, contorted and bonded into freakishly beautiful forms, could only have originated in the darkest corners of a PT Barnum exhibition. And that’s exactly what Sean Burns, founder, designer, and fabricator wants you to think. So, on this eve of All Hallows, let’s pull back the curtain on this iconic framebuilder, and his assistant “Spooky,” along with a close look at a couple of Sean’s personal two-wheeled creations…
Colorado has long been known for custom bicycles and talented framebuilders throughout the state. It’s also not a secret that our state has a high density of said talented builders within a short distance of each other. On Wednesday evening, a small group of custom bicycle brands gathered at New Terrain Brewing in Golden, Colorado.
The Sweet Spot from Bozeman, MT-based Sklar Bikes is a steel hardtail mountain bike designed to be a venerable quiver-killer. Built around 150mm of front suspension, with clearance for up to 29 x 2.8 tires, its geometry embraces builder Adam Sklar’s mantra of “fast is fun, but fun is fun-er.” Sweet Spots were Adam’s first foray into offering a small batch frame design and sizing, which he hopes will make his bikes more accessible and faster to produce.
I picked up a Sweet Spot of my own earlier this spring after many years of searching for the perfect hardtail. Due to a few requests I had to make it even sweeter, it turned into a custom project that retained the established Sweet Spot geometry and material selection. Below, let’s take a closer look at my build in addition to a brief interview with Adam about these bikes and his design/build process!
This is the 5th time in a row that Sierra Nevada Brewery have asked us (PAUL Component Engineering) to build a bike for them to show off at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, which kicks off this week. So, we must be doing something right!
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
The Why Cycles team has been constantly working on their Wayward 29+ platform MTB since its inception, so there’s no surprise that V2 is still the same bike but with a few new details. Why used their tubing of choice, 3/2.5 titanium, and added their unique cold-formed shaping to really tune the ride quality. The geometry has been corrected to fit a 120mm fork (instead of 100mm), giving the bike a more balanced feel. The next change is an increase in standover clearance, yet the biggest change is a product spec. Why Cycles worked with Sean Burns at Oddity Cycles, the master manipulator of titanium, to offer a suspension-corrected Squid fork option for the Wayward along with his Lowrizer titanium handlebars. The team at Why have dubbed this the Squidward.
Pricing for the V2 remains the same with a frame (including headset, seat collar, anodized water bottle bolts and rear axle) coming in at $2449. Frame and fork options start at $3049 with a RockShox Yari and a $1000 upgrade for the Oddity Squid fork. Complete builds with SRAM components and Industry 9 wheels start at $4799.
See more at Why Cycles.
I can’t come close to Sean’s words here, so apologies for the copy + paste. He’s running a silent auction on his 2019 NAHBS bike to raise money for his friend Phoenix:
“Heart-to-heart coming at ya. I have a friend who needs some help. His name is Phoenix. He is seven years old. He has cancer. And though I will continue to do what I can to help Phoenix, his Mom, Dad and three siblings; it will never feel like enough. Ever. So I will start this late Tuesday evening by offering my personal Mtn Cruiser, number 1/10, to anyone willing to do the right thing. One of you can take this machine home, built originally for the North American Hand-built Bicycle Show. Because I would rather have Phoenix than a million bicycles. And I am otherwise unable to help him financially. I will post images of this bike through next week, with info on its build and geometry. With a story on the why and how and what’s. And if you want to help an amazing seven year old with the fight of his life, and take this one-of-a-kind bicycle home as a bonus, please, message me with questions and/or your bid – as I’m selling the OG Mtn Coaster ‘Silent Auction’ style. Highest bidder gets the bike, some good karma and a big thank you from me. Every penny you bid goes to Phoenix. We all do hard things, and endure hardship. But at seven? This is so heavy. And feels so unfair. If you feel the urge to help otherwise, please click the go fund me link in our profile. Thank you for reading. Stay human.”
“I’m accepting silent auctions style bids. Send your bid to me via email OR DM here on IG (I DO NOT check Facebook!). Every dollar goes straight to Pheonix’s Cancer Fund (see my previous post on 9/25)- If you win, you will simply send funds direct to his Go Fund Me page (link in bio). I will cover shipping costs and the bike will be sent directly to you, the winning bidder.”
After a jam-packed weekend at this year’s NAHBS, we’re rolling out content throughout the week, but not without another Mega Gallery, showcasing sights and scenes at the show, as well as a handful of the beautiful bicycles on display. Later this week, we’ve got some awards from the show, so stay tuned. For now, enjoy this selection of images!
People often ask what I love most about my job. After the obvious – riding bikes – comes watching projects like this unfold. Paul Price lives in Chico and is the man behind Paul Component Engineering. He’s been in this game for a while and has been to NAHBS countless times over the years. In that time, he’s watched a lot of new names pop up in the framebuilding circuit, most notably Sean from Oddity Cycles. Sean’s creations are whacky, fun and offer very unique riding characteristics. For one, they’re titanium, which at smaller diameters, can be flexy. Not in a bad way, just in a unique way. Next up, Sean bends the shit out of the tubes, making them swoopy and thus increasing the wow factor.
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.
… and you can expect to see more photos of this bike next week. It looks even better in person!
Like the great old one Cthulhu, this Oddity mountain bike pulled me in with its ominous appearance. The tendril-like fork coming from the head tube looks like some alien beast reaching out to make you part of its low-carb diet. It drew me in. The titanium cockpit, post and fork were powder coated neon green to match the steel frame, angering the locals in Fort Collins, Colorado. Or so the owner of the bike said.
Then I noticed all the dicks painted on the bike. Dozens of them. Dozens of dicks. On a show bike. Then I loved the bike even more. Oddity, you’re one strange builder, but I think I love you.
We’re here in Southern Utah, soaking in all the red dirt we can and riding some of the area’s finest trails. While Kyle and I had a short drive to St. George, Parker and Josh from Minneapolis’ Angry Catfish had a staggering 24 hours of driving on icy, winter roads to reach our meet-up point. The boys finally showed up and Josh unpacked his Oddity Cycles 27.5+ hardtail.
Josh commissioned Sean from Oddity to build it up last year, where it was displayed at NAHBS and he’s had it on display at Angry Catfish ever since. He’s ridden it throughout Minneapolis’ trails but this is the first road trip this bike has seen and man, what a trip it’s been so far.
I love seeing show bikes being shredded, especially against such a wonderful backdrop.
I love the swooping, curvy lines found in Oddity Cycles‘ machines. Part of that is due to the truss fork, which offers a bit more compliance than the typical carbon fork or rigid steel fork. This fatbike in particular though has some great color coordination with matching Paul Components blue anodized cranks, chain guard, skewers and Klamper disc brakes. To put it even more over the top, it’s rolling on those made in the USA HED fatbike rims…
This video popped up in the Oddity Cycles 29+ thread and I felt like it could use a share. Thanks to Breed007 for linking us to it!
Sean “Burnsey” Burns builds Oddity Cycles in Fort Collins, CO. He’s an architect, an artist and a furniture designer. His bikes, along with the likes of Black Sheep Bikes, stand out from a lot of traditional lines found in the MTB world. Coincidentally, Sean used a Black Sheep fork and bars on his personal 29+ rigid MTB. The word rigid here is italicized because it’s anything but that. Even with a high volume, low-pressure tire, you can still pick up on the bike flex from the lines and fork. It gives in just the right amount, in the right places.
A few wheelies, hops and manuals post-photo shoot had me digging what Sean has created here: a highly shredable piece of art. Please note that this is Sean’s personal bike, it has dings, dirt and yeah, crochet cozies in it with empty beer cans. I didn’t remove them intentionally. Bikes like this at NAHBS are highly successful tools in showcasing a brand’s intent and I respect that.