Bombtrack just sent over its latest “House Blend” video series, featuring Tokyo’s Matthew Cycle and now we want to go back to Japan!
Here in the Quaker City of Philadelphia, we’re blessed with a number of reliable shops in just about every corner of town. Shops for very serious racers, shops for mountain bikers, shops just for anyone in the neighborhood in need of help getting around on two wheels. We’ve got ‘em all and plenty of ‘em. Keystone is one of Philly’s newest shops catering to all kinds of bikes with an emphasis on everything rando, touring, and bikepacking.
My partner Karla and I find ourselves in México City after what feels like going in and out of a pipe from Mario’s world. The truth is we took a plane, but after so much time of having this trip in mind, it takes a while to assimilate that it’s actually happening. We spend an afternoon putting our bikes together and some bolts later they’re ready to take us around this city; we feel quite intimidated by its size and the never-not-honking cars but the bike paths that have emerged over the recent years make riding much more manageable. Coming from a place that’s pretty much at sea level, the 2200 meters of elevation squeeze our lungs on the slightest uphill and when we arrive at the address on our map our hearts are beating fast. There’s no sign outside the place but a rack full of bikes indicates we’ve made it to Básica Studio, home of frame builder Eli Acosta.
I have been internet friends with Irlanda for so long that I don’t even remember how we started communicating. What I do remember is that she told me she had the dream of making bicycle bags and accessories but at the moment, sewing fancy dresses are what paid her bills. Settled in the México-USA border city of Tijuana, she has been dressing brides and quinceañeras for over twenty years and it was around fourteen years ago that she started riding a bike to get around. As she took part in organizing group rides, she sewed hip bags and gave them away as an incentive to attract more people to ride, and that’s how sewing bike bags became a hobby. Along those two decades, she started growing tired of the high fashion world while at the same time she made more bicycle accessories, but still, the money flowed mainly from the people who came to her from either side of the border to get their dresses made.
A while back, we featured the photography of Shaun Marcus and the writing of Jon Yazzie in our Reportage section, documenting the Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series. That story took place in Nazlini, AZ, and it served as an introduction to the readers of the Radavist about the Silver Stallion Bicycle and Coffee Works. All last year, the Navajo Nation fought the Covid-19 pandemic, as it spread across the expansive reservation which covers over 27,000 miles of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. This year, with the vaccination efforts pushing forward, I felt like it was finally safe to travel three hours south to Gallup, New Mexico upon invitation to get a first-hand experience of what the Silver Stallion has been up to…
House Blend is a new video project by Bombtrack:
“HOUSE BLEND is a video series presenting dedicated Bombtrack core-shops spread all over the planet. What feels better to a cyclist than to have a home, somewhere you feel comfortable with each time you’re crossing the threshold, where someone that can help to build the bike of your dreams resides, and where you can always find skilled mechanics that leave no doubt to their abilities and are always happy to help in moments when one at their wit’s end? All those shops we are presenting in this series are a focal point for a local scene, as they offer a quick coffee the moment your destination passes by, or they organize community ride-outs with like-minded individuals on the weekends – or they do both, and even more.”
This first episode features Loose Cycles, in Ljublijana.
Since we posted Two Wheel Drive yesterday, we thought it’d be nice to feature one of the shop employee’s personal bikes. Bryan is a mechanic and his Mash track bike is too slick, laced with Albuquerque’s own DOOM bars and some other nice details. Check out our friend Nick’s photos below with words by Bryan himself…
Pandemic life means a lot of the normal, day-to-day coverage we cherished has gotten put on hold. One of which are Shop Visits. While I’ve been sticking local to Santa Fe over the past twelve months, my friend Nick was able to submit a Shop Visit to his local digs, Two Wheel Drive down in Albuquerque. Read on for Nick’s photos and words by Zach, Two Wheel Drive’s manager…
A few years ago I went to Japan for a visit with Nitto to discuss some ideas I wanted them to work on for Crust. While there, my friend Nori asked if I would like to visit MKS pedals. Being a huge bike nerd I could not turn down the opportunity to see a company that has been manufacturing pedals since 1946. That’s right, 1946!!!
The first time I found my way across the train tracks and into the strange little courtyard parking lot of Citizens I was awestruck. It was full of rusty old sculptures of flowers and birds and beautiful strange shapes welded out of discarded bike parts. I knew that I had found something that felt right in that deep way that feels like home and an adventure all at once. It was love at first sight and it only got better as I walked down a makeshift concrete ramp into the dark basement. It took my eyes a few moments to adjust and focus on the chaos that surrounded me. There were folks with bicycles in all states of disrepair and disassembly. There were piles of wheels, rusty frames, milk crates full of thousands of derailleurs and brakes, and every bike part you could possibly imagine. Every surface was covered in murals and the bright colors were dimmed by the shadows of sparse fluorescent lighting. The staff was indistinguishable from the crowd and everyone seemed like they would be just as comfortable in a post-apocalyptic wasteland as in a basement in the center of Tucson Arizona, which come to think of it often resembles a scene from a dystopian novel.
I met Mitchell many years ago while riding opposite directions on the Tour Divide and since then we’ve kept in loose internet contact. Mitchell and Matt are launching a new shop in Knoxville with an amazing goal and I wanted to share it with everyone:
Howdy, we’re Mitchell and Matt, two regular people who ride bikes. We also happen to be starting a non-profit bike shop in the Historic Old City district of Knoxville, TN. We’re calling it Two Bikes and our mission is to give away a bicycle for every one we sell.
To make this happen we rely on donated bikes – and bike parts – which we refurbish and sell for reasonable prices. The shop will also serve as a hub for the fast-growing and diverse Knoxville cycling community by offering public repair stations, mechanics classes, a taproom showcasing local beer, a resource library and – when things return to normal – an event space.
We believe in the transformative power of bikes, not just as a means of exercise or a social object, but also as a tool for personal mobility, freedom and autonomy. From the latest carbon space bike to the modest be-fendered and basketed commuter, we hope you’ll agree that with each bicycle the world becomes a more wondrous and positive place. As such, Two Bikes is committed to lowering the barrier for entry to this brighter world by providing access to affordable bikes and to creating a more inclusive and egalitarian culture through honest, unintimidating service.
We’re documenting the process of starting the nonprofit online too. If you’d like to follow along, the best spot is probably Instagram.
In what I hope will be the first of many monthly(ish) articles, of varying lengths, Nikolai and I visited (in)famous bicycle designer Mike Burrows, who has been a constant in terms of support, inspiration and taking me down a peg or two when I need it (always). Nikolai filmed our trip on my Sony A7iii as part of an ongoing project, so I decided it would be especially fitting for Mike to document our trip on celluloid with my Mamiya C330, and a little Olympus rangefinder on Kodak Portra 800 film.
Moving to a new town in the middle of a pandemic has been quite the taxing experience both emotionally and logistically. With relocation comes re-establishing connections and expansion of one’s social network, which is near impossible with stay at home orders. Part of the joy of moving to a new city is to get a lay of the land, meet new people, and find those little idiosyncratic niches small towns are known for. Recently I set out a ping to social media, hoping to track down a fabricator to help build a bike rack swingout for our truck. A friend of a friend connected me with Greg, one of the co-fabricators at a small metal shop on Third Street here in Santa Fe. His shop mate Cooper found out I was into bikes and had to share with me his shed found Univega…
A while ago Liz and I were rolling through Connecticut, on a mission to eat the best pizza in the world. We went to Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s, Modern, and BAR, a list provided to us by the one and only Ronnie Romance. Ronnie even told us a story of a date at BAR that would forever change his life, but both of us still agreed that Sally’s was the best pizza New Haven had to offer, and I’ll even go as far and say it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had. Ronnie and I have shared pizzas all across the globe, we’ve also shared many stories while eating pizza, and besides Namz, I don’t think anyone person has come up more than Peter Weigle. To me, Peter Weigle is a living legend, dealing in a world I know very little about, and because of this, I thought untouchable. Well… besides holding a can of his Frame Saver. To Ronnie, Peter is an old friend, who shaped the way he pieces his own bikes together to share with the thousands followers along for the ride. Hints, making everything Peter does “The New/Old Hot Thing”!