A bike that’s perfect for its one imperfection. Mick hasn’t ever owned a new bike. Not new, new. Like pulling a brand new frame out of a box, new. It’s not that he was opposed to new bikes, he just never really found a company or a frame that fit his ideologies. Over the past few months however, Crust Bikes‘ offerings have really piqued his interest. He works at Golden Saddle Cyclery, a shop that churns out balleur Crust builds all the time. When he saw the new Nor’Easter, it strummed his heartstrings.
Who is Uncle Dan?
Surely many of you know the Heighdealist emporium that has become the Dangle Supply Company, but most folks do not know the origin story of this incredibly popular and successful bong business.
Bike thieves suck. Colin got his last Sklar road bike stolen last year here in Los Angeles. It was one of those moments where we all dropped what we were doing and rode all over the neighborhood looking for it. While that event was less than ideal, the resulting bike is what is featured here on the Radavist today.
This bike. This freaking bike. When I first built up my Sklar, it was built on the 700c wheel platform. At Lost & Found last year, I swapped out the i9 wheels for the new ENVE G27 650b gravel wheels and haven’t missed the 700c wheels one bit. From there, the bike slowly went under transformations but it wasn’t until I put the Crust Towel Rack Bars on it that I feel like this bike has finally come into its own.
Our friends at Sim Works have been hard at work expanding their Yummy line of tires. Included in the mix are these 27.5 x 2.22″ SUPER Yummy gumwall tires by Panaracer. These are fat. So fat you might not be able to clear them, but if you can run a 45mm 700c tire, they should fit. Pictured is my Sklar with an ENVE Gravel fork, which is probably enough clearance for a dry climate bike, but you might run into issues with mud. There is exactly 1/4″ on either side of the tire and fork for reference on the ENVE G series rims. They measure exactly 2.22″ from knob to knob.
Expect a more in-depth look at this bike with the wheels and tires but for now, all I can say is what a massive improvement in traction off road and rolling resistance on pavement with these tires. I think I found my ideal summer tire. In stock now at Sim Works. If you have pressing questions that can’t wait for next week’s review, drop them in the comments…
Have you ever found yourself cruising Instagram late at night wondering, lusting after someone’s bike build, and wondering… “what tires?” Well, you’re not alone. We all do it.
And lucky for us, the folks behind WhatBars.com have now put together What Tires? The Bicycle Tire Database. Since launching WhatBars.com, they’ve had a lot of requests for a similar resource for tires, and couldn’t help but give the people what they wanted.
Sim Works and Crust Bikes jumped on board to help support the project, and here we are. The database is still being built out, but you’ll find tires from Sim Works, Rene Herse, and WTB up on the site. Head over to What Tires to compare and keep the rubber side up!
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?
2018 Philly Bike Expo: Sim Works Doppo Off Road Tourer
Photos by Jarrod Bunk, words by John Watson
At the Philly Bike Expo this year, Sim Works shared a booth space with Crust Bikes and Swift Industries. On display was this Doppo touring bike, set up for some lightweight off-road touring, thanks to the Swift Industries XPac Hinterland Ozette Randonneur Bag, Hinterland Zeitgeist Saddle Bag, and the Porcelain Rocket partial frame bag, made for Circles Japan. The Doppo is rolling on Thunder Burts, a White Industries R30 cranks, Chris King Hubs, Velocity rims, and Shimano drivetrain, with Sim Works Klampers. Shifting is provided by Gevenalle.
This bike is made from a healthy mix of US-made and Japan-made components, ready to tour all over the world!
When it comes to noodles, people love ramen, but the noodle of choice for the Sim Works team in Nagoya, Japan are soba noodles. Thus inspiring the So Bar noodle bar. These 26.0 clamp bars are perfect for randonneuring, touring, or commuter bikes, offering many hand positions, with the overall width measuring in at 50cm and 49cm at the hoods. These bares have a 4° flare, are made in Japan by Nitto, and in stock now at Sim Works.
Doppo translates to “going alone.” On display at the Sim Works Pop-Up at the Cub House was the steel version of their Doppo ATB bike or all-terrain bicycle. We saw the aluminum version from the Chris King Swarm coverage, and we’ve seen this steel model in Japan being manned by Makoto during our Mount Fuji tour.
These frames are made by a builder in Nagoya named Shin Hattori, exclusively for Sim Works, and for the first time, they’re now available in the USA through Sim Works. They feature a number of braze-ons for racks and fenders, as well as a Tange fork with a unique fender mount. This particular model was built up with chubby 650b road tires and fenders.
The Doppo comes in size Small through XXL and will fit a 43mm tire on 700c or 2.1″ on 27.5″ wheels. A frameset retails for $1,680 shipped from Japan via FedEx. Head to Sim Works to see more!
Shige is in town for the Sim Works pop-up at the Cub House. Normally, he works at Circles, the bike shop that created Sim Works in Japan. His job is to work in the “custom lab” at the shop, where various frame builders display their creations and the Circles customers can choose components and frames to make their dream bike. Remember our Shop Visit? Circles is a beautiful shop!
After the Chris King Swarm event, Shige made his way slowly down to Los Angeles, where we rode bikes and I shot his Sklar Monster Cross, which as the name implies, fits a massive 2.2″ 27.5 tire. The rest of the build is quite balleur, so excuse the excessive bling, but when you’re in the business of selling custom bikes for Circles, your bike has to look this good!
Over the past few months, the Cub House has been host to a number of pop-up shops inside its San Marino space. There’s a 10’x10′ room which happens to make for a perfect space for brands to display their product. This round, Sean, Danny, and Carla reached out to Japan’s Sim Works to open a “convenie” – Japanese slang, shortened from convenience store – filled with Sim Works, their outdoor brand, RAL, as well as Japanese snacks and trinkets. In the Cub House fashion, the team decided to make a big deal about it, throwing a group ride, and pinging Mick from 100 Tacos to cater the event.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, be sure to swing through the Cub House to see the Sim Works Convenie Store!
The Cub House
2510 Mission St
San Marino, CA 91108
At the Chris King Swarm event in Bend, the brand compiled a short list of builders who would display various kinds of bikes, built up with components fabricated in their Portland facilities. We’ll start off the showcase with this beautiful Doppo All Road.
Nagoya, Japan’s Sim Works has been making moves to open a base in the USA. Located in Portland – actually in the Chris King factory – Rie Sawada has been working on increasing the stock and inventory for this brand that sells products exclusively made in Japan by Nitto, Panaracer, and Honjo, the powerhouses of Japanese component manufacturing. When it came to bikes, however, Sim Works has been sampling builders to make their Doppo model. Initially, we saw a Made in Japan Doppo touring bike a few years back, so I was surprised to see a Doppo at the event this weekend. Especially one made from aluminum and in the USA!
Oscar from Simple Bicycle Co has been building frames for over a decade and in that time, he’s moonlighted as a behind the scenes fabricator for many brands featured on this site. His talents lie in anything metallic, ranging from titanium to aluminum, and dirt jumpers to all-roads. When Cielo closed their doors last year – where he built full-time for the brand – Oscar pursued more of his own projects, including two bikes we’ll be looking at in detail here at the site.
The resulting bike features clearance for a massive tire, while maintaining a road q-factor and chain line, allowing for the rider to choose a 700c or 650b wheel. For the Swarm, Sim Works built this bike to spec with many of their own parts, resulting in a largely made in Japan kit, on a MUSA frame.
Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday with Studs and Sim Works
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday represents layers of history, each meaningful and useful in their own right. When studying architecture and art history, I learned that such layers of history are referred to as a palimpsest. Rome is the classic example of a palimpsest, a city in which successive generations have built on top of what came before. New additions have been built on top of existing infrastructure, though the original shape and character still shines through.
Stephanie’s Wednesday has been successively repurposed over the past couple of years, moving away from its original life as a fat bike with trail geometry, to where you see it currently as a cold weather commuter with signs of its enjoyment along the way. Used and adapted, used some more, collecting knicks and character throughout. Our bikes are where we layer our history: through experience, they become greater than the sum of their parts.
Bicycles. They’re a work in progress, especially ones that are derivative of a particular activity which in itself is evolving. Take bikepacking and touring for example. It seems just about every month, a company makes a new product which therein makes the act of touring eaiser or at least more enjoyable. When I first began talks with Kris Henry of 44 Bikes for this rigid mountain tourer, which I’ve come to call my “Ute” – an Aussie term, short for a utility vehicle – I had a vision for what touring meant and means to me. Leaving pavement and accessing trail, both in double and single track variety, means a fully loaded bike needs to be stable, comfortable and still maneuverable. Since this bikes inception, I’ve been sold on the Jones Bar, mostly due to the amazing leverage, riding position and varying riding positions. The thing, however, that didn’t work so well for me was the very thing that makes the Jones so unique: the hoop design and lack of rise. Also, the Jones bar has proven to be problematic with bikepacking and touring bags, which was slightly evident on my Death Valley tour. That Fabio’s Chest wanted to sag a bit too much with that setup.
Check out more below.
Over here in the wild wild west, people build their Space Horse discs up in all kinds of ways. From dirt drops, to upright Nitto Albatross bars, to flat Bullmoose and everything in between, these bikes are incredibly versatile commuters and tourers but perhaps Kyle’s is one of the most unique builds I’ve seen. Sure, it’s got 27.5″ wheels, with Maxxis Refuse tires, Salsa dirt drops, Sim Works stem, Sim Works post, Sim Works Paul Klampers, Sim Works Paul skewers, a Berthoud saddle, a SON hub, White Industries Cranks, Camo Cinelli tape, Velocity Cliff Hanger rims, Pass and Stow rack and Gevenalle shifters, but the thing that was the veritable cherry on the cake, or milkshake, or whatever is the rudeboy rockabilly Outer Shell rack bag.
How can you look at this bike without seeing that loud-ass leopard print?!
Finding a way to describe bikes is one of my favorite parts of this whole process and usually my initial reaction is the way to go. With this bike, I wanted to fight the rockabilly label so bad, yet it just fits. It’s like a pair of creepers at a Cramps show. In fact, it’s like a bike Poison Ivy would ride. Kyle, you’ve really outdone yourself with this one.
If you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.
Sometimes, you come across a part and literally imagine a bike that would best suit it. This mindset seems backwards but it happens all the time. People justify a complete bicycle over a vintage French chainguard or a set of fenders, I’ve even seen people obsess over a crankset, yet in this case, it was the Sim Works Fun 3 bars that got Carlos‘ brain ticking over a bike. Having extensive experience fabricating bicycle frames, he found himself in the unique position to begin making his own bikes. It’s one of those things where if he had more free time, it probably would have already happened, but having to work full-time as a fabricator has put a damper on his plans of launching a company. For now, all he has is a name, a direction, and this bike.
Spectre Fab will eventually be a no-nonsense, tig-welded, custom and stock frame company specializing in bikes that like to get thrashed and used, not abused. This bike, in particular, is meant to handle like a fun, zippy track bike but with gears, bigger tires and yeah, the unique and fun riding position of the Fun 3 bars.
Carlos has taken this bike all over the dirt roads in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and then some. It’s his go-to commuter, cutty singletrack machine, with plenty of details to make even someone like me spend extensive time investigating it, piece by piece. I love bikes like this because ultimately, it’s their owners who have the idea, but it’s the bike that does all the talking.
Keep an eye on the Radavist for future updates as events warrant on Spectre Fab.