Over the years, I’ve had the honor to throw my leg over many bikes, try them out, write a review, and then send them back. While the bikes return to their companies, the experience stays with me, and in the time I’ve been running this website, I’ve developed my own belief for what the perfect geometry for a hardtail mountain bike is. About a year ago, I began talking with Adam Sklar and Colin Frazer, who were about to launch a new production, US-made frame company called Mystic. We wanted to test the waters with a Radavist edition frame, dubbed the Alluvium. After chatting about numbers and branding, we felt like we were getting closer to releasing this frame. Then the reality of such an undertaking took hold and we killed the project.
If a trail is made by humans, versus game or erosion, does it carry along with it historical remnants of the trail builder’s psyche? Humans use tools to create trails and these tools are guided by feats of strength, both physical and mental. What happens when strength is combined with emotion? Are those emotional remnants carried along the path, forever altering the harmony of its intentional meanderment? Trails are all about control. Direction. Intention. Is there a marking of metaphysical energy within them?
Bozeman, Montana is a magical place to mountain bike in the summertime. Last year’s trip was epic, so this year we wanted to re-visit this quaint little mountain town. While we were there last month, I was able to shoot Adam Sklar’s latest project, the Sweet Spot 29er MTB. While Adam usually takes on custom bikes, the Sweet Spot will be the brand’s first production model. The Sweet Spot is made in Bozeman, Montana, just like all Sklar Bikes. The aim here is to lower wait times, while not sacrificing quality. It also enables Adam to sell a model that is in-line with his philosophy on mountain bikes.
Trail dogs are the best! This morning our friend Mason Griffin went neck and neck with Tulip, the trail running puppers, as we careened down the Leverich trail.
Friday is payday! Spend $10 of your hard earned money for the chance to win a balleur custom bike from Mosaic Cycles, Stinner Frameworks, Argonaut Cycles, Sklar Bikes, and McGovern Cycles! Today is the last day – the fundraiser ends at Noon PST – so head on over to the Builders for Builders fundraiser for more information and check out these dream builds in our Reportage!
Once again, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is the beneficiary of Builders for Builders. Bicycle frame builders for bicycle trail builders. The formula is simple and effective! This year at the 2019 Lost and Found gravel race in Portola, California, the Builders for Builders raffle and fundraiser returned, bringing in the five builders offering up the winner of the raffle a decked-out, custom frame of their choice. You have from now until June 7th to donate $10. This donation enters you to win a custom bicycle from your pick of builder: Mosaic Cycles, Stinner Frameworks, Argonaut Cycles, Sklar Bikes, and McGovern Cycles.
Wow. Where do I even begin here. This is the first post to come from a four-day ride from Tropic to Green River, Utah, traversing the Grand Staircase, down to Lake Powell and through the plateau leading out to Barrier Canyon, now known as Horseshoe Canyon with Machines for Freedom. The route was mixed terrain, ranging from smooth bitumen to sand and hardpack. Each rider on this journey had various setups, which we’ll go over later, but right now I wanted to showcase Alter Cycles co-owner Mason Griffith’s Pucci Cicli painted Sklar all road.
One of our favorite podcasts, We Got to Hang out, just posted their discussion with Adam from Sklar Bikes. It’s worth the listen, so give it a spin!
Riding bikes, soaking in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and documenting everything in between. Expect lots of fun to come!
What else can I say? Path Less Pedaled takes a look at what makes Sklar Bikes tick. Also, I’m stoked to be in Bozeman this week!
This year, I’ll be covering the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship’s Triple Crown events: Lost & Found, Grinduro, and the Downieville Classic. My intent with this is to grow the Stweardship’s presence, help them raise money and spread the stoke for the Lost Sierra. Jumping on board with this project is just the icing on the dirt cake!
“Custom frame makers Sklar, Stinner, Mosaic, and McGovern have teamed up with world-class component makers ENVE, Chris King, SRAM and WTB to create four unique and beautiful custom bicycles that will be raffled after the gun goes off for the Lost and Found Gravel race. All proceeds will benefit the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship.
Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is a non-profit organization that builds and maintains multi-use trails in the Sierra Buttes, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen national forests. Their mission is building sustainable recreation-based communities through stewardship, job creation and hosting world-class events. SBTS has donated an estimated 72,000 hours of volunteer labor, maintained over 800 miles of shared use trails and created nearly 80 miles of new trails since 2003.
The bikes will be exhibited at the Lost and Found gravel race and the raffle will be live, with $20 tickets, from June 2nd through June 15th, hosted by The Pro’s Closet. All donations and raffle ticket purchases are tax deductible.”
Check out more details on these bikes and how to buy a raffle ticket below!
While we tend to see a lot of experimentation with MTB geometry, specifically hardtails here on the Radavist, I feel like the good ol’ all-road and ‘cross bike geometries, for the most part, stay mostly the same. Sure, head tubes might steepen or slacken a half or so degree, and bottom bracket height can vary, along with seat tube angle, but for the most part, these bikes all look similar in profile. Is it a by-product of design perfection or longevity? Who knows but the bottom line is; I rarely see a road bike geometry that piques my interest and begs the question; I wonder how THAT rides.
Then Adam Sklar sent me an email, asking if I had any desire to review one of his “team” MX all road bikes. I glanced at the geometry, saw the top tube length and thought it was going to be too long for me, especially for how I’d use it. Adam informed me of this bike’s design philosophy, which is part ‘cross geo and part modern MTB. Paradoxically, in short, Adam lengthened the bike’s top tube, slackened the head tube and lowered the bottom bracket. The bike is designed to run a shorter stem, a 70mm, versus a 110mm and with a longer head tube, puts the riding position a bit more upright.
Bikes. People love seeing bikes. Especially ones made by this feller, Adam Sklar. I’m going with my gut here, which is telling me to share this bike, before the story of how we got to where this unique shred sled was photographed. I’m assuming you’ve probably figured out that we spent last week in the Moab, Utah area, which is where we linked up with some people from Bozeman, Minneapolis, Tuscon, Philly and Los Angeles.
We initially rolled through Fruita, then out to Klondike Bluff, a singletrack area between Moab and Green River, to ride trails, check out dinosaur tracks, rock hound, and enjoy all that Utah has to offer. It was here, that I shot one of the wildest Sklars to date – sorry Benedict!
Sklar Doggy has made some damn beautiful bicycles over the few years he’s been building in Bozeman, Montana. Yet, in recent months, he’s been jonesin’ to work with a new material. Steel is indeed, real, but Adam really wanted to work with titanium. A lot of builders have been making this transition as of late. In short, it offers their clients with a superior frame material and perhaps another draw is more profit for the builders. Or at least that’s what people think is the motivation.
After talking and shredding with Adam in the Angeles National Forest, where he got #ANFAF, Adam wax poetic’d all afternoon about how difficult titanium is to work with, stating it took him almost four times as long per frame. Right now, he’s got two frames under his belt, one for himself, and one for Colin, which is replacing Colin’s steel hardtail – consequently, he’s selling that frameset now. I was surprised to hear titanium was that much more difficult to work with, because I always assumed that the draw of the material was profit margins. Turns out, the experience of working with the material takes time and yeah, time is money…
For Adam, once he made a frame, he needed parts. Unfortunately, that meant scavenging parts from his NAHBS bike this year. You might notice the tight squeeze on the fork – all he had was a 27.5+ fork, not a 29+ fork. Run what you brung, indeed! For what it’s worth, these frames are designed to run a 27.5+ tire, or a 29 x 2.6″ – so it’s not exactly a “+” 29er.
While he’s already taken a few more orders on titanium frames, Adam is eager to master this material, resulting in a faster process and ultimately, making the best frame he can. I can’t wait to see where this new material takes Sklar Bikes and hopefully, I’ll get to ride one at some point. Thanks for hangin’, Adam! If you’d like a ti Sklar, holler at Adam!
I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of disc brake-equipped, drop bar bikes at NAHBS with clearances for bigger tires and while I’m not a huge fan of the nomenclature I’ve adopted, I can honestly say I’ve thought about other alternatives to “all-road.” As we were going out to shoot this bike yesterday, Adam and I had a discussion. The gist of it was that I look at a bike’s geometry, not it’s build kit in determining its “type.” So, for instance, if a bike has the geometry of a road bike and fits big tires, I call them road bikes. People get hung up on this though, because of the tire spec. Yet, if one of these bikes has the geometry of a ‘cross bike, it’s still just a cross bike, flat bars, drop bars, 1x, 2x, SS, it doesn’t matter, ATMO anyway.
So you’ll have to giggle when you read my titles for NAHBS bikes this year, as it’s taken me a good amount of time to figure out what the hell these things are, without using the oversaturated keywords being lobbed all over the cycling industry: gravel and adventure. It’s just a damn road bike.
Ok, enough of the rant, let’s check out this bike’s build kit. It’s built with Force CX1, Industry Nine AR25 wheels, Sim Works cockpit, Thomson post and some big ol’ fatty WTB Riddler tires. Once this 56cm beaut finishes making the rounds at NAHBS, it’ll be for sale too. Email Sklar for details.
I wish I could keep shooting bikes in the Moab desert, but alas, I’m in Salt Lake City as you’re reading this, firing away in the Salt Palace.
Are you guys sick of seeing the “+” sign after wheel size standards? Ok, I didn’t think so. While the mountain bike industry tries to re-align itself on the topic of wheel sizes and tire widths, the rest of us are busy experimenting with tire spec, chainstay length, and bottom bracket drop. Out in Montana, Adam Sklar has some opinions about the aforementioned design options. Slacker, lower and longer bikes tend to enjoy going downhill faster and offer more stability at those speeds. All of which is particularly helpful when encountering a rock garden or chunky section of trail. Many of those design points that apply in Montana, apply in Los Angeles, where our trails are rocky, steep and our descents last for well over an hour at times.
Colin got this bike when he lived in Bozeman. Adam built him a pretty standard Sklar 27.5+ hardtail, and Colin spec’d the parts. Lining the beautiful desert tan frame are a slew of purple anodized components, including i9 hubs, Hope rotors, Twenty Six stem and collar. Keeping the front from buckin’ around too much is a 140mm Rock Shox Pike and Maxxis 3″ tires. Those rims? Cheapo Chinese carbon from eBay. Colin’s view on those are if carbon wheels are going to break after a few seasons, why not go with a cheaper alternative? He’s got the front laced to a SON hub for night riding in the mountains and is using SRAM XX1 with one of those trippy Wolf Tooth rings.
This bike is a beast and I can’t wait to shred with its owner and creator next week in Moab before NAHBS engulfs this website. If you’d like to read Colin’s review of it, head over to the Sklar Blog!
Sklar Bikes Factory Team Does The Colorado Trail
Photos by Adam Sklar, words by Sam Atkins
A particular genre of plans are hatched in the depths of cold, dark Montana winters. Call it cabin fever, call it seasonal affective, call it whatever you like, but after months of cloud-choked skies, icy winds, and trails buried under feet of snow a cerebral switch flips. Dreams of green and blue flicker, illusory echoes of hoots and laughter brought by the thrill of wheels rolling over dirt ring in the subconscious. So when a group of old friends reached out last January to suggest we reunite to bikepack the Colorado Trail, I couldn’t say no.