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.
We shoot a lot of bikes here on the Radavist. A lot. From my estimates, including tradeshows, and events like the Chris King Open House, or the Moots’ Employee Bikes, and even the Speedvagen Build Off, we shot 220 or so bikes in 2018. That’s a lot of bikes. A lot of details. A lot of component selection, build styles, and uses. From road, to mountain, and everything in between, noting the permutations that exist in this ever-so-special era in the cycling industry, I really feel like we’ve shown you just about everything you could see this year.
Out of those 220 bikes, I looked at the data in the form of traffic metrics, social chatter, and comments to pick the Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles of 2018. While many bikes had a lot of comments, some had higher traffic or social media shares. Compiling all the numbers, a very compelling list was formed. Not included in this lot are bike reviews, of which Morgan’s review of the Midnight Special and Kyle’s review of his Chubby Cosmic Stallion took the highest metrics from all others on this list. I guess they’re in a league of their own!
At any rate, check out the complete Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles of 2018, in no particular order, below!
For the past few years, Chris King has opened their doors to the public as part of an entire weekend of events dubbed the Chris King Open House. This event’s intent is to be coordinated with a product launch of their new colors for the year, as well as to showcase what makes their operations tick, and to display a selection of custom bikes, built by some of their best builder customers.
the two new colors for this year: matte turqoise and matte mango.
This year, they sent out an open invite to 30 of their best builder accounts, offering up discounted pricing to them to build a bike for the show, passing on the discount to their customers. Out of those 30 builders, 17 showed up, and they were displayed alongside a Pegoretti bike, which we looked at on Friday. These bikes lined the halls of the Chris King factory, where visitors could look at their features in great detail, chat with the builders about their process, and if they were so inclined, purchase their dream bike.
I was invited up to the Open House to document these bikes for the builders and for Chris King, as well as offering up an ultimate dream bike gallery for you, the readers of this website. Please enjoy! Which bike do you like the best and why? Oh and if you’re interested in one of the bikes showcased here, be sure to reach out to the builders, who are linked in the bike descriptions below.
Adam Sklar wants to shake the negative connotations with the word “hybrid.” You see, Adam likes flat bar ‘cross bikes. He likes how shreddy they are and he always jokes about how people cringe at the word “hybrid.” For Grinduro this year, he brought a titanium bike, which I’m calling the Hybrid Moments. Partially because, well, it’s a hybrid and also because he’s never heard the song by the Misfits. Millennials!
Want a way to Sklarize your bike? In need of a new seatpost? Want a little more compliance on your ride? Well, hold your horsies. Adam Sklar just posted up a few titanium seatposts, with 0mm, 15mm, and 18mm setbacks, all at 310mm lengths, and featuring ENVE clamp mechanisms. The posts are made in Bozeman, Montana by Adam and are in stock now. Head to Sklar for more!
Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.
Sklar Titanium XC 29er Hardtail
Before the swoops and curves he’s known for, Adam Sklar began his cycling experience riding XC mountain bikes outside of Denver, Colorado where he was born. That was a while ago – at least when you consider Adam is 25 years old – and since then, he’s moved onto making equally capable as beautiful, curvy mountain and all-road bikes. At some point in the last year, Adam decided he wanted to make an XC frame to ride. As humans often do, we tend to revisit our past experiences.
With a tighter wheelbase, a slightly steeper head angle of 69º, and a 120mm fork, the bike might look like some of Adam’s other trail bikes, but the handling of this bike is significantly different. With the Builder’s Camp approaching, Adam took a few days to whip up this frame, in the middle of organizing the whole event. While there’s no set pricing for a Sklar, his frames start at $3,950 for titanium and $2,650 for steel.
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!
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.
I first met Adam Sklar a few years ago while riding bikes with a bunch of frame builder friends in Santa Cruz. I was impressed by the character of Sklar’s bikes – those flattened swoops are pretty sweet, can’t deny it – but it was Adam’s personality and lighthearted approach to riding that made me really appreciate his brand. Our paths crossed again in Moab for the most fun week ever and I was convinced that I wanted a bike from Adam. Fast-forward a few months and imagine my stoke when he asked me to do drawings for Sklar Bikes! Since then we’ve been cultivating a cross-country creative partnership, one that emphasizes creativity, exploration, and good times.
Loose Lobster At The Landing: A Pre-NAHBS Tour Of Nutmeg Country
Photos By Renaldo, words by ‘Cobra Bones’ Sinkford
The show coming to the east coast for the first time meant all eyes are on Connecticut, and who could provide the ultimate pre-NAHBS experience with home court advantage than the mayor of Lobster Landing himself? I was told Nutmeg Country was a place of peace. A place of pizza, and pancake flat roads soft to the touch and pleasing to the eye. Two of those things are true.
Over the holidays the modern and progressive geometry of the #ultranutmegger was designed. Sklar would build a nutmeg themed dream bike for NAHBS, as custom as desired. That was a rabbit hole he should have never walked down. Seriously. One bike became two, because I was not going to be left out of the party. Truss forks and custom racks haunted young Adam’s dreams as the parts started to roll in, literally like Christmas.
Where do I even begin here? A bunch of awesome brands working together on a unique concept, featuring unique products and a lot of uniqueness. Is that even a word? Sklar and Benedict, aka Ultra Romance teamed up to build the ultimate bicycle. It’s so ultimate that I don’t even know what to call it. Is it a road bike? A touring bike? A mtb? Who knows. Right now, the consensus seems to be just “Nutmegger,” so that’s what I’ll call it. Before I go any further here, I’ll just say this bike begs for more than the brevity associated with copywriting of my NAHBS galleries and maybe one day we’ll dive in deeper, until then, I’ll give you the gist.
This is a part fillet, part tig welded steel frame in a nickel finish, with a custom stem by Hubert from Madrian Fabrication. It’s got a long wheelbase, mid-trail and a truss fork design, along with a double top tube to support the massive head tube. When you ride this thing, you’re really IN it, not on it.
The 66.6cm wide Crust bars are mated with a custom Swift Industries bag and nestled in that top tube space is an Andrew the Maker Bag. Those perty Paul and White Industries bits are custom annodized brown. There’s even a Connecticut State Coin as the top cap! It was assembled in Benedict’s mom’s kitchen and is still kinda sorta being built up as I’m writing this. Yes, the derailleur cable is long, there are no brake cable crimps and I had to stop Poppi from shallacing the tape as I was photographing it.
So what is the Nutmegger? I honestly have no idea. It’s a bicycle that embodies Benedict and that’s all it needs to be. Will Adam from Sklar make you one? Helllll nahhhhhh.
Adam is the best and his bikes are even better. Check out this video, showcasing his shop in Bozeman, Montana.
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.
Turquoise can be a beautiful color, in the right context and while this bike was born and has spent most of its life in Bozeman, Montana, it really came alive in Moab, Utah with all of its red rock cliffs and invasive dust. Katie and Steve (that shredder dude from all of our riding reportage) are good friends with Adam Sklar. Steve’s shop, Altar Cycles, is adjacent to Sklar‘s workspace and Katie runs a local sports massage company. Together, they’re an inspiring couple who can hold their own on mountain bikes. I won’t even get into the meal they cooked up for us on our last night in Moab…
Katie’s Sklar is a 27.5 hardtail, built with Race Face, RockShox, Pro2 EVO hubs and some good n grippy Maxxis rubber. After riding for a few days on such amazing trails, I can tell Katie knows how to jive with this bike. Hopefully I can make it to Bozeman this summer to shred their local trails.
It’s the debate for the new millennia: carbon or steel for a mountain bike. But what about both? Sure, others have ventured into putting rigid carbon forks on a steel hardtail before, but you don’t catch sight of the reverse too often. Since signing with Specialized to produce his latest hair metal band’s new album on minidisc, Poppi acquired an S-Works Fuse 6Fattie to take on the Baja Divide route. While this was by far the lightest bike he’s ever owned, Bene decided early on that the Öhlins fork wouldn’t cut it for the desert rampage that awaited. As hard as it was to part ways with such a sweet bit of suspension technology, Poppi knew it’d be an issue hauling the amount of water needed for the Divide on a squishy fork with no braze-ons.
Not knowing what to do, he sent psychedelic waves through the internet, where they were received at Sklar Bikes‘ HQ in Montana. From there, Adam and Bene began chatting about a rigid steel fork for what would ultimately become one Romantical Baja Buggie.
With braze-ons for days, US currency as the fork ends and a thrü axle, Popi would be able to haul his extra stuff and still have the compliance offered by steel on washboard roads. The King Cage Many Things Cage and Andrew the Maker bags provided the extra cargo capacity needed. Even though many on the Divide ran into problems with their racks and cargo cages breaking, Bene found the extra time to reinforce his the best he could on the trail with pipe clamps and zip ties. Whatever works for his S-Works! These bags, in combination with his downtube storage solution, Swift Industries Fabio’s Chest front and rear bags on Crust Bikes Leather 66.6cm drop bars, Benedict was able to stuff as many bags of Baja cookies and chips into his bikes’ every crevice.
Now for the biggest bit of technological advancement: His friction shifting SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. By grinding down the lip on his barcon, he was able to flawlessly shift through all screamin’ twelve gears, making this one of the most unique rigid mountain bike tourers I’ve ever photographed.
So what’s next for Poppi? Well, Nam and he are about to embark on a journey through the Los Padres mountains up to San Francisco for some Rice A Roni before heading back down south to begin his secret training for the Dirty Kanza. If you’re on the road and you see Poppi and Nam pedaling their rigs, be sure to offer up some chocolate – the darker the better – and a high five.
Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.
Last year when we visited Scott at Porcelain Rocket, we were doing the usual: shooting the shit about the industry, and Instagram, and all of the opinionated yammering that goes along with that. The topic of Sklar’s top tubes came up. Yes, those top tubes that curve upward, reducing standover while making for an instantly recognizable silhouette. I was suspicious.
Adam Sklar has been building bikes for five years now. Among his first customers was Sam, a good friend from high school. Sam had Adam build him a single speed 29er, but Sklar #4 has since been through many iterations over the years. Recently, Sam was feeling like his original Sklar, while abundant with character and nostalgia, was ready to give way to a new Sklar. Adam’s style has certainly developed over his time building bikes, and Sam wanted to honor his friend’s success by commissioning another frame.