Dirt Rag Magazine

Karen Brooks

Karen Brooks

What do you think about when you're riding your bike?

I try to think as little as possible, and listen to the birds.

How would you rate your coffee consumption on a scale of 8-10?

ZERO. I drank a lifetime supply already, when I worked in a bike shop.

Complete this sentence: "My other bike is …"

Broom! Heh. No, more like a singlespeed mountain bike.

What are you eating, drinking, reading, or fearing these days?

Eating: lots of chocolate, always. Drinking: the darkest, blackest, stoutest of beers I can find. Reading: too many magazines, not enough books. Fearing: the imminent collapse of society, the environment, Earth's magnetic field, etc. etc. It's a pleasant surprise to wake up and find things to be relatively normal!

Elvis or the Beatles?

Elvis

Say something profound and meaningful in exactly seven words…

She sells sea shells by the seashore.

I like your answers. How can I get in touch with you?

412.767.9910 x104

Smoke signal: two big puffs, one small

Email me

Review: 616 Fabrications fat frame complete


616-fab-fat-bike-9

In the varied and ever-changing garden of bicycles, it seems that the fat bike corner is the latest area of flourishing growth, producing new ideas and iterations at a rapid pace. Two longtime mountain bike innovators—Aaron Joppe, former owner of Slingshot, and John Muenzenmeyer, former owner of Nukeproof—have been drawn into this bloom and are making interesting contributions with their relatively new company, 616 Fabrication.

The company name comes from the area code of western Michigan where they manufacture frames, forks and hubs at their own facility. They offer frames for fat bike, cyclocross and mountain builds, all made in high-end steel. Artistic touches, such as laser-cut seatstay bridges and custom-etched ID plates, further set these creations apart from the average mass-produced models, as does a classic paint job.

The first thing I and other staffers noticed about the Fat frame is its relatively steep 72 head tube angle. It also sports short-for-a-fat-bike 17.5-inch chainstays. Hub spacing is 135mm front and 170mm rear. It’s designed to ride light and nimbly over sand, snow and rock. Custom geometry is available to suit anyone’s taste, but for our tight turns and four seasons, the stock numbers suited me just fine.

Read our full review of the 616 Fat.

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Lapierre brings new mountain bikes to US shores


By Karen Brooks

Lapierre is a storied French brand that has been making bicycles since 1946. Last year it debuted an electronically controlled suspension system in Europe, for 2014 that system, called Ei, will be available in the States on a trio of bikes: the Spicy and Zesty 27.5-wheeled trail bikes, and the XR 29er for cross country.

These bikes were so eagerly anticipated that it was tough to get a good look at them, let alone a ride. But I managed to snag one for a run down several trails at Deer Valley and shoot another between demo sessions.

Both the Spicy and Zesty AM (pictured here) were redesigned with input from no less than Nicolas Vouilloz, the enduro racer, former WRC rally car driver and 10-time (yes, 10) UCI downhill world champion.

The biggest change is the move from 26 to 27.5 wheels. The Spicy is the enduro specialist, with 150mm of rear travel and 160mm up front, while the Zesty has 150mm travel all around. (There is also a Zesty Trail version with 120mm of travel on 29-inch wheels.)

So, about all those wires… basically, the EI system activates the platform switch on your rear shock for you. It operates on a combination of sensors that feed into a computer which controls a servo motor mounted to the RockShox Monarch RT3 shock to change between Floodgate compression settings: open, platform, and closed.

There are accelerometers on the fork and in the headset top cap that detect the size of the bumps you’re hitting, and a cadence sensor in the crank to tell the system when you’re pedaling.

A small display on the handlebar gives some basic cycle-computer functions, and also switches between five sensitivity settings and turns the system on or off.

In general, pedaling and no bumps at the fork means the rear shock is locked out, while combinations of bumps and pedaling cause the system to choose between platform and wide open, depending on what it senses. Reaction time is only 0.1 second.

I got a chance to ride two new Lapierre bikes, a Spicy with the Ei and a Zesty AM without it. Both bikes were a helluva lot of fun, and seemingly tailor-made for Deer Valley’s extensive network of lift-serviced trails—lots of turns and some rocks, with loose sections and occasional sand traps of deep powdery soil. (Just like the snow!) Very enduro-like.

So what difference did the Ei system make? The Lapierre folks said, and in my case it was true, that many people neglect to use their platform switches and just leave the shock open or in platform mode. I did this with the non-Ei Zesty and still had fun, even if I worked much harder to climb the short uphills in the thin air.

But the Ei-equipped Spicy was certainly busy as I rode the same set of trails, clicking and whirring as it did its stuff. I can say that it did improve the ride, making the rear end more plush when the trail turned chunky or stiffen up when I hit the fire road climb.

However, it remains to be seen whether this fancy electronic system does as good a job with automatically changing the suspension feel as a mechanical system, such as a dw-link, would. I also wonder how all those wires, and the battery, will fare in a rainy, muddy climate. But of course, that’s why we test things.

Some stats:

Spicy:

  • Available in Team or 527 models
  • Head tube angle 66.5, seat tube angle 73.5, bottom bracket drop 10mm, chainstay length 430mm (same length as the previous 26-wheeled version)
  • Carbon frame with an aluminum swingarm
  • Replaceable down tube/BB protector
  • Internal cable routing for shifters, brakes and dropper post
  • 142x12mm thru-axle, ISCG05 tabs

Zesty:

  • Available in five models
  • Same frame as Spicy but with 150mm fork instead of 160mm (67 head tube angle, 74 seat tube angle)
  • Rear shock settings are slightly stiffer than on Spicy
  • Carbon frame with an aluminum swingarm
  • Replaceable down tube/BB protector
  • Internal cable routing for shifters, brakes and dropper post
  • 142x12mm thru-axle, ISCG05 tabs
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Pivot gets in the 27.5 game with new Mach 6 and LES hardtail


By Karen Brooks and Adam Newman

Mach 6

Pivot showed off three new bikes at their DealerCamp oasis. First off: the highly anticipated Mach 6.

We’re at a point in mountain bike history when factors are converging to create a fresh bloom of creativity—namely, the enduro racing scene and the 27.5 wheel size. Pivot’s been working on a bike that takes advantage of “Goldilocks” wheels to dominate this new form of racing.

The Mach 6 has 6.1 inches (155mm) of dw-link travel with a new upper linkage design that allows maximum tuning flexibility. Chris Cocalis, the mad genius behind Pivot, said that they aimed to make a bike “that can descend like a full downhill machine and climb like an XC race bike.” Ambitious, yes, but it’s a bike that looks like it can deliver.

Some pertinent numbers: head tube angle is 66 degrees, bottom bracket is 13.6 inches high, and the chainstays are 17 inches (16.929” to be exact)—in short, low and aggressive.

The new upper linkage has a wishbone-shaped piece that goes from the shock around the seat tube, and short, almost hidden links that connect its two rearward pivots to the seatstays. There are bearings with offset races rather than bushings behind those big silver covers, to eliminate play and provide the smoothest travel possible. A custom-tuned Float X CTD or Float shock will provide the cushion.

As with other Pivot bikes, the finish and fittings are impeccable. For instance, the lower drive-side pivot points are inset to clear a front derailleur, but if you choose not to use one, a nifty plate covers the mounting point. The shift and dropper post cables are routed internally, and rubberized bits protect the lower down tube and drive-side chainstay.

Prices for the Mach 6 will depend on build kit, but will range from $4,700 to $7,600, and frames will go for $3,000.

 

Key features

  • 6.1” (155mm) travel next-generation dw-link suspension design with position-sensitive anti-squat that pedals, accelerates and handles like nothing else for aggressive trail riding conditions.
  • All new upper linkage design provides additional control over the suspension curve.
  • This new Mach 6 linkage design also eliminates the rear shock bushing; replacing it with two large Enduro max cartridge bearings resulting in a substantial improvement in small to mid size bump compliance and better traction in all conditions. It is also compatible with most shocks in the marketplace so it does not require a proprietary shock design.
  • The new Mach 6 linkage design was one of the keys to achieving short (even for 26-inch wheels) 430mm chainstays (16.9 inches) and 155mm of rear travel while clearing 27.5×2.35 tires.
  • Pivot-exclusive hollow box, high-compression internal molding technology allows for greater compaction and smoother internal walls resulting in a lighter, stronger, highly optimized frame design with the best stiffness to weight ratio in the class.
  • Pivot-specific, custom tuned Fox Float or Float X CTD shock technology: Increased performance and adjustment range allows riders to quickly and easily adjust for changing course or ride conditions.
  • Internal top tube shift cable routing and down tube dropper seat post routing keeps cables clean and running smooth.
  • Rubberized leather chainstay, inner seat stay, and down tube protectors for a quiet ride and higher impact resistance.
  • 142×12 thru-axle, ISCG-05 tabs, Press Fit 92 bottom bracket, direct mount front derailleur, post mount brake tabs. 

LES 27.5

We reviewed the 29er version of the LES (pivotles, get it?) in Issue #170 and fell in love with its high performance. The 27.5 version offers the same package with, you guessed it, 27.5-inch wheels. Building a bike under 20 lbs. is now within reach, and smaller riders can get on board with the Small and XS sizes. 

 

The LES 27.5 will share most features with its larger-wheeled sibling, including full carbon construction, internal cable routing, 142×12 thru-axle, and the chainstays are just 16.77 inches. 

Vault

 

This was another bike that looked ready to dominate races, the short but painful CX kind or the long-distance gravel kind. This carbon wonder is built with “longer, slacker, lower” geometry than a typical CX bike. So, very much the same as other gravel-specific bikes, but in the high-end, sharply finished fashion we’ve come to expect from Pivot.

 

The dropouts come stock set for 135mm spacing, but have removable inserts to convert to 130mm.

 

The bike can also swap easily between discs or cantis, with more clean fittings to cover evidence of either one you’re not using.

The full-carbon fork was carefully designed to offer a bit of compliance but without chatter. There’s a lot of room for tires in there, both front and back.

The full build offering will have Ultegra 11, TRP HY-RD disc brakes and Stan’s wheels for $3,599. Frames will go for $2,299.

 

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Salsa unveils carbon Beargrease fat bike and updates Fargo


By Karen Brooks

Between their excursions to “adventure by bike,” the folks at Salsa have been busy making improvements to their stable. We recently covered the 2014 Horsethief and Spearfish, which both got the Split Pivot treatment. At SaddleDrive in Snowbasin, Utah, they also unveiled a host of other changes to the 2014 model lineup.

Beargrease

First up is a bike that is truly fat, yet weighs less than its brethren: the Beargrease Carbon.

The geometry has been tweaked to essentially “feel more like a mountain bike” and also shift the rider’s weight rearward, via shorter chainstays and a new Whiteout carbon fat fork with 51mm offset. Salsa says this also serves to get a better steering response in snow, keeping the front wheel from pushing sideways and allowing it to be guided around a turn.

It will come in an XX1 or X9 versions. The XX1 is pictured here, with sweet graphics in bright green on matte black. It will also sport the Alternator dropouts (pictured below with the Fargo). The Beargrease’s path is diverging further from that of the Mukluk — becoming even more of a dedicated snow racer, while the Mukluk is for exploring at your own pace.

Mike Riemer, Salsa’s marketing manager, let it be known that the bike is suspension-corrected for a 100mm travel, 51mm offset suspension fork for fat wheels, something that doesn’t exist — yet. A full-suspension version could also possibly appear someday…

The complete bike weighs around 26lbs., pretty darn light for something that looks so… substantial. I got a chance to ride it a bit on singletrack, and really appreciated its weight savings over other fat bikes — between that and its improved handling, it felt kind of like it was filled with helium. If I had one, I’d love to set it up tubeless for ultimate float.

Fargo

Next is a bike that started with a cool concept and just keeps getting better: the Fargo. The new version looks and feels like a cohesive package.

The Alternator dropouts are a rocking type that give 17mm fore-aft adjustment. Different plates will be available to accept a standard quick-release, 142x12mm thru-axles, or Rohloff hubs, and also for dedicated singlespeeding. Note that the non-drive side has just two bolts—the top one is also one of the brake caliper bolts.

 

The fork is a new carbon one, called the Firestarter, and the frame is corrected for a 100mm suspension fork.

 

The Woodchipper handlebars felt natural and right on this bike, as did the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. I didn’t get to ride it nearly as much as I wanted to (right on across the state and beyond), but the little bit of dirt and gravel I did experience left me impressed.


 

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First look: New mountain and adventure bikes from Surly


By Karen Brooks

The first day of Saddledrive—a dealer and media-only event put on by distributor Quality Bicycle Producuts—the whistle sounded (yes, really) and eager attendees stampeded toward the line of waiting demo bikes in a grassy area at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. Among those were some surprise new models from Surly.

Straggler

First off, the Surly bikes. (drumroll please…) They’ve finally put disc brake mounts on a Cross Check-style steel cyclocross bike! Cleverly enough, it’s called the Straggler.

It comes in a sparkly purple paint job to call attention to how awesome it is. It will have slightly different geometry from the Cross Check—a tad lower bottom bracket drop, and a tad longer head tube for sizes 54cm and up. The size run is also spread out evenly in 2cm increments, with a 64cm largest size added.

The dropouts have an interesting two-stage opening—an angled slot makes a bend to a horizontal run of about 17mm. This is so that the wheel will drop out normally given the disc brakes, but then can be adjusted horizontally for singlespeed use or to lengthen the wheelbase for touring. There are rear-facing set screws, and threaded holes to flip them forward for horizontal use. Here is a helpful napkin drawing by Adam Sholtes, Surly’s product manager:

The rear brake caliper is bolted to slots for corresponding horizontal adjustment.

Note the tires—those are a new 700×41 Knard tread that will come stock on complete bikes and is sure to be popular on all sorts of other multi-purpose ‘cross bikes. They did well on the loose rock and powdery soil at Snowbasin.

The bike also comes stock with the Salsa Cowbell 2 bar, a favorite of mine, and one that proved to be popular on other SaddleDrive bikes. This was a fun bike to ride all around the area— trails, gravel road and parking lot.

ECR

Next up is the ECR— something that the Surly dudes had in mind during the process of designing the Krampus. Basically, it’s a bikepacking Krampus, with more touring-friendly geometry and lots of braze-ons for all your backcountry needs.

What does “ECR” stand for? According to sales dude Trevor Clayton, there are about a hundred different iterations floating around the Surly office. A few of the shareable ones are “Enduro Camping Rig,” “Exit Cities Rapidly” and “Einstein Can’t Rap.”

It will come stock with a Jones loop bar. Jeff Jones himself worked with Surly to make the bar a little wider at the grip area, and it can be trimmed down to size. Surly also got Microshift to produce a special version of their thumbshifters that can be switched from index to friction shifting.

The dropouts are the same industrial-strength, multi-multi-purpose ones found on the Troll and Ogre, compatible with just about anything you can stick on the rear end of a bike.

Of course the bike is also festooned with tons of mounts.

It’s not a light bike, but is fun and capable on the dirt, with a more “settled-in” feeling than the Krampus and very suitable for long days spent exploring.

Instigator

Lastly, we have the return of the notorious Instigator — re-imagined as a “26+ all-mountain hardtail.”

It’s built around a 140mm travel fork (a Fox 32 Float will be stock) and Rabbit Hole 50mm-wide rims with new Dirt Wizard 26”x2.75” tires. With that much volume, the true wheel diameter effectively becomes 27.5”.

It has a 142mm thru-axle rear and ISGC mounts for a chainguard. Who’d want a front derailleur on this, anyway?

On the trails this was a bike that definitely begged for starting trouble, but seemed more than capable of handling the results.

Stay tuned: we’ve got more coverage from Salsa Cycles coming. Check back tomorrow!  

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First Impression: BMC Four-Stroke FS01 29


By Karen Brooks

Once again, I raced the Trans-Sylvania Epic seven-day mountain bike stage race in central Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. This “summer camp for mountain bikers” is one of the only races I put on my calendar in (digital) ink. It’s a ton of fun. It’s also a great opportunity to put a bike through its paces in rather extreme conditions— tons of rocks, distances of 25-45 miles a day, and a seriously fast pace (if one is trying to be serious, that is).

This year my test sled arrived just two days before we were to leave. I had time for one shakedown cruise on the rockiest trails I could conveniently get to, at Roaring Run in Apollo, Pa. Then it was off to the races.

Fortunately I happened to have chosen a good bike for the job, and one that proved to be popular among my fellow racers as well. Its XC-ish 100mm of travel front and rear is made more playful by a 70-degree head tube angle and a long top tube/short stem combo, and total weight for this carbon-framed beauty is well under 24lbs. BMC was also a sponsor of the TSE this year, and thus would be on hand to offer help, or even a replacement bike if things went totally sideways.

BMC’s APS virtual pivot point system delivered an excellent ride. I felt that it offered a distinct, and much appreciated, difference between the Fox CTD BV Factory shock’s three settings: Climb was fast and responsive for climbing, Descend was plush and controlled for the crazy, radical descents, and Trail was trail-gripping for the many rocky sections. Perfect. The bike even has a handy graphic on the top pivot for setting suspension sag.

The Fox 32 Float CTD FIT Performance fork, on the other hand, gave me some trouble. I aimed for about 20% sag initially, but at the low pressure necessary to get there, the fork was sluggish to rebound, even with rebound damping set full open. After a couple evenings of tinkering I remembered Fox’s handy smartphone app and gave that a shot. The result—more air and more rebound—did feel better, but I still didn’t get the butter-smooth plushness over the rocks that I got last year with the Lefty on the Cannondale Scalpel I tested then. I ended up leaving the CTD knob in Descend most of the time. Maybe I’m missing the Kashima coating that the shock has? More research and tinkering are needed.

As far as other parts go, the SRAM X0 drivetrain performed solidly. I can’t imagine dealing with a triple crankset in a race situation anymore. I swapped the stock Fizik Tundra saddle for my preferred Fizik Vesta, and installed Ergon grips, both choices to minimize pain over a week of jarring.

So how did the race go? Amazingly, for the second year in a row, I had no mechanicals and only a couple small crashes, nothing major. I’m still pissed at myself for missing the starting card-swipe for the enduro section on the Tussey Mountain trail on Stage 6, as that was probably my one and only shot at standing on the podium. An uphill enduro! With rocks! That’s my jam! AAARGH! But that’s racing. All in all, though, this year was extra fun and exciting since the Women’s Open field grew by leaps and bounds, and I had to keep my racing wits, and legs, about me through the final day. I earned my now-traditional 8th place, but it felt like a real victory. Shout-outs to my fellow female competitors for keeping the pressure on day after day.

Watch for my long-term review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.

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Wheelies, wine, and oh yeah… racing too!


By Karen Brooks

It’s 10:21 p.m. and I’m typing this at a rustic wooden table in the dining area of a Boy Scout cabin. My cabin-mates are chatting, drinking water (or beer) and snacking, discussing today’s racing (and shenanigans) and tomorrow’s stage. Someone says, “Aw, it sucks you guys have to work.” But then I remind them that I’m technically at work when we’re out on the trail, too.

This is the third year I’ve ridden in the Trans-Sylvania Epic—it’s always a work gig I’ll angle to get because I enjoy it so much. The setting is beautiful, the racing is difficult but fun, and the company is laid-back and friendly.

Last night there was a “ladies’ dance party” in our kitchen, fueled by wine from the local winery. This evening was the annual Wednesday-night Wheelie Contest (won by Gunnar Bergey), which turned into a derby (won by Derek Bissett) and then a limbo contest and also a skid contest (won by today’s singlespeed winner Dax Massey).

Oh yeah, and the racing. I feel pretty good, despite not being able to ride to Washinton D.C. and back this spring like last year. My BMC Fourstroke FS01 29 test bike seems to be the hot set-up for this year (more on that later), and experience is certainly helping. There have been some moments of actual back-and-forth dueling and strategy use between me and my closest competitors, which makes it more fun. I still seem to be stuck in my usual 8th place, but once again, most of the names ahead of me are actual paid professionals, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Most importantly, I’ve managed to keep the rubber side down so far.

Tomorrow is the notoriously technical stage at R.B. Winter State Park. It’s only 22 miles but contains enough rocks for twice that, plus a nearly mile-long crazy chute of a descent that’s more of a controlled fall. So I’d better get to bed and rest up.
 

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Juli Furtado unveils new Juliana bikes built by Santa Cruz


By Karen Brooks. Photos courtesy of Santa Cruz.

One of the coolest parts of my job is getting to meet those athletes or personalities who have inspired me in my own struggles to be a better mountain biker. So when I got an email from mountain bike legend Juli Furtado—one of my heroes from way back in beginner days—inviting me to a press camp to introduce a new brand she’s spearheading, I stared at the computer screen for a while in amazement. Juli Furtado! Wow! 

In case you are not familiar, Juli Furtado earned legend status by absolutely dominating the XC (and sometimes DH) race circuit in the early-to-mid-90s. She was forced into an early retirement in 1997 after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus and has remained largely out of the spotlight ever since. Serendipity landed her in Santa Cruz, Calif., and she got a job organizing sponsorship for Santa Cruz, the bike company. She also inspired the very first women-specific mountain bike model, the Juliana, which has been steadily selling since its debut in 1999.

Now she has decided to step back into the spotlight with the debut of an entirely new brand of women’s mountain bikes bearing the same Juliana name. The bikes will be built using Santa Cruz’s proven designs and manufacturing, but Furtado herself has taken the reins to insist upon details that she considers important to giving women the “comfort, performance and beauty” they deserve.

“I want women to feel like queens on the bike,” she said. Fitting for the Queen of the Mountain herself to head up this project.

I was part of an all-female group of journalists who got to ride the new Juliana bikes in some primo locations around the company headquarters in Santa Cruz.

The Juliana line is made up of four bikes, all featuring signature components and smaller sizes designed to fit women better, plus graphics that are feminine without being girly. Each bike has three stylized icons on the top tube: a flame, a lotus flower and a wolf, symbolizing powerful, beautiful and natural, respectively. This may seem silly to some, but it’s just the kind of thing that could inspire me to keep truckin’ up some godawful climb, or find the cojones to tackle that nasty downhill. 

The most exciting model is the Furtado, a new flavor of bike that doesn’t yet exist in a Santa Cruz mens’—excuse me, "uni-sex"—model: a 27.5-wheeled trail bike with 125mm of Virtual Pivot Point travel.

Its geometry is designed for ruling the mountain just like its namesake. We rode the $5,999 Primeiro build kit, a carbon fiber frame decked out with Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain, plus a Fox 32 Float 130mm fork and Float rear shock, both sporting the silky-smooth Kashima coating. It’s also available in the Segundo kit, based on an aluminum frame, for $2,999. This was a rippin’ fast bike, perfect for shredding the famed Mailboxes trail, among others, at UC Santa Cruz.

The Furtado has nifty internal cable routing for a dropper post, which is included in the spec.

The Joplin, “Queen of Rocks and Roll,” is akin to the Santa Cruz Tallboy and also rocks VPP suspension. The Joplin’s top build kit mirrors the Furtado’s for $5,399, and it comes in two others built on aluminum frames, the Segundo for $3,099 and the Terco for $2,599. 

The original Santa Cruz Juliana has been updated and folded into the new brand as the Origin, a single-pivot model. Here it is in the “Persimmon” color that Furtado wanted to match the California poppies that grace the landscape around the town.

Not pictured, there’s also a Nevis aluminum hardtail offering starting at $1,650.

The Origin and Nevis feature 29-inch wheels for the medium and small sizes but 26-inch for the extra-small, to fit the suspension into the smaller geometry, plus crank lengths tailored to each size.

Juliana components, which will also be available aftermarket, are designed for comfort and fit for women. The highlight of the components is the Compact Mountain handlebars and grips, with a smaller diameter at the grip area. This combination made it easier to hang on and brake in more technical stuff, particularly the monster berms and rollers of the Flow Trail at Tamarancho State Park.

 

All Juliana models share geometry with Santa Cruz bikes—no women’s specific geometry, just smaller sizes. The real difference in this women’s line is the high-end emphasis, female-friendly interface parts spec, and a marketing effort that obviously treats women as serious riders. Is that enough to attract female customers? In my opinion, it will. The passion behind this brand is obvious, and with the design and marketing know-how of Santa Cruz behind the scenes, expect the to see plenty of fast ladies tearing it up on Julianas very soon.


 

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NAHBS 2013 – Breadwinner Cycles


Portland framebuilders Ira Ryan, left, and Tony Pereira joined forces to create Breadwinner cycles.

By Karen Brooks

Covering NAHBS is always tough—just about every booth has a cool story and some nice shiny bits to attract attention. This one was a bit of a surprise: a name I hadn’t heard before, but one that I think will make a big impact. Breadwinner Cycles is the secret-until-yesterday project of framebuilders Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan.

Pereira and Ryan’s business plan is to bring handmade bikes down from the rarified air they tend to inhabit and make them more accessible and affordable for the general public. They’re collaborating on a complete line of bikes, available as frame and fork for $2,000-$2,300, with just a 6-8 week turnaround time. They’ll do complete builds as well. In the next six months they aim to secure and outfit a Portland location in which they can produce 1,000 bikes a year. Since their current shops are located close to one another, they’ve been able to begin producing some bikes already.

The example that stuck out was this 650b-wheeled city bike with a front rack, dubbed “Arbor Lodge.” Aside from the usual generator lights, Honjo fenders, and disc brakes, it has a U-lock integrated into the frame in a convenient, yet unobtrusive way. The rack bag is by Blaq Bags, and that white stripe along the bottom flashes blue.

 

Breadwinner also displayed a road racing bike, a cyclocross model, a mountain bike, and these two: a black classic road bike with fenders and good tire clearance and a brown touring bike with front and rear racks. Both had matching pumps, naturally.

While we were chatting, another of Portland’s well-known framebuilders, Joseph Ahearne, came up and joined the conversation. We talked about why Portland boasts so many framebuilders—I haven’t added it up, but a significant portion of NAHBS exhibitors hail from there, this year and most years. So I asked these three if there was something in the water. It comes down to the city’s bike-friendliness, said Pereira. Getting around by bike is easy and common there, and so inventive types tend naturally to gravitate toward the bicycle as a good platform for experimentation and improvement. It’s cool to think that as more cities make bikes feel welcome, we’ll no doubt see more innovation and creativity surrounding the bicycle in years to come.

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