Editor’s note: Each year we cover dozens of the most beautiful bikes in the world at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and other local shows. But what happens to them after the display booths are disassembled and the lights go out? After all, bikes are built to be ridden, not to sit around and look pretty. So we followed up with some of the bikes and builders we’ve covered in the past to see how these works of art are holding up.
By Montana Miller. Photo above by Justin Steiner. Other photos courtesy of Dylanlovesbikes and Rick Hunter.
Rick Hunter has been building since 1993 in Santa Cruz County, California. He specializes in fillet-brazed and tig-welded steel frames, forks, and stems. Last year at NAHBS, he showed a bright blue, drop-bar 29er bikepacking rig with custom frame bags.
Dirt Rag: What’s the best ride you’ve done on this bike?
Rick Hunter: Some buddies and I did a five-day dirt tour to Santa Barbara from Santa Cruz. We rode a bunch of abandoned and lightly used dirt roads, along with some parts of the Coast Ridge road through Big Sur and the entire length of the Carrizo plain National Monument.
Where is it now?
The bike is currently disassembled, I needed some of the parts for another bike, also I’m having RandiJo Fab rework one of the integral frame bags on it as we are trying to refine them, and create a good design for future projects.
Are you using the bike for the type of riding it was designed for?
Yes. I was riding the bike for short tours and overnighters, I like it as a comfortable day rider also, it basically turns itself into a drop bar 29er mountain for the local trails.
Anything you’d change?
We’re tweaking the bags a bit including the frame mounting parts, I’ll probably change the color at some point, as the tours can beat up the paint job pretty quick. The fit feels great, so I got that part right. I am always thinking about new bikes for myself, it’s nothing personal against my older bikes but I do always want to try a different set up or geometry or little tweaks here or there. But I do plan on keeping this one for at least another season of tours.
How long did it take to build the bike, and how much have you ridden it?
I’d estimate I put 40 to 50 hours into that bike, I’m sure I’ve ridden it lots more than that.
What are you bringing to the 2013 show in Denver?
I’m bringing an expedition fat touring bike with built in frame bags from Porcelain Rocket. Should be a good one, people are hyped on it already.
I’ll also have another 29er touring bike that has been dubbed the Super Scrambler. It was built for Nate Woodman at Monkey Wrench cycles in Lincoln Nebraska, basically a stripped down simplified version of last year’s blue bike, but with an insane paint job on it, reflective of the old Ritchey Commando paint jobs.