In 2006 Portland framebuilder Sacha White built himself a singlespeed cyclocross bike as a prototype to test some new ideas. His one-of-a-kind custom bikes were known as Vanilla, and they were taking the bike industry by storm. White knew he couldn’t compromise his Vanilla brand by expanding beyond the one-on-one custom process that makes them so unique, but he also wanted to build more bikes for his friends and fellow racers. From the ideas pioneered in that cyclocross bike, White founded a new brand called Speedvagen that would build handmade bikes in small batches.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Speedvagen line includes both road and cyclocross models, now available with disc or rim brakes. While they are ostensibly “stock” bikes, they are still available with a huge range of customization, including geometry. And while previously the bikes were built in one big batch, now they will be built in rolling batches each month, limiting the wait time between ordering and putting your new bike on the road.
The steel frames are made from custom-drawn tubesets with each tube specific to the size of the rider and the size of the frame it is being built into. There are beautiful details like the stainless steel inserts in the brake bridge, dropouts and seatmast. The matching seatmast head was designed by Speedvagen and is made by ENVE composites.
Beyond the stock starting point, users are free to explore custom touches galore, including a carbon fiber seat tube, electronic shifting integration, rim or disc brakes, a painted-to-match one-piece carbon fiber handlebar and stem, an semi-custom paint.
Oh, the paint. One of the hallmarks of the Speedvagen line has been the Surprise Me! paint, where customers order a bike sight unseen and trust that the finished product will be beautiful and rare. The stock color palettes change every year but usually include the Army Green that was found on that first cyclocross prototype. Customers can also choose from a number of logo treatments and striping within that annual color palette.
Speedvagen represents a unique sliver of the bike industry that operates somewhere between stock and custom. When you’re this passionate—or even obsessive—about your bike it’s exciting to see a company that feels the same way.
You can download the 2015 Speedvagen Guidebook [pdf] for a closer look at the multitude of options available.