Ever wonder who comes up with the names for bikes? We did. It turns out the process can be one of the most fun, and frustrating, jobs in the bike industry.
We asked a few friends at various bike brands to share their favorite stories.
If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
By Chris Holmes, Marin Bikes
I don’t have any stories of bike model names having to be changed due to conflicts or learning that the name we chose was slang for something we wanted to distance ourselves from. About the closest I came to that was when I was at Schwinn Cycling & Fitness when we’d periodically get complaints about our Homegrown line of American-made mountain bikes having a “drug name,” even though we had nothing that’d imply marijuana. The bikes even used a tomato icon for years — we thought that if Americans grow any veggies in their gardens, it’s likely tomatoes.
We were also a bit miffed when Nissan introduced the Frontier truck to the U.S. market, as we had a registered trademark for that model in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Class 12 (Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water), but our legal staff advised not spending the effort to go against a much larger company. Truth be told, I don’t think anyone would really confuse a pickup with an entry-level mountain bike, but companies have to be protective of their intellectual property.
Marin is an interesting study in that the vast majority of the model names came from places within Marin County. Pine Mountain, Indian Fire Trail, Mount Vision, Bobcat Trail, Bolinas Ridge, all on the mountain side. Fairfax, Terra Linda, San Rafael, Larkspur, Kentfield, etc. on the pavement side. The Gestalt, introduced for the 2016 model year, was named in part after the popular Gestalt Haus in Fairfax.
The Long and Short of It
By Eddy Marcelet, Kona
The process of naming bikes, at least at Kona, is something I dread. No one agrees, it takes ages and it’s hard to come up with winners. We’ve been known for all the Hawaiian names and ones with volcanic themes, but in recent years have switched to a lot of Japanese stuff like Honzo, Kitsune, Raijin and other cool sounding stuff that also has some character. We also like to keep some old ones alive like the Hei Hei, which means “race” in Hawaiian and was reintroduced in the 2000s after a long hiatus from when it was a titanium hardtail years before.
Some names we are known for are the Humu humu nuku nuku apua’a which for ages was the longest model name in the industry until Quintana Roo came up with something even more ridiculous. We went in the other direction and chased the shortest name in the industry with the A, a dual suspension singlespeed. It was a good name since A is also ONE as in A bike, so it had a cool story built into it. I still think after all our Hawaiian names the Munimula was one of the better ones we had. It’s just ALUMINUM spelled backwards, but sort of sounds Hawaiian. The thing that sucks is so many people can’t pronounce our names and butcher them constantly.
Another good one was the Chute, a mountain bike we named to work with riding steep and gnarly terrain like you find on the North Shore. Unfortunately, “Chute” (at least phonetically) means “crash” in French, so our Quebec guys struggled with it.
You may not know this, but even our brand name had to change. After Jake Heilbron sold Rocky Mountain Cycles and went to work in California with Marin and Tom Ritchey while his two-year non-compete was in effect, he came back and, with Dan Gerhard, started up their new brand called Cascade, named after another mountain range. Sure enough there was some conflict there, and we had to change it. As Jake described it when being interviewed once, “all the good names were taken.” I guess in the end our names convey our looseness and sense of humor as a company.
The Alligator Speaks
By Jon Cariveau, Moots
The original founder of Moots [Kent Eriksen] as a child had a rubber pencil eraser in the shape of an alligator. When he was a kid he was riding the bus one day and the bullies on the bus stole the eraser from him and poked a hole in its head and gave it back to him. After that when you squeezed the head of the eraser it would create this little suction and when its mouth would pop open it would say “MOOTS.” So he decided to name the pencil eraser Mr. Moots, after the sound it made.
[Later] he started writing and drawing cartoons for the school newspaper, this was in the late ‘70s, and it was called “The Adventures of Mr. Moots,” and he would draw this character, the alligator, doing different activities like hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, whatever outdoor activity he could think of. He had this whole cartoon strip.
After that he graduated high school and toured the country on a Schwinn Varsity and ended up in Steamboat [Steamboat Springs, Colorado] and he was pretty much broke, so he started working at a bike shop that doubled as a ski shop in the wintertime. After a few seasons of that, one of his friends went to a Bruce Gordon frame building class and came back to Steamboat after that class and [Eriksen] built his first bike with the help of the guy who had been to the class. He stood there and thought, “What am I going to name this thing?” and he still had the rubber pencil eraser with him and he thought “I’m not going to name it after myself; I’ll name it a ‘Moots.’” That was 1981 and Mr. Moots has been with us ever since.
More recently we named the Baxter. And that was hard one, because we did have the “name the bike” thing going on the whiteboard, and all of them kind of fell short. So there’s a dog at Moots that comes to work pretty much every day and his name is Baxter. When I first met Baxter, years ago, I thought, “Wow, this is a super mellow, laid back dog.” He’s kind of this lovable, loopy chocolate lab. But anyway, somebody wrote that name on the whiteboard and it won out. So “Baxter” it was.
There used to be a little bit of a system but we gave up on that. Let’s have some fun. Name it after a dog.
Photos: Emily Walley
Marin designed the Four Corners and Four Corners Elite for the daily commute and the weekend adventure, and it couldn’t be more on point. I’m testing the lower priced model, with an MSRP of $1100. It offers all the bells and whistles for fully-loaded touring in an affordable package. The Four Corners is an all-steel frame with mounts for a front and rear rack, fenders and three bottle cages.
Saddling up, I immediately noticed the upright riding position facilitated by the long headtube. The bars sit higher than what I’m used to and have a 20-degree flare to the drop. On other bikes, I’ve trended toward riding primarily on the hoods and tops, but the Marin’s upright position had me comfortably riding in the drops for long stretches of rolling hills and rail trails—a welcome change. The reach on the size small frame was a little long for me, so I put on a 20 mm shorter stem.
To get a sense of the bike’s touring capabilities, I added fenders and a front rack and loaded it down with gear for a mixed-surface tour from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh. The ride included crushed limestone rail trail, rolling hard roads, dirt roads and railroad ballast. I carried my weight low on the front rack and the bike handled very well while weighted down.
On the small-sized frame, I was unable to include a water bottle underneath the downtube because it hit the fender. Though I haven’t tried yet, I’m speculating that the tire will come very close to hitting even a short bottle without fenders. On my trip, I used a stem-mounted cage for a third bottle.
The other two bottle mounts are placed so they’re easy to reach for day-to-day use, but they’re not in an ideal location for a frame bag. I zip-tied a cage lower on the downtube, closing up the unused space and allowing room for my frame bag.
I found the stock Schwalbe Silento 700c x 40 mm tires to be an appropriate spec, rolling well in a variety of terrain and adequately burly, so I wasn’t overly concerned with getting a flat. The Four Corners has clearance for up 45 mm tires with fenders or 29 x 2.1 knobby tires without fenders.
The Shimano Alivio 9-Speed with 12-36T gearing was adequate while weighted down over Pennsylvania’s rolling hills, but I’d go with a lower gear range for an extended, fully-loaded tour with sustained climbs.
I was thrilled with the stock WTB Volt Sport saddle. One of the biggest pains of rail trail riding are the long, flat sections of saddle time. The WTB is comfortable and supportive and I didn’t find myself sitting gingerly.
Look for the full review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Not subscribed? Sign up today for our email newsletter so you don’t miss stories like this one. Or, subscribe to the print magazine, where you can find the full review of this bike.
Joe Breeze has been a busy guy. In addition to popularizing the very concept of mountain biking back in the early 1970s, he also steers the ship at his own brand, Breezer Bikes, and has taken stewardship of the original Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Breeze has brought the collection to his home—and mountain biking spiritual home—in Marin County, California, and has combined it with other collections to create the Marin Museum of Bicycling.
“The Marin Museum of Bicycling features bicycles representing nearly 200 years of cycling history,” said Museum Board President Marc Vendetti. “Our exhibits include an 1868 Michaux velocipede, part of the museum’s Igler Collection, on long-term loan from David Igler. To illustrate bicycle ancestry we’ll show a replica of an 1820 ‘boneshaker,’ and during our opening month, we’ll be displaying the Specialized Tarmac that Vincenzo Nibali rode into Paris to win the 2014 Tour de France.”
The museum will open to the public on Saturday, June 6, 2015, with a grand opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is located at 1966 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in downtown Fairfax, California, just a few miles from the original Repack downhill course.
The museum houses the Igler Collection of 19th Century Cycles, showcasing the key steps in bicycle evolution from the velocipede to the form of bicycle we recognize today.
“The Igler Collection includes examples from the bicycle’s ‘Golden Age,’ when the sharpest minds of the day were focused on perfecting the most efficient form of personal transport ever devised,” said Breeze, who is also the Museum’s curator. “We’ve expanded the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame exhibit to show key developments in the evolution of the mountain bike. We’re also building a collection of mid-20th century road-racing and touring bikes and everyday bikes for transportation.”
The museum has been in development for over two years, run by an all-volunteer board, which has performed extensive design and construction work. Numerous community volunteers have been involved in the effort.
Outside the Museum, food and drink will be available for purchase. Also outside will be face painting, trick riders, a giant bicycle sculpture and more. Live music will be by Fenton Coolfoot’s “The Right Time” and the Drake High Jazz Band.
Special Opening Day admission will be $8 for adults, $5 for youths and students with current Student ID, free for kids under 12 accompanied by adults. Admission is free to Marin Museum of Bicycling members. Memberships can be purchased online in advance.
Fairfax Town Councilmember Renee Goddard will lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. to officially open the museum. Many mountain bike pioneers will be on hand.
The Marin Museum of Bicycling, a non-profit 501(c)3 educational organization, will serve as a cultural center for cyclists. For regular hours, admission fees and membership information, please see the museum’s web site.Tweet Print
Bicycle Times Issue #33 has mailed to subscribers and will be available on newsstands soon. In this issue we feature $1,000 Bikes for Work + Play, interviews with Ben Harper guitarist Michael Ward and Santa Cruz custom guitar maker Jeff Traugott, plus our regular awesome product reviews.
All this and more, now available through paper and our digital editions. Print subscribers should start receiving their copies next week. You can always visit better book stores and bike shops to buy a copy, or order one online now.
Ignorance is Bliss: A suicidal urge to cycle a game reserve becomes a five-day odyssey into Africa’s Nyika National Park in Malawi. Words and photos by Logan Watts.
Couch Potater to Fifty Stater: How a retired university professor found cycling, love and friendship. By Murray Fishel.
Drinks With: An interview with Michael Ward, a guitarist for Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello who brings his Ritchey Breakaway bike on tour around the world.
Vintage Velo: A custom Gary Fisher mountain bike built for Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and our Staff Playlist, a group of tracks that inspire us to ride.
… And They Ride: We chat with Jeff Traugott, one of the most sought-after custom guitar builders in the world and and a cyclist in Santa Cruz, California.
Made in Taiwan: We tour the factories of some of the largest component makers in the industry, and meet the people that build your bikes and components. By Gary Boulanger
$1,000 Bikes for Work and Play: We ride a very diverse group of six bikes that hit right at the magic $1,000 price point. We were surprised at what we found. By the Bicycle Times staff.
Plus: reviews of the latest from Niner, Brompton, Bike Friday and more.Tweet Print
Editor’s note: Here at Bicycle Times we are as mindful of price as you are. So we gathered together a group of six very diverse bikes to showcase what you can find right now at the $1,000 price point. See our introduction here.
Marin describes the Lombard as having been “Birthed from cyclocross and touring parents…” and “Part adventure bike, and part urban warrior.” Those descriptions certainly had me sold from the get-go, this is my kind of bike: versatile.
We’ve had a lot of conversation around the office lately about just how good bikes around and under the $1,000 price point are these days. Assembling the Lombard further cemented that point in my mind. On initial impression, this bike is very well built and spec’d at the price point.
Let’s take a walk around the bike.
Due to the subtle matte grey and black palette, the Lombard’s gum-wall Schwalbe Road Cruiser tires draw your attention. These 35mm-wide tires seem like an awesome choice for a bike that will see terrain that varies from dirt to street.
The second thing to strike me were the Lombard’s subtle reflective graphics. Not only is the branding minimal and tasteful, it also adds an element of visibility after dark.
Promax Render R cable actuated disc brakes promise all-weather stopping power front and rear. Note the Lombard’s dual eyelets for both a rack and fenders. By mounting the brake inside the rear triangle, Marin greatly simplified rack and fender installation.
Check out that headbadge and ample tire clearance in the fork with the stock 35mm tires. Looks to me like a 40mm would fit no problem. Might even be able to squeeze a 45mm in there.
Rear tire clearance is generous at the seatstays, but a little less forgiving at the chainstays. Anything much bigger than a 40mm tire looks to be a tight fit.
The Lombard’s 9-speed Sora drivetrain with the 50/39/30 triple chainring offers a wide range of gearing. Let me tell you, this Sora group operates more like an Ultegra group from the 9-speed era than an entry level drivetrain. It really is that good.
Marin’s house-brand cockpit rounds out the build. All of these bits are functionally perfect and the fit is spot on for me.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the brand of brake calipers.
The new year draws near, and for the first issue of 2015, we’ve rounded up six bike in the $1,000 range as a representative sample at this popular price point. We’ve found it to be common dollar amount for a first “good” bike, or adding a second bike (or third or fourth, etcetera) to the stable. Here’s the rundown with some basic stats, expect more in depth First Impression posts to follow soon.
Weight: 24.8 pounds
Frame/fork material: Aluminum
Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 3×9
Brakes: Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes, 160mm rotors
Tires: 700x35c Schwalbe Road Cruiser
The Lombard is a listed as a “cyclocross utility” bike on Marin’s website, and is a great way to categorize this bike. An aluminum frame and fork keeps the weight down, while reflective decals and rack and fender mounts should make this bike a willing companion on local commutes or long tours.
Specialized Diverge A1
Weight: 24.2 pounds
Frame/fork material: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum frame with Specialized FACT carbon fork w/ Zertz
Drivetrain: Shimano Claris 2400 STI, with SunRace 11-32 8-speed cassette, KMC chain, and Shimano Claris 50/34T, 175mm crankset
Brakes: Tektro Spyre mechanical disc
Tires: Specialized Espoir Sport 700x30c
The Diverge line is new for Specialized, and illustrates the diffuclting of finding the correct way to label modern drop bar bikes. Disc brake road bike? Utility cyclocross? light touring? Adventure bike? We are slotting this in the disc brake road bike category, with its compact road crank and 30mm tires.
Weight: 39.4 pounds
Frame/fork material: Aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM 1×8
Brakes: Mechanical disc brake front, V-brake rear
Tires: 26×2.0 WTB Freedom Cruz
As far as we know, this is the least expensive, complete, long-tail cargo bike on the market today. This is a pretty stripped down bike at this price, and will need accessories to really take advantage of the cargo capacity. Yes that is a lot of seat post. Our reviewer has a lot of leg, and Yuba offers the Boda Boda in only two sizes: one a step-through, and the step-over pictured here.
Raleigh Clubman Disc
Weight: 27.4 pounds
Frame/fork material: 4130 butted chromoly
Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra 10-speed, 50/34 crank,
Brakes: Shimano BR-R317
Tires: Kenda Karv 700×28
The Clubman is a long standing model for Raleigh, and we were glad to see it move to disc brakes for the 2015 model. The full Tiagra 10-speed drivetrain and Shimano discs are a great spec at this price point. And those painted to match metal fenders give the bike a whiff of NAHBS.
Breezer Greenway Elite
Weight: 31.5 pounds
Frame/fork material: aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM VIA Centro 2×10 speed
Brakes: Shimano M355 hydraulic disc
Tires: Vittoria Adventure 700×32
The Greenway Elite from Breezer comes stock with a solid year round commuting set up: fenders, rack, bell and even a kickstand. The best part? A set of front and rear Trelock lights running off the Shimano dynamo front hub.
Framed Minnesota 2.0
Weight: 34 pounds
Frame/fork material: aluminum
Drivetrain: SRAM X7/X5 2×9
Brakes: Avid BB5 mechanical disc
Tires: Framed 26×4
Framed is a newer bike company, and besides the a full range of fat bikes, bmx and urban bikes, it is also first to market with a women’s specific model, and sells a kid’s 24-inch fat bike as well. It seems fat bikes are becoming more and more popular as a second or third bike, and not just for snow and sand. The big tires seem to strike a chord with a wide range of riders, for a wide range of uses.
The full feature review of all six bikes will appear is the first issue of 2015. Don’t miss this, and the rest of the great content, subscribe now!Tweet Print