Velo Cult bike shop, now located in Portland, Oregon, is more than just a place to buy bikes and accessories. It’s also a popular tavern, repair service (featuring guaranteed 24-hour turnaround on tune-ups), music venue, and de facto meeting place in town for many bike-related events and meetings. Now, it’s adding it’s own line of custom bikes to the showroom floor, with two options for anyone seeking a very special ride of their own.
The Velo Cult Randonneur is a traditional long-distance road bike designed with input from the shop and built by Mark Nobilette in Longmont, Colorado. The lugged steel construction can be mated to all sorts of build options, with new or old components. Each bike is made to order, with full custom geometry, paint and detailing. Built around 650b wheels and 42 mm tires with fenders, the bike is designed to deliver a comfortable ride over any surface.
VC Mosaic Custom
Velo Cult has also partnered with Mosaic Cycles in Boulder, Colorado, to build custom steel and titanium frames with special touches unique to the shop bikes. Starting with a blank slate, customers will be able to build their own made-to-measure dream bike from scratch.
If you’re interested in ordering either bike, give a shout to Velo Cult to get the process started. Pricing and turnaround time will vary greatly depending on the customer’s desires and specifications.
Charlie Cunningham gave a lot to the world of cycling. From custom frames to roller cam brakes, 135 mm axles to the founding of Wilderness Trail Bikes, he has shaped the sport of cycling as much as anyone.
Now it’s time for us to give back. After suffering a serious brain injury as a result of a cycling crash in August, Cunningham faces a long road to recovery. Moots Cycles is helping out with a fundraising campaign that will send 100 percent of the proceeds to help him get back on his feet, literally and figuratively. The Moots Ti Stick is a titanium “cow bell” of sorts that is made from scrap tubing in its Steamboat Springs, Colorado, workshop. Instead of being recycled they are made into noisemakers for cheering on your favorite racers.
This batch of 32 will sell for $125 each and the $4,000 raised will go straight to Cunningham’s recovery fund. You can order one through the Moots website today.
Last fall I met up with David Rosen of Sage Cycles to get the story of his new bike brand, Sage Cycles. Watching a brand take off from the ground floor is always interesting, so I was happy to see Rosen has launched a third model, the Barlow adventure bike.
Built by Lynskey Performance Designs in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Sage’s specifications, the Barlow is made from 3/2.5 titanium for a lifetime of use. It has a 44 mm head tube to run a tapered steerer tube fork, an English-threaded bottom bracket (yay!) and mounts for a third water bottle cage as well as a rack and fenders.
The drive side chainstay attaches with a titanium plate for maximum stiffness and tire and chainring clearance. The dropouts are also interchangeable between quick release and 142×12 thru-axles.
The frame also uses a smart, interchangeable cable routing system Rosen designed. The removable clip holds the barrel adjusters that route the shift cables along the down tube. If the bike is outfitted with an electronic group, it can be detached for a super clean look.
Sold as a frameset (in seven available sizes) with a carbon fork and titanium seatpost, the Barlow will retail for $3,325 with complete builds available at $5,265.Tweet Print
The shop is high, high up in the hills above Portland. There is no sign marking the gravel driveway—I missed it quite a few times—and the garage isn’t visible from the road. Beneath a cathedral of Douglas fir, amidst sea of ferns, it recalls a land before time.
It seems a fitting location to built titanium bicycles, the material having come and gone in and out of fashion countless times over the years. Here Dave Levy builds Ti Cycles, an eclectic brand of stock, custom and absolutely wild show bikes (mostly) all made from titanium. Cargo bikes, tandem, mini-velos, full-suspension fat bikes… if you can think of it chances are Levy has built one. He’s also now the co-owner of REN Cycles, a sister brand of stock-size titanium bikes.
This year Ti Cycles celebrates its 25th anniversary so I paid a visit to the shop to see some of the more unique creations at hand.
Click on the magnifying glass to see full-size images.
The Foundry Overland is a titanium bike designed with drop bars for cyclocross or gravel riding and racing, a nice alternative to all the carbon and aluminum models on the scene.
Our 58 cm sample weighs 20.3 pounds with disc brakes and without pedals. Five frame sizes all share 68 mm of bottom bracket drop for a bit more stability, while head tube angles range from 71 to 72.5 degrees. The bottom bracket shell is threaded.
Where the Overland differs from dedicated ‘gravel’ bikes is in the shorter 42.5 cm chainstays. With ‘cross racing in mind, our test sample comes with Clement 33s, but Foundry says 40s will fit fine.
The rear frame triangle has post-mounts on the seatstays, with a 142×12 mm thru-axle. The Whisky No. 9 carbon fork has a 100×15 mm thru-axle, providing a stiffer ride than a traditional 9 mm quick release.
As you can see in the photos, old-school top-tube cable routing has been chosen, which requires a pulley mounted on a threaded seat tube boss. While the SRAM Force 22 drivetrain might look a little outdated compared to the company’s new single-chainring specific Force group. Foundry also includes internally-routed access ports in the seat and down tubes for electronic shifting.
Not in the market for a new complete bike? Foundry is offering the Overland frameset for $2,495. Need a new machine? The complete bike as pictured retails for $4,695, which includes DT Swiss R24 Centerlock tubeless-ready wheels, Zipp Service Course bars, seatpost and stem, and SRAM’s Force drivetrain with 46/36 crankset and an 11-32 cassette.
Click on the magnifying glass to enlarge images in our gallery, and stay tuned for our first ride impressions!
Being around the industry as long as I have I know a lot of people, many of whom congregate once a year in a different location to look at the fashionshow we call The North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Where artisan framebuilders show off their latest and greatest creations, which are judged and given giant plastic bowling trophies. Fun fun fun with my favorite people. While totally distracted the whole time, talking to old friends and new,I did manage to get a few random shots off which I will now share with you.
See what I mean? First guy I run into walking in the door is this guy. Ted Wojcik, who I have not seen in maybe 20 years. He’s been makin bikes closer to 30. Might have been the first custom builder to work with Dirt Rag. Now he’s working with Fiefield to bring out some E-bikes.
This happens a lot. Makes it hard to look at bikes sometimes, but thankfully I like people better than bikes. Geoffrey Halaburt is everywhere, we shake hands quite often. He’s here representing maybe the nicest guy in the world, Steve Potts, who I did not get a photo of because we were busy talking about life and family.
Then there’s this guy. Contrary to popular belief, and the sentiment of this photo, I do have a lot of respect for Zap despite him having bigger holes in his ears than I do. As you can see, the feeling is mutual.
OK, Bikes. Black Sheep brought some amazing creations as usual, and while awesome, I couldn’t help but just zoom in on this rad head badge by Jen Green.
Another cool Titanium purveyor is Moonmen. I was fortunate enough to ride with these guys and try these bars, they fell right into my hands and I want to get a hold of a pair for myself.
Back to humans. Here’s the boss of the show, Don Walker. I don’t care what anyone says about Don, I have a metric ass-ton of respect for him and what he’s done for our community. Be thankful.
Sometimes bike porn comes in the ogling of a bare frame. Here Jeff Archer of MOMBAT checks out the work of DiNucci Cycle’s best lugs winning frame. Perfection!
Another one of my favorite people, Erik Noren of Peacock Groove. Note that Shimano provided a bunch of their STePS electric drivetrains for builders to have at it. Each found a different way to attach the STePS unit to the frame.
Here’s another example from Sycip.
Yes, there were many E-bikes, and many fatbikes. On the other side of the spectrum was this carbon fiber something. The Signorina from Abbott Cycles takes the objectification of women to a new level. Definetly sucks that this is how women are represented here. Especially since this object was one of about 10 women I saw at the whole show.
Subtle. Which leads me to this human down the aisle. Look! A living! Female! Framebuilder! Yes, they do exist. Her name is Julie Ann Pedalino and she’s from Lenexa, Kansas and she’s just getting started in this building thing and I’d sure like to see a lot more real women at shows like this and less old boy network. Fer sure (Ok there was Cayley Baird at The Rille booth and Karen Brooks journalizing and Anna Schwinn and Kristen Legan but I am not going to run out of fingers any time soon).
Here’s something from Rody over at Groovy Cycle Works. Another one of his bikes won best of show, but I am all about funk, so take a look at this.
Ok, so here’s one more gift. For Sarah Prater’s wedding. This Shamrock Cycles cross bike was hand painted by Kate Oberreich with 585 individual paper airplanes representing the 585 days of Sarah and Josh’s courtship. Now if that ain’t love.
Well that’s all I have for today, hope you got some enjoyment looking here. There’s plenty of bike porn out the on the web, so feel free to look some up. NAHBS was awesome as usual, it really is the best this bike business has, and I’m glad I was there. Next year, Sacramento, CA! Oh wait, I have one more geezer pic….
Foundry is known for its no-frills, carbon fiber race bikes, but now it is expanding into a material more closely aligned with its name: titanium. The new Overland model is an all-road adventure bike squarely aimed at the growing gravel and ultracross market.
Built with hydraulic disc brakes and clearance for 41c tires, the Overland is meant to be a versatile platform for explorations both on a race course and in the backcountry. The titanium frame is paired with a Whisky No. 9 carbon fork and employs thru-axles at both ends for extra stiffness and wheel security. Whisky says building bikes from titanium closely adheres to its philosophy of making products that can be ridden hard and last a lifetime.
This isn’t a grocery-getter though. The lack of rack mounts keep things streamlined while the top tube cable routing uses full-length housing for better performance in the muck and comfortable shouldering on the race course. There are a set of fender eyelets on the frame and the Whisky fork for wet-weather comfort.
The Overland will be available in limited quantities as a frameset ($2,495) or complete bike ($4,695). The frameset includes the fork, DT RWS front and rear axles, Cane Creek headset, and a seat collar. The complete build features a SRAM Force 22 Hydraulic drivetrain, DT Swiss R24 wheels, Zipp cockpit, and tires from Clement.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the Overland does not have fender eyelets. It does.Tweet Print
David Rosen is a passionate guy. So passionate, in fact, that he has devoted himself—and a larger portion of his garage—into creating a new brand that represents his vision of the ideal performance bicycle. After a few false starts, Sage Cycles has started rolling with two models of titanium bikes that are 100 percent unique designs, but crafted by the Ti experts at Lynskey Performance Designs in Tennessee. [Editor’s note: Take a factory tour of how Lynskey bikes are made here.]
Quality, performance and durability are the hallmarks of two bikes currently in the line, and it’s not hard to imagine a Sage Cycles customer as someone who is as meticulous about the details as Rosen. Based just outside Portland, Oregon, the brand’s raison d’être is a good match for a city where cyclists take their bicycles, and racing them, quite seriously.
There are two models in the line: the PDXCX and the Skyline. The former is a purpose-built race bike, designed to be flogged week in and week out through the season; while the latter is the road-going version of the same, an all-purpose race bike that can also put in some serious training miles.
Rosen has also teamed up with Portland-based Ruckus Composites to create a unique, removable cable guide that can accommodate both cable and electronically controlled derailleurs without ugly holes, unused protrusions or other compromises. As pictured it holds the derailleur cables, but the whole piece can be removed thanks to a small set screw underneath through which the electronic routing enters the frame.
It’s this attention to detail that Rosen says set Sage Cycles apart, including from Lysnkey’s own designs.
“Lynskey builds amazing bikes and they have the years of experience to back that up. However, a Lynskey bike is not going to perform the same way as a Sage bike due to the differences in design characteristics.”
Sage bikes are available as stock units, with stock build kits, though one of the merits of small batch manufacturing is that if you really want a feature tweaked, it can likely be accommodated. New for 2015 Sage will also be offering customized build kits that can be configured through the new website currently being built. Customers will complete the basics, pay a deposit fee, then get a phone call from Rosen himself to hammer out the details.
“People want to be able to do something on their own,” he said. “It becomes a very personalized, intimate process.”
Creating a new niche in the market between big brands and the ultra-luxury offerings from the likes of Moots and Eriksen can be treacherous, but Rosen is confident that there are customers looking for something unique.
“I want to make the customer comfortable as possible knowing they’re getting something that is absolutely going to blow their mind.”Tweet Print
Pictured: (standing) Mark, Tim, David, Chris; (sitting) Stephanie, Ruby, Theresa
At a bicycle trade show in 1986, two East Coast companies introduced titanium bicycle frames in an era where steel ruled the roost, and carbon was just a twinkle in the industry’s eye. One of them became Litespeed, and eventually Lynskey Performance Designs, both launched by the large and industrious Chattanooga-based Lynskey family. Our online editor Adam Newman enjoyed some Southern hospitality in May, and captured the essence of the hands behind the brand —The Editor
Chattanooga, Tennessee, might seem like a strange place for a large, high-end bicycle company. Nestled along the Tennessee river in the shadow of Lookout Mountain, the city has seen cycles of demise and rebirth.
A series of battles during the Civil War took their toll on the population and the economy and in 1867 a massive flood destroyed nearly the entire city.
In the 1930s the city was booming as a major industrial and manufacturing center, earning the nickname the Dynamo of Dixie and inspiring Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” which was the world’s first Gold record.
Fast forward to the 1980s and things had come full circle as the scenic mountains that surrounded the city trapped air pollution and the decline of American industry kept unemployment levels rising like floodwaters.
And finally the dawn of the 21st Century brought with it a new generation of civic planners and investors who reclaimed the downtown neighborhood and created a vibrant and welcoming vibe, while major manufacturing—in the form of a $1 billion Volkswagen factory—has returned. There’s even a bike-share system!
So how is it that a mid-size company building—of all things—titanium bicycles, should find itself in a place like Eastern Tennessee? Despite the cliches, not everything in the South is slow and simple. With nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory developing the most advanced nuclear technologies in the world, and Huntsville, Alabama, putting people on the moon, there was no shortage of demand for high-tech materials and manufacturing.
And that’s how Bill Lynskey started, with his small machine shop building high-end chemical and chlorine processing equipment for industrial, aerospace and defense projects. As his kids grew older they naturally worked their way into the shop themselves during the hot Tennessee summers.
Despite their father’s success running Southeast Machine, Bill certainly wasn’t grooming his family to create an empire.
“It just sort of happened,” Mark said. “None of us were ever pressured to take over the business. It was just there for us.”
It was there that fate would intervene, as it often does, and lead to something of a revolution. In the mid-1980s when David Lynskey was nursing a knee injury he took up cycling, got hooked, and quickly began competing. All bikes in those days were steel but David quickly recognized the advantages of the material that he worked with day in and day out: titanium.
So with the help of his brother Chris, they welded up a bike and sure enough it worked. So well, in fact, that local cyclists started asking for one of their own. When they took one to a bike show in Southern California, the floodgates opened. Litespeed Bicycles was born.
If you were a passionate cyclist in the early to mid-1990s, you’ll recall nothing had the cache of titanium. It didn’t hurt that a poorly kept secret was that several pro cyclists were riding Litespeed frames painted over with their sponsor’s logos. A certain Mr. Armstrong rode one painted as a Trek in the 1999 Tour de France.
Then just like its home in Chattanooga, the peaks don’t come without descents. By 1999 the titanium bicycle market had peaked, aluminum was everywhere, and carbon fiber was looming on the horizon. Shortly after Bill Lynskey passed away the family sold the company to American Bicycle Group.
Several family members were disappointed or disagreed with the sale of Litespeed, but in the end blood is thicker than the bottom line and things have a way of working themselves out.
“While we may have had disagreements on methodology or something, I have the absolute faith that the best interest of the business and the best interest of the whole is what we’re trying to achieve,” Mark said. “We leave our egos at the door. It’s a huge blessing.”
Of the 40 or so employees at Lynskey, nearly one-third are part of the family. From accounting to quality control and shipping, they are spread throughout the company. With Mark’s daughter Stephanie handling some of the marketing and PR duties, there are three generations of family behind that name on the downtube.
In fact it was Mark and David’s mother Ruby, the family matriarch, who kept the wheels rolling. After the sale of Litespeed most members of the family took a few months to decide what to do next. Eventually Ruby started pestering her kids—as mom’s often do—to keep moving forward. Doing so wouldn’t be easy, Mark had a non-compete clause, and the company’s shop was gone.
“We had nothing. Zero.” Mark said. But starting from scratch in January 2006 meant the company was free to find its own path, including some creative business decisions, that have really helped it stand out in the marketplace.
They took a page from e-commerce and started selling their bikes online. Without a significant dealer base, they could start selling consumer direct without undercutting their own dealers.
Then they started offering financing. Customers can enjoy their bikes while paying for them, and since the actual collection is handled by a third party, Lynskey gets a quick and easy sale.
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #31 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.
Most recently, the company has launched an ambitious trade-in program. Customers can send in their old bikes or frames, its value is assessed via Bicycle Blue Book, and credit is applied toward their purchase. The used bikes are they resold on Lynskey’s own website or through eBay. The program has been a huge success, Mark says, with a dozen or so trade-ins per week.
You’ll also see no shortage of Southern Hospitality at Lynskey, where “complete satisfaction” really means just that. The web store usually has two or three frames that customers rode then changed their minds to select a different size or model. Switching frames out for fit might cost the company a bit up front, but a happy customer is much more valuable in the long run, Mark says.
Today Lynskey is certainly one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the United States. While titanium may come and go in fashion, its legendary properties still make it an excellent frame material. Strong. Lively. Resilient. They are words that could just as easily describe the Lynskey family as the tubing.
After all, Mark says, “You can document more family businesses that failed then came together.”
Building on its journey along the “Neverending Road,” Kona announced on its blog today a new project to be hitting the streets this summer, the titanium Esatto road bike. Built in Tennessee by Lynskey, the Esatto is designed as an endurance road bike, capable of fitting larger tires (up to 32c) and featuring a more relaxed geometry. Details include laser-etched graphics and hidden fender eyelets.
- 3/2.5 seamless Ti material
- Tapered HT (integrated HS design)
- Ovalized DT and chainstays
- New Endurance Comfort geometry
- Kona Carbon monocoque fork with slight curve for smooth and compliant ride
- Full fender and 28c tire clearance (up to 32c without fenders)
- “Invisible” removable fender attachment eyelets
- Available in six sizes (49, 52, 54, 56, 59, 61)
The titanium frame and proprietary carbon fork will retail for $2,499. Bikes are available now, so contact your Kona dealer if you are interested.