Rawland Cycles has been filling a niche in the bike industry for a decade now as a small brand that produces versatile models that don’t fit neatly into any particular category. “There’s this awesome new zone where I think the fun is,” said Rawland’s Creative Director and VP, Jeremy Spencer. If your idea of fun is getting off the beaten path, you’re probably going to like its newest models.
On Saturday it unveiled them both with a party at Portland’s Velo Cult bike shop. The new Ravn is built for what Rawland calls “All Road Enduro” with *gasp* 26-inch wheels. The Ulv is ready for the backcountry with 27plus wheels and tires. Both models use drop bars and can accommodate a range of wheel and tire sizes.
The Ravn, above, indeed uses 26-inch wheels with Panaracer Driver Pro tires and will fit a 650b x 42 tire with fenders. While it is optimized for those sizes, Rawland says, it can also fit up to 650b x 58 or 700c x 42 tires.
The Ulv, above, has even more clearance for a 27plus tire (in this case a Panracer Fat-B-Nimble on WTB’s massive Scraper rims) or even a 29-inch mountain bike tire. It also has additional braze-ons for bikepacking gear.
Both frames are built from custom-drawn and double butted 4130 steel tubes with thru-axles at both ends. The Ravn has a 142×12 axle while the Ulv is 148×12 Boost. Those rear dropouts are replaceable as well, so quick release or singlespeed options might be in the cards.
The key to both models is the low trail geometry, Spencer said. By lowering the trail the bike becomes much more stable with a load on the front end. Rawland said it wants riders to be comfortable on epic long rides and not have to use super-wide handlebars to maintain control.
“That’s what we love: fat tires and drop bars,” Spencer said.
In addition to the bikes are the brand’s own line of stems, seatposts and handlebars. The handlebar design takes cues from the classic Nitto designs, Spencer said, with a slight backsweep and very flat ramps and drops. Those parts, along with hubs, the rando rack pictured here and an upcoming porteur rack will be available separately in Rawland’s online store soon.
Other nice touches include routing for dynamo hub wiring (not included) inside the fork.
The bikes will be available around April for $2,999. Framesets may or may not be available separately in the future, Spencer said.
Rawland sent us updated geometry numbers:
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.
Photos by the author and Anthony Bareno, Velo Cult
It’s hard to point a finger at what was the “first” fat bike. Just like the origins of the mountain bike itself, there are several branches in the family tree.
This prototype of what would later become the production Hanebrink “Extreme Terrain Bike”—which is still in production today—is the second design, but used many of the parts from the first bike, so it is likely the oldest example in existence. Today it resides in Portland, Oregon, at Velo Cult, a combination bike shop, tavern, event venue and bike museum where it joins dozens of other pioneering off-road bicycles from the likes of Yeti, Ritchey, Salsa and more.
In the early 1990s, mountain biking was still in its infancy and Dan Hanebrink was building quite a few eyebrow-raising bikes, including a dedicated downhill road bike with a sleek fairing that resembled a vintage Moto GP bike and a modified SE Shocker, one of the first mountain bikes with a suspension.
While many early fat bike pioneers were welding together rims and sticking together tires, Hanebrink was experimenting with tires from a whole different source. These original tires are from an ATV and were shaved down as much as possible to shed weight by a company called Skat Trak in California. Small screws were added for traction on ice and snow. They are designed to be ridden at 2 to 4 psi on soft surfaces.
Click on the magnifying glass at the bottom right to see larger photos.
The drivetrain is offset, such that the Q-factor is the same as a normal bike, but a secondary drive chain powers what is essentially a standard derailleur system. The gearing is low enough that it can be ridden at or below walking speeds. The chainrings are only 12t-18t-24t but they are the equivalent of 24t-36t-48t when factoring in the extra ratios of the secondary chain.
Since it is a prototype, some of the details are less than polished, but the basic layout is nearly identical to the current models. The head tube sports a prototype shock absorber, and the brakes are early ProStop models. If you’re wondering why suspension is necessary giving the big tires, a Mountain Bike Action article from 1993 points out that the front wheel was occasionally replaced with a pair of small skis and ridden in the snow around Hanebrink’s home in Big Bear Lake, California, and the front end would bounce harshly without a shock absorber.
Today Fortune Hanebrink bikes have found uses in military and other extreme terrain, often with an electric motor assist. There is even a special golf-specific variation. The prototype is part of Velo Cult’s collection, though it still sees occasional use. If you’re ever in Portland be sure to stop by, have a beer, and take a look.