Road to NAHBS 2014: Connor Gives Us Wood…Mountain Bikes
Connor Cycles debuted at NAHBS last year in Denver with a pretty slick cruiser bike. Since then, builder Chris Connor has been proving the material’s mettle in mountain bike races, and prepping this sweet off road rig for Charlotte’s show!
BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?
CHRIS: Connor Wood Bicycles are built from primarily from American White Ash and Kevlar. The frames are hollow, to reduce weight, but then reinforced with Kevlar and other composite materials to ensure absolute strength. This combination allows me to truly sculpt the bikes, shaping them by hand and giving them a very organic smooth shape while delivering a great plush ride that only wood can really provide. The wood naturally absorbs little bumps and vibrations giving an ultra-smooth ride with a look like nothing else out there.
BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?
CHRIS: Since last year at NAHBS my company has come a long way. I’ve launched a couple new mountain models and seen my bikes successfully raced and put through the paces of real word testing conditions at the 2012 Leadville 100. I’ve employed great new technologies from Gates Carbon Dive Systems, Rohloff and and the new SRAM 11 speed drive trains. Moreover I’ve just gotten better at building strong beautiful bikes. I’m hoping this year to capture some shops around the country to distribute my bikes.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?
CHRIS: The latest killer build I’ve put together is my new mountain model. It’s a lightweight hardtail 29er with a full SRAM X01 drivetrain and FSA SL-K cockpit. It tips the scales at just over 24 lbs and shows what can be done with wood. It’s fast, beautiful and has a glorious ride.
BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?
CHRIS: I draw my best inspiration from the past and the future. I love looking back at old classically styled bikes and how to bring the essence of their design into the future by pairing them with my organic wood construction and the latest components. I also look to nature and some of the classic woodworkers such as Sam Maloof who was an artist with wood and loved to make things that were functional but showcased the beauty of the material he was working with.
BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?
CHRIS: This year at the show I’m showing a couple things that will hopefully draw a crowd. For starters I’m bringing the bike that ran the Leadville 100. It’s a beautiful hardtail 29er with a Gates belt drive, 14 speed Rholoff Speedhub, DT Swiss front suspension, Ghisallo wood wheels and a full FSA K-Force Light cockpit. Trail-tested and showing wear but it’s a work of highly-functional art.
Also in the lineup is a unique new machine I’m building in partnership with Gates and SRAM – a belt-diven 29er Scorcher bike with the latest e-matic electric hub from SRAM. I’m trying to pair my clean minimalist design with this innovative new technology to create an e-bike which is both beautiful and functional. It’ll be heavy -damn heavy- but should be fun to ride.
BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?
CHRIS: I love this idea. With any yin-yang relationship I think there almost need to be as many similarities as opposites to make things work. There are so many great builders at the show that would be fantastic to collaborate with but one of my other Colorado builders always catches my attention – Mosaic Cycles. They have a clean, purist aesthetic with titanium and steel. It seems to me they strive for beauty in their designs while maintaining a standard of absolute performance. Aside from the materials – these are values I strive for in my designs. Bringing wood and titanium together could possibly create the ultra-bike. I’d love some day to build something along these lines.