Road to NAHBS 2016: Ben Farver of Argonaut Cycles

Photo used with permission of Argonaut Cycles
Photo used with permission of Argonaut Cycles
Photo used with permission of Argonaut Cycles

Ben Farver has an origin story in two parts. He started Argonaut as a steel custom frame outfit, first with TIG welded frames, then brazed frames. Despite early recognition of his work in steel, Ben made a sudden move away from the material to carbon only a few years into forming his brand. From the perspective of many who labor in metal, it was a polarizing move leaving many feeling like he was dismissing the material that they love.

But for Ben, this could not be further from the truth. Steel, in his mind, would never be able to give him the depth of control over the design and feel of the bike, and it would never allow him to make the contribution to the industry he wanted to make – not like carbon could.

In this phone interview, Ben discusses the initial journey into frame building, as well as his drive to accomplish the deeper level of personalization and material performance that compelled him to create his new approach to custom carbon frame fabrication…

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Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS, Road Bike38 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Jason Quade of Abbey Bike Tools

Photo by Jon Shipman
Photo by Jon Shipman
Photo by Jon Shipman

This year for NAHBS coverage, we’re taking the opportunity to interview a select number of brands that produce bicycle adjacent products. Abbey Bike Tools is the first in that series.

It sounds cliche to call a product race-tuned and pro-tour tested, but Abbey Bike Tools are literally just that. The first product in the line, the Crombie Tool, was conceived by a pair of race mechanics, a group of chronically under-appreciated professionals who constantly cobble together special tools and equipment for their work. Today, Abbey tools can be found in the professional and private tool boxes of mechanics throughout the professional circuit. Abbey has really set itself apart by not just creating clever functional solutions, but by elevating the fit, feel, and finish of its product to a level worthy of their professional audience. The tools work, they are designed to be beautiful and feel nice in your hands, and they are reliable for when mechanics and athletes need them most.

The main man behind the brand is Jason Quade, a veteran of the race circuit himself. In this interview, we discuss the origins of Abbey tools and what it’s like to have a problem like Titanium Hammers…
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Posted in Clothing-Gear-Tools, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS13 Comments

Shimano patent shows silent ring drive hub internals that could be the next Dura-Ace

shimano scylence freehub ring drive ratchet design delivers silent drag free performance - prototype patent drawings

shimano scylence freehub ring drive ratchet design delivers silent drag free performance - prototype patent drawings

Thanks to rumor and hearsay from a Bikerumor fan and our own digging, we hear Shimano’s working on all-new hub designs. one that could offer quick engagement, more durable freehub bodies and nearly silent, drag-free coasting. And we found a few patents to back it all up.

The biggest update to their current designs is the switch to a ring drive ratchet system. DT Swiss has proven it with their Star Ratchet, but Shimano’s filing actually references Chris King’s RingDrive patent, but there’s a major difference in the way Shimano’s design moves the ratchet rings. And that difference is what eliminates the buzzing bee sound during coasting, creating quiet, fast hub that might just be the heart of XTR and Dura-Ace’s next generation hubs…

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Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Industry News, Mountain Bike, Road Bike, Triathlon80 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Matt Appleman of Appleman Bicycles

NAHBS-2016_Matt-Appleman_Drew-Road-HT-1050006

NAHBS-2016_Matt-Appleman_Anthony-Gravel-Side-P1040948

Matt Appleman’s story is a little different than many of those featured in the Road to NAHBS series. Rather than approach the trade in the traditional way of studying under an established frame builder or taking a class, a college-aged Matt bought a bunch of tooling and built his first cyclocross frame in his dorm room and went for it. Entering his sixth year of building full time, Matt has refined his product and process to cater to any rider (though his product is most locally recognized as a weapon of choice among the elite men’s field). See how Matt’s bikes have evolved to be the Appleman of so many riders’ eye after the jump…
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Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews13 Comments

Review: Specialized x 686 3L Tech Jacket and Bibs deliver Ultimate fat bike outerwear performance

Specialized 686 winter fat bike clothing (6)

Specialized 686 winter fat bike clothing (6)

If my riding buddies’ jeans and flannel are any indication, dedicated winter riding clothing is not required to have a good time on a bike in the winter. But like most things in life, the right equipment can make for a much better experience. Especially when you’re talking about brutally cold and wet conditions.

As fat bikes have been getting more popular, more attention has been given to winter clothing. I hesitate to refer to this as fat bike specific clothing since you can just as easily use the gear for mountain biking with skinnier tires in the winter. Though realistically, if you’re looking for clothing for negative temperatures, you’ll probably be riding fat.

Over the years my quiver of winter clothing has been sharpened to the point that I was relatively comfortable in most conditions. The trick though is knowing what crazy combination of pieces will be the right choice for the day. The Specialized x 686 kit seemed promising since it is a modular system designed to adapt to any conditions. Seems too good to be true, right? As it turns out, this may some of the best purpose built cycling kit I’ve used – if you can stomach the price…

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Posted in Clothes-Gear, Fatbike, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews25 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Schnozola Co-Conspirator Paul Sadoff

NAHBS-2016_Schnozola_Paul-Sadoff_headbadge-01
NAHBS-2016_Schnozola_Paul-Sadoff_headbadge-01
Photos courtesy of Paul Sadoff

Schnozola is easily the most mysterious brand to grace the show list this year. Very little about the brand has made it to the public sphere. The short, consistent version of the story? It’s a collaboration between powerhouses Bruce Gordon (Bruce Gordon Cycles) and Paul Sadoff (Rock Lobster). The head badge, decals, and name (especially!) uniquely inspired. And that’s really it. No website or social media presence, just a short spot here, a few photos there.

Why was this project kept so quiet? Were they gearing up for some massive reveal? (Would there be a launch party?) What dark magic were these wizards cooking up in their lairs? With my imagination running wild, I put Paul Sadoff on the top of the pre-coverage call interview list (we’re interviewing several builders by phone this year).

As it turns out, the story of Schnozola is four decades in the making… and pretty entertaining.
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Posted in Feature, Gravel Bikes, Interviews, NAHBS18 Comments

TDU 2016 Tech: 4iiii Power Meters gain dual leg measurement, pop up on Etixx Quick-Step team bikes

4iiii dual leg power measurement prototype

4iiiPowerMeter2016-2

4iiii Innovations, Inc., is one of a handful of startups bringing more affordable power meters to market, and it looks like their the first of the bunch to make it to the top levels of our sport. This isn’t the first time we’ve featured 4iiii’s power meter. First spotted at 2014 Interbike and again at 2015 Sea Otter, the 4iiii’s power meter has made leaps in bounds during that time. The latest variant is now officially in the WorldTour, with several Ettix Quick-Step Specialized team bikes fitted with a version that measures both left-and-right power. Click on through for more details… Continue reading “TDU 2016 Tech: 4iiii Power Meters gain dual leg measurement, pop up on Etixx Quick-Step team bikes”

Posted in Feature, Prototype, Road Bike21 Comments

Factory Tour: Öhlins USA Brings World Class Motorsports Experience to Mountain Biking

Ohlins USA factory tour RFX suspension fork motorcycle indy car-9

Ohlins USA factory tour

Driving into Hendersonville, North Carolina, it might not be what you would expect as the U.S. headquarters of Öhlins Suspension. Apparently one of the largest retirement communities in the greater Asheville area, the city is an interesting mix of young, outdoor adventure seeking “early retirees” and the actually retired.

The reason for the location? Well, apart from the close proximity to amazing mountains with endless trails and forest roads, it would seem that NASCAR had a lot to do with the location. Specifically, the proximity to NASCAR teams that would want to use Öhlins’ state of the art 7 post shaker rig chassis dyno.

While the NASCAR connection didn’t quite work out as planned, Öhlins has found Hendersonville to be a great home and has been here since 1997. Which is probably a good thing, especially as they venture into the world of mountain bike suspension. With some of the best trails on the east coast right out their door, Öhlins won’t have to go far to find a great testing location…

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Posted in Factory Tour, Feature, Mountain Bike6 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Origin Stories With Don Walker of Don Walker Cycles

Photo by Nathan Roberson
Photo by Nathan Roberson
Photo by Nathan Roberson

We are mere weeks away from the twelfth installment of the North American Handmade Bike Show and the Bikerumor.com “Road to NAHBS 2016” Pre-Show Coverage Crew is furiously gathering interviews from show attendees for your reading pleasure. This year’s pre-show coverage will focus on the origin stories of the those bringing bikes to the show. What better way to kick off that coverage than by talking to the kingpin of the whole NAHBS operation, Don “The Don” Walker? 

It takes a very special individual to assemble, year after year, the exciting personalities that comprise the domestic frame builder community. In a lot of ways, we take the show for granted. The show has endured over a decade, meaning that there is now a generation for whom both NAHBS and the now robust frame builder community it has championed have always existed in their adult enthusiast life. And where it was predicted decades ago within the industry that traditional fabrication methods and materials for frame building would go the way of the dodo, we now find these traditions not just surviving but thriving and innovating, due in large part to the platform that this show has given the trade.

It is impossible to deny the innovation that has been fostered by these builders or the rise of now popular segments that were nurtured and developed first and exclusively by this body as big industry looked on. Whether or not you have purchased a bike from a builder at the show, or follow frame builders at all, your cycling landscape has been undeniably shaped by the growth and rise in popularity of this community. And for all of this, we owe some thanks to Don.

Don really has two origin stories. The first story is about Don and his personal introduction to frame building (via track racing). The second origin story is that of the show and how it came to be and how it has grown.
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Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS, Road Bike13 Comments