The 29″ custom mountain bike from Sycip wins the Shimano Bike of the Day for Saturday. This Sycip features the full line of Shimano’s PRO components, right down the to the handgrips. The only component that is not Shimano PRO is the headset (Chris King).
According to Jeremy Sycip, “The Shimano components work really well. They look good and are really functional. For us it’s an easy decision.”
The bike is built for a customer who is an elite level cross country racer in the San Francisco Bay area.
If you raced bikes in the 1980s, you probably remember Italy’s Alan bicycles.
The thin-tubed, “screwed and glued” construction aluminum and carbon framesets were the first truly lightweight models to diverge from using steel tubing. The company started in Italy back in 1972, and made its mark in the world of cyclocross racing, eventually racking up 21 cyclocross World Championship titles in various categories.
Fast forward to 2010, and Alan bicycles are back on the scene in a big way. For the past three years, Richmond-based Stellina Sport has imported the frames from Italy unfinished and leaves the paint work to a Virginia neighbor, Canyon Air.
Just as with the early years, Alan’s focus is cyclocross (although road and mountain versions are offered as well), and both aluminum and carbon fiber framesets are offered. According to Sally Snead, who runs Stellina Sport with her husband Chris, the best-selling models are the all-aluminum and aluminum with carbon rear triangle framesets.
Reflecting the company’s long involvement with racing, Stellina Sport chooses to promote the Alan brand through sponsorship of the Alan North America Cycling Team. The team contests all of the USGP and Mid-Atlantic Cup cyclocross events with Elite and Masters squads.
“[The team] is our main avenue for promoting the brand,” says Snead. Riders who buy an Alan can be sure its design has been honed in the crucible of top level competition.
- Matt Butterman
Wood seems like such an obvious choice for a strong, durable, and light-weight building material. We’ve all seen it used on every imaginable piece of sporting goods equipment created by man; bows & arrows, fishing rods, skis, gun stocks, sleds, hockey sticks … you name it. So it’s odd that a bicycle made of wood would take so many by complete surprise at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Sylvan Cycles out of Amherst, MA is creating a lot of buzz with their wood composite bicycles. Show attendees crowd around the Sylvan booth, often 6 deep, many remarking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Sylvan’s John Fabel points out, “Yes, wood is an obvious choice. As a frame building material, it has all of the right properties you’d look for in a bicycle. A wooden frame results in a fantastic ride quality due to the resilience of wood.”
The main triangles of Sylvan frames are comprised of hexagonal, or pencil-shaped, “tubes” which are held together using bio-sourced resin adhesives. Sylvan engineers their own 4-layer laminate sheets, which are carefully cut and aligned to ensure continuous fiber from end-to-end along each tube. And though they can make narrow wooden tubes for seat and chain stays, they primarily use solid stays because there’s minimal weight savings. “Structurally, wood weighs 25-30% less than its steel equivalents,” according to Sylvan’s Sam Kelley. “Much of the weight of a Sylvan bike is in the steel lugs.” Beautifully crafted, stainless steel lugs, that is.
Sylvan only uses sustainable, locally-harvested regional woods like maple and walnut to create their frames. Recently, custom wheel builder Merlyn Townley, owner of Cyclic Evolution, approached Sylvan to have them build a mahogany frame. “Sylvan refused. They didn’t want to have any part in cutting down non-sustainable forest,” Merlyn recalled. “And, that’s exactly what I wanted them to tell me.” Sylvan did, however, agree to build him his mahogany frame after Merlyn provided his own piece of reclaimed mahogany. The resulting bike will have personal significance for Townley, as the wood is from his late father’s sculpture shop.
Because their wood frame prototypes have all been so successful, Sylvan is now making the leap to a true production run. They offer custom fitting and models for racing, randonneuring, 26 and 29 inch mountain, and have two adventure models for touring and cyclocross. A time-trial bike is also in the works.
- Matt Shields
James at Black Sheep really helps to bring those characteristics to the hand built bike world. With a relatively short wait time of about 3-4 months, the former aerospace engineer is quick to get, as he describes, “your bike built for you” under your butt.
This year James has really focused on continuing to bring contemporary drivetrains and refined curves to the showroom floor.
Often recognized by his very specific Faith fork, Black Sheep is also moving some of their focus on integrating hand built handle bars and seat posts into his frame designs.
Black Sheep is really standing apart from the crowd at the 2010 NAHBS.
If you want to know the state of the industry, ask the people who supply the framebuilders with parts and equipment. Anvil Bike Works sells or has sold framebuilding equipment to most of the builders at the Shimano NAHBS, and accordig to NAHBS Awards Jury member Don Ferris, the owner of Anvil, the industry is in pretty good shape these days despite the general economic woes.
Ferris said, “In 2008/9 when the petroleum prices were spiking, our sales went way up. There seemed to be a 30-45 day relationship between gas prices and my sales. That was a freakishly high year for sales. Now we are back to normal. 2009/10 sales are about the same as 2007 and prior years, so I’d say we’re largely unaffected by the economy.”
The Cleveland bike builder has won a best in show award at the 2009 handmade show and hopes to do the same once again.
This year he is bringing his best to the show with a cyclocross bike that he has designed for his sponsored rider. The bike features bi-laminate construction on the front end of the bike, and lugs for the seat and chain stay junctures. Built from a very light tube set, it also features a carbon cockpit to ensure the team rider has a podium bike.
Second on the list featured at the show is a crushed lime stone singlespeed racer in a creamsicle hue. Featuring full fenders and custom bars with brooks leather wrap, Dan says that the owner was looking very specifically for a bike that he could commute on a specific lime stone path around the Cleveland area. That’s what you call specialization.