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Shop Rides

Secretly, in the Night, Summer Fell

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


On September 23rd we passed the autumnal equinox, that magic moment when the Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun and night and day are of roughly equal length, depending on where you’re standing. A hot, humid end to the summer helped the fall sneak in under our noses.

But then cyclocross season started.

The races leading up to Holy Week (the twin weekends of GP Gloucester and the KMC Cyclocross Festival in Providence) were mainly dusty affairs as riders rode fast over dry fields, trying to remember how to dis- and remount their bikes. Perfect conditions at Gloucester more or less guaranteed that this weekend, in Providence, will be racked by torrential rain, the cheerful gift of Tropical Storm Joaquin.

What does it all mean for a New England bike builder?

First of all, it means we are busy, that we have been busy, to let summer slip into fall without really noticing. Sure, there has been in uptick in ‘cross bikes, in mountain bikes and in the ubiquitous Evergreen, as folks begin to put road season to rest, but it’s funny the way, when you build bikes for specific riders, the various categories blur together and the larger trends in what you’re doing escape you.

The late season warmth has left most of the leaves on the trees and the trails clear. As always, the time to ride is now. This is the lesson of every season, everywhere.

Horses for All Courses

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

JohnShredThree of us showed up for this morning’s shop ride on three different bikes (while others…ahem…chose to sleep). It’s only 10 miles, but all on twisty, rooted, rocky single-track, one of those cool stretches of uninterrupted dirt that seems so improbable so close to the city, but it’s a gift we avail of ourselves year round, year-after-year.

It was just the regular Thursday morning dirt commute, but here’s where it gets interesting. One of us rode a mountain bike with 2.3s. One of us road an Evergreen with 40c tires, and the third road a cross bike with 32s. None of us was out of our league, and none of us seemed to have too much bike. Were there differences in how we performed over the varied terrain? Sure. The mountain bike was fastest through rock gardens and over roots. The other two bikes were faster on packed climbs. But it all evened out, and we all had fun.

This was one of those cool, unintentional experiments that yielded reinforcement for an idea we’ve been nursing for a long time, that the common conceptions about the “right” bike to ride in a given situation are probably not more than reasonable suggestions, and that really, you just have to ride what you love.NeilNMatty Don’t get trapped by expectations. Be led by fun.

This Is Why We Do This

Friday, June 5th, 2015

WhyWeDo1It was Thursday morning. We’d met at the usual spot and rolled West, crisscrossing some trails, then turned south on the road towards more trails, and eventually to Seven.

Mike said, “This is why we do what we do. This right here.” By this point, we’d been to the coffee shop down the street from the shop and were all riding one-handed up the hill to work. The sun shone. It was cool, and we’d done 15 or 20  miles of road and trail in a lazy, pre-work ramble.

We like what we do all day, building bikes, talking riders through their designs, figuring out component compatibility, researching the new cycling trends, but none of it means much without riding.

WhyWeDo2Riding feeds bike-building, and riding the bikes we build tightens the feedback loop, so that we are so closely engaged with what we’re doing that the riding and building seem to be part of the same process. In some ways, they are. But the riding is why we do what we do, the nurturing of that feeling of freedom and adventure, and the hope that we can spread it to as many people as we can.

There Are No Bikes

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

6941319752_b9cb75a4a6_zThere are no bikes, but only riders, more than 30,000 of them. They came to us and told us about their riding, the roads and trails they wanted to ride, and we gave them a way to get there. It’s true that, in some ways, it was the bikes that took them where they wanted to go, but without the riders, there was nothing.

This is an important distinction to make. We have never built a bike with the express purpose of convincing someone to buy it. We have only ever built the bikes that people asked us to build. The rider comes first, always.

We get somewhat regular calls from people who ask something like, “Hi, I wonder if you have a 56cm road bike in stock that I can just buy.” And we say, “Sorry, we don’t actually have any bikes in inventory,” which is true.

There are no bikes until there are riders who want them, and what they want is very specific. We wouldn’t build the same bike for you, because you are different. We have built more than 30,000 bikes, and never two the same in a row. It is a lot more fun to do it this way.

Summer’s Options

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

It isn’t summer yet, just April’s end, but there are buds on the trees, the sun rises higher in the sky every day, and we can begin to see all the riding options summer will give us. Our New England trails are drying out. The sunrise is early enough to get out on the road on a Saturday before the cars have woken up. The options are nice to have, though they sometimes necessitate more than one bike.

Flat bars or drop? Skinny tires or fat? One seat or two? In summer, it almost doesn’t matter what you choose.