German CNC beauty with a modern engineering edge.
Heavily CNC’d exotic components developed a reputation in the early days of fragility and of over engineering without proper attention to durability. Modern techniques emerging from better understanding or metallurgy and engineering has meant a resurgence in lines of super components for the after market. Tune, from Germany, are one for exquisite detail and understated aesthetics. The range of cranksets draw much from Cook Bros styling of the mid 90′s but still retain a profile that’s undeniable own-able by Tune. The quality and finish is second to none and are some of the lightest components out there. They’re only slightly let down by the propensity towards proprietary interfaces for their Ti bottom brackets.
A models to take a look at if you’re in the market would be the Tune Fastfoot.
Here’s a nice treat for you. Firefly have put together a short film with an ultra talented film maker Stebs and his film making company Paper Fortress Films. Spare a a couple of minutes to give it a view, you won’t be disappointed,
Firefly Bicycles from Paper Fortress on Vimeo.
Everyone loves a bit of weight loss to see in January, so here’s my top weight reducing picks to set you off.. High carbon, not low calorie.
For those on a budget diet how about a pair of Easton EA90 Carbon Tubs to ease a few Gs from the new year. At 1350g per pair the 56mm carbon aero rim profile combined with precision sealed, all alloy freehub makes a mean weight saver…
If wheels sit high on your weight saving list, and they should, and you want something even more special than the Easton then look no further than the super exotic Lightweight wheels. They’re hand made in Germany, they’ve more carbon than a pencil lead and amongst carbon wheel aficionados have the reputation of reliability, craftsmanship and being featherweight…
So let’s look at the Lightweight Ventoux 190 SE with ceramic DT Swiss hubs and a price tag of £3480… The Ventoux has a less aero profile for when the road heads north and it doesn’t take much to know the words Ceramic and DTSwiss mean a fine set of spoke carriers sit between the drop outs… Oh, the weight? How does 995g a pair grab you?
Schmolke Carbon is a joint venture between two brothers, one an engineer and the other a sports educator specialising in cycling. They’re using their years if racing and riding to produce done of the most tailored bits of carbon on the planet. Mass production is out in favour of fully tailored carbon wonderment on an individual basis.
Let’s look at the carbon bars. Over engineered to be the lightest bars on the planet and custom made for your weight, riding style and specific needs. With carbon and alloy engineered into specific clamping stress points they throw sway the accepted wisdom that light and string can’t go together. They’re proven stronger and lighter than many, if not all, of their peers. They look a million dollars too…
And to finish them off some hand made end plugs weighing in at 1.5 Grams.
Like a good single malt, these get better with age.
Although I like to keep things really current it’s always great to see some heritage floating to the surface. NYC Velo have profiled one of their team members Fat Chances as bike of the week, a Fat Chance Buck Shaver to be accurate. When you remember Fat City sits firmly in the lineage of IF, Seven, and Firefly you realise how relevant these bikes can be and with a host of fans collecting Fat’s the passion is still there for them.
Enjoy this 18 year of peice of history.
Paul Budnitz Bicycles and the new Kid on the block.
Maybe I’m a bit slow of the mark with this one, but I came across Budnitz Bicycles recently an they caught my attention so I thought they might be good to catch yours. Budnitz Bicycles take it;s name form founder and all round design aficionado Paul Budnitz who’s the guy behind Kidrobot one of the worlds most influential names in ‘art toys’. Now, building high end Ti bikes doesn’t have much to do with preformed toys for adults but it’s interesting to see a fresh name enter the scene. There’s quite a weighting on the ‘Urban’ bike but still the look and feel of the bikes is way way beyond what we’d normal see crusing round in a pair of jeans.
The ti is put together by Lynskey Performance in the USA, so the Ti is guaranteed to be top quality and the components are sourced from ’boutique’ fabricators from the US and Europe.
Frame finish does indeed look very good and there’s defiantly been the eye to detail that we’d expect at this level and particularly from Lynskey. I hope there’s more to the conceptual frame designs than purely aesthetics but would have so see a rolling example to know. There’s some excellent component choices with names like King and Paul but then there’s some absolute shocking choices too – check our those avid cable actuated disk and super market tyres.. For a bike starting at $5500 I’d like to see a little more thought on components.
Here’s what they say about themselves anyway…
We believe that we create the fastest, most fun, and most beautiful urban bicycles in the world. Working exclusively in Titanium, our super-light bicycles will last a lifetime and are a blast to ride.
Paul Budnitz Bicycles trademark Cantilever Frames™ ,U™ and Half-Crown™ forks are stunning — and are designed to optimize each bicycle’s ride. The gentle split top-tube arc that characterizes all of our frames flexes in the right places, and is stiff in others. We make our own titanium seatposts, stems, and Speedbar™ handlebars.
Exotic materials, super light, legendary build quality and a decent price tag. Could these be the perfect mid level race wheel?
Factory wheels, they do get their fair share of bad press. Me? I actually really like a good factory wheel, something about the whole integrated package and awesome materials does it. Purists will argue that true wheels are a hand crafted art-form but I do think the some factory wheels are simply brilliant designs that stand testament to advances in materials and manufacturing in the bicycle world. The literally leave the best handmade wheels in the past and the back of the pack.
So let’s have a look at the Mavic. One glance and you realise the amount of tech in these wheels. The CNC machine has been at the rim surfaces, the hubs are a work of CNC and carbon art and the mix of Zicral and Maxtal alloys mean there’s no usual 6160 here. Mavic opt for the trickle down approach to their componentry and you see many features of the highest end wheels of a few years ago on the current medium tier range.
The mavics are a great option for an awesome race wheel and at 1485 grams for a pair there’s little going to be holding you back. This spoke lacing design consist in lacing the spokes radially on the drive side and crossed 2 on the non drive side and they look really balanced and can take the worst that you’ll need to throw at them. The secret to a fast wheel is weight at outer circumference and the Mavics use Zicral for spokes a highly resistant and and lightweight aluminum alloy – talk about tech….
Bearings and freehubs are solid and emit that nice balanced tick that’s nice enough to hear without an overly loud clickety clack of some other brands. Build quality is excellent, so don’t expect these to drop out of true, at least for a good riding season.
If you’re in the Market for a pair of factory wheels at this level then you won’t go too far wrong.
Coming it at around the £600 mark but probably a bit less if you shop around. Go ride these beauty’s…
The top of the line, 4 part Titanium Eggbeater, new for 2011 and certainly worth a look if you dare.
Let’s just start by saying that you’re either a Crank Brothers person or you’re not. Personally I find them brilliant pedals and have been riding the older SL on many of my bikes. But the 11 Ti really are something special so it was nice to finally take a look at a pair. You get the usual Crank Brothers build, excellent 4 way clip in and mud shedding like no other pedals. The 11 Ti are the lightest of the full range with 4 main components crafted from 6al 4v Titanium, 175g per pair and a 5 year warranty. Yes, they’re expensive but if you want to clip into the best of the best then look no further.
Rapha/Condor stow away. Fantastically breathable, super light weight (165g) and cut like a tailor would.
So you can probably guess I like this jacket. Here’s why.
God is in the details and the details really set this jacket off. There’s the asymmetric zip which keeps the zip away from your neck and the single hand draw cord that means tightening on the go is simple.
The shoulders have rubberised strips that keep any backpack you’re wearing where it should be and the sleeves have subtle reflective strips that you’ll be thankful of at 9pm on a dark ride through London, Boston or NYC.
Fabric choice is excellent. Its a fabric with a teflon water repellant coating and does very well in all but the worst rain or humid damp days. I find shower protection always struggles with that fine balance of water repellency and breathability. For non riding situations I use a very well produced Rab EVent jacket which is by far the best foul weather jacket I’ve used and far surpasses Gore based equivalents. For riding though breathability is the key factor in keeping you dry. The Rapha does a good job until you’re caught in driving rain, where it does start the let the outside in. At that point though I find it’s time to park up and grab an Espresso and wait for the rain to pass.
The weight is right down at 165g for a medium and packs small enough to drop into a rear jersey pocket.
It’s brilliant on cold mornings and on showery days it gives you enough protection to keep rolling.
If you’re looking for lightweight rain and cold protection then this could be perfect. Colour options are great, with only the White version looking a little too thin as to revealing the garment you’re wearing underneath.
Oh and they make it for ladies too now!
Available from Condor, and Rapha.cc
Groovy Cycle works has an employees roster of one, and that would be founder Rody Walter who’s been building bikes since the early nineties.
Rody has a pretty simple mantra:
Design it with the rider in mind. Involve the customer in the process, communicate! Build it to last forever. Settle for nothing less than big smiles. Just as no two of us are exactly alike, each frame is an individual. I don’t do production runs or cookie cutter designs, instead building each frame by hand to the customer’s needs/desires/dreams.
You only have to take a look through some of the Groovy bikes that smiles form a huge part of the design brief. Not many builders inject the level of character, energy or passion into their work that Rody does.
Rody also has a small soft spot for Fat City Cycles and supports the community of Fat devotees by being one of only 2 I know of that reproduce the legendary BOI Big One Inch fork.
Drop by www.groovycycleworks.com
5 Pasture Reach
Wooster, Ohio 44691
Recognition goes out to NYC Velo for bringing this one out into to the light – The Independent Fabrication Ti Factory Lightweight. Apparently so hot out of the ‘shop that it’s not even made it to the IF Website. What’s so nice about it is the detail and the purposeful choices made at the design stage. It’s a beautiful mix of Ti main tubes and carbon seat tube with subtle machining to the dropouts and lugs. It’s super contemporary too with a predator BB30 shell and oversized head tube allowing for an integrated headset. That’s the one thing I love about the new breed of custom bike we’re seeing, builders are really exploring mixed materials and progressive structuring with classical finesse. IF aren’t alone in this but let’s savour for a moment this stunning ride. My guess is you might see it in Central Park or on a NYC criterium.
Again thanks to NYC Velo for the images and lowdown.