This bike was a huge hit when I first posted it back in January. Kevin took his new Cinelli Mash track bike to West Coast Hydrographix for a appliqué of Real Tree camo. I got to see this bike in person yesterday and had to shoot some photos of it. Check out more detail photos in the gallery!
Posts Tagged ‘Thomson’
I can really appreciate builds like this: vintage steel with a mix of modern componentry, especially when you add a tubeset like Columbus MS into the equation. This bike rolled into Shifter Bikes while I was in Melbourne and it was one of those bikes that didn’t like to sit still. It kept wanting to roll. Was it the legacy of Greg Lemond that was trying to establish a forward momentum? Who knows… but the Campagnolo Centaur 10, Zipp wheels, Thomson cockpit and Rolls saddle probably have something to do with it.
This bike has been in the works for a while now and I’m not talking about the weeks the frame sat in the box while I accumulated the parts. I’m talking about since I first saw one in person, at Post Bikes in Brooklyn. The original Sword wasn’t what I would consider a true track geometry. It was more of a fixed cruiser, marketed not only at the kids wanting a street bike to thrash, but also to the older BMXrs who wanted a quicker way around town.
Steve and John Paul began working on the Sword SQ. They talked to various people in the “industry”, including Josh “Big Red” Hayes and Kyle Kelley, who worked on the Sword’s geometry, making it what it is today. This Sword SQ represents a lot of things to me. Mostly, a company, who in the wake of Taiwanese fabrication, still make their bikes in America, for an affordable price and have never taken a penny from an outside investor.
While I’ve already got a kick-ass track bike, this Sword will go through many variations. I’m already planning on putting a Cetma on it to carry my photo bag in the summer and will probably throw risers on it at some point to encourage some throwback FGFS. It’s a little small, compared to what I’m used to riding, so the saddle to bar drop is much more race-fit than my Icarus. I’ve dialed in the fit now and it looks a lot more reasonable than the first Instagram photo I posted.
I tried to use as many American companies as possible. Profile Fix / Fix hubs laced to H+Son Archetype rims (fucking love these rims!) and a 18t Phil Wood SLR cog. Thomson stem, post, 1960′s Unicanitor Saddle, Ritchey Classic Curve bars and Newbaum’s tape. I was tempted to buy a set of the Phil Wood cranks, but went with the tried and true SRAM Omniums with an extremely rare, purple 44RN 144#47 ring. My White Industries pedals got a new life and the Toshi single straps are just right. Finally, a black KMC Cool Chain and 28c Continental Gatorskins finish off the build, with a 3/4″ mini Viking decal on the stem.
I’m very happy with this bike and it’s been nice to ride a track bike around, since my Icarus’ fork has been at the painter’s for a few weeks.
Many thanks to FBM for this beast and I can assure you, this won’t be the last time you see it here on the site!
In Kyle’s quest to ride American-made bicycles, he came across the late Santa Cruz Stigmata. The frame was very affordable, so he bought one and rode the shit out of it. A few months later, he ended up breaking it (went off a trail, nose-first), but was lucky enough to have Santa Cruz replace it with a new frame.
This bike is everything a race bike should be, it’s light, great components where they count and looks damn nice. His #Jahblessed Chris King headset and vintage Salsa Skewers are great accents and as always, he’s got a super rare Ramblin Roll carrying the essentials.
Since Kyle only races SSCX this became his travel bike. We both agree that a cross bike is the ideal bike to travel with, for various reasons and the Stigmata was a very affordable, made in the USA option. Unfortunately, these frames were eventually discontinued, as production moved entirely overseas.
On his last day here in Austin, I shot some photos of it at his favorite bar in town, the Yellow Jacket Social Club.
I’ve been trying to type out a few introductory sentences for this bike for the past few minutes and honestly, I have no idea where to begin. So let’s start out by me saying that it is by no means the first carbon fiber bike I have been offered but it was the first that had a compelling story attached with it, something I’m always intrigued by and will ultimately make for a better piece of journalism.
For the past year or so, I’ve been watching Ben at Argonaut Cycles reinvent his modus operandi. He made the shift from building steel bikes to developing a new fabrication system with a local carbon manufacturer. Unlike anything else currently being manufactured domestically, or overseas, the new face of Argonaut is focused on the future of bicycle design. But that’s not to say that Argonaut’s steel past had been cast aside.
Before he even began to sketch out his design, he met with the carbon engineers, who reverse-engineered some of his favorite steel tubesets, and improved upon their weaknesses. Ben wanted his bikes to have the same ride characteristics of his steel bikes, just more technologically advanced. He came to loosely call this “steel 2.0″ but you should take that with a grain of salt because let’s face it, carbon fiber is not steel.
This bike is however a by-product of domestic engineering and fabrication. The carbon weave is from the States. It’s cut to shape, moulded by a proprietary process, assembled and finished all within an hour drive from Portland. The process used produces very little waste. There’s no hodgepodge assemblage, no messy resin and it’s 100% custom. Basically, it’s a streamlined process that utilizes technologies that allow each frame to be engineered to a customer’s specific needs.
That’s what had me intrigued in Argonaut and so I agreed to come on board. Soon, I started to hear the echos of “steel is real” in the back of my head, however. I knew my Bishop is as perfect as a steel bike could be. The geometry is dialed and I’ve never ridden anything like it. So I approached Ben with the idea to make the exact same bicycle, just with his new carbon manufacturing process.
Dimensions, trail, geometry, were all the same, just the profile changed a bit to a racier silhouette. Even the tube’s proprietary layup were influenced by the same steel that my Bishop is built from. Bottom line is, I wanted to be able to subjectively compare the two materials.
After I filled out my ride journal, had numerous talks with Ben and designed the paint, the bike was done. Last week, I arrived in Portland and immediately got to check it out. First thing I noticed was how much of a stellar job Keith Anderson did on the paint. The build wasn’t bad either! Rotor cranks, SRAM Red group, ENVE tapered fork, ENVE bars, Thomson stem, Fizik Kurve saddle, Chris King hubs to H+Son Archetype rims (built by none other than Sugar Wheel Works), Chris King PF30 ceramic BB and that special I8 Chris King headset. It was a dream build.
But what about the ride? The first day, we did a nice 25 mile ride up Saltzman, then Saturday, we headed out towards Mt. Hood for 75 miles (then Billy broke a spoke and we had to call it quits). My initial reaction is very optimistic. The ride is what I can only call “light and responsive”. It handles like my Bishop but even better. Descents are faster and it climbs with little or no qualms. There’s no jarring feel when I hit rough terrain. Everything feels dampened and smooth.
My previous experiences with carbon rental bikes like Cervelo, Specialized and other brands were always harsh. The bikes were stiff and I didn’t enjoy the ride. I’m not a racer, I don’t need a bike engineered to race. I need a bike that rides how I want it to, when I want it to and that’s what Argonaut produced for me. It really is like steel 2.0… So what about my Bishop? There’s nothing on this planet that would make me stop riding it. That’s a fact. Steel is still, real but this new experience has been loads of fun. As for the bike itself, it’s very easy on the eyes.
The bike weighs 15.5 lbs as seen here (minus bottles). With middle-grade LOOK pedals, 32h wheels and 28c tires, that’s not bad at all.
See more photos in the gallery!
LH Thomson, small arms and bicycle component manufacturer has been buzzing for months now in anticipation for this date. Yesterday, when scoping out X2 stems, I saw a new tab on their site: handlebars! All who are looking for an All-American cockpit need to look no further (well, in 2015 anyway). For now, these carbon bars are manufactured in Taiwan but Thomson plans on moving fabrication to the States in 2015. I’ll admit to being a little bummed on that note…