Dream Bike: LEGEND VENTICINQUESIMO


of the wallet from road cycling top 100

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Legend are a brand founded in Italy in 2009 by Marco Bertoletti, a man with 30 years of frame-building experience, who decided to take it all and make a new brand, one that builds stunning bikes from all four major materials.

They’re based in Presezzo, near Bergamo, right in the heartland of Italian cycling, one of the most cycling-mad places in the world. If you put stock in the cycling-rich roots of your bike brands, Legend’s bikes might as well come with a complementary place on the start line at the Giro because it doesn’t get much better.

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Legend reckon the Venticinquesimo (which translates as 25th, and that one’s true) is one of the most stunning bikes they’ve ever made, and it’s hard to argue with that. The frameset is a combination of grade 9 titanium lugs and 3K weave carbon tubes, taking a classic frame building technique and mixing it with new materials.

Some of the techniques used to make this frame are genuinely amazing. For example, all the welding is done in an inert gas chamber, and then each weld is individually finished by hand until it’s all but invisible.

And every single frame is handbuilt to order, so the geometry will be tailored exactly to fit you – great for any rider but even better if you have specific fit requirements that make stock frames a difficult proposition.

Legend will build you one of these to fit mechanical or electronic shifting. Amazingly, Legend also offer a disc brake version of the frame, although you’ll need to contact them for pricing should you want one of them.

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One thing Bertoletti pointed out to us when we spoke to him last year was that the Legend isn’t a performance bike. That doesn’t mean the ride quality won’t be lovely, but rather that working with dual materials provides challenges, and a dual material bike like this won’t – in pure performance terms – be quite like one of Legend’s full carbon frames.

Basically, this isn’t a bike for racing, it’s a bike for people who like bikes – setting aside the fact that you’d have to be completely mad (or eye-wateringly rich) to race on a frameset worth north of six grand.

Another big attraction of the Venticinquesimo is exclusivity. This bike is like the limited edition of limited edition bikes, and the factory in Italy only makes enough of these every year to scrape into double figures. So not only do you get a bike that’s made to measure for you, it’s one on which you will almost certainly never have to nod to someone else riding on your Sunday morning ride.

Every Venticinquesimo frameset comes with a unique serial number laser etched into the frame, a small mark that confirms you as a member of a very exclusive club should you choose to buy one.

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Dream Bike: Ti Carbon Bastion Beastie


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The technology is there and a few builders are utilizing it for sure, but you don’t often see a 3D printed frame with elegance like Bastion Cycles‘ titanium and carbon road bike.

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This thing is a beauty and for me, was a pleasure to photograph. I love the contrast of materials, the 3d-printed NAHBS insignia on the driveside dropout and the mean fuckin’ stance of this road bike.

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Dream Bike: Velo cult Ahearne Dirt Tourer


Velocult Ahearne
Velocult Ahearne

From RADAVIST

I can’t help it. I love touring bikes with big, fat, high volume tires and funky stances. This project in particular was born from the mind and abilities of three important individuals, residing in the Portland area under the Velo Cult Customs umbrella.

This Ahearne Dirt Tourer is a collaboration between three people: Sky from Velo Cult, Chris Igleheart and Ahearne. We’ll start with the most obvious hand: Chris Igleheart‘s segmented fork, which is complimented by the Ahearne rack and frameset. These bikes are 100% custom, can be built with 26″ or 27.5″ wheels, have an optional upgrade of Honjo 90mm Fenders and are rugged enough for even the toughest dirt touring and bikepacking expeditions. One of my favorite details are the braze-ons hidden below the top tube for a strapless bag install.

This is the first in a series of Velo Cult Customs, the line will grow to include road, randonneur, cross and a gravel racer in the coming months.

Contact Velo Cult for pricing and availability.

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Dream Bike: Electric Mexican Blanket


REBLOG RADAVIST

RM_tyler_TLD_Custom-3Tyler’s Electric Mexican Blanket Sunday Driver Chromag Road Bike
Photos by Ross Measures, Words by Tyler Morland

The idea was simple: Create a “Sunday Driver” of sorts. I took inspiration from a bike I was currently riding and blended it with that taste I have for old Ritcheys. My dad has this old Ritchey Timberline comp and I always loved the Fillet brazing look and feel. So Ian Ritz at Chromag Bikes and I started the conversation and we talked about every detail. We used raw material that Chromag had in stock and used something that they have refined for a couple of years, like the drop outs and generally put it through the process that all Chromag frames go through. The head tube was machined in shop and follows the taper of the fork. A real pain in the ass to make. Then, we chose curved seat stays to give it that plush steel ride.

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He had no idea it would be this long of a process and neither did I. We roped in Chris Dekerf for the internal routing and brazing. North Shore Billet for the machined parts and sent the completed frame in for a crazy paint job at Troy Lee Designs. I visit TLD once a year for various reasons and those guys are just a bunch of beauties. I’ve been part of the family over at TLD FOREVER and this was a great conversation with a legendary painter… Why not electric Mexican blanket? 

The build kit was a no-brainer. That just goes with the territory – All SRAM everything. I still can’t decide if I go ZIPP 303 or 202.

Dream Bike: Pink Meriwether on Gypsy by Trade


In a word … perfectlylovelyandpracticandyeysobloodygorgeous

GYPSY BY TRADE

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Everything I need to have fun and survive, all wrapped in pink.  Not shown here are a tent, computer, or a front derailleur, which broke after a year and a half of adventure.  For the AZT, we’re traveling without a tent.  The 11″ MacBook Air has rejoined the packlist and fits nicely in the Revelate Viscacha with a certain packing procedure (clothes and groundcloth packed first).

The basic details are that it carries everything I need to survive and have fun including 4 liters of water, clothing and camping gear, durable 2.4″ tubeless tires on wide carbon rims, a useful range of gears, 120mm of seriously plush front suspension, a wide handlebar, all time lighting and USB charging, and the same saddle which has adorned every bike I have ridden since 2009, likely over 75,000 miles of touring and commuting on its bent steel frame, still as comfortable as ever.

The important details are 434mm chainstays, a low but not too low bottom bracket, a long but not too long top tube, a portage handle, a 68.5 degree head tube angle, and the aforementioned 120mm Rock Shox Pike fork with 51mm of offset.  All other parts come directly from my Surly Krampus and are designed to be world touring friendly, including a threaded BSA bottom bracket and the option for standard QR wheels via replaceable Paragon dropout plates and of course, a different fork.  As always, the bike is designed for big tires and a ton of extra clearance.

The Meriwether handles singletrack better than the Krampus, descends better than the Krampus, climbs better than the Krampus, and pedals more comfortably than the Krampus.  But that’s only because I rode the Krampus for a year– and during that time it was a great bike– but I was paying attention and figured out how to make a bike better for me.  Whit Johnson of Meriwether Cycles is the catalyst and the confidence for this project who massaged my ideas into digital lines and degrees in BikeCAD, and manufactured our ideas in steel, willingly coating his handiwork in a pink blanket of paint.  Some call the color theft-protection, but honestly, it is the only color I wanted.  I did consider a muted lavender hue, but settled on antique pink, as I like to call it.

The bike easily finds the center of the trail, and doesn’t have the tendency to oversteer or understeer as other bikes I’ve ridden.  I can look further down the trail and know that my tires will take me there, not into the weeds.  On flowing serpentine trail, I sit down and position myself between the wheels, which are properly weighted for the front tires to cut a line and the rear tire to follow aggressively.  Riding this bike through corners– thanks, for certain, to the lower bottom bracket which I initially resisted– is like waterskiing.  The harder I dig, the harder it turns.

The bike climbs.  Shorter chainstays result in a more direct power transfer to the rear wheel, even through Whit was concerned that his drive-side half yoke would be flexible.  It is not.  The low bottom bracket changes my relationship with only the tallest, most menacing obstacles while climbing, resulting in more frequent pedal strike on technical trials-like climbs.  In all other situations, the 60mm BB drop is a feature, and within a week, pedal strike is minimized through experience.  I might adjust the BB drop to 55mm if I had the chance to do it again, but that is a very personal consideration because I love climbing chunky stuff.  But the bike doesn’t try to tip over backwards on steep climbs and the shortened top tube allows me to approach long ascents in a seated position, while out of the saddle efforts are directly rewarded.  I recently spend much of the Highline Trail in Arizona either hiking alongside my bike, descending behind the saddle, or ripping climbs in a 34-34 gear combination.  It is a stand-up and hammer gear combination on any steep mountain bike trail, but chain retention is good and it forces me to hit the gas.  Sometimes a little extra gas is what you need for the next ledge or rock in the trail.  Soft-pedaling through challenging trail usually results in walking.  And yes, the portage handle is awesome.  I now have three useful hand positions for hauling the bike, each for a different kind of hike-a-bike.

Descending is unlike any hardtail I have ridden.  The Krampus gave me much of the confidence I sought over the classic geometry of the Raleigh XXIX and its 80mm fork.  Add to that more modern geometry, including the 68.5 degree head tube and the 51mm fork offset on a remarkable 120mm fork, and this bike is seriously confident going downhill.  Again, a little lower bottom bracket helps to keep my center of mass behind the front axle, reducing the feeling of going over the bars on steep trails.  I’ve taken to descending almost every section of trail I can find, save for most of the Pipeline Trail off the Mogollon Rim and a couple rocky drops on the way into Pine.  But, I rode most of the last section of the Highline into Pine at dusk, and loved it.  Happy to be on 2.4″ Ardents, for sure.  And the Pike, get a Pike!  To be fair, I’ve ridden some MRP Stage forks which also feel phenomenal, and some other modern RockShox offerings have impressed me on test rides, including the new Revelation and SID forks.  But for the same weight as a Revelation (which has 32mm stanchions) and the same price as a SID (yes, kind of a lot), you can have the Pike which boasts 35mm stanchions with premium RockShox internals.  The concept of using more fork offset with a lower head tube angle results in a bicycle with improved descent characteristics yet which preserves mechanical trail and handling on neutral trail sections and on climbs– it descends better without any drawbacks.

Contact Whit Johnson at Meriwether Cycles if you have any custom bicycle needs.  He specializes in mountain bikes with character, built for adventure.  He likes short chainstays, fat tires, and extra attachment points.  He has recently built several gorgeous custom forks for internal dynamo wiring to accompany custom frames and has pushed the boundaries with his fatbike and plus-sized bikes for the past few years.  I really enjoyed working with Whit on this project.  He quickly understood my ideas and converted them to numbers, into visual impressions of a bicycle, and ultimately into a sweet ride.  Check out Meriwether Cycles on InstagramFlickr, and on the Meriwether Blog.  He is located in Foresthill, CA and has relatively short lead times.  Pricing starts at $1200 although a frame similar to mine would cost about $1500.

If you are interested in stock bicycles with a similar character to my pink bike check out the Advocate HaydukeJamis Dragonslayer, and Marin Pine Mountain.

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Build details:

Meriwether Cycles custom steel frame for 29/27.5+

RockShox Pike RCT3 120mm, 15mm TA, 51m offset

Chris King headset and BB

Shimano Deore crank, 34/22T rings

Shimano SLX direct mount front derailleur with Problem Solvers clamp, XTR GS rear derailleur

Shimano XTR 9speed rear shifter, front friction thumb shifter on Paul Thumbie

Shimano XT 11-34 cassette and SRAM PG-951 chain

Specialized 75mm stem

Race Face SixC 3/4″ riser carbon handlebar, 785mm wide

Ergon GP1-L grips

Brooks B-17 Standard

Avid BB-7 brakes and levers, 160mm rotors

Derby HD 35mm wide carbon rim to Hope Pro 2 Evo rear hub

Light Bicycle 35mm wide carbon rim to SP PD-8X dynamo hub

Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4″ EXO tires, tubeless

Redline Monster nylon pedals

Supernova E3 Triple 2 headlight, E3 Pro taillight with custom brackets

Sinewave Reactor USB charger, top cap mount

Revelate Designs custom ziperless framebag, Viscacha seatbag, Gas Tank, small Sweet Roll and small Pocket

Salsa Anything Cage HD and 64 oz. Klean Kanteen

Salsa stainless bottle cages on fork attached via hose clamps, 32 oz bottles

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Dream Bike: SKLAR custom


Beautiful SKLAR custom

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playful geometry that works well with the 29+ platform
Internal routing for a stealth dropper post (although he is not running one right now)
internal rear brake and internal rear mech. in case he ever decides to run gears. We also decided on a chainstay yoke for a 73mm bottom bracket shell and a tapered head tube.

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Dream Bike: Raphael Touring


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RADAVIST:  Like many framebuilders, Rafi Ajl began his love for the bicycle at a young age but it wasn’t until after graduating from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design that he began pursuing his love for building bicycle frames. Ajl’s background is fine art and as such, his bicycles began functional art. Something you would not only love to look at, but would love to ride and would be able to do so for the rest of your life.

Perhaps it was Rafi’s passion for art, design and the bicycle that drew Geoff from Box Dog Bikes, a local, owner run co-op bicycle shop in the Mission of SF to Raphael Cycles’ work. Or maybe it was the proximity. Rafi Ajl is no longer making frames, but when he was, Raphael Cycles was literally blocks away from Box Dog Bikes.

Geoff wanted a classic touring bike with external routing, fender, rack mounts and a 1″ threaded headset. A seasoned tourer, randonnée, cyclocross racer, shredder of vintage mountain bikes and all-around capable cyclist, Geoff knew exactly what he wanted and has been thoroughly enjoying this bike. As evident by the years of use.

A SON hub powers the S3 lighting and a well-positioned and broken in Brooks saddle cushions and inviting a ride.

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