Looks like the folks at Geekhouse did it again with a beautiful all-purpose built. The build include internal routing, Shimano Di2 and disk brakes…oh and loads of orange. What’s not to love here. It seems that more and more folks are taking the plunge into one bike to rule them all with versatile builds that could easily, with a simple change of wheels or tires, could be turned from dirt eating monsters to elegant road machines.
The beast is photographed by Paul Chan.
I was helping my friend and excellent photographer Beto to create some content for his portfolio one afternoon when two familiar bikes came along – Michael Monk of Monk Cycles and his lovely lady Candy. While Michael, Candy and myself were chatting Beto took the opportunity to photograph us – bike nerds in their natural habitat-style. Once the photos came out, we figured that this will be a great platform to publish the work and talk about Monk Cycles, my very own neighborhood bike company.
Michael Monk and myself met a few years ago at the Berliner Fahrradschau. We were quiet shocked to realize that we both liked riding drop bar bikes off road, we loved big tires, Bruce Gordon and steel. To add to the whole love fest, we discovered that we lived about 100 meters from each other, drink coffee at the same coffee shop (hello Cafe Am Ende Der Welt) and went to the same BIC-barber.
Monk cycles is all about steel bikes, handmade in Germany, assembled in Berlin with practical and sophisticated design and of course drop bars. Monk comes in 26 inch variance, 650B, and a 29er. Each rig will rip a single track to shreds while also allowing you to schlepp your groceries and mount panniers and fenders. With all braze-ons and options the bike still manages to keep it minimal and tidy and as long as Michael has anything to say about it, it will come equipped with Retroshift levers and proper mountain bike tires if you ask nicely.
The Monk bikes just scream “make me dirty”.
Like every year the beginning of spring is symbolized by the ever growing bike show with the very non-native-German-speaking name “Der Berliner Fahrradschau” which basically means “The Berlin Bike Show.” Lets agree that abbreviating it to BFS (that’s actually F and S in that super long word that is of course made out of two nouns) is ok and we shell not mention the full name any more.
This year the show really grow and with that several of the corridors became unbearable. I’m pretty sure I waved off people away from my frame more than once and all together avoided a few rows all together. I started from the end and worked my way to about half the space focusing really on handmade bikes. This year there were some excellant German handmade bikes as well as international names.
To start off, the best of show for me was a builder out of Bochum called Le Canard (the duck in French). He explained that the bike that was copper plated was his own and had three gears – walking the bike, riding the bike, pushing the bike. He had the passion of someone who rides his own work and has the balls to go big – copper plated bike with internal cable routing and a GT-like geometry with lights built into the butt. What’s not to love?
Next to him was Wheel Dan – a local Berlin titanium builder that’s doing amazing work. This time he presented a commuter bike he built for a customer which came with a Pinion drive! The handmade racks he build, both for the commuter and for Christoph’s Brevet machine, standing in the same booth, were impressive in their design, ambition and execution. This year the show was all about internal routing – German minimalism at its best.
Another local German builder is Tannenwald. They explained to me that they like to work with steel and combine the newest technologies, such as 44mm head tubes and through axels, with old school design. Their design and paintwork were impressive and the combination of Tune parts (they come from the forest next door to Tune’s) really accentuated their European-ism. Their bikes were the only ones I saw that used 3T forks.
Pretty much all other bikes that caught my eyes were some form of cyclecross bikes, each one using Enve Components. Enve had a nice area in which they invited some of their favorite European builders to present their bikes which is how we ended up with first hand view of a beautiful fixie from Field Cycles in the U.K. In the same area Troica Cycles, Berlin’s own cyclocross newcomer, presented one of their rigs and in the background, Ken’s Crema Cycles presented a baby blue UCI-sanctioned cross machine built to win and win. Yes, there was a Vandeyk in the same area and a beautiful road machine St. Joris cycles out of the Netherlands, but at this point I got a little dizzy by the abundance of carbon and had to move away.
I had to ask myself “where is 3T?” Enve, a company based in Utah, showed up in full force with a concept and 3T, a company with similar products, located on the same small continent, missed on a show as big as this. Shame.
It was great to see so many every day folks checking out the show. It was not just occupied by the freaks and geeks and fixie nerds, but by people like my mom and your aunt and the dad that loaded his family on their bikes and took a tour in the BFS. There were loads of cargo bikes and baby bikes and WheelDan even brought his son’s titanium training bike. There was really something for everyone.
Firefly formed a team of ladies based on slightly different concepts than the traditional “we’re in it to win races” teams. The story, posted on the new adventure team website. It speaks to those of us who ride for the adventure and not the miles.
Looking at my Strava statistics climbing up, my rearranged work schedule around a Wednesday morning ride, the utter detachment with which I look at bikes on the Internet (well…that’s an exaggeration), and the beautiful machine hanging on my wall, I feel rewarded having made the plunge into the titanium custom bike pool and choose to swim with the big sharks – Seven Cycles.
In June, 2013 I had a face-to-face meeting with Rob Vandermark at Ride Studio Cafe (RSC in Lexington, Massachusetts, U.S.A ) which was the culmination of months of internal debates and consultations until I decided to pull the trigger. I routed a flight to Washington, DC through Boston, well, it’s on the way and arranged for a day at RSC. Rob and myself discussed how the ride should feel, what was I going to do with the bike, what the handling should be like and how far I’d like to ride. Tech talk was kept to a minimal and apart from explaining that I’d like to be able to mount big tires on the bike (45mm) and would like disk brakes, we did not talk shop.
Prior to sitting with Rob, I took out one of Seven’s Mudxium S rides for an hour or so. Patria, the amazing curator at Ride Studio Cafe, made sure I’m comfortable on it, that it was dialed to my size, even replacing the stem, and loaded me up with a Garmin GPS so I could ride in a terrain I was completely foreign to. I had a blast, got muddy and excited and after she pumped me with some more excellent coffee, I sat down with Rob.
Rob also measured me on the same Mudhoney I took for a spin and also on my other bike, my Hunter, which I just happened to have have with me. I love riding my Hunter and made it clear that both bikes are not supposed to compete with each other. Hunter is the touring bike, the bike that I can load with panniers and take over the world. My Seven is there for everything else. All weather riding, road riding, gravel racing, whatever.
I picked up the frame on my next visit to the U.S. which was in October and brought it home in November. Then I started collecting components. This was a mistake since the beautiful frame and fork were hanging on the wall begging to be ridden, but were missing on a group and brakes. Then, just as I was ready to order the last piece – the brakes, TRP recalled their Spyre and I was scratching my head trying to figure out alternatives. Lucky enough, TRP managed to replace their Spyres quickly and with that the last component was procured.
With a box of components I went to my local bike shop – Pedalum Mobile, and had them built the bike. This was decided after reading an excellent post by Probably about buying custom bikes. He made the point that there is something very rewarding about going to the shop and picking up your finished bike. And I did just that. And he was correct – I did not see it get created, but within a few days it was ready, and I hit the streets with it.
WOW. What a ride. The Mudxium just needs someone to sit on her and she takes off. Peddling is highly optional. She is responsive to your intentions before you even know where you want to take her. She is comfortable even on the cobblestones that plague the city. She feels just as one would expect a custom made frame – she feels like she is made for me. And for this reason, we spend so much time together.