All City Cycles 2015

All City Cycles 2015

While checking out the steel wares being displayed at NAHBS 2015, a friend of mine mentioned seeing some nice new stuff coming from All City Cycles, a company that I’ve been watching for some time. Apparently, though, I haven’t been watching them closely enough.

All City seems to be one of the very few companies that fill the niche-gap between inexpensive Tange steel frames and expensive custom 853-type frames. At the bottom, you have companies like Surly with cheap (about $500), mass-produced, no frills steel frames. I’ve never been a fan of Surly because their frames are no better than any entry-level steel production bike from any big-name manufacturer, yet by the time you build a full bike, you’ll be paying way more than an off-the-shelf Trek, Marin, etc. Next, you have companies like Soma Fabrications, that offer much better products at moderate prices (roughly $500-$1000), which actually are nice enough to justify an inexpensive bike build. After that, nowadays you pretty much jump up to about $2000 for a semi- or full-custom Columbus or Reynolds tubed frameset. Every once in a blue moon, a big company like Raleigh might offer a quality steel frameset for around $1500, but generally this is an under-served market.

That’s why All City’s bikes and frames are pretty exciting. The Mr. Pink road frame uses Columbus Zona tubes, custom stainless odropouts, internal top cable routing, a tapered steel fork, and has an MSRP of about $1100. Plus, All City designed enough clearance for bigger tires and/or fenders. Nice. (And if you don’t get the Mr. Pink reference, then you can’t own this bike.)

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above: All City Mr. Pink frameset (allcitycycles.com)

My personal favorite, though, is All City’s Macho King frameset, a cross rig fabricated from Reynolds 853 tubes and a Whiskey 7 carbon fork. It boasts similar frame specs as the Mr. Pink, but is disc ready.

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above: All City Macho King frameset (allcitycycles.com)

All City also makes a single-sped version, the Nature Boy 853 – apparently available as a frameset (also $1200) but mostly seen as a complete bike.

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above: All City Nature Boy 853 (allcitycycles.com)

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Greg Lemond Washoe

Greg Lemond Washoe

Many cyclists from the 90’s cringe at the memory of Trek’s nefarious destruction of so many classic, high-end brands, as one by one they first gobbled up the Gary Fisher, Klein, Bontrager and LeMond brands, neutered them and eventually killed them off, leaving ruin and nothing but cookie-cutter OCLV products in their wake. Money, money, money.

For a short time, it seemed like the Trek LeMond bikes would escape that fate, as a clean product line was briefly maintained by the Trek overlords, which included some decent Reynolds 853 frames. Despite their amazing popularity, the hand-welded frames likely didn’t make enough profit for Trek compared to mass-produced molded frames, so LeMond eventually disappeared, too.

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image from Greg LeMond Bicycles

Last year, Greg LeMond himself re-entered the cycling industry, bought Time USA and is now selling two bikes carrying his name – his full name this time. One of those bikes is the Greg LeMond Washoe, an ultralight Reynolds 853 road racing machine. Luckily, it’s available as a frameset with a color-matched Enve carbon fork. As others have noted, the frame isn’t a classic remake – it carries updated, modern geometries, on oversized headtube and PressFit30 bottom bracket shell. It’s also set up to accept either mechanical or electronic components. Plus, it’s made in the US and hand-painted in Minnesota without the use of decals! The result is a frame priced like a full-custom frameset, but in 7 stock sizes. So if you ride, say, a 58cm frame like I do, then you’re out of luck.

Breadwinner Cycles

Breadwinner Cycles

A friend recently tipped me off to a Portland’s Breadwinner Cycles, which has won awards at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Run by Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira, Breadwinner builds a fine selection of classic yet innovative custom steel frame types. They make their own custom stainless dropouts and their frames include matching lugged crown steel or carbon forks.

The Aufderheide is probably my favorite Breadwinner, a touring frame with every possible mounting point you could ever want. Set up with fenders, lights and a rack, you could use this as your daily commuter – especially if you have a long commute.

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above and below: the Breadwinner Aufderheide
images: Breadwinner Cycles
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The Arbor Lodge is a porteur-style frame with an integrated front rack, and comes in flat top tube or mixte versions. There is even an option for an integrated lock!

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above and below: the Breadwinner Arbor Lodge
images: Breadwinner Cycles
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The Continental is a classic road frame with a level top tube, lugged fork and traditional geometry. Breadwinner gave this frame clearance for fenders or up to 38c tires without fenders, so you can use this frame for many purposes.

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above: the Breadwinner Continental (image from Breadwinner Cycles)

Breadwinner also offer two carbon-forked road frames, the B-Road gravel racer (claiming two Trans Iowa wins!) and the Lolo, a lightweight road racer. The hardest part might be choosing which Breadwinner you would ride the most.
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above: the Breadwinner Lolo
below: the Breadwinner B-Road
images: Breadwinner Cycles
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