What’s a world champion trials rider do when his favorite riding spots are covered in snow? When you’re Marco Hosel, you grab a shovel, dig out a course and go for it. Check out the video, White Balance, which shows some sick riding skills. And how about that bike? A belt drive Nicolai Argon with Rohloff internal hub for no snow buildup.
Victoria Cycles is a custom builder based in the Colorado mountain town of Salida. Founder Dave Hill specializes in classic steel frames utilizing lugs and fillet brazing, techniques from a bygone era of bike building that add style and strength.
Mountain Flyer Magazine has featured Hill’s Retro Town Cruiser (above and below) in its latest issue, now on newsstands. “Class and sophistication spin from the wheels of this distinctive dream bike,” write the editors. In addition to its beautiful, swooping frame design and the bike’s Gates Carbon Drive, the Retro Town Cruiser features custom wood fenders, an eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub, disc brakes, Schwalbe tires, a generator-powered headlight, Brooks leather saddle and grips, and a custom six-pack holder.
Hill made the bike for his wife, Victoria, for whom the company is named. “She was very supportive in helping me change careers and pursue my dream,” he says. Hill founded Victoria Cycles six years ago after retiring from the US Postal Service, where he worked for 20 years. “This is something I wanted to do since I was a teen-ager.”
Hill, who had wrenched, raced and worked in bike shops earlier in his life, attended United Bicycle Institute to study up on frame building before launching the business. “Airplanes and bikes have always been my passion,” he says.
Hill and his wife have thoroughly enjoyed riding the Retro Town Cruiser, which he says is “whisper quiet.” Want to see it up close? Come to the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, where Victoria Cycles will exhibit. For the second straight year, Gates will award more than $11,000 in cash and prizes as part of its Innovative Belt Drive Bike Contest. Make sure to visit the Gates Carbon Drive booth at NAHBS, where we plan to have Hill’s Retro Town Cruiser on display.
Ben Edwards, head test rider for Switchback and Peloton magazines, has just posted a nice video of the Spot Brand Honey Badger. Edwards loves the Gates Carbon Drive and design features of the belted SS rig, calling it “a simple, quiet way to get out in the dirt.”
The bike features Animal-Leg seatstays and a Time-Trial Cutaway seat tube, which allows for shorter chainstays and a softer, more compliant ride over rocky terrain. Watch the video below for the full scoop.
In Russian, the word “paketa” means “rocket.” Colorado bike maker Paketa Bicycles builds bikes that will indeed rocket you down the road. Paketa’s secret sauce for speed is its super light frame material–magnesium. Mg, as it is known on the periodic table of the elements, has been called the lightest useful metal and it’s best-known use may be in in high-end “Mag” wheels for cars.
“Magnesium is the lightest structural metal currently available in the world,” says Paketa engineer Dave Walker. “It’s 34 percent lighter by volume than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than titanium.” Magnesium also offers excellent fatigue resistance, fights denting and buckling, and has the highest known vibration-damping capacity of any structural metal, Walker says. “The result is a much smoother ride than any other material out there.”
From 2001 to 2004 the company imported magnesium frames built in Moscow. Since then, however, every frame has been hand-built in Colorado by the Broomfield-based company. Paketa makes all form of bikes, from mountain to road racing rigs, but it may be best known for its tandems, which are highly prized in the world of tandem racing due to their light weight.
To lighten its bikes even more, Paketa uses Gates Carbon Drive tandem timing belts, which are far lighter than chains. “We recommend Carbon Drive on all our tandems for the light weight, quietness, cleanliness, and ease-of-maintenance. Every single tandem we’ve sold in the past two-plus years has been delivered with Carbon Drive. Our customers feel just like we do: Carbon Drive is the perfect complement to Paketa’s high-performance tandems.”
Paketa will be exhibiting at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver in February and plans to enter the Gates Carbon Drive innovative belt drive bike design contest. Come check out Paketa’s belt drive rockets at NAHBS. And if you’re a custom builder exhibiting at NAHBS, sign up for the contest for the chance to win more than $11,000 in cash and prizes.
Last week’s election in Jackson, Wyoming, brought good news for local bicyclists thanks to the approval of a ballot question to fund a big bike infrastructure project. Friends of Pathways, the cycling advocacy nonprofit in Jackson, led a campaign to approve $4.35 million to complete a local biking and walking pathway. The pathway will connect Jackson to nearby Wilson and will make riding between the communities much safer and more pleasant. No wonder Jackson and Teton County are recognized as gold-level bike friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists.
“We advocate the completion of a safe and sustainable pathways system, including separated bike paths, singletrack trails and ‘complete streets’ for all users,” says Mike Welch, director of Friends of Pathways. “The goal is a vibrant community with healthy recreation and transportation opportunities in Jackson Hole, so that cycling, walking, and the bike culture are encouraged here.”
Welch has a new bike to ride on those paths: a belt drive Norco custom build. Welch plans to use it for long pathway rides, lunchtime loops and winter commuting. “It’s part of my never-ending quest to have a do-it-all bike.”
Welch worked with local shop owner Tim Hoff of Hoff’s Bikesmith on the build, starting with a Norco Judan 29er mountain bike frame that Hoff had on consignment in his shop. Hoff integrated an eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub and Gates Carbon Drive for cleanliness and low maintenance. The bike will be kitted out with fenders for soggy commutes.
“We sell a lot of recycled and consignment bikes,” says Hoff, a longtime bike mechanic who opened his shop two years ago. He also makes custom steel frames and has sold a number of Spot Brand belt drive bikes such as the Rocker mountain bike and the Ajax commuter.
“Jackson is a great bike town. Tons of singletrack, freeride and downhill trails, a bike path that goes all the way to Grand Teton National Park,” Hoff says. “There are lots of diehard year-round riders.” Welch plans to add studded tires to his bike for winter commuting.