OK, so I was asked the other day about what wheel on what bike, so I thought I should share a little more about what fits, what you should ride and why.
Seems like it was only a few months ago when I posted about the Ride for Rwanda, Its an awesome event here in Southern California, that raises money for the Rwanda Project supporting both Team Africa Rising, unifying Africa through cycling and also World Bicycle Relief getting bikes into Rwanda helping people gain freedom through 2 wheel transportation.
We'll be there again, riding our home trails with our friends and supporting a great cause. Plus if you come along for the raffle we donated a Gypsy frame to the cause!
Come along and you'll get the choice to ride 10, 25 or 50 miles, all on the trails that we test our bikes on, here in Orange County. Head over to 50mr.com and Even if you don't ride, buy some raffle tickets, come drink a beer in the beer garden and enjoy the party! Mark your calendars for April 29th, we'll be there stop buy our booth and say hi, grab some stickers and maybe a t-shirt!
I looked at the calendar the other day, well actually it was a Linkedin message to say that someone sent me a message congratulating me on my work anniversary. By work anniversary it was a congratulations on leaving the corporate bike world and joining the independent (can't guarantee your next paycheck bike world)
I worked for most of my life in the USA (since 1998) in the corporate bike world, from engineering, to retail sales, to product manager, and while there were great times, there were also bad ones as well. When I "left" my last job there was an immense feeling of weight lifted from me, no 8-5, no one constantly looking over my shoulders, no office door that needed to be shut so I could think, a feeling of freedom.
It took me a couple of years to decide that the Penhale Bicycle Co should come to be, building bikes the way I thought they needed to be, sold the way that I thought they needed to be sold and selling to like-minded people.
Now I get the time to ride (for the most part) I travel less for work and more for pleasure. I still work my ass off, but its for my benefit - and for you dear readers - rather than for the benefit of managers and bosses who often look more at the bottom line rather than what's good for everyone.
As workers we should demand more free time, more time away from our computers and phones, often its expected that we answer messages on our phones in the wee hours, spend evenings half watching crap on TV while we respond to emails on our phones. There's a movement in Europe to make it illegal for employers to have employees work after hours at home, in France employees have the right to not answer their messages after hours - i.e. the right to disconnect While there are lots of other issues surrounding the legislation, being able to shut off and enjoy life is important, after all do we work to live? or live to work. Unfortunately for many it's the latter.
So take a look at what you do, if you're unhappy with it - make a change, maybe even take a note out of Dirty from DrunkCyclist.com's book and tell your boss to go F' themselves - in the nicest possible way.
For me, I'm heading to Baja on Monday, in the Jeep with the bike and some like minded friends, why? because my boss is cool like that, and I'm not exactly missing work Bob
It's been a busy month here, trying to get everything in place for what we hope to be a great 2017 full of bikes and new adventures. We have Gypsy frames in stock, plus there are t-shirts and the ever so awesome LiterCages in the store and ready to ship - use the code adventures2017 for free shipping on anything in stock!
If you follow Bikepacker magazine, you may have seen the first look that Will Scheel posted on the Gypsy test bike that we sent them - check out Will's story on the bike here!
You should also give him a follow in Instagram, at Will_On_2_Wheels Oh and you should also give our brand ambassador Trev a follow at BikePackingTrev and while you're there we've got our own Instagram PenhaleBicycleCo
The rains seem to finally have subsided, flowers are blooming here in Southern California, time to start getting more longer rides in, hopefully inspiring people to get out the door and explore.
Spring break has officially begun. I have the simple goal of riding bikes continously until I must face reality once more. This means I should get in at least one bikepacking trip, at least one Everest climbed, and whatever distance riding bikes everyday comes out to. Today I took a midterm and jumped in a roadie pace line on my commuter bike. Tomorrow I'll ride mountain bikes. The next day, who knows? I've got a sweet monster cross/touring bike to ride and a pretty neat Rogue Panda saddle bag to try out. Should be a good week.
Sometimes you're the hammer sometimes you're the nail, or so the saying goes. Today I rode a short 30 miles, but my legs feel like it was 100. Part of the problem was my choice of route, head to the beach then back through one of the wilderness parks home.
The first part was pretty easy, pedal, tail wind, head down knock out the first 10 tarmac miles. Bounce off the side to the bike trail, hit some secret access stuff, only to realize that the recent storms had washed out a good 100 yards. Plan B, ok lets make a right turn to Albuquerque.
Past the stables, past the idiots letting their animals run free, 2 horses, countless dogs, all on a paved bike trail. Galloping horses with no riders freak me out a little. Into the back of San Juan Capistrano and avoid the Sunday looky-looers by jumping into the dirt.
Pedal behind the school to my favorite little river crossing. There I found a couple trying to drag their e-bikes across the foot deep water, breach cruiser type e-bikes at that. Problem is they were taking up the trail, so good samaritan me offers to help. Mr Napoleon complex was shaking in the water with barely a front wheel in, I marched in grabbed the bike to screams of "don't get the motor wet!!!" Don't worry mes amis, as I hoisted it out of the water. Back on my bike to no thanks, thats a goodnight from me and a goodnight from him.
I had high hopes of low water in the Arroyo and to a certain extent I was right. No Andy, there isn't any water in those 3 foot deep channels carved across the trail. just slop, mud, slippy rock land mines, but hey my feet were already wet.
Into one puddle, splat, guess I'll not be drinking from that water bottle... Squelch, I hope my shoe follows my foot. Fling, mmmm straight in my mouth. I guess I've had my USDA recommended mineral intake today, hope the giardia hasn't had time to thumb a ride.
It was at this point I was reflecting on my choice to go this way, on my Gypsy with my favorite slick tires, at least they didn't pick up too much mud. 2 miles of slid slide and push, rather than hike a bike, my back wasn't happy, quads burning, calves were toight like a toiger. As soon as I had the option I said F'it and headed to higher ground.
3 1/2 hours, 30 miles, a bike to clean and some trails I'll not be riding for a while, all in all a good Sunday ride.
The other day I was working on some nuts and bolts stuff, looking out the window and pondering a ride in the torrential rain. I was asked on an email about why I set up my Gypsy the way I do, dirt tires? drop bars? Triple chainring? It was like the whole world was going to implode with the wrongness.
So what was so wrong? I like triple cranksets, I'm not a small guy and I like to ride long distances on varying terrain, that means a front derailleur... apparently the most hated of bicycle mechanisms. But I have a soft spot for this poor maligned piece of componentry and it means I have gears, for every eventuality, well that assumes I have the strength to pedal up the climb in my 22 - 32 gear.
Oh wait, 9 speed? really? Yup, its simple and reliable. Shifted by bar end shifter? What is this 1988? Beauty is if I damage anything anywhere in the world I can flip the shifter to friction and replace the parts with anything I can buy locally. I have a soft spot for Shimano TY-20... Yay for $15 derailleurs. But I run 9 spd Shimano XT derailleurs along with my Truvativ Stylo OCT crank, I love, 22-32-44 is a nice number along with an XT 11-32 cassette, not forgetting the rusty and cheap Shimano pedals that I can't kill... there' jinxed them
My bars are a nice comfy prototype bar that I'm playing with, yes they're flared offroad drops, oh and they're 25.4mm clamp diameter just to scare people away, again I'm a big guy and I've not bent them yet. They offer a comfort that 31.8mm bars don't, but don't worry I'll offer them in both sizes for those who care.
Saddle, WTB Pure V of course, it even has titanium rails, nice and fancy. 2 layers of bar tape on the bars for a little extra comfort. Slowing my fat arse down are some TRP Hylex hydraulic drop bar brakes. My arse needs all the help it can get.
Oh wheels, I do like my Novatec Flow trails, a nice 29'er wheels, so unfashionable for your mountain bike but perfect for your Gypsy, you know you want one! They're a little wider than some, tubeless, solid hubs and you can service them in the middle of nowhere... How do I know? Things got weird and crunchy in the desert, 10 minutes later they were pulled apart on the side of the trail and I didn't lose anything. On those wheels I'll either run my favorite fat Resist Nomad slicks, these tires are awesome. No puncture protection - its overrated and usually doesn't work. They're freakin fast and light, 700c x 45 tire thats 500g? We'll be selling them soon. But then I like things dirty, so most of the time I have some tubeless 29 x 2.0 WTB Nine Lines, I've for a ton of miles on my current set, can you say semi slick?
I am partial to my personal Gypsy frame, its got a ton of miles on it... its a bit rusty, probably because there's no paint or even clear coat on it, Don't worry the production frames have a cool nickel plated finish that'll put up with pretty much anything you can dish out. Its got a generation 1 Gypsy fork on it, just because I can. Its the bike I jump on when I roll to the grocery store - you can fill a Revelate frame bag with a lot of donuts and beer in there if I put on the full bag, its a party! There's always at least 2 bottle cages on it, plus the Widefoot Design Liter cage that we sell here - 1 liter growler of beer? Yes please. Sometimes its a Livelong Brewery growler, sometimes its one from Cismontane Brewing
That's the machine, nothing fancy, but if you ever jump on one you'll understand why Trev, myself and numerous customers love to ride it. If you feel like you want to join in the adventures head here and type in adventures2017 for free shipping within the continental US, not just on in stock frames but t-shirts and parts as well.
Today I planned to ride the SART (Santa Ana River Trail) well at least the first 27 miles from Huntingdon Beach to the top of Yorba Linda. The SART in Orange County Ca, is a trial built alongside a man made concrete drainage channel, over a 100m wide in places. It was build to diver flood waters from the mountains out to sea, instead of filling the flood plain that Orange County is built on. That in turn gives a nice 50ish mile ride, with the option of riding a lot of gravel if you pick the opposite side to the main paved trail.
Well that idea quickly vaporized at the first blockage, only 3 miles from the beach. Not from debris from the recent storms, or construction (they're in the middle of dragging out tons of silt from the concrete flood channel - if you like watching Cat D9 bulldozers run in a meter of water, you know where to go! The issue came from the homeless encampment that was sprawled across the trail. I'm not going to blame the homeless for changing my ride plans, but it does seem like the encampments along the drainage channel have exploded in size sine I last rode it, not long after a Facebook acquaintance Dennis Ordaway wrote about the issues here
I've no idea what the solution is as people in hard places need to live somewhere. The OC Register reported about the locking of the gates along the bike path last August to stop people camping out, and in October they reported on the new shelter in Santa Ana Oh and if you have a little time you can read the County's 10 year plan for ending homelessness in the OC here - but the thing is there seem to be more people sleeping rough, I felt guilty for feeling put out that I couldn't ride a small section of trail. As someone who considers them self an adventurer and a traveller I can choose to sleep outside, I can choose to worry about wether I will be able to stay warm and dry tonight. But in the end I can come home to my wife and my dog, take a hot shower, eat a nice meal and sleep in a warm dry bed.
I need to put my thinking cap on and see if there's something we can do, if you have some ideas please comment, but in the meantime lets give a thought to those who are sleeping rough tonight not by choice.
Well here it is, a new year and we're busy trying to get things in place for the release of some new bikes. We just received more Gypsy frames check them out here
OK first a bit of sad news, our local brewery, Cismontane is closing its location close to the office. Penhale will be there on Sunday for the last official ride, plus beer and Penhale sponsored food in Rancho Santa Margarita, join us if you're local say hi and I might even be tempted to throw out some t-shirts and get you a discount on a frame!
Come along, Sunday (8th) 11am to 29851 Aventura, Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca. 92688
Evan and crew will still be brewing at their Santa Ana facility that's a lot larger - but 25 miles from here. We'll be doing a monthly mixed terrain ride from there later in the year, so keep your eyes on the newsletter. The RSM location has been taken over by Laguna Beer Company, they like bikes, they have beer, so the stars will most likely align.
On the Penhale Adventures side of things 2017 is shaping up to be a great one. Firstly we're heading to Baja, Mexico in spring. Summer will see us in New England for #summercamp2017 with at least 1 or 2 of out brand ambassadors and it's open to everyone! Trev and I are thinking about a possible race in the UK along with some trail time in Europe, plus I have some smaller projects that need to be done!
Did you know that we have t-shirts? they're super cool, plus use the code gypsy for free shipping!
Thanks for reading, hope you have a great 2017 and if you want to join us on an adventure shoot me an email to email@example.com
Chief cook and bottle washer
Penhale Bicycle Co.
The area around Sarasota is flat… dead flat. I've ridden almost 100 miles in the last few days and climbed 34 feet.
There's a distinct lack of good (insert beer,coffee,singletrack) But that makes the times you do find good (insert beer,coffee,singletrack) all the better.
The trail builders at the Sarasota County Off Road Riders have a warped sense of humor, they like their trails tight and very twisty.
800mm bars and tight SCORR built singletrack don't mix.
There's a headwind everywhere except for the trails.
What the Carlton Preserve Boldlygo trail lacks in flow, it makes up in its maze runner feel and you'll get a workout.
You might think you're lost on some of the local trails, just keep pedaling.
If you're in the area check out http://www.scorrider.com/ They'll be able to point you in the right direction to go ride.
Today I was reminded why I dislike aluminium as a frame material on hardtails, especially for longer rides.
I didn't go far, just 27 miles, 12 on the road and 15 miles of dirt, all on a favorite bike that I developed for a large company and keep in Florida. The frame is designed for abuse, in fact it's geometry and its intended use were not that far away from the Penhale B'Stard. Slack geometry, ability to use a ridiculously long fork, but still useable every day. The big difference though, is the super stiff aluminium frame v's the nice comfy cromoly of the B'Stard.
To be perfectly honest, it beat the crap out of me, in its previous life the non ferrous beast was used at bike parks and trail centers, it was a tool with one purpose - get me down the nastiest trails with the least amount of issues. In its current incarnation it has a 1 x 9 drivetrain, big 180mm rotors, floaty 2.4 tires and a monster 160mm Rockshox DH Lyrik fork. Its fun, but give me my nice custom drawn cromoly tubes any day.
For many manufacturers aluminium is the material of choice, its light, strong, but most importantly cheap. I used to spec out a nice frame for less than half of a the price of a B'Stard frame, sure it was a little lighter, but that came at the cost of comfort, and if I dare say it soul…
Before you roll your eyes, there's something special about the comfort and resilience that steel provides, something that translates into a personality and a ride that many people enjoy. This is why I developed a specific custom drawn cromoly tubeset for the Penhale frames, to give the best ride I could at a price that was still reasonable and had a soul.
You may think I'm all elitist, but the truth is I still love my aluminium trail hard tail, it does its job admirably well and its extremely fun to ride. I've designed aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre frames for a few companies, they all have their benefits. But for right now the Penhale Bicycle Co. is a steel bicycle brand. We'll be introducing some Tange and maybe even some Reynolds steel frames in the not too distant future to complement our custom drawn Japanese cromoly, all built with the same attention to detail that the current frame are, maybe we'll branch out into other materials at some point, but for now steel is where its at - if you want to ride one, shoot me an email and we'll get you set up.
I think we've finally eaten all the Thanksgiving leftovers, we even had parsnips. But almost importantly I headed out for turkey day ride on the Gypsy, on the trails, with a beer. Granted I didn't need the full frame bag but the Alpkit toptube bag kept my beer cool on another toasty November day.
Also we've finally received t-shirts and we've got both Stone Blue and Heather Grey in stock in all sizes. Hey, they're good for Christmas maybe pick one up with a Widefoot design Liter Cage - Also in stock, hintety hint. http://www.penhalebicycleco.com/shop/penhale-bicycle-co-t-shirt
Lastly, if you're interested in a trip to Baja, Mexico we're planning a special semi supported Bikepacking trip, in the spring of next year - some great trails, awesome adventures with some fun people. If you'd like some details send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Why the Gypsy is my favorite frame" was the question I was asked earlier today. I'd like to say its an hard question to answer, with lots of marketing speak, but honestly its actually pretty simple
- It does everything I want it to do really well.
Since getting the first prototype of the Gypsy I've ridden centuries, dirt road grinders, commuted, hit many of the local mellower mountain bike trails and toured in the US and Europe. It's not been a stranger at the local Trader Joes Market, the local fast single-track loop,New Hampshire dirt roads or even passes in the Alps. UK test rider Trev asked me if it was OK that I took his test bike on some technical Devon MTB trails, my answer - while its not a mountain bike, go for it and see what it'll do.
When I designed the frame, the goal was to build a bike you could ride everyday for pretty much everything. Sure, the Gypsy isn't good for somethings. I'd not recommend that someone rides rocky trails or hit some drops, If you're aiming to line up on the local crit, you may want something more specialist. You're going to replace your 6" travel carbon suspension bike, or your 16lbDura Ace road bike, and that’s because its an un-specialist bike.
For me I'm not going to be setting any Strava KOM's on the local nasty descents or the steep paved climbs, but then I wouldn't be even on the perfect specialist bike.
The point is that the Gypsy is just a bike, a great all round bike, an un-specialist. Its the bike I jump on when I just want to go for a spin, across the town or across the globe. Nothing fancy, affordable, well thought out, fun and comfortable - if you don't believe me, we've got frames in stock, build it up in a way that suits your riding style and send us some pics - we'll post your rides in the Adventures section.
It seems like forever since I've written and when I look it has been. The last couple of months have been busy, what with tradeshows - look for a couple of stories on Trev and my trip around Europe heading to Interbike soon! Interbike came and went with some good times, but now we're back to work and prepping for some exciting stuff.
We've received some more Gypsy frames in all sizes - Small through XL. Ready to ship. If you're interested in a frames they're prepped and ready to ship! If you're interested use the coupon code "summercamp" for free shipping. Check it out here - Gypsy frameset
Other fun stuff coming along, Penhale Bicycle Co. will be showing some bikes at the Revolution Bike Fest here in Orange County on the first weekend in Nevember - http://revolutionbikefest.com/ it's going to be a fun and inspiring event, catering to riders of all categories, abilities and ages. Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, there'll be some great riding, some fun events and as well as the Penhale bikes, I'll be presenting 2 clinics over the weekend - So If you'd if like to learn some basics of bike packing and bike adventuring check out the calendar or keep your eyes open here for news on the event.
One final note, we're hoping to have some t-shirts available in the next week in both Charcoal and Stone Blue - photos coming as soon as they arrive!
Thanks for reading and coming along on this adventure
Cheers - Andy
A few years ago, somewhere deep in my brain I envisioned a bike that could go anywhere I wanted to go, cross country, cross desert, cross tundra, nothing fancy. I wanted something like the B'Stard trail bike, but that would take big floaty 27.5 x 3" plus tires, maybe a 29 x 2.5" tire if I felt like it. Sure, the Vagabond isn't the first Plus Bike on the market, but its one of very few that are focused on Adventure, rather than performance riding. The point was to design a bike that could take on all trails, the sand pit infested South Western desert trails, long boggy slogs through northern lands - plus it had to be capable of carrying my Bikepacking bags and up to 5 water bottles.
So if big tires are so great why is there a need for a bike like the B'Stard trail bike in the line? Its a simple reality that big tires aren't as fast, they weigh more, don't accelerate as quickly and are overkill for a lot of riding. But when you get past the limits of a regular width tire, the big podgy 2.8-3.25 plus size tires come into their own.
My first test ride on the prototype Vagabond in the picture had me grinning from ear to ear. Yeah I know I designed it, but there's something hilarious about being able to tractor along through deep sand and rocks. So with that said, I'm changing the colour name (not the colors by the way) Dear John Green has a ring to it.
The first few Vagabond frames will be here late August and will be a mixture of the Dear John Green and the Ice Blue, they'll ship with the standard QR fork for $699, with the through axle fork upgrade coming shortly after.
OK, so it may (or may not) be obvious that the delivery dates for the bikes just changed a little. If you pre-ordered a bike you should have received an email letting you know about the delay. Long story short - there was a bit of a logistics snafu - BUT the Gypsy frames are finally winging their way to the USA, or should I say sailing.
Starting a small business has its ups and downs, many times there are situations that can't be helped and are completely out of our control. But on the bright side, the frames are confirmed on their way, rather than the promises that they'll be picked that came from our previous freight forwarder.
This little hiccup helped me (re)learn that my philosophy of working with small companies is the right one - my previous freight forwarder was a big multinational, asking for a small shipment meant that I was being pushed to the back of the queue behind more profitable shipments.
Over the next couple of weeks I have a blog post planned on why we do business with smaller companies, family operations and people I trust.
In the mean time I'll be updating the Vagabond page as well with the catalog photo's we took over the weekend, I've been really pleased with the way it rides, but there are a few tweaks that need to happen before production.
Oh, how to cure hiccups? Either pick the small guy to work with or go here 250 cures for hiccups
Whats that they say? there's no such thing as bad press? OK, well occasionally bad press can be an issue, but over the last couple of weeks Penhale has had a couple of write ups in the media - and (as we like to say up north) It's not bad is it!
First we had a great write up by Gregg Kato at RoadBikeReview.com and then today some positive words from Tyler over at BikeRumor.com, both on the company and my prototype Gypsy Adventure touring frame that I brought with me to Sea Otter - take a read and I'd love to hear your comments!
Plus bike, baby fat (Thanks Cait) junior fat or whatever you call the category, tire clearance is paramount so that you can fit big old 27.5 x 3.25 tires. To get that big clearance you either bend twist and manipulate the chainstays, or do what we did and design a yoke.
It might be simple, but when combined with some rather saucy welds, I think its a piece of industrial beauty. The first sample frames will be here in a couple of weeks and production is planed for early May - head over to the product page and check it out, learn some more about this versatile frame.
When I read this post in the Guardian Bike Blog this morning, it struck me that it spoke to all the reasons why I started Penhale - to get back to that sense of adventure, the fun and that "seeing whats over the next hill" wonder about being on 2 wheels.
Take a read -
For the last few years there's been a ride here in Southern California called the 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda. raising money for the Rwanda Project supporting both Team Africa Rising, unifying Africa through cycling and the World Bicycle Relief getting bikes into Rwanda.
Come along and you'll get the choice to ride 10, 25 or 50 miles, all on the trails that we test our bikes on, here in Orange County. Check it out here at 50mr.com. When there take a look at the sponsor page, you'll see our logo, thats because we're donating a Gypsy frameset and some other great prizes to the raffle. Mark your calendars for April 30th, register, come along help a good cause and have an awesome time - oh and if you see us don't forget to say hello!