Dirty Side of SART

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.



New Year New Things

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! 

On the bike side I'm working to iron out some details so that the Vagabond, Scruffian and B'Stard finally will be available, along with some new parts and accessories. 

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 andy@penhalebicycleco.com



Chief cook and bottle washer

Penhale Bicycle Co.

Things I learnt about mountain biking around Sarasota County Fl.

To Boldlygo where no Biglimey has gone before

To Boldlygo where no Biglimey has gone before

  1. The area around Sarasota is flat… dead flat. I've ridden almost 100 miles in the last few days and climbed 34 feet.

  2. 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.

  3. The trail builders at the Sarasota County Off Road Riders have a warped sense of humor, they like their trails tight and very twisty.

  4. 800mm bars and tight SCORR built singletrack don't mix.

  5. There's a headwind everywhere except for the trails.

  6. What the Carlton Preserve Boldlygo trail lacks in flow, it makes up in its maze runner feel and you'll get a workout.

  7. 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.

Don't get beaten up...

mmm welds...

mmm welds...

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.



Turkeys, trails and teeshirts

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.

Gypsy on the trail

Gypsy on the trail

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

Teeshirts in stock finally! 

Teeshirts in stock finally! 

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 info@penhalebicycleco.com

Happy trails


The ride everywhere Gypsy

"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.

Trev's test Gypsy in the UK

Trev's test Gypsy in the UK

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.

Happy Trails




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

The Vagabond

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.



How to cure hiccups

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



We're in the press!!!

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! 

The Vagabond naked!

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.

Vagabond product page

50 mile ride for Rwanda.

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!

And we're off and rolling...


So it's been almost 2 years since I started working on Penhale, but now we're rolling. There have been challenges along the way that I won't bore you with, needless to say I'm happy to say that the first frames are on order and we hope to ship the first of the Gypsy models in early April. 

If you're interested in one of our frames, click on the "Pre-Order" button on the relevant frame model page in the shop and we'll get back to you on delivery ASAP.

In the mean time, keep up to date on our Facebook page, here on this blog and have a read of our adventures where our first story will be a 3 part story from a trip we took a little over a year ago.

Time for coffee, cheers