This is the First Episode in series conceived and carried out by Justin Balog in conjunction with Pearli Zumi and Shimano. Justin is the radest of guys and an amazing film maker who, in my opinion, has an extraordinary talent for telling a story. Please check out this video and some of the stills he snapped from around the shop that help to tell our unique story.
Bryan’s ALL ROAD ELITE is a Dark Horse! Ben over at Horse Cycles Paint killing the finish. Bryan wanted to incorporate something unique into the design of the finish and he gave us this amazing optical graphic called the Zollner Illusion. Basically a number of parallel lines with hashmarks striking through each line. The illusion is the parallel lines look angled. The deep dark navy blue and bright metallic gold make this bike both a dark steed and a shining stallion.
The build is also one to Enve. The Wheels that drive this rig are the new ENVE SES 4.5 AR DISC wheels. Because this bike will be used as a 70% /30% road to gravel we chose a stiffer wheel for grater acceleration when riding on tarmac. The I9 hubs give it the engagement of the highest end mountain wheel for technical climbing on the trail. Paired with the Panaracer gravel kings make this wheel set up perfect for the Bay Area riding Bryan is after. The Chris King Matte Jet headset, Thomson seat post and x4 stem, brooks carved C15 saddle and a full Sram Force Group compliment the frame making it a capable Rig on and off the trail. Keep your eye out for a twinkle in the Bay Area and in the Berkley hills outside of Oakland, CA.
Kevin McCelland over at Enve asked us to Build him a gravel monster to help launch and hi-light their new Gravel bar and Fork. Ummmm yeah?!!. First, Kevin is a ripper. I love building bikes for a super strong rider who pushes the boundaries on two wheels. Kevin wanted a monster gravel ride that could handle most single track but also endure on longer gravel rides. Something that would be at home in Quincy, CA at Grinduro and also handle the DK 200.
The bike was built around the New ENVE fork and Bars, the style of riding kevin would be doing and the tires he would be shredding on. In this case maximum clearance to show the capability of the new carbon fork. Using a 27.5 x 2.25” WTB Riddler tire makes this a MONSTER of a gravel bike. I think the spec on the site is 60mm width tire complicity but i’m pretty sure you can run a 2.5” on this fork and the rear end would be happy to see something that large.
A hand stamped brass BB badge for a special touch. Horse X Enve.
The new fork is super sick. Maximum clearance / clean lines / internal cable routing / fender mounts and offered in 50mm rake with a 47mm rake to be released in the near future.
Fender mounts! YEAH!!
The new Gravel Bar is a game changer. The added width creates stability in the drops and allows confidence at speed under the most challenging terrain. Also they are super comfy. I’m all about that comfy comfy!
A few specs on the build: Tapered hand turned head tube, full Columbus Life and Zona Steel tubing, flat mount disc brakes front and rear, 1X drive train. We used a 73mm T47 Bottom bracket and an M30 White industries crank to achieve the rear clearances for a 2.5” tire. Three sets of Water bottle mounts, Enve bar, stem, seat post, fork and G27 rims laced to White hubs. Also a polished White ind Headset. We used the New Paul Klamper flat mount disc brakes and Paul thru axle skewers wich rule and really add to that bling.
All and All this was an amazing build for me. It allowed me to push the boundaries of building, work with wonderful people and do some great riding. Thanks so much to Kevin for his vision and trust in me as a builder. I hope to build many more MONSTER GAVEL bikes like this in the future, as always putting my heart and sole in to each frame. I’d also like to thank Ian Matteson who took these amazing photographs and everyone at Enve Composites who made this pretty rad stuff.
This custom 650B trail boss sports 2.1’ tires front and rear for maximum trail control. A custom machine built for the bay area trail systems that span from dry hard pack to fogged in mud bogs.
Utilizing flat mount Rear disc mounts and the syntace dropout system, we shaved weight while giving un-compromised performance. The build includes the Easton EA70 AX flared adventure handlebars and a custom wheel set built from Belgium plus rims laced to Industry Nine mountain hubs, Thomson stem, seatpost and a White Industries t47 bottom bracket. The drive train, SRAM Force, has a 1:1 gear ratio with 42 up front and a 42 tooth rear climbing ring out back. It also sports some nice paint from Ben Falcon at the Horse Cycle Paint shop. Some color flair on the inside of the fork and chainstays and a overall heavy matt clear coat over a pale gray base. She’s a looker!
This bike just got back from Grinduro out in Quincy, CA and I was told that it performed beautifully
We just finished this custom painted All Road Elite. This build also boasts a set of hand built HED Belgium wheels with some rubber from Pananracer. The Gravel kings, a fast rolling capable gravel choice. The Other subtle but really great thing about the build is the Brooks Cambium saddle and new rubber bar tape which feels like a dream and matches the cream accents in the paint. Full Sram Rival 1 x build with Thomson seatpost, clamp and stem. She’s going to a good home and is sure to have many miles ahead.
Named after the famed Horse Cycles Workshop Cat Charles, the "HELL CAT" MTB is a fully capable plus size shred machine. The slacked head tube and long top tube allow it to climb steep inclines with ease and drop into the most challenging descents. The tight hardtail rear end gives great power transfer and stability while the plus size tire provides a plush suspension and that "floating feeling" when flowing down trails. The Hell Cat lets it all hang out, allowing you to ride more challenging terrain, go bigger, steeper, and faster; boosting confidence and giving you ultimate control.
We've found a 130-150 travel front fork and 2.8" tires are the perfect set up for the all mountain rider.
Incorporating the latest standards including Boost front 110x15mm thru axle and boost rear, 148x12mm thru, T47 oversized BB, Syntace dropouts, internally routed dropper and room for 3" tires. The Hell cat also comes standard with a custom turned tapered head tube as well as a bent seat tube allowing a tucked rear end.
This Hell Cat features a custom bent down tube for more clearance and front travel as well as triple internal cable routing. Custom anodized white and Paul Components. Sram Eagle 1x12, 10-50 tooth rear cassette, Sram rsc Hydro brakes, Fox dropper and Fox 34 130mm front fork.
Each bike comes standard with Charles the Hell Cat logo on the head tube and seat tube, painted in house by Ben Falcon at Horse Cycles Paint. Check out the product page for more details! HELL CAT
I'll be taking this bike out with me to Bozeman Montana for Builder Camp. Five days of shredding with some of the best builders around, including Sklar bikes our host, Curtis Inglis from Retrotec, Carl Strong, Arron Stinner, Squid bikes, and Breadwinner to name a few. It will be my first time riding with John Watson since he lived in Brooklyn over ten years ago. Also coming are Alec White from White Industries and Paul from Paul Components.
CHARLES THE BEAST!
52cm All Road Elite: Sram rival 1 x group kit. Parlee Carbon fork, T47 oversized BB and those sweet interchangeable dropouts. 12mm thru axle front and rear. We decided to go with some 80's flair and spice it up with a bit of neon. Very "Saved by the Bell." Worthy of the gravel it will be gobbling up in the hills.
This All Road Elite was paired up with custom paint and matching painted stainless steel fenders. The Parlee Carbon fork is great for fender capabilities and comes in the same geometry as the Enve carbon cross. Classic moss green with a throwback gold script logo hints back to the days of the first Urban tour production bikes that came out of the shop almost 7 years ago.
The Topo Track bike spawned from a collaboration between the workshop and Brett Hernandez to build a super unique ride and showcase it at the 2018 NAHBS in Hartford CT.
The custom build is a super stiff track machine capable of handling city streets and long loop runs in the park. Made from a combination of Columbus steel tubing including COLUMBUS -LIFE, MAX, MEGA MAX, SPIRIT and ZONA. The tube profiles help maximize the ride characteristics making it rigid where you need it for hard accelerations and compliant where you don't to cope with long miles
We really love all the little details on this bike. The tapered head tube and ENVE fork make for a beautiful front end, while the subtle custom Horse dropouts take it completely over the top. All this, in conjunction with the complete ENVE build, makes for a super light weight, sturdy speed machine.
Ben Falcon Over at HORSE CYCLES PAINT really crushed this paint job. The CHRIS KING Anodized Orange was used as a reference for for the main accent color. Achieving that by laying down a metallic silver under about 4 coats of candy orange gives the thin topo lines a depth and shimmer that draws you in. 30 hrs after starting, Ben finalized the work with a fade-in fade-out top design that is really next level. Custom PHILWOOD painted hubs to match! The Topo ENVE stem is super killer and such a pleasure to look down at when pulling laps on a sunny afternoon ride. Thanks to Both Brett and Ben for making this super special build.
After a summer of pure all-road bliss, I had the rare opportunity to take my Horse on a 6 week work trip to San Francisco this October. The Bay Area is a rare place that puts every kind of road, trail, and path right in your back yard. Add in all kinds of stunning scenery, and its almost overwhelming. I tried to cover as many of the favorite local routes as I could, but I know I only scratched the surface:
Despite the endless options, I found myself spending a lot of time exploring the Marin Headlands. It was hard to believe that such amazing riding was only 20 minutes from my front door just over the Golden gate.
Packed inside its 15 square miles was everything I could ask for; challenging climbs, swooping descents, rugged dirt trails, unbelievable landscapes, ocean views, and some pretty awesome wildlife to boot.
As a Brooklyn based cyclist, I’ll be missing those magical foggy Headlands’ loops for a while. In NYC it’s back to working for the weekends and driving, training, or riding long distances to find scenic roads. The struggle is real, but it makes you appreciate these incredible places and the machines we use to explore them even more.
Thanks to Nik Karbelnikoff who wrote these words and took these great photos and continues to inspire with his dedication to two wheel adventure.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE ROUTS: San Francisco to Santa Cruz Twin Peaks Planet of the Apes Mt. Tam – Paved and fire roads Seven Sisters Faifax Bolinas Rd Bolinas Ridge Fire Rd. Muir Woods Mt. Diablo Marin Headlands
This a custom-sized All Road Elite special with paint by Ben Falcon. This lady is set up with HED Belgian 650B wheels, and WTB Horizon rubber for maximum contact and speed, room for 700c x 45mm, T47 BB / 44mm down tube / Enve cross up front and through axle all around. Force Hydro 1X for good measure and Chris King BB and Headset.
Bridget Paulick, who we built this bike for, is an impressive athlete and plans to shred road and gravel alike. Bridget just got back from Hawaii where she completed an Iron Man. We're excited forward to be building for such an accomplished rider. More action shots to come! Thanks to Nik Karbelnikoff for helping make this bike happen and all logistics. Also thanks to Deluxe cycles for building her up.
We couldn't be happier to work with local moto shops like , run by Kerry Sano. Kerry, a long time moto mechani, who after 15 years of wrenching and 4 years of running the Ducati / Triumph service department in NYC, just celebrated her shop's one year anniversary. Not only does she do impeccable service work but also jams out amazing custom bikes, both modern and vintage, with great style and grace. If you have a motorbike and are looking for a custom touch, MOTOVELOCITA should be your next stop.
CUSTOME DUCATI SCRAMBLER
Ben Falcon of Horse Cycles Paint recently completed tank and fender. Gloss navy / matte red logo and some Italian flag action on the fender.
Understated and classy. We love painting motorcycles, so let us know if you have something you would like us to paint! Come by the shop or head over to MOTOVELOCITA and give your ride the good treatment
Custom saddle and tool bag.
Kerry in her Bushwick Brooklyn shop zone!
Kerry in the moto zone!
Written by: Nik Karbelnikoff
Last summer I became one of the many cyclists who found themselves sucked in by “all road” craze. Before the Winter took full effect, I was pushing my Giant TCR on 25mm tires well past its recommended use and I knew I would need a different bike for the 2017 season. Around the same time, a colleague of mine introduced me to the world of custom made steel bikes. As a former carbon obsessed race bike guy, this was completely new to me. I was instantly obsessed with the craftsmanship, paint schemes, and of course the endless build possibilities. I wanted in!
While searching for steel all road frames I came across a number of great options that were all conceptually pretty similar. As a Brooklyn native, I decided I wanted to work with someone local, and the minute I saw the Horse Cycles All Road Elite I knew I had to have it.
If I was going to go custom I wanted an intimate experience, so to me the big upside of working with a local builder was actually getting to meet them and see their work space.
In mid-February I sent Thomas an email inquiring about the bike. He immediately wrote back and invited me to his shop. The next week I stopped by to discuss the project. We chatted while he gave me a tour and introduced me to Charles, his infamous shop cat. He was so psyched on the bike and the high end build I wanted to do that I knew I had made the right choice. The next day I emailed him again to confirm the frame size and he wrote back – “So pumped. I love this bike and everything about it. Amped to build you one.”
This was my first custom steel bike and the build process did not disappoint. I got to stop by a few more times to check out the progress and consult on components and paint before taking it to Magliarosa NYC to be built up. During my visits Thomas and I casually talked about getting some rides in and maybe taking some photos. I figured that after the bike was done we might set up some time to take high res stills in his shop, high five, and go our separate ways besides a few Instagram tags and some friendly email exchanges.
After picking the bike up and sending Thomas some nice shots of the completed build he mentioned wanting to get some more outdoor shots, casually texting me – “I’m going upstate this weekend. Anyway you will be up there? Would love to get some nature shots! Let’s chat tomorrow. I’ll know more.” – Two days later he sent me an address and a photo of a beautiful property with a pond and a newly built one room cabin in Bovina New York and said – “Not sure if you have a car. Headed up tomorrow. Will be there until Sunday. You could stay on the property. I have a little shed and a tent and sleeping pad.” - The invite sort of caught be by surprise but after a few more picturesque photos and a thumbs up to bring my dog, I had say to yes.
What ensued was an epic weekend of camping, cooking, swimming, and of course riding while Thomas and his friend Steve finished the newly constructed outhouse, duly named – the poop castle. Thomas’ property is a little slice of heaven in the Norwest corner of the Catskills where the valley views, local farms, and dirt roads to explore seem endless. It quickly became clear to me that his brand is synonymous with what he loves and the property is a perfect way to make his work come to life – chopping fire wood with his hatchets, preparing food with his knives, and exploring the area on his bikes.
On Sunday I went out for a ride just short of 40 miles that was about 60/40 paved to dirt ratio. The terrain is challenging to say the least. I cracked 4,000ft of climbing in under three hours of riding, making me earn every last bit of the fast fun descents that followed each long climb. The hard-packed red clay dirt roads were in amazing shape and outside of Route 28 I saw very few cars at all. It was exactly the kind of ride my new bike was made for and left me wanting to get back as soon as possible to explore all of the roads I couldn’t get to.
That evening I got in my car to drive back to the city, dirty, sunburnt, dead tired, and completely content. What had started as a bike frame inquiry had become more than I ever expected. A month or two prior to this trip I heard Thomas and Ben Falcon speak about their crafts at a Magliarosa: Meet the Maker event. Ben talked about how objects carry meaning and rhetorically asked – “Why not make them special?” I couldn't agree more. As far as my bike is concerned, it's absolutely awesome - but I think the memory of this process and hanging out with two rad dudes in Bovina will outlast it, and that might be the coolest part.
A video by Brian Chu, a good friend and super talented film maker here in the city and one of the masterminds behind Wearhause.
"Thomas - a man of many talents. His love for bikes (of all kinds) and the outdoors is contagious. I've only been in NYC for 2 years and just starting to scratch the surface or exploring the surrounding areas. Making this video was an awesome way to not only document Thomas in the shop, but more importantly getting outside and experiencing what's out there. It's easy to get wrapped up in the hustle of the city and I didn't realize how much we can access in just an hour or two away. What started off as a few Instagram clips evolved into this video as I captured the lifestyle that surrounds Horse Cycles. Looking forward to the warm weather and continuing the search!"
This green machine boasts a 44mm down tube for ultimate stiffness and power transfer making it stable in all conditons, on road and off. Double internal cable routing for 1X and Hydro disc cable gives it the that clean minimal look that natures creatures love. Reinforced head tube with gold accents and thru axle front and rear make this frame stout and capable.
A TOWNIE WITH A MODERN TOUCH. SIMPLE LIGHT WEIGHT AND CLEAN. THE 1 X 10 SINGLE SHIFTER AND SINGLE DERAILURE KEEPS EVERYTHING MINIMAL WHILE SAVING WEIGHT AND ELIMINATING MECHANICAL MOVING PARTS. THE SRAM QUICK TRIGGER SHIFT IS A NICE PERFORMANCE FEATURE BRINGING FUNCTIONALITY AND PERFORMANCE TO AN ELEGANT PACKAGE. TOP HER OFF WITH SOME LEATHER BROOKS BAR RAP AND A C-17 SADDLE AND YOUR GOOD TO GO.
CANTILEVER CABLE HANGER DETAIL
CLASSIC LINES: THIS BIKE IS MODLED AFTER OUR URBAN TOUR BIKE WITH CUSTOM GEOMETRY. FULL TRUE TEMPER OX PLAT STEEL TUBING TIG WELDED AND FINISHED WITH A SLEEK BURGUNDY PAINT JOB FROM OUR IN HOUSE PAINTER BEN FALCON
This rad custom road racer is made for the big boys. We Incorporated the larger, stiffer T47 bottom bracket shell, Columbus life tube set, tapered carbon Enve fork and massively stiff 44mm head tube. This dark horse was finished up with a sleek matt black paint scheme and gloss logos. It was a pleasure working with Christopher DenHerder on this build. A machine at the beginning of its life with miles and miles of road ripping to look forward to.
For the love of steel...
Steel is amazing! That’s the number one reason the best builders from around the country choose to use it. Once thought to be a heavy material, with the new alloys used on high-end bike frames, today weight can be drastically reduced with steel. Our own Horse All Road comes in at 18 lbs. Sure I’ve upgraded a few parts, but remember, the frame comes in at about 3.75 lbs., so it's just a fraction of the overall weight. Steel is the most durable building material on the market, more so than carbon, titanium and let’s not even mention aluminum. Steel maintains its mechanical properties over time, unlike the materials listed above, which start to degrade as soon as they are put to use due to fatigue. This means that a steel frame will ride as well in 10, 20 or 30 years as it did the first day you rode it.
The great thing about steel is that it’s a magic metal. It has three magical qualities that make it the perfect material for building bicycles. First, steel is stiff. This means better power transfer and less flex. And bikes can be made with varying sized and type tubing to put that stiffness in the right areas. The stiffer the drive train the better the power transfer. More watts go from your peddle stroke to the rear wheel and to the road.
Secondly, steel absorbs road vibration. This means a smoother ride, you can stay on the bike longer, riding further. Which equals a happy rider.
These two factors working together give you the best possible outcome: great power transfer and great road vibration dampening. The power is there when you need it but the steel is comfortable to ride from two miles to 200 miles.
The last quality of steel—and a melding of the two characteristics above—is responsiveness. New steel alloys are stiff and will maintain that stiffness over its life span (i.e. forever). But they also flex just enough so that it’s a joy to ride. This flex is like a power spring. When you put force downward on a spring that energy is stored in the coil of the spring and then released as it rebounds. Steel bicycles react in the same way but at a much smaller scale. The geometry of a steel spring and a bike are different but both are engineered to get the most out of the material. I would say this is most evident in the handling of the bike as well as rider input. When you corner on a steel bike the frame absorbs the increased force placed on the frame from the g-force of the corner and rebounds as you come out of the corner. In the same way when you're climbing on the bike and out of the saddle, each stroke blasts power to the rear wheel but also has a slight spring back making the bike feel alive.
It’s the life of the bike that shines with steel and is the reason riders keep coming back for more.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER MATERIALS.
The other three materials used in mainstream bicycle manufacturing are carbon, titanium and aluminum.
Carbon is great stuff, it can be utilized to deliver different characteristics in different areas of the bike. It's much like steel in that you can cater to rider weight, ride quality and stiffness using different sizes of tubes and tube wall thickness. It also offers slightly better road vibration dampening.
What does carbon have on steel? I would say weight. You can drop about a pound or two off the total weight of the bike by going with a carbon a bicycle. For many of the bikes we build at Horse Cycles we use carbon forks. This allows us to utilize the positive qualities of carbon in a key area giving us a bit more weight savings and a bit more road dampening. The great thing about a carbon fork is that it's replaceable. After its life span (about 10 years) it can be replaced. But for most riders the cost outweighs the benefits when considering a full carbon frame. Carbon is fragile, expensive and hard to repair. Carbon also loses its mechanical properties over time. Eeek! For most of us an $8,000 bike is out of the question. I still think carbon is a great material but it's best utilized for racing and for riders who get a new bike every other year and for fork material paired up with steel. A bike for life? I think maybe not.
The same goes for aluminum. It's great for racing but aluminum starts losing its mechanical properties right away. It’s a super stiff material which is great for short races but it's so stiff it doesn’t absorb the road or give you the springy responsive qualities of steel. The stiffness of this material makes it very difficult to ride on for long journeys. The material is way more fragile than steel and I would say is bone-jarring uncomfortable. Best for Crits and Short Race duration bicycles.
Titanium is a material I know least about but h I do have some experience with it. My comments could be off but I guess I can just put in my two cents as a representation of one builder's experience and by no means an expert opinion.
Unlike aluminum, titanium has a lot of more flex than steel. In my experience low-end titanium bikes are so flexy they feel like a wet noodle. The power transfer isn’t great so for overall responsiveness it’s a little lacking. This is what makes it great for mountain biking where you have a super light bike but all the flex is originating from the suspension (shocks). I would say it's even too flexy for touring. When your bike is loaded with gear that extra weight will increase how much the bike flexes and with long miles ahead of you, getting the balance of power transfer, stiffness and a comfortable ride is a must. I would say titanium is best utilized for MTB where the weight savings will help increase its nimbleness and climbing.
High-end Ti is something different. High end means tubes are catered to the rider and wall thickness is manipulated to get stiffer qualities at the key joints where power transfer is key. Most importantly the chain stays, BB and down tube head tube. The line from the head tube down through the BB and into the chain stays is the power band. More high-end Ti bike makers can achieve this with a positive outcome. One, it's very specialized and only the top companies using Ti can achieve these characteristics and two, it adds to the over all cost of the bike.
I love steel. I love riding steel and I love making bikes out of steel. Steel allows me to make bicycles by hand paying attention to riders' needs. It allows me to be thoughtful and it allows me the ultimate freedom to build a bike that will last forever.
Why are we on the bike: everyone has their own reasons but for me it is because I love to ride. I’m not a racer but I’m sure competitive riders feel the same way. I love to ride for a few reasons. One, I have a high quality bike that fits me. It does what I want when I want. It’s freedom, it gets me outdoors. It’s a great source of exercise.
Friends Bekka Palmer, Brian Chu and I headed down to Southern NJ to get in some summer camping in. Swimming, snacks and a little boogie. Finally have the Camp Hatchet back in stock and a the Naval Knife showing a nice patina. Check out the amazing video Brian put together. I hope it inspires YOU to adventure!
photos by Bekka Palmer
Custom painted in the Horse Cycles Paint Shop by in house painter Ben Falcon. This was a really special job painted for a good friend Michael Higgins as an ode to his 1967 honda CB450 appropriately named the "Black Bomber". Michael has meticulously restored the '67 with full chrome and black detailing and can be sean riding around the streets of brooklyn.