Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

June 2010

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Riding in Retie

My buddy Jan has lived in Retie almost all his life, and when he hasn’t been living in Retie, he’s been a permanent resident of the bars there.  So Retie is ok by me.  Unfortunately, being right on the Dutch border, it’s flatter than flat.  Flatter than a euro XC carbon handlebar.  So when Lockwood and I decided to go do an organized ride there…I had my doubts.

Sure enough, it was absurdly flat.  Jeff with his IF ti single speed, and me with my steel single…it had potential to be a long day.  And so it began, spinning out the legs for a good 1-2km on normal roads.  Until we got to the forest, and found out it was pretty righteous!  Fun swooping singletrack popped out of nowhere.  And quite a lot of it.  A bit sandy in places, but fun.   We stopped at the halfway mark to take in some waffles and sports drink before continuing on to the main prize -the bar at the end.

Our good friends at JP Sports are importing Bronto into Japan. Sweet!  I suppose that means Todd and I need to make a “business trip” over there.  Luckily our business trips basically consist of riding trails and drinking beer.

Anyway, we sent 3 frames over to JP Sports and the main man Masa built one of them up to look like this:

Thomson, Fox, Chris King…a good looking bike.  He had it built up in something like 1.5 days – the fastest Bronto build to date.

For those of you in the land of the rising sun, for more info go to http://jpsg.co.jp/bronto/

Thank you Masa!

Todd of twentytwo clothing just sent us this very cool video on his and E’s (identical) Brontos.  Thanks Todd!


(Click on link to see movie)

Here’s one of the first ever Bronto complete bikes, sent in by our bud E.

It was E’s idea (have to give credit where due) to do gold on black.  To spice it up, he put on a gold chain, gold Ringle hubs, and black/gold rims.  And a gold FSA headset.  Hot!

He then proceeded to get it all dirty.  Like any good Bronto owner would.  Initial feedback?  Totally ok!


So I’m not exactly how this ride came together, but in any case it ended up with myself, Jeff and Maurice from Dirt Rag, and 2 ex-pats living in Belgium, James and Dave.  I think Dave had downloaded a ride off the O2 bikers website, and it promised to be some ok riding in the very southern tip of Belgium.  Starting (and ending) at the Orval monastery and brewery.  So you can basically imagine how this is going to end.

Three of us were on single speeds and there was a nifty little climb right at the start.  Followed by possibly the longest downhill in Belgium.  For sure the longest I have ever done.  My hopes were high for some tasty singletrack, such a rare creature in Belgium…and after just a few km there was indeed a little stretch.  But for the most part, it was double track and dirt roads.

But it was all good.  Nice to ride with a relaxed group of guys rather than the usual bunch of flemish racer-wannabes.  Yeah, we pedaled around the Ardennes, back and forth across the French-Belgian border.  Somewhere around the halfway mark we ran into the picture-perfect town of Willers, in France.  To top it all off there was an open cafe with outdoor seating.  And an outdoor bowling alley.

Some time later, we dropped back onto the trail and continued the search for singletrack.  Very little to be found.  We soon forgot, however, when we ended back up at the Orval cafe.

A meeting of Bronto conspirators in Seattle.  TG drove up  from Springfield for some trail riding, some “strategic meetings”, and who knows what else.  The weekend started, as any good weekend does, with huevos rancheros and chorizo.  We met up with our web guy Matt at Grand Ridge in Issaquah.  It was the first sunny day in Seattle for months, we were told, so although the weather was beautiful, the trails were sloppy.  No problem, we clipped in an began the long singletrack climb.  Fabulous trails, even wet.  Ask Todd about wet, he fell into the bog.

We rode all the way up Grand Ridge to Duthie mtb park.  A man-made trail center known for its free-ride trails, there is also a XC loop with some baby stunts.  We rode part of this, managing not to injure ourselves too seriously.  This was an out and back, so after our “stunting”, we crawled up and over Grand Ridge and then back down the brilliant final descent to the car.
Post-ride tacos and margaritas with Bronto designer Troy.  Who, by the way, has a pretty righteous Ford truck that I just KNOW he is waiting to sell me.  We set up an impromptu photo shoot for the latest Bronto frame, a sublime shade of blue.  Thanks Troy!

The plan for Sunday was to ride Fishhook Flats up past Cle Elum, just over the mountain pass.  To facilitate this we slept at GG’s cabin up in the mtns.  Said plans were foiled by a huge rain in the early hours of the morning – trails east of the mountains don’t do well after heavy rains – so we headed back and rode Tapeworm, which was pretty ok.  It was Todd’s first run on Tapeworm, and it can be a pretty treacherous trail, but we all made it.  Bronto mission accomplished.

Yes, that’s right, not only do they govern all of Europe, the Belgians, wily creatures that they are, have been selected host of the 2011 Single Speed European Championships.  And Bronto is taking part, as both sponsor and racer.  Well, we use that word very lightly.  ”Racer”.

Check it out: http://ssec2011.blogspot.com/

Seems there is a community of like-minded folks over here in BE.  Like any good mountain bikey/singley speedy/trail ridey event, beer is a strong and consistent theme.  Excellent!  We especially like the mysterious “somewhere in Belgium”…

Come on over to BE in May 2011.  The who’s who of European single speeding will be there.  In addition to all the fine people who will be vying for the right to wear the blue-with-ring-of-stars jersey, there will be a strong Bronto presence.  Thanks to Bruno@SSEC for letting us play!