Jay Ellis’s Hand Made Bike


A lot of us think we’re real aficionados if we select all the components to build up our favorite frame. And we are. We’re special. But, how much more remarkable would it be to build our own frame into a dream bike?

Meet Jay Ellis. He did it and it’s an impressive first time frame. I won’t even call it an attempt, because it’s a real bike, Jiminy, nice to look at and nice to ride. I took it for a spin and even let go of the handlebars on a downhill and found that it tracked like it was on a Curlew’s bill (go ahead, Google it).

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Oscar Bustos’s Lynskey Cross Bike

Dream as Reality
For a change, let’s start out with the Dream Bike and we’ll keep it right there. Then, how about tweaking that dream with dream components. Oscar Bustos, owner of Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness (GLCF), doesn’t own a lot of bikes, but the ones he does own become experiments in finding the ideal components to fit with his dream vision. He rides to work on the Lynskey and it’s the same bike he wanders the back roads on in his leisure time. So, his dream bike is really about dream components on the bike he uses daily. And what better all-around bike than a cyclocross bike. It goes nearly everywhere in all kinds of conditions.

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Dennis Pointius’s Crescent

crescentHis Own Personal Tango
The guy owns a bike shop or two…or three. He has an eye for quality–after all he is “passionate about bikes”– and he has some nice bikes in his stable. But the bike of choice for getting around these days, commuting and wandering on a dirt road, is something Dennis Pontius pulled out of the trash. Really. But…he did have it repainted by a master frame builder from right here in Michigan, Scott Quiring. And, he did have Scott Q. add braze-ons for the Paul cantilever brakes.

lugThe bike, Dennis says, is nothing special, but he likes it.  The new lime green paint job is eye-catching and Dennis found a place that recreated the decals for this Swedish-made wonder. One website says Crescents were fairly common in the US in the ‘70s.  I grew up in the quiet north under a rock, so I wouldn’t know.  They don’t stand out in my memory.  Back then, I rode a Schwinn Collegiate 5-speed and a Fuji 10-speed.  I worked in a bike shop that sold Vistas. They were not high-end, but those brands I do remember.

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Kevin LaRoe’s Kona Major One

LogoKona Major One
Its color is root beer. It makes you thirsty just to look at it. It has one speed. The complication of deciding what gear to spin off in is already made before you even throw your leg over the saddle. It has the easy mindset of lying back on a Hawaiian beach with the breeze in your face, not a care in the world, only with this you can also get the blood pumping and keep your muscles happily tuned as you spin along a quiet back road. Washtenaw dirt road ~ Kailua…there’s a connection.

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Walter Croll Update

croll labelLew Kidder decided to answer some of the questions I left open in the recent article I wrote about his old Croll bike, now owned by Jimmy Raggett, so he called Walter Croll. Brilliant! The following is what he discovered.

Walter, now 49 and a native of the Twin Cities, began building custom steel bike frames in about 1989. He kept the output low for the first three years. By 1993 he added a partner and started building more frames, approximately 400 over the next three years. He worked closely with Grand Performance Bike Shop in St. Paul, still in operation.

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Jimmy Raggett’s Croll


Croll Road Bike, circa mid-1990s.





Head Badge with a sprinkling of road spray. Note the Chris King Headset. This alone will last well into the next millennium I'm sure.

Walter Croll
Walter Croll, framemaker from Minneapolis in the 90s, is a bit of an enigma in the bike building world. He’s well respected, his bikes are beloved, he mentored others to become fine bike builders. But do a Google search on the guy and you get a few anecdotes off a forum or two, the knowledge that he wasn’t in business long, an understanding that he helped launch others into the bike building field (think Erik Noren and Peacock Groove Bikes for one), and the surprise that he left the bike world to teach guitar (on which I can find no other info, so I can’t really verify that). You’d think, considering the respect this guy garnered, that there’d at least be a short Wikipedia article. Nada, zilch, zip.

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Linda Briggs’s Airborne Corsair

A logo with attitude!

Alignment of Stars in the Universe
Linda Briggs fell in love with the Airborne Corsair, but it wasn’t her own. She was riding with a friend who had one and the friend said to try it out. Linda threw a leg over the saddle and it fit her perfectly, rode beautifully and looked so good…and it was titanium. She walked away happy for the ride but without thinking she’d ever own one.

That evening, out of curiosity, she typed the name of the bike into Ebay and there it was, basically the same as the one her friend rode. She says she wasn’t Ebay savvy, but decided to give it a shot and put in a number that fit her budget, then thought no more of it. A while later she got an email message saying she’d won. She now owned the Corsair of her dreams.

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Ben Caldwell’s Surly Cross Check

surly cross checkIT’S A HARD LIFE
Ben rides through anything, nearly anywhere. His bike must be durable. I’m pretty sure this is the cross bike he rode in the Iceman mountain bike race up in Traverse City a couple of years ago. It has seen hard times. It has taken the abuse. Even the paint job is tough on this thing.  Ben rides this to and from work, about 16 miles each way even on the not so pretty days. He rides this bike on his days off as well.

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Eric Boyd’s Giant Roam 1

giant roam 1

It’s About Riding with the Kids
Eric ties cycling into many aspects of his daily life. He rides his daughter and son to daycare or elementary school, commutes to work, gets out on his own to explore the world around Ann Arbor, or spends part of the weekend riding with the kids and his wife Tish in the Irish Hills where his in-laws live. He thinks bike first, car second whenever possible. It’s not easy with a busy family and work schedule, but he manages to ride daily in some capacity.

This led him to a recent decision that many of us face as we immerse ourselves in the sport of cycling.  Along with the all-weather commuter bike he uses daily, he realized he needed something more suited to wandering the dirt roads and byways, unencumbered by racks and fenders.  He wanted a step up, yet something that matched his interests without buying more than he needed.  He found just the bike in the Giant Roam 1.

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Kat Curtis’s Schwinn High Plains


Vigorous Rider, Hearty Bike
Ann Arborite Kat Curtis rides her Schwinn nearly everywhere: to work, wandering to Dexter, out on the dirt roads, wherever the need or the whim takes her. She even braved the spring monsoons on the DRW Northfield Church route and found places where a kayak might have been a better choice of transportation. “I tried to ride into what I thought was a shallow pool of water,” she said, “but found myself up to my thighs. The road was a lake!” She was wading rather than riding. But that didn’t stop her from continuing on the route. Continue reading