Who can Carry Sheldon’s Torch – Cycling Illustrated

Who Can Carry Sheldon’s Torch?

By Scot Hinckley

For anyone who doesn’t know who Sheldon Brown is, and is fond of bicycles, you’re

in for a real treat over at his website. If someone were to call Sheldon an expert or an

enthusiast or an inspiration, most who know of him would agree that all are fair and

deserved descriptions. However, the truth of it is that he was possibly the greatest single

contributor to the cumulative bicycle technical knowledge the world has ever known.

I can make this assertion without the slightest hint of hyperbole, and 15 minutes on his

website will bring you to the same conclusion.

Even though Sheldon passed away in 2008, his writings have been preserved online and,

with any luck, will stay there forever. It represents a lifetime of thinking and tinkering

and trying and sharing. Sheldon was one of the few people who had the answer to

whatever bicycle question you had. Plenty of people will tell you something is good or

bad, but in a world of online forums and bike shop employees who are just as swayed by

marketing as their customers, who really bothers to find the answers any more? Surely

popular opinion can’t replace true understanding.

So that leaves the question of who remains in the world of bicycles who actually knows a

thing or two about a thing or two. Who’s got a viewpoint that’s unswayed by marketing

nonsense and has an opinion based on years or decades of experience? This is my attempt

to share my list (in no particular order, and by no means complete) of trusted sources

who I absolutely know I can rely on when it comes to making decisions and, of course,

spending hard-earned money. After all, the only guarantee that these people will be

around to help next time is if they stay in business. Don’t go talk someone’s ear off about

tires and then go buy them on eBay to save $11, that’s just bad manners.

Peter White (Peter White Cycles) If there’s anything you want to know about dynamo

lighting, Peter’s the guy. He’s also the guy if you want fine quality hand-built wheels. Go

visit his shop in the beautiful woods of New Hampshire.

Grant Petersen (Rivendell Bicycle Works) Grant’s frame designs from his days at

Bridgestone are still legendary, but his current stuff is even better. Frames, racks, bags,

clothing, and more. All of the best function and finest quality.

Bruce Gordon (Bruce Gordon Cycles) Bruce does frames and racks as well as anyone out

there and he knows it.

Hiroshi Iimura (Jitensa Studio) 25 years of designing some of the finest frames to ever

come out of Japan. Hiroshi can make the frame of your dreams a reality.

Jim Thill (Thill Wheels, Hiawatha Cyclery) Jim does wheels, advice, and is a great

advocate for bicycling. He’s also one of the few on this list who are really active in online


Jan Heine (Compass Bicycles, Bicycle Quarterly) Part randonneur, part historian, part

author, and part scientist.


Full link here:


Sealth 101

If you come to visit us from time to time, you’ve probably noticed the subtle silver/grey bikes up on the stage by the window. You might have even admired them and wondered what they are or where they came from. If you’re a real aficionado, you might have even caught some frame details that intrigued you, like the tire clearance or the super long chainstays. The short answer is that they’re a real-life, totally hand-built-from-scratch (in Seattle!), 2020 brand bicycle frame called the Sealth. The long answer is, you know, a lot longer. Read on for the Sealth primer, popcorn optional.

It’s a bike frame that’s all about versatility, sensibility, and refined ideas. But, you ask, don’t all bikes just sort of do the same thing, you know, with the pedaling and the turning the handlebars and all that? Sure, for the most part, they totally do. The differences will become more apparent when you start thinking about all the ways a bike can fit into your life. Here are some examples of what I mean; You want to put some big comfy tires on your bike, or you ride by a farmer’s market and think how great it would be to mount a basket on the front to carry goodies, or you want to ride on a day with some rain and fenders would make your life a lot better, or you want to go bike camping and need to load up some racks and bags with all your gear. I’ll stop now before I get carried away, but you get the idea. Point is, you’d be surprised at how many bike frames won’t let you do one or two or all of those things. The Sealth does all those things happily.
The Sealth is made of Chromoly steel tubing that’s produced by highly skilled union workers in Mississippi. Then it’s cut and welded by hand here in Seattle by Bombus Bikes. These days you can buy bike frames that are made of steel, titanium, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even bamboo. Steel is a classic frame material and it’s still a great choice for a lot of reasons. It’s not fragile, it’s easy to repair, and it’s safer because it won’t fail all of a sudden. It’ll also last for decades of normal use, so you don’t need to get nervous about it getting old and fatigued. It’s also a lot lighter than you think. You just have to build it right.. A pound or two is a good trade for the benefits if you ask us.
In the end, it’s how it rides that defines this steel.  Rigid where you need it, flexible where you don’t.
If you’re super tall or super small, we can make a Sealth in your size. Really, we can. If you’re at either extreme end of the spectrum, you’ve probably never had a bike that felt quite right. Either they just weren’t the right size or they weren’t designed thoughtfully. We don’t just scale bikes up and down without consideration. Call us up, we’ll tell you all about it.
Here are some ideas on how you can set up a Sealth, but it’s totally up to you. Super versatility, go!
Classic Road Commuter
32c tires, classy metal fenders, upright handlebars, big saddle bag.
Cross country tourer
40c tires, big fenders, front and rear racks/panniers, super low gears.
30c tires, light metal fenders, dynamo lighting, flared drop bars, handlebar bag.
Crazy setup
I’d even like to set one up as a classic rigid mountain bike with flat bars and super fat knobby 29’er tires. That would be awesome. Or a bikepacking bike, even better!

Fancy Schmancy

Hand built wheel collaboration between Chris and Daniel. Sturmey Archer/Cr18 dyno and coaster brake wheelset. Rare and wonderful like a desert rose. $450 for the set. Never buy brake pads again!

What You Get

One of the things 2020 is known for, and is happy to be known for, is used bikes. There are lots of ways to say “used” these days because somebody somewhere decided that the mental association you’d make would be “used up” or “used and abused”. The first thing to mention is that we take the time to make sure these bikes aren’t either of those things. If they are, we wouldn’t want to sell it to you. They’re also not the kind of bikes that someone bought and put on the wall and never rode, never allowed to turn its wheels, ride through a puddle, or see the sunshine. These are bikes that have had good lives, good adventures, and have many more years or decades of life to spend with you.

These started out as good bikes, and they remain that way. It’s no coincidence that some of the brand names will take you right back to when you (or your parents) rode around the neighborhood as a kid, having the time of your life. Miyata, Bridgestone, Nishiki, Univega, Shogun, Peugeot, Panasonic. Technology hasn’t left them behind in terms of fun, comfort, versatility, reliability, or safety. They certainly haven’t been left behind in terms of good looks. In fact, most of them will make you wonder why there aren’t as many unique and beautiful details on the majority of brand-new bikes. Most of them come from an era of sensibility, not of extremes. They’re great all-arounders, but still lean a little bit one way or another when it comes to a specialty. There are subtle, tell-tale signs to look for and we can point these out if you want to chat about bikes. We like chatting about bikes.

When you do find the bike that suits your taste, fits you, and feels right, the process doesn’t become like buying an old Nintendo at the church rummage sale. In other words, you’re not spending your money blind. We’ve checked out everything there is to check on a bike to make sure its ship-shape. We want you to have a good bike that you don’t have to worry about. We don’t want you to buy a bike that turns into a money pit. When you ride off, it’s like buying a new bike. We’re confident that the bikes we sell will do everything they’re meant to in a totally reliable way. Sure, there are lots of ways to break a bike by doing things you’re not supposed to do. If something happens to the bike that shouldn’t happen from normal use, we’ll help. It’s the right thing to do, and we know our customers aren’t the kind of people who’d want to take advantage of us. It’s like an agreement between friends or family.

We’re always available to answers questions about our bikes as well, so just pop in and ask. Really, we’re here to help.