Jul 3  |  Concerning Tiny Bikes: Part 1

Posted by , July 3rd, 2014 at 9:30AM    

[Note: I'm reposting this from a couple years ago because it's just a great read for anyone that thinks they'll never have a bike that fits. Sam now has two Speedvagen, road and cross, and crushes on both!]

People think I’m pretty hard.  Super tough and gritty and all that.  It’s easy to see why, especially if I have some stubble, which I totally do a lot of the time.  In fact, if a stranger had to describe my whole vibe – my thing, if you will – I’m almost positive that the word they’d use would be “street.”  Hell, if I had a half-link for every time somebody mistook me for Omar Little from The Wire, I’d probably be able to make one of those weird half-link chains by now.

the resemblance is uncanny indeed


Jun 26  |  What’s up with the 2014 Surprise Me?!

Posted by , June 26th, 2014 at 6:00AM    

Everything in this shop is an evolution. New ideas that build on little, or big things which have been successful in the past. Here, Sacha gives some insight into the design and process involved in creating the 2014 Speedvagen Surprise Me! scheme.

About a year and a half ago (late summer 2012) I took a photo of a team bike in the process of being painted. The top tube was masked with the name Curtes (for team member Jeff Curtes) with masking for the US flag next to it. The frame and the masking had been sprayed with metallic gold paint. The next step was to remove the mask and reveal the color below it. What I got a glimpse of in that photo though, was this 3D effect that showed the outline of the graphics as a result of shadows cast. This was new, subtle, textural, and I knew I wanted to do something with it.

Gold Curtes

Since then, we’ve done a bunch of samples trying to replicate that look, but in different colors and also with a clear coat over the top for protection. While the 3D effect added some dimension it was very subtle and I thought we might be able to layer some color(s) and then sand off the top layers to various depths and reveal hits of the different colors underneath. The test samples ended up being a lot more abstract and organic looking than I had imagined, but I liked it. It was fresh. Admittedly, I can probably credit some of the inspiration for this look to my ’71 Volvo 142 that needs a new paint job, but looks like a hotrod where the top coat has been worn to primer. Anyhow, I knew that this was not just the look for the next round of SM’s, but that this raw graphic style would make it’s way into much of what I do from here on out.

Volvo surf

Taking an existing paint scheme or technique and freaking it out a bit has often yielded good work. The newest of our standard paint schemes is Horizon. It isn’t graphics heavy, but it is bold and and stripe-y and colorful, like a race bike ought to be and the way the three colors stack up offers a ton of cool combinations.

photo 1

photo 2

Five blues to choose from.

This year’s Surprise Me! paint job is a culmination of all of the above. We’ve used different tones of our signature sky blue on top and bottom, as a classic and beautiful base. From there we used a paint worn pattern of Speedvagen shields on the center stripe and distressed other graphics as well. It is this graphics treatment that makes the impact.

photo (19)

Sanding through the layers of color.

photo 5

Each SM! in this run is different; something that we’ve never done before. On each bike the underlying colors of the center stripe are going to be unique to that bike. And the graphics pattern, being that they’re all hand laid by humans, are one-of-a-kind, too.

photo 3

photo 1

photo 2








Jun 18  |  Pinstripes, Cartoons, and Wild Beasts

Posted by , June 18th, 2014 at 10:12AM    

Introducing the new SPEEDVAGEN National Kit, our first product designed in Japan.

[Pre-Order Here, Ends Wednesday June 25th!]


“I love the Japanese aesthetic. Perfection melded with playfulness and a compulsion toward the iconic. I’ve been looking for a way to bring these aspects of Japan into what we do. My respect for the Japanese goes beyond the aesthetic though, into their ethic and culture of perfection. Honor through bringing something (everything?) to it’s pinnacle. ” -Sacha White

There’s something about Japan that’s always captivated us, and with half of the Speedvagen cross team based there, we have a strong connection to the country. The opportunities we’ve had to travel, race, and learn with the SV Japan crew and their extended community stand as some of our favorite memories on (and off) the bike. Our friendships and experiences there, combined with our love of the Japanese commitment to design, have had us looking for the chance to design a component of the Speedvagen universe in Japan in for some time. We wanted an opportunity to bring our team ethos to life, infused with a combination of the unique Japanese aesthetic and our own focused commitment to detail and craft. This limited edition Speedvagen kit is that project.

Representing a fresh, fun and distinctly Eastern take on the Speedvagen approach to bikes and style, the design comes from SV Team Member Masashi Ichifuru, a good friend and member of the extended Speedvagen family. Ichico, as he’s known, has worked for some of Japan’s most well known animation houses, and is a talented graphic designer and photographer, as well as a lover of espresso with an enviable collection of hand made bikes. We asked Ichico to create a kit that felt connected to the way we ride and race—to how we approach bringing together the ideas of speed, friendship, and riding tough, without losing sight of taking care of fellow racers—and laughing at ourselves when appropriate. (Which is fairly often, frankly.) We think he nailed it.

For the kit’s design, the SV shield gets re-imagined with a bold kanji character taking the place of the numeral 11. According to Ichico, “Unicorn, written in Japanese kanji character, is Ikkakujyu or ‘single horned beast.’” Ichico took the ‘beast’ part of the kanji character for the image, telling us it has the same meaning as the word “animal,” but with a wilder nuance. In his words, “In the same way the number “11” in the shield represents taking it further, in order to “take it to 11” the wild in you must come out and take over.” We couldn’t agree more. The kit’s stripes come from Ichico’s desire to create a clean, simple look that strongly represents the vibes of the team. To symbolize the relationship between the two halves of the SPEEDVAGEN family, Japanese and American, he created a bold and playful graphic component across the pockets, mixing the SPEEDVAGEN letters with the Katakana Japanese alphabet. The result is simultaneously vivid and simple, deftly balancing elegant execution with a sense of pure fun.


Taken together, the kit is a physical manifestation of the things we love about being on our bikes together. As Ichico said in a conversation about this project, “I love it when people and things come together perfectly at the last minute, as if a great script writer plotted it.” Or, as they say on the A-Team: I love it when a plan comes together. ABOUT THE KIT For the jersey and bibs themselves, we turned to our friends at Castelli. Long time supporters of our SV race team—not to mention cross-town neighbors—Castelli is committed to making superior race kit. Their blend of decades-old history and modern material development echoes our own desire to bring craft principles together with the best possible ingredients.


The jersey is Castelli’s Team jersey, which has a race cut and features a full-zip closure. This limited edition run will feature an SV badge zipper-pull, to complete the design.


The bibs are Castelli’s Team bibs. They feature a race cut, with a KISS 3 pad for a comfortable ride on the road or on the cross course.


As far as versatile, easy-to-love pieces go, a solid wind vest is pretty much at the top of the list. Castelli’s Wind Vest is made with Windshear™ fabric for an extremely lightweight piece, that’s  breathable enough to keep you comfortable while offering excellent protection from wind and light rain. It features two zippered side openings for easy access to jersey pockets, and packs down small so you can take it anywhere.


For something so simple, the arm warmer can certainly be a ride saver. Paired with a vest, they help extend your comfort zone by at least 10 degrees (not scientifically proven). Casetelli’s Lycra® Arm Warmers feature an anatomic cut for a close fit that won’t constrict muscles or motion. Made with a classic gel gripper that has some stretch, they stay put without grabbing.



Jun 17  |  The Everesting Report via Andy Rogers & Caz Whitehead

Posted by , June 17th, 2014 at 9:48AM    

9022m. 283kms. 15h 27m. 52 repeats.




We awoke at 1:00am to a cold and foggy morning. After a good night’s sleep I was nervous but ready to tackle what lay ahead of me. A short drive out to Yarra Glen and I was ready to start my Everesting attempt with nothing else standing between me and the biggest ride I’ve ever ventured on. 3:00am, I started my first ascent. Freezing cold with only the beam of my light and the strong glow of an almost full moon to guide my way. Pedal stroke after pedal stroke I became more familiar with the road, trying to keep my mind focused on the now-and-then and away from the daunting task of what was still to come. After 3-hours and 15 repeats riding alone in the dark, the sun finally started to peak its rays across the surrounding mountains. The warmth raising my body temperature and my spirits. I’d already experienced my first low point with my body convinced it should be asleep and one block of 5 reps being significantly harder than the others so the sun was a welcome guest.

At 3000m I was joined by my first familiar face. Plenty more would come and go over the next 11-hours but all would spur me on and keep me from talking myself out of finishing. 4400m. Never would I have thought a cup of tea would be what would pull me off the brink of failure. My body aching and my mind tired, I sat in the back of our beat-up 90s hire car, feeling the warmth of a hot cup of tea flow through my body, all the way to my already beaten toes bringing with it a wave of invigoration.


I found out the hard way that the ‘Death Zone’ isn’t called that just to be intimidating. It definitely lives up to its name. From here (7000m) to 8500m the going was tough and slow. 13-hours of riding and my body had had enough. No more did it want to climb. The up and down, up and down and the steady stream of traffic flying past me had taken its toll on my mind and all I wanted to do was stop. But how could I. The sun was long behind the enveloping silhouettes of the mountains. The familiar faces that had been keeping me company had thinned to three. But I had to keep going. 5 repeats – just keep going. 4 repeats – just keep going. 3 repeats – just keep going. 2 repeats – just keep going. Just once more. I had to talk myself through the last 500m. But it worked. After 18 long hours I reached the peak. I took a ‘what-if’, grabbed it by the horns and conquered it and it was probably the most satisfying thing I have ever accomplished.

I don’t know if I were to do this again if I’d do it differently. To be honest, I don’t think I could do it again. The climb I chose worked for me. 2.7kms. 6.3% avg. 173.5m per rep. Some of you asked me what gearing I used. What training I did. What food did I eat. These things definitely played an important roll but I think it’s important you’re doing whatever you can to be as comfortable as possible – physically and mentally. The gearing I used was the same gearing I use pretty much every ride. Standard 53/39 crankset and an 11-28t 11spd cassette. This is what I’m used to and having a familiar ratio definitely made me feel comfortable. If the gradient were any steeper I definitely would have considered a compact but everybody’s preferences will change.

Clothing was just layers. The Vanilla Workshop was kind enough to kit me out in one of their fantastic Castelli team kits. I also went into it with a base layer, arm warmers, long-sleeved jerseys and a jacket. With a starting temp of 0 degrees celcius, I was wearing a lot but just gradually removed layers as needed. As long as the kit is comfortable and you have a few layers you’ll be fine. I had a spare set of shoes and knicks just in case I needed the mental kick of fresh clothing but didn’t need to utelise it in the end – fresh chamois cream was a Godsend though. In terms of food/hydration, I made sure I was eating constantly. I made an effort of eating proper food all day. I had bars and energy balls in my pockets for during the reps but had jam sandwiches and bananas in the car for breaks, and salad sandwiches twice for a larger meal. I had one gel with 7 repeats to go. Eating was important. When you’re riding for 15 hours you can’t afford to get a hunger flat so you just need to eat constantly. The same goes for drinking. One bidon of water, one bidon of electrolytes. Drink often. Eat often.




If I could give one piece of advice it would be don’t overthink it. You’ll psych yourself out. Sure, it’s an immensely daunting task, but it’s just riding your bike. I broke it up into blocks of 5 repeats. After each block, I would have a break at the car, have a stretch, something to eat and start the next block. Not only did it mean I was getting off the bike frequently and giving my body a break, it meant I had smaller targets in my mind rather than thinking about how many more of the 52 repeats I had left to do. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I was thinking of that all day. In terms of training, I didn’t really do anything specific. I was riding a lot and spending quite a few hours a week on the bike but that’s all I did. I know a few people who did 4400m rep rides in preparation which I’m sure helped but I personally believe it comes down to time on the bike in general. Make sure you’re riding your bike frequently and you’ll be okay.

The other big piece of advise I can offer is support. I was lucky enough that my climb was relatively close the the city so I had people coming out and doing repeats with me most of the day. It helped keep me distracted. It helped keep me smiling. It’s amazing what having someone tapping away at a climb next to you can do. But finally, pick a climb that works for you. If you’re good at short and sharp, pick something short and sharp, but if you prefer long and gradual, pick long and gradual. I know this sounds obvious but people get caught up in finding a ‘perfect ratio’ of distance x elevation gain. There’s no point if an 8% gradient doesn’t work for you.

I want to say a massive thank you to The Vanilla Workshop and Castelli for supplying me with a kit and being a great support during the whole endeavor. Another huge thank you needs to go to all of those people who supported me on social media letting me know they were watching and cheering me on and especially those who came out and rode with me. I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. But the biggest thank you needs to go to Caz, who was there with me the entire day, making sure I was fed and hydrated, snapping some amazing photos and generally keeping my spirits up. She is amazing.

To those of you whom I’ve inspired, just go and give it a shot. There’s no point sitting at home tossing and turning around in your mind whether you can do it or not, you just need to go try and maybe you’ll be surprised by what you’re capable of; I know I was.



Jun 9  |  Everesting

Posted by , June 9th, 2014 at 2:00PM    

[Andy Rogers is a photographer and cyclist living in Melbourne, Australia. He joined the Speedvagen family last year and has been making us proud ever since. Here, he makes his debut on Speedbloggen. You can follow him on Instagram & Twitter: @FameAndSpear]

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Andy putting in the time. Photo: Caz Whitehead

Everest. The name alone inspires excitement and fear into most, but  into a few it’s a Siren’s song. Looming 8848m (29092ft) above sea level, Everest stands as the highest point on our planet. Many people have endeavoured to scale to the summit and a very committed few have accomplished this mammoth task. Pushing the limits of the human body to the extreme, attempting to climb to the summit of Mt Everest is seen to be one of the most physically and mentally demanding things we as humans can attest to accomplish. 

Everest. Something about the fear, the inspiration, the mythology surrounding this mountain caught the attention of Andy Van Bergen, one of the faces behind a Melbourne cycling ‘cult’, Hells500. The Hells500 bunch have become well known in Melbourne, and around Australia, for their love of climbing mountains and their tendency to take things to the next level – and then some. Each year Andy will devise what he refers to as ‘The Hells500 Epic’. Varying year-to-year, the Epic is a challenge curated to test to limits of cyclists in the hope of proving to themselves what they can accomplish on a bike and as a reward, be honoured by the ‘grey stripe’, a variant of the Hells500 jersey reserved exclusively for those with the personal strength to complete an Epic.Andy took things to a whole new level earlier this year when he announced what would be the next Epic; Everesting.
The premise; in a single ride, one must complete repeats of the same climb until they have climbed the equivalent of Everest. 8848 vertical meters. But only the first to complete a particular climb would go down in the Hall of Fame. Everesting isn’t about who did it second or third or seventeeth. “History only remembers firsts.” With a day planned, ambitious cyclists Australia-wide began putting their names down on climbs hoping to again, prove to themselves what they were capable of. The Everesting day was a massive success with 65 riders heading out to tackle their own chosen Everest. Due to the success of the initial day, Andy made Everesting a permanent addition. Since February 27th, 70 completed Everest rides have been logged. Most in Australia but spanning the world with New Zealand, England, The USA, Norway and most recently Russia having their own inductees.

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Photo: Gene Bradley

I myself have been tossing the idea around in my head. Which climb would I do? Long and low, or short and high? How would my body cope? Could I even do this? A few weeks ago I decided there was no point spending my time feverishly running over these questions in my head because I would never find the answer. The only way to know for sure, was to try. So on the 11th of June I will attempt to Everest my chosen climb. Cat 3. 2.7kms. Avg. gradient of 6%. 181m gain. With estimations, to reach my goal of 8848m, (I will climb ~9000m just to be safe) I will require 49 repeats. 266kms. An estimated riding time of ~12 hours. This will be longest ride I’ve ever attempted and the longest time I’ll have ever spent on my bike. Previously my largest and most challenging ride was in December of last year where we rode Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo in the Victorian Alps. This was 8 hours of riding time, 190kms and 3300 vertical metres. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. Not only will I be facing a serious physical challenge, I feel the bigger battle will be the one I have with my mind; trying to keep myself distracted from the numbers that will try and find their way into my head.
If I complete this daunting task, I will be the youngest person worldwide to Everest (21) and, as far as I’m aware, the first of the Speedvagen family. Whether or not I succeed is yet to be seen but hopefully my tale will stand to inspire the rest of our wonderful Speedvagen family to go out and push themselves to places they never thought they could take themselves.Check back for a write-up on my ride as well as some photos. Let’s see how this all turns out.

Take it to 11!

Jun 5  |  The Speedvagen Integrated Cross Stem

Posted by , June 5th, 2014 at 9:30AM    

2014 Speedvagen Integrated Cross Stem

A few years ago, while we were working on a batch of Speedvagen ‘cross machines, we noticed how clunky the traditional cable hanger system was. It seemed like such an afterthought, never really meant to be a part of the bike, just this sort of booger hanging off the nose of an otherwise really slick racing machine. I guess that next step was kind of like wiping the nose of the traditional cross bike. In that moment we think ‘cross bikes grew up a bit. Maybe now they’re just anxious teenagers with too much energy. A little like the U.S. ‘cross scene these days, making a move to be a more well recognized and legitimate as a sport instead of a hobby.

That year we started talking to our old friends at ENVE about what we could do to clean up the typical ‘cross cockpit. They worked with us over the next year to design, develop and test our new stem prototype. What we got was a lighter, smoother stem reinforced where it matters and tested for integrity.

Testing in-house is one thing, riding it, hard, that’s another. We put the stems on our team bikes for a couple of seasons and made more refinements based on our teammates feedback. Their experience was that it essentially eliminates front-end chatter while braking. The additional benefits that came with smoother cable routing, lighter braking action and 51g weight savings rounded out an improved rider experience.

In 2011 we offered the stems as an upgrade on our Speedvagen cross machines and most of our customers opted for them. We started to think that this could be a stand alone component.

Last year we did a couple of custom stems for our friends Ty and John. Ty got a Mudfoot scheme and John, the metal head that he is, went for black-on-black. All reports have been full on stokage!

This is the first time that a Speedvagen component is being offered separate from the frameset and we’re stoked to offer something that we feel brings real value to all ‘cross racers.

If you would like to know more about our stems you can check them out here.

May 29  |  Il Postino (via Laura Winberry)

Posted by , May 29th, 2014 at 9:00AM    


Ever since I first started riding mountain bikes in the early 2000s, I’ve regarded the act of bicycle riding itself (and eventually bicycle racing) as a direct parallel to life. A metaphor, if you will. I know I’m not proclaiming anything novel when I say this. The majority of you reading the Speedbloggen, I’m sure, have already come to a similar realization. Not all of you. But still, an honest handful. Which is all we can ask for sometimes.

Much like life, when you think you’ve made a breakthrough or figured out some sliver of something on the bike, your tire hits an unexpected rock. The curb. A knotted root. And before you can take a breath, you’re on the ground wondering what the hell happened. Sprawled there, elbows embedded with gravel. A slight trickle of red just below one knee cap. Your jostled mind slowly searching for bearings and a handrail.

But falling, believe it or not, does not mean you’re back at square one. Everything you have learned up until the juncture of face and ground was worthwhile. All was not a farce. Your breakthroughs were valid. You, indeed, had figured some things out. And ultimately, you had progressed. The act of crashing did not, and does not, necessarily invalidate any previous findings or evolutions. They’re still there and you are not a failure. On the contrary, the stumbles are more a reminder that, hellooo, it never ends. There’s always something new to be gained. To be learned. To absorb. Assimilate. Experience. Bicycles or life, it doesn’t matter, absolutely nothing is seamless.

I digress. The intention here is not to prep you for an exposition on how and why you should get back on “the bike” when you fall off. We’re not in kindergarten. What I am prepping you for, however, is a new kind of experience, subjectively speaking. It’s called single speeding. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps you tried it during your experimental college years. Maybe you loathe it. Don’t get it. Or possess a passionate love affair with its monotheistic ways. Regardless of your relations, single speeding is a parallel within the aforementioned parallel (see paragraph one) of bicycles and life. And that is what’s important.

Basically, if I were to rewrite this entire blog post in the form of a standardized test problem, it might look something like this: Bicycle racing is to life as single speeding is to ________. Given the following answer choice options: a. watching TV; b. crack; c. life approach; d. a cult following; e. both b and d—which would, more or less, be correct? While several make rational enough sense, the one that fulfills the correlation is answer choice c., life approach.

Option c also happens to be the conclusion arrived at after racing an actual single speed, one Sunday in May, at McCubbins Gulch. No, I’m not about to tell you how I won or could have won. Because I didn’t (and we all know how I could have: ride faster, duh). I wasn’t even close. And so, no, single speeding did not become my savior. Nor the secret to winning bike races. Nor the answer to it all. It did, however, make me think about life approach.

Having dabbled in riding a one-geared bike years ago (and by dabble I mean tried it, like, three times), this past Sunday was a veritable first. Really, I don’t think I understood the nature of the beast prior to this point. I often wondered why others would choose only one gear. I didn’t get it. The thing is, though, I think we need to be ready for it. The not having a choice to shift up or down when things gets hard. We need to have reached a point in our lives where we are alright with making a decision and moving forward. Steadily, and with minimal hesitation or judgment. Fully. Otherwise it won’t work. We won’t move forward. In all honesty, I think single speeding comes to us as much as we come to it. Chicken or the egg, right? Did I ask for single speeding or did it ask for me?

The answer is both and all of the above. Because, new riding styles or life approaches, we all find all when we need to.

May 22  |  It’s Really About Doing Things Well

Posted by , May 22nd, 2014 at 9:00AM    

Sacha 1

Last summer we were invited to participate in the Cyclepedia show at the Portland Art Museum. It was a great show and, in addition to our bike display, we were asked to participate in the Object Stories exhibit. Object Stories is an ongoing collection of stories about things that you would never give up, objects of significance to you.

In this short, less than 3-minutes, recording Sacha touches on the benefits of proper fit, understanding your materials and caring deeply about whatever you do, to do it well.

Listen here, and share your thoughts in the comments.

May 15  |  That Ride

Posted by , May 15th, 2014 at 8:43AM    

The Gentle Lovers

We always try to follow up with customers to see how their first rides were. It’s great to hear about where they went and why. Often they have a shakedown ride in mind from the beginning. That climb they test their fitness on. The group ride on Sunday mornings. Maybe they even travel to a sportive. Wherever it is those first rides are so fun to recount.

Then we ask about how the bike rode and the conversation turns from a detailed accounting of the climbs and vistas to one of fewer words as they begin to explain that;

“it was great, yeah, the bike was awesome… it’s hard to explain really.”

“I can’t put my finger on it. It just rides differently, in a good way.”

“It felt right. I don’t know, it’s really hard to explain it I guess. What do other people say when you ask them about the ride?”

Well, they usually say about the same thing actually. This got me thinking, what has your experience been with your Speedvagen?  Is there something to the ‘inexplicable ride’?

Not fishing for compliments here, I’m sincerely interested in putting a finger on this.


Apr 30  |  2014 Speedvagen Cyclocross Guide Book

Posted by , April 30th, 2014 at 2:25PM    



The very first Speedvagen was a single speed cross machine that Sacha built for himself to race in 2006. That was eight years ago and although we’ve refined details of the design over the years the mantra has remained the same, take away everything not essential and innovate with what’s left. We love these machines for their handling and acceleration in the worst conditions. They’re light, stiff and inspired. It’s the bike we want to race and we think you’re going to dig it too. So, with that in mind we will be offering the solid gold Speedvagen Family Racing Team Issue this season for the first time. Available only as complete builds these are the same uncompromising bikes the team has been racing to podiums in Japan, Australia and here in the US since 2012!

2014 Speedvagen Cross Guidebook 


2014 Road Guidebook 

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