Steel is Real: Stinner Frameworks Open House

Stinner Frame Works Open House

Stinner Frame Works Open House

Free beer? Costco pizza? Yes please.

I knew it was coming but I’d somehow thought that I was busy Saturday night. It wasn’t until towards closing the shop at the end of the day that I’d realized a lot of the other Velo Pro bros were heading to Stinner Frameworks open house out by the airport. I felt like kind of a douce driving my car out to a bike event so close to home. But it was night time and F didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. I made it clear that we couldn’t miss it, so after we closed up the shop, I rode home and F and I got in the car and headed out to far Goleta.

I first ran into Aaron Stinner a few years back at the 2nd Annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show in 2011. It was in a huge conference hall in downtown San Diego and there weren’t quite enough booths to fill the space. So it looked disappointing almost from the outset. There were, however, some pretty awesome booths. Serotta, Soulcraft, and Velo Cult (when they were still  in San Diego) were all repping their skills. After taking loads of images and trying to keep my then girlfriend from getting bored, I decided that I needed a beer or two. On the way out, I noticed Stinner’s booth and (much to the chagrin of my GF) went to go check out his stuff. He had a couple of frames on display and his booth was unimpressive by trade show standards. However, his steel frames were sitting there, easily competing with everyone else’s. The workmanship was phenomenal. I noticed that there were no lugs (pretty much every custom frame in there had lugs). While nice, lugs are super time consuming and have a significant effect on the cost of the frame. In my opinion, I can take them or leave them. Seeing his frames, I decided that I could leave them.

I seriously doubt that he remembers, but I chatted with him for about five minutes. He’s a great guy. I plan someday to get a custom frame made for myself. Now that he is in my neck of the woods, having something local would be epic. Looking at what he offers in the way of custom frames, the whole range is there: mountain, road, cyclocross and custom projects are all offered. You can even design your own paint scheme and graphics. The shops workflow and layout looks solid. The current projects on display were out of this world. If you’re in the market for Santa Barbara steel, look him up. It’s a true small shop with a friendly staff. Check out the gallery below for more pics.

Naha Monorail Station

A bicycle sits alone at the Furujima Station in Naha, Okinawa.

A bicycle sits alone at the Furujima Station in Naha, Okinawa.

While assisting on a graduate research project, shooting lots of interviews, I had little time to go looking for bicycles to photograph.There is no shortage of bicycles in Okinawa. Like the rest of Japan, gas and cars are expensive. Most of the bikes here are mamachari, step-through-framed Dutch-style bikes that have a basket and an integrated lock on the rear wheel, or really really really cheap mountain bikes. They are usually pretty poorly made as you can buy them for about $99.00 US at stores located in the same mall you buy your groceries in. I can totally understand why folks would want to buy a bike that is so cheap. With the weather in Okinawa being hot, humid and ready to rust anything (like your chain or cables), having a cheap bike is a plus. If you want a nice bike, you had better pay attention to the weather report and keep your bike inside when you are not using it.

The bike pictured below is left alone well after rush hour as its owner probably hasn’t arrived at the Furujima monorail station yet. Symmetry, lines and shapes are everywhere and this little yellow guy was sitting right in the middle of it.

Grass Racer Reincarnate

Mercier Kilo OS Double Top Tube Grass Racer

Mercier Kilo OS Double Top Tube Grass Racer

I have always wanted a nice townie to ride around the city. Santa Barbara is not super hilly and we have a lot of beach here. But I wouldn’t be caught dead on a beach cruiser nowadays as they can be a bit of a a bummer to ride anywhere.So a while ago I bought this double top tube bicycle frame online. It is a Mercier Kilo track frame but with a double top tube reminiscent of an old grass track racer. I think having a double top tube made the bike more rigid. In any case, the original paint job and component spec for the Kilo OS is not great, so I stripped the paint and clear powdercoated it. Instead of the crap wheels and components that come on most track bikes, I speced a build kit that would rival…nay, put all the other townie bike companies out there to shame. I envisioned something completely different while building it up from the frame. This isn’t quite Rivendell quality. But it turned out quite nicely.

First things to add were the Velocity A23 rims and Shimano Alfine 8 hub. I had the folks over at J&B build them for me through the bike shop. They are fantastic wheels. Combine those with Challenge Limus 33 Cyclocross tires and an IRD Defiant Track crankset and I was in business. The final touches came when I was working out the geometry of the frame. The 56cm frame fit me okay with the standover height, but the top tubes are almost horizontal so they are pretty long. Drops, although cool and traditional for a grass racer just wouldn’t do. I decided to make this a more upright and sophisticated ride. So on went some Ahearne MAP bars and a Paul Components Flatbed basket. I tightened everything up with a Chris King GripNut headset.

So to rival a Linus or a Public or a Civilian or the like, this is my attempt at making the perfect townie bike. Before you say anything, I know the tires are too knobby for the street. So I will take the demerit on that. But people are throwing kale and carrots directly into my basket at the Farmer’s Market. How badass is that? See the gallery below.

Dean and the Celeste Blue Acquisition

Dean and his beautifully-restored 1964 Bianchi road frame.

Going to ride a beautifully-restored 1964 Bianchi road frame.
Shot in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA

So my friend Daniel Quinones has a buddy named Dean who just acquired possible the most beautifully-restored Bianchi road frame I have ever seen. It’s amazing what you can find with just a little perseverance and patience. Dean found this frame on Craigslist. He got it from a guy who repaints and restores frames and was offering the frame for an almost-unheard-of price. “So what?” you say. Big deal, it’s just another celeste blue frame with a Bianchi sticker on it. If any of you out there are saying that silently to yourselves, well, reevaluate your priorities. Either that, or just open your mind a little bit. In case you forgot, it’s that squishy thing behind your eye holes and above your neck.


Quality steel is hard to come by these days. Sure, you can get a bitchin’ steel frameset from Surly and ride around screaming “Surly double-butted 4130 ChroMo – NATCH!” until your vocal cords resemble loose guitar strings. Maybe a few people will listen to you. Nothing against Surly, I love those bikes. I have two of them. But when your rolling on Italian steel (coincidentally, my old nickname from high school…better not to ask), you can just scream “Andiamo!” and have something worth talking about in a conversation. This bike comes from the same legendary line that produced the Paris-Roubaix-winning bike for Fausto Coppi in 1950. They are the oldest bicycle company in the world producing 45,000 frames a year by 1900. That’s the turn of the last century…Let that marinate in your brain case next time you are riding dirty on your Taiwanese whip. Dean plans to throw an internally-geared drivetrain on this bad boy and ride the F out of it. We’re going to keep tabs on Dean and his bike as the project progresses. So don’t touch that dial. Hey, check some more images of his frame below!

– Italian Steel


David and his Public V7 bicycle.

Rides a Public V7.
Shot on Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA.

They always say that the number of bikes an enthusiast owns will always be N+1. My current stable consists of five bike right now. It was as high as 20. But that was back when I lived in a much larger house with a garage. Now, I inhabit a small studio downtown and most of my bikes are locked up in the hallway. There’s always that extra special one or two that I just can’t let out of my sight. People like David, who obviously take care of their bikes and store them inside know what I’m talking about. The bike hew was riding is made by Public, a brand that I have seen off and on over the last couple of years. They are townie bikes geared towards people who don’t feel they need to spend a truckload of money for a nice looking vintage-style set of wheels. The good thing about brands like Public and Linus and the like is that they are modern bikes that have a vintage style. They have modern gearing and more comfortable, efficient geometry. I think companies like these are doing more for cycling that we realize. By making cool-looking comfortable bikes, they are reaching many more people that would have bought a bike in the past.

Daniel “DQ” Quinones

Daniel Quinones and his custom-built Schwinn Cruiser.

Rides a custom Schwinn Cruiser.
Shot on State Street in Santa Barbara, CA.
Getting rad all day.

Doing custom builds on Schwinn Cruisers is sort of a thing here in Santa Barbara. I used to do it. It’s a lot of fun and you end up with a pretty sick ride after you finally decide you’re done. There seems to be an obsession with Chris King headsets and SE Landing Gear forks on older cruiser frames. It’s pretty awesome.  Daniel Quinones, (DQ) is one of those guys who I am extremely lucky to call my friend. He and I mix it up at the bike shop while quoting Nacho Libre on weekends and I can’t say that there is another person who laughs at my jokes more than he does.

When DQ’s not putting some sweet cruisers together or killing awesome trails, he studies photography at Brooks Institute here in SB. I have to say, that he and our buddy Max Frank (also a Brookie) have given me endless advice on how to manage a camera…and a bike. He’s also taken a few good pics of my ugly mug. I must admit I look pretty hard. Straight from the hardcore ghetto of Santa Barbara. I look like I just rode a mountain bike while running hooch across the border from Whistler, BC in 1930. AD. Prohibition and all that. What I am trying to say is that even though I am 20 years older than him, I wish I had his skills.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year from Way of the Bicycle!

Wishing all of you a happy new year! I hope 2014 will be a great year for you and your friends and families. Make sure to give your bike mechanic a hug.




Rides a 1957 Schwinn Hornet custom cruiser.
Shot on Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA.

Santa Barbara has a pretty strong cruiser culture. It may be attributed to the fact that we live by the beach, or that the city is small enough not to require a car. In any case, there is a group of guys who dedicate quite a bit of time and money towards customizing their cruisers. The creations are mostly reminiscent of the Cook Brothers Racing bikes from the 70s and 80s. A lot of these guys are of an age (myself included) that they remember all the cool BMX racing bikes and clunkers when they were kids. A good straight-bar cruiser is prized for its classic look as well as its ability to receive many new parts on the market today. Things like Chris King headsets, SE Landing Gear forks are all the rage. However, that is usually where the commonality stops.

Frank here is one of the only guys who has actually shoehorned in 29-inch wheels on his 26-inch cruiser. He has to grind the underside of the front fork in order to get it to work. The result is pretty cool. Way better than a Torker T-29. This is American steel and consumer innovation here. He’s also laced up a Sturmey Archer 2-speed kickback hub to give that uniqueness where a standard Bendix coaster brake wouldn’t do.



Rides a KHS Wedgewood Chromo Cruiser.
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.
Out getting some air.

Most people who ride by the bike shop on a cruiser these days aren’t riding Schwinns anymore. They are usually riding some POS knockoff like a Sun, 3G or something of that ilk. Usually, when a bike company tries to build and market a cruiser, they do so with as little attention to detail as possible. In order to keep their bikes as cheap as possible and thus be able to sell them to a wider market, they are usually poorly speced and construction is shoddy. But John here was riding a version from KHS. I had never seen one before and it looked pretty solid. Indeed, the frame was chromoly and it had Conti tires. Both a good start. Though the paint job was questionable, it had a Shimano Nexus 8 hub and decent wheels. John scored on this one. He said a friend pulled it out of the garage after years of storage and he was just testing it out. I told him to get real street cred, he should remove that god-awful plastic chain guard. Why do bike companies still put those on?