On your Instagram you called this bike “possibly the ultimate bicycle.” Was that speaking towards the final goal of this particular build?
Drew: I definitely think it’s the ultimate bicycle. I mean, everybody needs to have a full-blown mountain bike, but just about everything else can be done with that bike. Besides a bonafide mountain, not much is going to hold that bike back. You can ride it on pavement for 100 miles, you can ride it on gravel for 100 miles, you can ride it to work, you can go on a loaded tour with it. There is very, very little that that bicycle is not going to do, and it will actually do each one of the things that it’s designed to do quite well without having to make a bunch of compromises.
That one actually started off being described as a monster-cross bike, or some people were calling it a gravel grinder. Or saying ‘It really is just a road bike, right?’ Except it’s a road bike that can go anywhere. And that’s what’s cool.
One of the first things I noticed about this bike was the dropper post. That’s not a normal thing for this style of frame. Where did that idea come from and how did you make it work?
Drew: I actually convinced (the buyer) to let me do the dropper post because it’s a huge benefit in technical sections and on long climbs. The left shifter controls the dropper
post and having that control at your fingertips is what really makes it useful. If you’re taking your hand off of the drop bars to reach for another lever, you’re not going to use that dropper post. But I’m telling everyone I can that dropper posts on non-mountain bikes are gonna be the next big thing. So that’s how I talked him into it.
Were there any other unique requests for this bike that were challenging for you?
Drew: The main thing was the tire size, which was sort of addressed in the front by the Whisky fork. But then I had to work on a yoke and seat tube that would fit the same tire but still keep the chainstays as short as possible. So I made a slightly curved seat tube that still fits a dropper post and a yoke that allows for a double crankset and a 50 millimeter tire. But I had to make all of the stuff that then allowed me to build with no compromises.
How did you make a yoke that would fit the tire but still support the frame?
Drew: I used a CNC machine to create what’s called a clamshell. The clamshell design isn’t revolutionary by any means, but it’s one of the only ways that you’re going to yield a hollow part. You have to create two matching halves of the piece, cut out the insides and then weld them back together. I started making these yokes for my mountain bikes about three years ago, but just this year I put the effort into making one for road bikes. I kind of just accepted that it was going to be a harder part to make because the yokes that I make aren’t symmetrical. So each half is the mirror image of each other. So I have to machine twice as many parts to make each yoke, and that takes quite a bit of time.
One particular part that is unique on this bike was the rocker dropouts. How did that come about?
Drew: That was the one odd request. He said, “I think I’m also gonna maybe run this thing as a single speed.” So me using that dropout mostly stems from when I was still making steel bikes and the single speed mountain bike was a thing. I did not like the slider dropout. That drives me crazy. Thankfully, I’m actually very good friends with the owner of Paragon Machine Works. I got on the horn with him and was like ‘Man I really want the brake to be removed from the chainstay but I still need it to move so that it can be run as a single speed,’ and he was like, “Yeah, you know, if it moved on a pivot it would be much easier to adjust the wheel tension.” So we traded napkin sketches back and forth until he sent me a picture of this one and said ‘This is probably the wackiest dropout I’ve ever designed.’ But it’s so much better and that’s what I was looking for. So I kind of have an affinity for that dropout because it came from that personal connection.
Last question: Do you have any upcoming projects in development that we should be on the lookout for?
Drew: I can tell you what my five-year goal is: I want to make a full suspension bike. I would really like to get ahead of the curve when it comes to the parts that I make currently. And that would allow me more freedom to experiment with something else. And that something else would be to make a full suspension bike.
Thanks again to Drew Guldalian from Engin Cycles for sharing this amazing build as a part of Whisky Select and for taking the time to talk with us. Be sure to check back here soon to see more beautiful bikes and let us know who you think we should talk with next.