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Apr 1, 2016 – Sage wisdom is not something they teach in school. Sage wisdom can only be learned when you have failed more times than others are willing to try. Sage wisdom is developed in moments but one moment does not define sage wisdom—it takes decades of moments before it shows its face. Decades of repetitious tasks, seeking perfection.
In the craft of bicycle-frame fabrication, few have been after it as long as Kent Eriksen. He got his start back in the mid-1970s when he first opened a bike shop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A few years later he began tinkering with frame fabrication after a friend returned to Steamboat from frame-building school. He went on to found Moots in 1981, then left to build his own brand, Eriksen Cycles, in 2005.
Along the way, he has built bikes for American greats such as Andy Hampsten, and he can even be credited with building the mountain bike that won the first NORBA national championship, piloted by Steve Tilford, in 1983. His contributions have been so significant that Eriksen was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1996. He and his wife Katie still reside in an “off the grid” home outside of Steamboat but Eriksen Cycles is located downtown. Each year, Eriksen builds about 150 bikes, about as many as he’d like to while still maintaining that close relationship with each buyer.
Earlier this year we bumped into Eriksen at the North American Handmade Bike Show looking for new creations. He was busy as usual inspiring new builders and collecting awards—this time it was for best tig-weld on a beautiful tandem frame set. Also on display at the Eriksen booth was a race-inspired road disc bike that just happened to fit yours truly. He offered to send it out…and who were we to say no?
Now for the fun part. To read on you’re going to have to get over two things: aero bikes and ultralight carbon bikes. Once you get over reading about something that isn’t “wind cheating” or “feather light” I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what Eriksen Cycles is all about.
Our Eriksen Ti Disc came spec’d with a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build, Kappius Components’ tubular KW-1.5 wheels, Eriksen Ti stem, Eriksen Ti post, all finished off with ENVE Composites’ fork and bar.
Eriksen has worked with dozens of the top welders through the years; there was even a time in the ’80s, prior to the Iron Curtain coming down, when he employed a welder from a Russian submarine and another from a U.S. aircraft manufacturer, working side by side! This might not mean much until you hear him rave about the talents of his current master welder, Brad Bingham. Our frame was flawlessly welded to last forever, weighs in at just under 3 pounds, and incorporates various tube sizes and shapes, with a 1¾-inch down tube, 1½-inch top tube, 1-inch chain stays, 1¼-inch seat tube, and a 27.2 Ti seat post. Eriksen was after a racer’s build on our bike, but customers can have anything they want to suit their riding style.
The ride quality was a super-smooth and lively blend that only titanium can produce. Quick accelerations and excellent power transfer resulted from short 1-inch-diameter chain stays, and stiff progressive steering evolving from an oversized head tube and tapered ENVE fork.
To be honest, we’ve been riding carbon for so long we forgot how comforting a 40-plus-miles-per-hour descent could be on a metal bike. There is a reassuringly stable feeling a rider gets from well-made Ti; combine it with the racey geometry, disc brakes and the unparalleled craftsmanship of an Eriksen and you can push your limits with incredible confidence. There is no chatter, no hollow echo from massive tube cavities, only a supple flowing ride quality.
The 27.2mm seat post and stem finished off race-tuned comfort, taking away any other road chatter that may
have slipped through the frame. A single-bolt design made saddle adjustments quick and easy, all while offering up simple clean elegance. One note racers should consider is replacing the Ti stem with an aluminum or carbon one for maximum out-of-the-saddle sprinting speed and power.
Whether you are best described as a weekend warrior, fanatic, enthusiast, racer or f lower sniffer, Eriksen can produce a bike that’s right for you. Look no further if you want to work directly with a builder who can offer up decades of sage wisdom and experience and leverage it for you and your riding style. An Eriksen bike is built to last a lifetime. If you’re a racer you will f ind comfort the next time some Fred T-bones you. He will be Googling a carbon repair specialist while your ride will likely be as straight as the day you bought it.
PRICE: $11,900 (as tested); $3,800 (frame only) WEIGHT: 17.9 lbs (with pedals and cages);
56cm (Full Custom)
SPECIFICATION: ENVE fork and bars, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with RS785 Hydraulic disc, Kappius KW 1.5 tubular wheels, Eriksen Ti stem and post, Fi’zi:k Arione CX saddle, Michelin Pro4 Tubulars