This is the time of year I start thinking of new bikes, new spring time rides, warm weather, and the upcoming bike season. Colorado gets pretty cold, and it’s tough not to dream about long lung-busting climbs, big scenery, and out of control descents on a bike.
Flipping through magazines, staring dry-eyed at the internet, and wasting time reading about bike related items on my “want list” has recently sparked interest in a local Colorado brand, Reeb Cycles. It happened one day when I realized that Reeb, created by Oskar Blues Brewery, happened to be just up the road from where I live. Longmont, CO is certainly an up and coming town, with rising housing prices, lots of new construction, and several new breweries. This is also where Oskar Blues Brewery is headquartered, and as such, so is Reeb. (If you haven’t noticed already, “Reeb” happens to not so subtly share a hint of similarity to “Beer”.)
Being that we here at La Chasse seem to get a bit slack with new posts during the winter, I thought it might be worth diving back into writing during a cold winter day, and delve into an interesting prospect for a new bike.
Reeb Cycles are built behind the Oskar Blues warehouse. There is no showroom here, and nothing unnecessarily fancy. The workshop is exactly that, a simple space to build and powder coat badass American made bikes. However, there is a showroom about 10 minutes away, which is fairly unique in that it as housed in the same space as the Oskar Blues CyclHops Cantina. Here there is a small demo fleet of Reebs to ride, as well as essential gear and a small workshop that handles all the Reeb customer builds, as well as other day to day operations and repairs of a normal bike shop.
Contacting the head honchos at Reeb is a relatively simple affair, and not long after an initial email, I found myself in the small workshop where the frames are born. I met Chris Sulfrian, the main fabricator, or fabReebcator; and proceeded to dig into the brand, and his vision, with a few required cliche questions, as well as a few goofy ones. Chris is a genuine fellow, and is clearly doing his work out of passion. The bikes are solid and fairly simple in todays market. The head tubes are 44mm across the board, he uses Paragon sliding dropouts, all the bikes can accommodate belt drives, the steel downtubes are massive, and the geometry is tailored towards being pushed hard. Chris admits that he and the Oskar Blues crew enjoy bikes that respond well to being thrashed on Colorado’s rocky Front Range, so that’s what they build. That being said, the geometry of the mountain bikes are not as “enduro” as some might think they need; they hit a happy medium, yet err on the side of aggressive with short chain stays and slack head angles. Quality built parts and quality craftsmanship equal a reliable steed.
Winter in CO is a pretty slow time for the bike business in general. Fatbikes take center stage, and Chris had enough time to show me around his space and get me slightly buzzed with a surprisingly delicious Oskar Blues “Death by Coconut” porter. As the Gorillaz sounded off through the shop speakers, I proceeded to ask him a few questions. As we casually chatted and threw questions and answers back and forth, I grew to understand things a bit better
Sulfrian got started with metalsmithing school, jobs in machine shops, and then proceeded to dive into the art of frame building after he was finally able to afford his own welder. After a number of frames for friends, an internship at BlackSheep, and many commissioned builds later, he found himself alongside the very like-minded souls at Oskar Blues. They had started a brand, and he was the right fit to be the fabricator. When asked about working with Oskar Blues; Chris admits it’s very helpful to get a steady paycheck. Having the resources to get all the areas of the bike business up and running allows him to solely focus on building bikes, improving the product, and doing the job well. Leaving the bookkeeping, marketing, and endless emails a custom builder gets to others is supremely helpful for freeing up time.
I asked about the input the higher ups at Oskar Blues have in the design process, and it turns out Chris works largely on his own in terms. As long as everyone is on the same page as far as what they want to see produced, everyone is happy. The folks at Oskar Blues are of a similar mindset, which is to keep the bikes solid and fun to ride, so they build what they want personally.
Reeb Cycles has visited NAHBS every year since they started in 2011. ”NAHBS has certainly helped in brand recognition and any and all related press is always great”, states Sulfrian. While their bikes may not be as flashy as some at the show, or take months to build, they’re impressive from a usability standpoint; and people can see that in person when they swing a leg over one.
Next, we discussed the idea of expanding the business and lineup. For the time being, they’re growing at a manageable pace. Chris is the main employee when it comes to construction. Tim Moore runs the bike shop at CyclHops and will likely be the one you’d contact if you want a non-custom Reeb. Growth is certainly something they’re interested in, and as long as they are on an upward trend, people stay happy, and the stoke stays there; then all is well.
They do offer custom sizing, but custom is a small portion of their overall sales. Reeb offers a full size run in their best selling frames, and being mostly mountain bikes, stock sizing does help keep the cost down and keep the small shop efficient with a streamlined inventory. Reeb also worked with True Temper to create a high end, USA made steel tube set for their bikes, so being able to consistently use that throughout the sizes really helps simplicity; thus helping the cost stay low. Hell, there are already Taiwanese made frames from bigger manufacturers that retail for about the same, and personally, I’d choose Reeb over those any day.
Reeb’s wait time stays short. With their small size and “made to order” process, they can keep an inventory of tubing as well as built stock sizes ready to go to paint. Reeb also does all their own powder coating in house, so taking a partially finished frame to a finished product is a quick procedure. Generally, wait is about a week for their top selling REEBdikyelous mtb, and 3-4 weeks for others. Ti frames or custom builds can take longer; but compared to many small builders with wait lists of several months to a year, it’s clear that keeping it simple is working.
I was curious about what’s next for the brand, and where they’re headed. It turns out they’re open to ideas and designs that could be the next model; including full suspension and incorporating carbon; but nothing is currently on the table in either aspect. Perhaps when they’re bigger and are ready to raise the stoke level again! Being a small company has it’s benefits. If there is an issue, they simply fix it right away; if there are any warranty issues, they stand behind it, and everything stays very straightforward. Should they want to try something new, Sulfrian simply designs and builds it.
In the future we could see Reeb having a more direct local impact in the bike lifestyle. Sulfrian is on a similar mindset as his peers at the brewery, and they’d love to see the brand become even more active into promoting cycling and being even more integrated in the community with projects and initiatives. He agrees with the idea that there is room for Reeb to be more than just a bike brand, and there is also plenty of room for them to help with things like trails, commuting, schools, and the promotion of cycling in their local neighborhoods.
I was curious how much he felt the demo fleet helped sales; and Chris’s response was as expected. ”The demo fleet absolutely helps, 100%. It really gives people a chance to understand how the bikes ride, and raise their level of stoke for getting one.” I might compare it to trying on shoes, they might look good, but once you try them and find that perfect fit, it’s a no brainer to close the deal.
At the moment, ordering is easy; all it takes is an email, or stopping by the bike shop if you’e local. While they’d like to see the website grow and offer a more integrated approach to ordering a bike, at this time a simple email does the job. There are a few dealers around the country that handle sales for them, so if you’re interested, take a peek on the dealer map to find one near you.
Now the REALLY important questions:
—Beer, wine, or liquor? (Duh…..)
“Oskar Blues beer, obviously…”
—Coffee, espresso, or tea?
—Donuts, bacon, or chocolate?
—Best food to bring on a ride?
“Beer, and maybe some fig newtons. “
—Favorite discipline, road, gravel, mountain, or cx?
—Fame, money, respect, or power?
“Money, the rest follows.”
—Finally, will an average person be faster and better on a Reeb?
“Most likely, they have good geometry to be pushed hard, so yeah, they’ll force you to ride faster.”
Overall, it seems Reeb is carving out it’s own niche in the ever growing scene, and they have made that niche exactly what they want. There are too many companies that produce bikes because they feel they need to appease a larger audience. Reeb simply makes the bikes that they, as beer loving humans, love to ride. Colorado is full of bikes and beer, and there seems to be no end to our thirst for both. Combining a brewery and a bike brand is unique, and in hindsight, even a bit obvious; but someone has to do it. For those of us with a quiver of bikes, it’s a common theme for one of them to be a hardtail; and I might recommend that it be a sturdy, USA built, tough-framed machine with a thirst for abuse. Want to run a belt drive, a single speed chain, or gears? How about a dropper post, and beefy tires? Want to know who made those pretty welds on your valiant new steed? Want to share a great beer with a good crew of down to earth people that talk the language of bicycle? Perhaps a Reeb needs to be your next bike. Perhaps also having an Oskar Blues brew would allow me to simplify my thoughts and just do what’s necessary, or perhaps it won’t, but it’s likely I’ll enjoy the attempt either way!