Do you remember field trips back in grade school? You had to get your parents to sign a permission slip and then on the day of the trip, pack a brown bag lunch with your name written in magic marker on the outside. The idea behind field trips were probably educational, but as a kid, I always thought of them as a day to goof off.
My current Field Trip to the West, didn’t come with any permission slip. I packed my own lunch, dinner and breakfasts into the truck, along with a prototype Advocate Cycles, Watchman, test-bike, a Hennessy Hammock Tent and some additional test gear from Sea to Summit, Rhino Rack and 1-Up USA. I knew that the trip would be educational and since my current position as Payload Specialist, here at Fat-Bike.com, closely resembles ‘goofing off’ most of the time I knew that I’d be putting in some long hours. (wink-wink)
The Test Gear
1-Up USA – Fat Hitch Rack – Part of our big fat hitch rack shootout that will start to publish at the end of the month.
Chapter 1 – Boo Bicycles – Fort Collins Colorado
My first stop just had to be Boo Bicycles, primarily because my close friend, Adam Blake, is the General Manager. They moved their operation into a new facility a little over a year ago, so I was eager to see their new diggs. I pulled into town on the tail end of some of the rainiest weather Colorado has seen in years. The new location is right next to a residential area and not too far from downtown. Adam and Ben were in the office when I arrived. Drew and Nick were going to a gravel race, so I was only able to see Drew for few minutes before he dashed out the door. One of the things that I learned about Boo, as a company, is that the owners of the company, Nick and Drew, are serious racers and regularly compete. Plus they’re both Princeton grads. That’s where they met, in an entrepreneurial program at Princeton. I got to see the first bamboo bike that Nick raced in college and learned how Nick and Drew got together with James to start their journey towards making bicycles from Iron Bamboo cultivated in Viet Nam. It seems James read a story about a racer from Princeton (Nick) that was racing on a bamboo and carbon frame. James made Nick a prototype constructed from a sisal composite and iron bamboo. (I also got to see that frame during my visit as well). That led to further prototypes being made and the birth of Boo Bicycles! It’s an interesting story that provides a foundation to where Boo Bicycles is today.
Besides wanting to visit with my amigo Adam, I really wanted to talk to Nick Frey. Nick, Adam, Drew and I had some illuminating and passionate email exchanges about the bike industry’s new emphasis on B+ and 29+ right after we returned from Sea Otter a couple of moths ago. Nick had some really good insights on the subject and also spoke passionately about the ride characteristics that bamboo brings to the table. I wanted to follow up with Nick and talk about the ride characteristiics of Boo’s grass^ bikes. One other point that Nick had made in our email discussion was…..that ‘a rad bike is a rad bike, no matter what size tire and wheel it’s designed to run’. This is something we should all keep in the back of our minds, in this world of constant upgrades and ever changing standards. That bike that’s out in our collective garages, sheds or basements, that was rad ten years ago….. is still rad and we should all show those bikes some love!
^Bamboo is in the grass family.
I tested an Alubooyah a couple of years ago and last winter, had the chance to ride their carbon and bamboo fat-bike (the Boolossal) on my local trails in Westosha. One of the best crust rides, that I’ve ever been on, took place near the end of my Alubooyah testing. The beach had thawed and refroze into an undulating pump track and fat-bike playground. That was over two years ago and I can still remember how that little silver and bamboo bike performed beyond my wildest expectations. Was it the bamboo that made the difference? Both of my experiences on Boo bikes have been very positive, but in the reviews that I’ve written, I stopped short of saying conclusively that the bikes rode great because of the bamboo. Fat-bikes tend to hide any frame material’s influence on the way the bike rides, behind four inches of pneumatic rubber tires. That makes it even harder for me to say, how much the bamboo has influenced my positive experiences, during the two tests that I’ve been able to conduct. One thing is for sure….I stand by the fact that I really liked the way that both models of Boo fat-bikes rode. You can hear a short interview that I did with Adam on the Weekly Dose of Fat – Show #63, where he talks a little bit about the intangible ride characteristics of Bamboo.
At the end of the day, Adam and I jumped on our bikes and rode downtown and had dinner at a restaurant called 415. I got to try fried chicken and waffles for the first time! Fort Collins is very bike friendly. There’s bike lanes all over and on our ride to and from dinner we saw lots of folks out riding. We even saw a recumbent trike pulling a trailer. Because of all of the rain, the city was very lush and green. I found myself grinning from ear to ear, riding along, on a seventy degree evening, through a bike friendly city with my best bud, showing me the way.
Adam has his Alubooyah fat-bike set up with some Stan’s Hugo B+ wheels (photo above) and I rode the Advocate Watchman. Looking back, now, I should have asked to ride a Boo cross bike or townie to expand my bamboo ride research. I guess I have a good reason to return, some time soon!
You can learn more about Boo Bicycles by visiting – www.boobicycles.com
Stay tuned for further reports from my field trip to the Rockies, coming soon!