The final stop of my December trip to visit three Michigan bicycle companies landed me in Traverse City, Michigan. I made arrangements to meet at Einstein Cycles with both Keith Conway, who manages the shop and Jason Lowetz who owns both Einstein Cycles and the Bearclaw Bicycle Company. Einstein Cycles (Jason) launched the Bearclaw Bicycle Co. back in 2016 with their carbon Balthazar fat-bike. Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilot and Co-Host of the Fat Camp Podcast, Ken Blakey-Shell wrote a quick review of the Balthazar in November of that year.
Jason is currently working on the new headquarters of Bearclaw in Elk Rapids. A larger location where Bearclaw’s growing line of carbon and titanium models will be warehoused and custom built to order. I wanted to meet at the shop to see where the Bearclaw brand had come from and compare the Einsteins/Bearclaw vibe with similar successful bike shop – bike brands like Speedway/Fatback and Chain Reaction / 9:Zero:7 up in Anchorage. Right out of the gate, Keith and Jason reminded me that we had met at the first St. Fatties Day Race up in Gaylord Michigan all the way back in 2012. The party at Casey’s House after that race was the kind of crazy fun that makes for great stories. That seemed to break the ice and Jason walked me through the shop and the Bearclaw line which still Includes the carbon Balthazar along with new models like the Frank (Ti Fat-Bike) – the Beowulf (Ti Plus Bikepacker) – and the Buck Macho (Ti-Aggressive H/T Plus Bike). Bearclaw also makes a Ti gravel bike called the Thunderhawk.
This is the bike that Ken Blakey-Shell described as “an unapologetic race bike for all four seasons. The frame is set up to run 27.5+, 29+ or 26 x 4″ It is also the “brainchild of Chet Bearclaw, a tech entrepreneur, astronaut, musician, futurist, and ultra-endurance athlete.” I’ll add that the Balthazar is a 1X specific carbon frame and fork rocking a non-suspension corrected 468 mm axle to crown low slung front end. The head and seat tube angles are a steepish 70.5/73. If you’d like some personality with your race bike, Jason does all kinds of custom paint. They use a technique where they paint and then sand back the layers revealing different colors and when they get it looking just right, they seal all of that artistic expression with a final clear coat. It’s a technique that I’ve seen used on rat rod bikes and cars before. This CMYK version (photo above) that they created is the reason I made the trip to visit and learn more.
The Frank is a Titanium fat-bike that borrows its geometry from the Balthazar and adds a full array of rack fender and cargo mounts. They also have a titanium fork that is suspension corrected (with cargo nibs). The taller ti fork or a bluto slack out the head angle to ~69 degree for those that like that set-up. This particular Frank is rock’n a set of HED 27.5 Wheels with 45N Dillinger 4 sneaks and the non-suspension corrected carbon fork with a Sram Eagle drivetrain.
While I was at the shop, Jason delivered size XL ‘Bandit TransAm’ Frank to one very lucky customer (and a follower of the site). They let me take a picture (or twelve). I’ve got a thing for black bikes. #bikeblackribbon
The Bearclaw Beowulf is a titanium adventure hardtail that can go from your summer mountain bike to shredpacking a multi-day trip on the Colorado trail. This is the plus-bike that can do almost anything.
For the gnarliest parts of your plus bike aggressive hardtail lifestyle, Bearclaw makes the Buck Macho. Señior Macho blends a 65.5 head tube angle with a stout 130 mm travel suspension fork that puts the ‘pro’ in progressive trail features. You know…the ones that make you wanna send it.
The Bearclaw Bicycle Company currently has a lot of good things going on. I asked Jason what he would like our readers to know about Bearclaw and this is what he said. “So long as we inspire our customers and they us, we will continue to have a good thing here.” I was most definitely inspired by what I saw on my visit to their shop and I think that you would be, as well.
For more information about Bearclaw visit – https://bearclawbicycleco.com/