Chasing The Endless Stoke With REEB Cycles

Nov 5, 2019 at 15:31
by James Stokoe  

As I’m sure is the case with anyone reading this, bikes have literally changed my life. They just make it...better. For many of us, it began with building some sketchy jumps in your buddies yard, then developed into “borrowing” dads shovel to carve in that much needed catch berm on your local trail - of which you did a piss poor job because you just wanted to get on your bike and ride! Next thing you knew, you were camping at the races, huddled around a campfire with new friends, telling tales of how far you hucked that step down - you may have even compared yourself to Bender after that last beer. . . you know, the one after the “last one for the night”. Before you knew it, you had yourself a pretty sweet life as the result of this love for bikes. Mountain biking can mean different things to each of us, but for me, it’s all about cramming as much fun into the day as I can, and surrounding myself with others that see life the same way. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what beliefs you might have; you like to ride bikes, we’re outside, we’re gonna grab a beer after the ride - today is going to be a great day!!

This is why I fell in love with this whole bike riding thing, and in my opinion, it’s these simple times that reward us with so very much.

Unfortunately, even the best of us can crumble to societal norms that rarely consider “miles ridden” as a metric of success. I folded, as many do, and found trail time was stolen away by office hours and a big-boy job title. My bike wasn’t in my life as much as I wanted, but the love for bikes and all they provide was undying, and it soon became clear that it was time to quit the job, lose the truck payments, and shed myself of all the “things” that really just restricted me from living my life the way I knew best. I wanted my happy place again. I wanted to ride bikes, hang out with others as passionate about this life, drink beers after a ride, and revel in the joys of the experience. I wanted to bury myself in the culture I identified with and took a job at a bike shop to get my head straight and work on building my photography side hustle, also rooted in…bikes!

Fortunately this life change led to shooting enduro races, which brought me right back to the passion, good times, and community of people that shared this love for the bike life. Among the many new friends around the campfire, I met Adam Prosise. As striking as his Rasta striped “rude boys” jersey and unmistakeable style on a bike, was the bike he was smashing rocks on. This was not a bike you went down to your local big box bike retailer to purchase. Adam was riding a REEB. At that point I had heard a little about REEB Cycles…I knew that there was some kind of association with Oskar Blues Brewing, they made hardtail single speeds and I was fairly sure they were based out of Colorado. But Prosise was on a full susser.

I had to introduce myself to this character, and It turned out that Adam is one of the fabricators at REEB Cycles, as well as having an integral role on the design team and is one of the main crash test dummies.

The further I got to know Adam, the more it became apparent that although he’s an absolute contender, he’s really just at the race to have a good time with his friends - it’s not the results he’s after; it’s all about time spent with friends living this passion for riding bikes. I soon realized, REEB Cycles also exuded this same mentality, and after a couple years of talking about wanting to come and check out the factory, we finally had some time in our schedules to make it happen. I wanted to see if REEB Cycles really was this gem in the rough...if their broadcasted persona was more than just marketing spiel. Was this indeed their company culture, even behind closed doors? When Adam told me that they were just finishing the design for the 2020 “Sqweeb” and he’s going to be manufacturing the first prototype of this new design soon, I rallied to Lyons, Colorado to see it all for myself.

Rolling into the small, unsuspecting town, I actually missed the REEB building on my first pass down main street. Second pass was a charm as I rolled up in front of what looked like a century old barn. One of their motto’s is: “Barn built in Lyons, CO”, and they weren't lying! This was the original brewing and canning location for Oscar Blue’s Dale’s Pale Ale - a much loved Colorado microbrew with a big love for bikes. Upon entering the barn, you’re greeted with a beautifully simple machine shop, but instead of commercial projects lining the walls, you’re presented with a rack of freshly tacked REEB frames. A couple of shop dogs give the place some charm, but aside from a couple of bike posters on the wall, this looks like any other machine shop. For me, there in lies the beauty of this place! Don’t get me wrong, visiting HQ and R&D facilities of the biggest companies in the big industry is a treat too, the high priced interior spaces with state of the art machines, clean, bright looks are beautiful in their own right, however, what made the HQ, R&D, Fabrication, conference room and water-cooler area of REEB so special was the down to basics feel, everything apart from the showroom, which is located down the road in a neighboring town, was under this 1,000sf roof. There’s no shiny reception with their top of the line bike staged for all visitors to drool over; there is however, a yappy terrier who’s bark is a hundred times the ferocity of its bite. You won’t find rows of cubicles filled with engineers, but next to a lathe, there are a couple of lads crowded around CAD drawings. And the best part? There’s a kegerator, with an endless supply of beer. Without all the complexities of large scale fabrication, and taking the idea of building a bike down to the basics, changes can be made on the fly - if a gusset piece isn’t just right, the tweaks are made right then and there in the software, and 20 minutes later you have the redesigned piece in your hands - but wait, you want to put a little logo on the piece? Well we might as well do it real quick - just ‘cause, why not?

A 100 year old barn where Dale's Pale Ale was first canned

A classy addition to the barn

Just your everyday machine shop, except you're greeted with frames waiting for a family

The guard dog

And now you just hit Control-Alt-Delete and everything will work again...

It took 15 minutes to get these gussets from computer screen to something that's ready to be welded to a frame

The two main men behind the day-to-day fabrication and running of the facility are Chris Sulfrian and Adam. After a day of trying to stay out the way and refraining from asking too many dumb questions, I got a chance to sit down with them over a beer to learn a little more about Reeb Cycles. The history has been told before in a variety of ways, so there’s no need in regurgitating it, but the highlights are as follows; Dale, before his name was on a beer can, liked riding single speeds, his got stolen, and he said, “well sh!t, I’m going to build my own bikes.” And so he did. If you haven’t figured it already, REEB is Beer spelt backwards. The Sqweeb came about 3-4 years ago, with Chris being the brainchild behind it. A 29” wheeled aluminum beast with 145mm of travel, slack head tube and relatively steep seat tube angle.

She sees everything

The new Sqweeb looks very similar to the previous generation, at least from sketches. . . so what has inspired the changes? The Sqweeb torch has been passed from Chris to Adam, and with Adam racing this bike over the past couple of years, he really got a good understanding of where the current design excels and what he would like to tweak. As with anything, a fresh set of eyes generally helps to put a project in the right direction, and it turns out that Adam would have a “helper” on this project. There’s a fella down the road by the name of Stephen Ziegler who likes playing bikes, and it just so happens that Stephen is an aerospace engineer - he has rockets in space, literally - so REEB figured, come on over, let’s sit down have a couple beers and tweak this steed.

Ziegler helped REEB with getting the design locked down

Attention to detail is very important to REEB

One of the big changes that Adam brought to my attention was the bottom bracket / lower pivot / lower shock mount cluster. This change is the conclusion of a couple requests, one being a longer dropper seat post insertion, and the other being the ability to change the rear wheel travel from 150mm to 130mm. By moving the pivot found on the seat tube forward the new design will allow for a 210mm dropper post in Large & X-Large frame sizes, 180mm in Medium and a 150mm dropper in the Small. The rear suspension travel adjustment is simple in that the bracket offers two lower mounting bolt locations (this would involve a different shock of course, but options are nice!) The modification did increase the seat tube angle from 75 to 76 degrees. Something to note about this cluster is that it’s made in-house using the CNC machine which stands proudly in the corner of the shop and one adjective that Adam kept repeating throughout the conversations was manufacturability. Using a cluster like this that is CNC’d right there in their shop allows for faster production. No longer do they have to bend round tube for each frame build, and the cluster eliminates a couple of really tricky welds too. Additionally, the cluster design allows for more precision as it used to be that the pivot, BB, seat tube, and down tube would all have to be welded together using jigs to make sure that all the measurements were spot on. An arduous process that also runs the risk of heat warping. All of that is out the window now, with this two piece cluster, there’s one main weld and bob’s your uncle, you’re done. As well as “manufacturability” the cluster provides a stiffer frame stemming from the BB.

A cluster assembly fresh out the CNC machine

The two sides of the new cluster design waiting to be welded

Use your imagination, you'll be riding that steed in no time

A great look at how this cluster works. Photo by Michael Eldridge / @aspect9design

The aforementioned cluster isn’t the only design change that differentiates the 2020 Sqweeb. Riders with shorter than average legs are going to be stoked to see that the standover clearance has been increased too. Additionally, the top tube has an increased reach, resulting in a more stable feel at higher speeds. The rear triangle has seen a redesign as well, with the chain stays redesigned with a different bend location and radius which after testing proved to stiffen the rear end without adding weight. Pivoting off of the chain stays are the newly designed dropouts which are now lighter than the previous generation however, no reduction in performance or stiffness. In addition to all these other changes that provide the frame with added stiffness, the rockers are now thicker, and you guessed it, added stiffness throughout the shock / pivot assembly. Something to note is that REEB does not have any proprietary parts. The shock mounting hardware as well as the bearings are all readily available when it comes to a frame overhaul. With the use of titanium and stainless steel shock mounting hardware, you can trust that these are as robust as can be. After going through all of these changes with the boys, it’s evident that this is basically a re-design, but building off a solid platform that was version II of the REEB Sqweeb.

One of his happy places, Adam starts the assembly process


Almost like it's his first day of school

By this point of the visit, I’m super stoked and emotionally vested in the REEB Sqweeb. As I was leaving the REEB barn, Adam was putting the frame parts in their heat treating oven. He wore his excitement on his sleeve, and rightly so, as he knew that in less than 48 hours, the frame will be built up with his choice of components and then taken to the hills for some serious thrashing - after all, it’s in his job description. A couple weeks later our schedules opened up again and I had the opportunity to head back to Lyons for another visit. It didn’t take much to convince Adam to take me out on his local trails to grab some shots of the 2020 Sqweeb, and man does that thing rip. Adam told me of the anti-squat balance and how the pedaling forces and acceleration forces are perfectly balanced at the sag point or something, but I really didn’t care...I just wanted one.

And the countdown begins!

And here she is. Photo by Michael Eldridge / @aspect9design

I came away from this trip on a high. The “Mountain Bike Culture” that I so deeply love is alive and well in REEB. I had grown accustomed to working in a bike shop full of $10k carbon bikes being bought by the local neurosurgeon just to impress their friends at a dinner party on a Friday night, but this was another world entirely. REEB Cycles isn’t the only company out there living the lifestyle and making rad bikes, in Colorado alone there’s a healthy handful of small bike companies that are proud to represent and provide for us “dirtbag” mountain bikers, the riders who don’t care about Strava, the kind of rider who will wear a onesie skin suit for a race because his buddy dared him to, and the riders that have a couple beers stashed in their fanny packs for those long backcountry days. And this fills me with confidence that there will always be a home for me in the mountain bike world.

Fast, Med. Slooow, Kinda Fast - What more do you need?

Although the torch has been past, Chris is still excited to see how the frame is coming along

Looks like a front triange

That head badge though!

Finally, the bike is allowed in the wild

Side ways? Yeah, no worries

Adam has no problem throwing his XL frame around like it's a BMX bike

Eating up the uneven drops

The 2020 Sqweeb jumps just as well as it tackles rock gardens

The aesthetics and angles just look and feel right

Between two trunks

Time to go home dad


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