A year ago we featured a few major brands that manufacture select products in Canada
with the usual suspects; Devinci, Race Face, North Shore Billet, and We Are One Composites included. Just over a year later, there is a fresh list of brands on our radar. Now, it's time to take a deeper dive into backyard sheds and small shops that feature dedicated individuals who are building brands from scratch or keep the machines running after their regular nine to five hours. In this feature lies everything from trail tools and apparel, to frames and custom painters. LoamLab Components
When a core rider like Mark Haimes, who previously held a Guinness World Record for "The Most Vertical Distance Descended on a Mountain Bike in 24-Hours", finds reason to create his own components, they hold a ton of merit.
Take for example the Counterpunch bar end and grip clamp. The small extension curves over the top of your pinky finger. It's not an burly or comprehensive as "bark busters" for off-road motorcycles, but they do protect those small bones against a direct impact with a tree, as illustrated in the video.
The Counterpunch works with LoamLab's own grip or integrates with dual clamp grips from ODI.
The LoamLab grip is available with or without the Counterpunch, and although it is a lock-on grip the majority of the plastic sleeve under the rubber pad has been removed for maximum comfort. They are also the shortest adult lock-on grips that I've seen, sitting at 115 mm in length, and place a single lock clamp on the inside of the grip for those that like to ride with their palm hanging over the end of the grip.
LoamLab also offers a minimalist stem with clean lines, like zero gap on the top of the face plate, and is machined in Whistler. For $148 CAD, the 35 mm bar clamp stem is available in a short 32 or 40 mm length and starts at a weight of 160 g.More Info: loamlab.bike
Another company with a busy CNC machine, located in Victoria, B.C., is Farside Components that make a beautiful stem in some classy colors. The small batch manufacturer is headed up by a duo of mountain bike enthusiasts: Emory Rempel, the machinist/former bike mechanic, and Grant Lestock-Kay, Cowichan Cycles owner.
Weighing in at 167 grams, the aptly named Cyclic stem is built for 35mm diameter handlebars and available in a traditional 45mm length. Cut from a chunk of 6061 aluminum, Farside goes all out and uses titanium bolts to complete the package. It's also no stranger to punishment - "The Cyclic is ISO certified, and exceeds additional “maximum overload” testing at the EFBE test lab in Germany."
Farside takes full advantage of their CNC machine and manufactures Forbidden Bike Co's Ziggy Link too, which converts Druid or Dreadnought from full 29er platforms to mixed wheeled setups. More Info: farsidecomponents.com
If you don't churn out components on your CNC machine in 2022, are you even a mountain biker? I tuned into what Aenomaly Constructs were creating from day one of their first prototype, eager to get on one of their SwitchGrade pieces. The component replaces the rail clamp of most popular dropper posts and articulates six degrees in positive and negative directions, in addition to having a neutral setting.The SwitchGrade plays well with the trend of long bikes that have mega-steep seat tube angles or those riders that wish for a shorter seat tube. This allows for more clearance on descents and a comfier ride on the way up.
Machined in Whistler by North Shore Billet, the SwitchGrade is actuated by manually depressing the lever under the nose of the seat while pushing or pulling in the desired direction. For what it achieves, the insignificant weight penalty of roughly 100 g and a cost of $248 CAD could revitalize some riders positioning on their bike. Look for a review on the SwitchGrade in the coming weeks.More Info: aenomalyconstructs.com
Metal fabricator and welder, Danielle Schön, not only builds her own frames, but also repairs cracked and dented ones too. Based out of Squamish, Danielle brands some her pieces with a massive, but stylish emblem draped over the top and down tubes on her latest mountain frame. Brazed on badges decorate the frames as a signature and pop, even without the splash of any paint. In addition to custom frames and repairs, she also lends her trade to forks, racks, prototyping and general steel works for furniture and commercial work.
Danielle was a teaching assistant alongside Paul Brodie at the University of the Fraser Valley before he retired and the school cancelled shortly thereafter. If you take interest in this kind of work and would like to learn the ways of frame building, you're in luck. Danielle teaches basic frame construction and hobby welding classes, following in the footsteps of local legend, Mr. Brodie.More Info: schonstudio.com
Vancouver Island is growing as a hub for mountain bike brands and much like the renaissance movement in the U.K., there is a growing number of simpler steel frames being built on this side of the pond. From dropped bar gravel trackers and hardtails, to single pivot full suspension bikes, Wildwood Cycles in Victoria, B.C. focuses on solid geometry and basic operations over multi-pivots and carbon facade.
There's a good reason for so many steel manufacturers to choose a fixed front and rear triangle with a single pivot design. It's elegant, leaves plenty of mounting space for accessories, can be easily repaired, and does the job of keeping the rear wheel on the ground, when partnered with a quality tuned shock. Custom geometry and frame/forks kits are available, plus the hardtail and gravel models have titanium options.More Info: wildwoodcycles.ca
Yet another Van Isle steel frame builder that is operating in a small studio, churning out all shorts of cool shapes and wild paint schemes. There are a number of unique looking bikes that can't be pegged into a specific genre, but one thing is for sure - WZRD builds progressive geometry. Some of the mountain hardtails have gargantuan wheelbases and slack head angles that dwarf the appearance of 29" wheels. Not limited to mountain bike hardtails, WZRD also has a street background lending to everything from fixies to 26" dirt jump bikes, some of which are setup rigid and brakeless, all built for spending time jibbing around skateparks and jump sets.
They also do quite a bit of custom work which includes steel forks, stems, two-piece bars that resemble Bontrager's cult Crowbar; some combine those two components into one, with the option to bolt bike packing racks onto them. One of the stand out pieces has to be their front pizza rack with the consonants "WZRD" built into the bracing.More Info: wzrd.bike
Former welder and machinist at the infamous Balfa and Xprezo Canadian brands, Phillipe Benoit's side project, Dsastr Bikes, is based in the Eastern Township of Bromont, QC. The one-man show builds custom frames, stems, seat posts, and headset spacers for every type of bike. Recent projects show stunning titanium frames that include a full suspension trail bike with a flex-stay rear triangle. Phil-Ben was way ahead of the current trend for XC full suspension bikes, as you may have recognized the design from Xprezo's Magic Carpet that Pinkbike reviewed back in 2015
. The Dsastr version is absolutely stunning and since it's not mass produced, extra special attention to detail was taken into account while building this Ti steed.
His work shows extreme levels of finishing throughout with one frame displaying machined reliefs at the head tube that sync with the steer tube spacer. The stem is also a work of art with the clean, wrap-around clamp and pinch bolts forward of the steer tube.More Info: Dsastr Bikes Instagram
Needs Factory Apparel
Needs Factory shouldn't need
any introduction at this point. It's likely you've seen YouTube stars Matt Boltz, Yoann Barelli, Steve Vanderhoek, World Cup prodigy Seth Sherlock, and a slew of other up and coming riders rocking their apparel in bike parks or team videos. NF is best recognized for their comfortable and durable DP3 pants, but they also produce quality Merino wool and hemp tops and have an enduro style knee pad in the pipeline that their team riders have been testing out, using the popular D3O impact resistant foam.
The goods are constructed on home soil at their factory, located in East Vancouver, where they preach an ethical work practice and environment. Most of all, NF want to create
, not produce
apparel. That's why their business model is a little different than most and once items are sold out, that line may never take the same appearance. Their ability to adapt quickly and change from one run to the next is the best way to update and improve products for their scale. The "QuikStrike" jerseys are a great example of this and are made in very small batches that complement their approach to their limited designs and testing.More Info: ridenf.com
MTN Metal Works
There is no lack of DIY metal fabricators in the Fraser Valley, just an hour east of Vancouver, but Spencer at MTN Metal Works doesn't just build things with metal. The arsenal of trail building tools in his portfolio is derived from demanding functionality as a trail builder. He puts his own equipment to test and can also shred on a bike. Spencer also possesses the skills to weld stainless steel and aluminum, taking on custom jobs too, like the underpass he built for Air Rec Center, an indoor dirt jump and skatepark facility in Maple Ridge, B.C.
In the MTN Metal Works shed are effective ground working tools, like Macleods and rough rakes, starting around $110 CAD. A wooden handle keeps the package lighter with less vibration and is easy to swap out if damaged. The sharp end of the sticks are available in a trick version with a bolt-on, adaptable head to change tools on the fly. This would be the ticket for dig spots that you need to ride into, because carrying multiple handled tools on a bike can be a nuisance. More Info: mtnmetalworks.com
Fresh Paints of Whistler
Manufacturer might be a stretch of the word here, but their service plays on the local artist vibe. If you're searching for a bike that isn't one of fifty shades of black or aren't enthralled by four contrasting colors in one paint scheme, then maybe the custom route is the way to go. Fresh Paint of Whistler specializes in tearing down the stock colors of a frame, helmet, or basically anything you can throw paint at, and adding any color combo or theme you could wish for. They've tackled big projects for pros like Reece Wallace's 90s neon throwback Giant Glory and Chris Kovarik's Intense M29 with his matching Fox RPC helmet.
Located in Whistler's Function Junction industrial park, the team of creative minds evolved their craft from disposable spray cans to a professional level paint booth they built themselves. Their Instagram page
is the best way to keep up with the latest projects, giving some insight to the labourous masking and complex layering of the pin striping world.More Info: freshpaintsofwhistler.comNote: Pinkbike staff member Mitch Gulliver is part owner of Fresh Paints of Whistler. He didn't ask for or have anything to do with this article.