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  1. #1
    theHeadlessThompsonGunner
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    Suppose I wanted to buy some custom steel...

    It's not immediately feasible, but I'm considering having a bike built, and am unsure of where to turn. A buddy has a sick Curtlo, which is very attractive, but I like the looks of Vultures (strong and heavy!) and Ionics too. I like Waterford's work, but don't know if they've ever done mtbs. All things equal, I'd go Jericho hands down, but I'm frightened of the cost and the eeriness of Josh's frequent disappearances. I really don't think I can afford one though--correct me if I'm wrong.

    Here's my criteria, and ya'll can duke it out over who would suit me best:

    -Exactly the same geometry as my current XL SC Chameleon ('03 Z1 at the front), albeit with a one degree steeper head tube. Obviously, it will need to be custom.

    -EBB or Kona sliders (even an option?)--preferably EBB, but I'm open to suggestions.
    Whatever the case, I want the shortest chainstays possible for a 2.7" or so tire clearance.

    -Gussets everywhere unless the strength of the tubing makes them unecessary. It's going to be ridden very hard, and sometimes cased right into something rather than around or over it! (Side note: can an EBB be dropped and crashed and jumped on without slippage?)

    -The stiffness of aluminum at the bottom bracket and rear brake, but the ride of steel everywhere else (possible?).

    -I'd like to keep the weight below that of my 5 lb Chameleon, but will take strength, stiffness and longevity over lightness.

    -Upper cost limit: $900, but I'd prefer it was down around$650 or so.

    So, who's my builder?
    "I've courted brain damage like some courtesan of darkness."


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  2. #2
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    hell, any custom builder can do it....but that is more than you were telling me yesterday that you wanted.

    hmmm. based on the beefiness you want, i'd lean towards the vulture and the curtlo. curtlo, as he can add bracing/gussetting and still have ti be very strong/stiff/light.
    vulture is beefier from the get-go, but at a weight penalty based on what i've seen of them on the board.

    i'd go curtlo. but i'm biased........ ebb. small brace back by the rear disc mount. head tube gussett, either around the bottom, or plate styel along the sides ala some of the freeride alu hardtails you see. could even have him leave a derrailleur hanger on. just in case......

    true temper platinum ox tibing is what he'd likely use. good steel.

    no problems on the ebb moving. you'll be fine.

    i think they are running around the same $$$ wise right about now. i'd not go ionic based on your criteria.

    yeah, waterford does mtbs (or at least did) no idea if they still do. they do make gunnar BTW. but beefy bikes like you are looking for are not exactly their forte, though they could likely do it. i think they'd be fairly spendy, and over your budget.

    you can take the curtlo for a sping if'n you want to morrow.

    dave
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  3. #3
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    Here's a Waterford MTB in action

    Quote Originally Posted by scrublover
    yeah, waterford does mtbs (or at least did) no idea if they still do. they do make gunnar BTW. but beefy bikes like you are looking for are not exactly their forte, though they could likely do it
    dave
    Here's a pic of a waterford in action. Taken just this past weekend at the Waco NORBA national.
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  4. #4
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    I am in the same boat...

    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle
    It's not immediately feasible, but I'm considering having a bike built, and am unsure of where to turn. A buddy has a sick Curtlo, which is very attractive, but I like the looks of Vultures (strong and heavy!) and Ionics too. I like Waterford's work, but don't know if they've ever done mtbs. All things equal, I'd go Jericho hands down, but I'm frightened of the cost and the eeriness of Josh's frequent disappearances. I really don't think I can afford one though--correct me if I'm wrong.

    Here's my criteria, and ya'll can duke it out over who would suit me best:

    -Exactly the same geometry as my current XL SC Chameleon ('03 Z1 at the front), albeit with a one degree steeper head tube. Obviously, it will need to be custom.

    -EBB or Kona sliders (even an option?)--preferably EBB, but I'm open to suggestions.
    Whatever the case, I want the shortest chainstays possible for a 2.7" or so tire clearance.

    -Gussets everywhere unless the strength of the tubing makes them unecessary. It's going to be ridden very hard, and sometimes cased right into something rather than around or over it! (Side note: can an EBB be dropped and crashed and jumped on without slippage?)

    -The stiffness of aluminum at the bottom bracket and rear brake, but the ride of steel everywhere else (possible?).

    -I'd like to keep the weight below that of my 5 lb Chameleon, but will take strength, stiffness and longevity over lightness.

    -Upper cost limit: $900, but I'd prefer it was down around$650 or so.

    So, who's my builder?
    maybe. Not going to commit for awhile. Also check into Spicer Cycles. You are on the right track with Curtlo and Vulture (both easy to chat with via email). Matter of fact, I have talked to Curtlo in the last day or two and the price was right around $730 for ebb, disc tabs (stock color, not sure if that is for custom body measurements, etc.). I was debating 29"er option (which did not effect the $$). Tell these guys what you want in a frame and they will relay the $$. Gunnar does nice work, not sure about the $ and custom ability.

    Cheers,

    Mike
    Tuff Schist

  5. #5
    all hail der Fuhrer Bush
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    Durango Bike Works/Rob Rupe

    [Thing is, Rob left Durango and is reportedly someplace back in CA. Durango Cyclery's Russell is probably the best lead on getting ahold of Rob. 970 something something. A nice steel custom MTB you will not find. He does 29ers too.

  6. #6
    Lazy People Suck
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    I am thinking about selling my Merlin to go with custom steel. If that happens, the person that I almost certainly with go with is Steve Stickel. He frequents this board as D.F.L.. Search some of his posts and you will see that he really does know his stuff. He used to live in my town and he is one of the most detail oriented people you will ever meet. When he first started building frames, I was looking for a 24" bike for my 10 yr old. He convinced me to let him build him one and the amount of thought and detail that went into it was incredible. My son will never appreciate how good of a bike he has. There have been several other people on this board who have used him and I have not seen anyone unhappy yet.

    You want to add him to you "builders to consider" list.
    "Son, The world needs ditchdiggers, too"-Ted Knight, Caddyshack

  7. #7
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    amen

    Quote Originally Posted by teambender
    Like James at Black Sheep (Fort Collins), Don at Anvil Bikes (Littleton) or Wily Cycles in Boulder. That way you can meet with them face-to-face and express what you want in person.
    I'll second that. Black Sheep does great work. He'll build about anything you want for not a ton of money, too. His paint jobs are also very nice.
    Redstone Cyclery
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  8. #8
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    One Word

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  9. #9
    Jed Peters
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle

    So, who's my builder?
    Not [email protected], for many reasons.

  10. #10
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    I've had a custom steel SS/Rohloff frame made by Steve Stickel (DFL) and can vouch for him - very detail oriented and great to work with - resonable price. From what I've heard on the group, there are several reliable frame builders (Curtlo, Wade, Spicer, etc...), can't speak for them but I'm sure you'll be fine with any of them. I would try to find someone close, and in your price range that is willing to do what you want, and has a personality that works with you.

    As for you criteria: eBB - a more elegant, simple set up. Everything else is by design and you'll have to depend on the frame builder to get it right.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  11. #11
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    Another CO builder...

    Quote Originally Posted by teambender
    Like James at Black Sheep (Fort Collins), Don at Anvil Bikes (Littleton) or Wily Cycles in Boulder. That way you can meet with them face-to-face and express what you want in person.

    That I've been very happy with is Jack at Vail Cycle Works. He's in Vail. I bought a stock frame from him that someone had ordered and didn't like the paint so I got about $200 off. Mine is horizontal track ends but I know he does EBB and I bet he'll make you anything you want. My GF has one too. He was very accomodating. My bike is finally in the configuration that I want so I'll post some pics of soon.

  12. #12
    The man who fell to earth
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    Sounds like a great idea....

    I've been thinking about buying a Chameleon lately, but as usual there is always something I would like to be a bit different than it already is. For me the Chameleon is a bit over constructed and therefore unnecessarily heavy (I'm not a big air guy by any stretch and could do with a somewhat more streamlined version). Plus given my druthers a steel version would be nice because of a ride improvement (although I've always heard that the Chameleon has good ride quality because of the long seat tube). Plus an EBB would be good too, mostly for less disk brake fuss during wheel changes. But the short chainstay, low sloping top tube, and ability to run 5 inch forks makes it an awesome frame in my mind.

    So what you've proposed sounds like an awesome idea. But a few questions, mostly because I've never actually ridden a Chameleon: You mention the desire for steeper head angle...do you find the steering a bit sluggish on the Chameleon? What kind of fork/overall bike setup do you run? What kind of rider are you? How would you assess overall the performance of the bike?

    Thanks...

    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle
    It's not immediately feasible, but I'm considering having a bike built...
    -Exactly the same geometry as my current XL SC Chameleon ('03 Z1 at the front), albeit with a one degree steeper head tube. Obviously, it will need to be custom.

    -EBB or Kona sliders (even an option?)--preferably EBB, but I'm open to suggestions.
    Whatever the case, I want the shortest chainstays possible for a 2.7" or so tire clearance.

    -Gussets everywhere unless the strength of the tubing makes them unecessary. It's going to be ridden very hard, and sometimes cased right into something rather than around or over it! (Side note: can an EBB be dropped and crashed and jumped on without slippage?)

    -The stiffness of aluminum at the bottom bracket and rear brake, but the ride of steel everywhere else (possible?).

    -I'd like to keep the weight below that of my 5 lb Chameleon, but will take strength, stiffness and longevity over lightness.

  13. #13
    Feeding your addiction
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    Local builders, etc...

    I'd have to respectfully disagree about Black Sheep, I wouldn't recommend him. Very skilled welder/fabricator, nice creative touches, beautiful finishes, but wait times and quality control don't seem to be his strong point. One of my best friends raced for a team that Black Sheep sponsored. He's had 2 full custom frames built by James and both were pretty screwed up (mtn frame was set up wrong on the jig and had 8" BB clearance - took another two months to fix the problem and then didn't fix the paint after the repair; road frame rear end was messed up - chain rub on seatstay in smallest cog). Some of the other team guys had significant problems too. For local I'd recommend the others mentioned, or Mark Nobilette who does amazing work (though not really in the price range that SDizzle is looking at). In the $600-$900 range I'd probably go with Curtlo if it were me.
    Larry Mettler
    http://www.mtnhighcyclery.com
    Last edited by Ventanarama; 03-17-2004 at 10:17 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy-Stardust
    I've been thinking about buying a Chameleon lately, but as usual there is always something I would like to be a bit different than it already is. For me the Chameleon is a bit over constructed and therefore unnecessarily heavy (I'm not a big air guy by any stretch and could do with a somewhat more streamlined version). Plus given my druthers a steel version would be nice because of a ride improvement (although I've always heard that the Chameleon has good ride quality because of the long seat tube). Plus an EBB would be good too, mostly for less disk brake fuss during wheel changes. But the short chainstay, low sloping top tube, and ability to run 5 inch forks makes it an awesome frame in my mind.

    So what you've proposed sounds like an awesome idea. But a few questions, mostly because I've never actually ridden a Chameleon: You mention the desire for steeper head angle...do you find the steering a bit sluggish on the Chameleon? What kind of fork/overall bike setup do you run? What kind of rider are you? How would you assess overall the performance of the bike?

    Thanks...
    The Chameleon is a decent rdie but not like steel. I think he's running 130mm Z1 on his though (correct me if Imwrong SD) which will slow the steering a bit although I don't think by too much since the Chameleon is built around alittle more travel, imo. I have ridden my friends Chameleon and just ordered one myself. FYI, my other bike happens to be -take a guess....yup, a steel hardtail. The steel will still be my true xc bike but for non race rides that aren't epic and for park, dj, and urban, the SC is gonna see a lot of sddle time this summer.
    though hope is frail, it must prevail - Taj Weekes

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  15. #15
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    Bowie or Arkansas Toothpick.

    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle
    So, who's my builder?
    With that kind of custom steel you can take anyone's bike you want.

    I'd check into Wily Cycles, as someone else suggested. Local, and seem pretty open to suggestions according to the web site blurb.
    Don't you ever, don't you ever, stop being dandy showing me you're handsome.

  16. #16
    theHeadlessThompsonGunner
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy-Stardust
    So what you've proposed sounds like an awesome idea. But a few questions, mostly because I've never actually ridden a Chameleon: You mention the desire for steeper head angle...do you find the steering a bit sluggish on the Chameleon? What kind of fork/overall bike setup do you run? What kind of rider are you? How would you assess overall the performance of the bike?

    Thanks...
    Namasste hit on a few things below, but I'll elaborate a bit... The ride quality of a Chameleon is good--very good for aluminum--but it just ain't steel. It just gets a little glassy in the rough, and it's more than just a product of it being a hardtail. It is the best hardtail I've ever ridden, but I'm biased--it's the first bike I've had that really fits, and one of a scant few hardtails I've owned and ridden frequently.

    I run it with a Z1 SL up front, strung 32 x 19 on Ritchey/219 wheels with 7" Avid brakes, with Titec bits n pieces and a PlanetX trials bar, and 03 XT cranks. Right now I'm running 2.35 Kujos at a whopping 5.5 lbs for the pair...needless to say, it ain't light, but it's tough as nails and making me faster with every ride. I've ridden it with an older 80 mm Zoke and a 120 mm Black Elite, and the Z1 is the best performer, but the angles were a bit steeper with the Black (too steep, opposed to too slack with the Z1).

    It looks like a dirtjumper, but it's really just a trailbike--I use it for everything (in fact, it's my only mtb). At first I really liked the relative slackness of the Z1. But as I've grown into a better rider (from a longtime roadie, followed by longtime nothing-really), I've gotten to wishing for a steeper HA. I climb more than anything else (though I enjoy the descents much more!) but it's a real chore to push a bike this size around, and the slack HA is a contributer. It likes to wander like a drunk, and only gets worse as I get tired. In the meantime, I've going to have my headtube faced by 1 cm or so, and see how that improves things. It's a cheap fix, and the headtubes on Chameleons are looong and thick, so I've plenty of crown clearance and inherent strength.

    Hope that covered everything!
    "I've courted brain damage like some courtesan of darkness."


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  17. #17
    The man who fell to earth
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    Thanks...

    Preasheate the info SDizzle and namaSSte. Maybe you guys can advise me on sizing too. I'm about 6'1" (maybe just a tad more), 34" inseam, I prefer a roomier cockpit and don't like being cramped, but still want a bike that's flickable. Right now I ride a Bianchi DISS XL that fits me just about right, but it's size is awkward down gnarly hills and through the tight stuff. My large (19.5) GT Zaskar fits me good too, and is more flickable than the DISS, but my duff extends past the seat a bit when I'm stroking down a straightaway...which is kind of aggravating, but not the end of the world. I pretty much exclusively ride normal to aggressive XC, but am thinking more about taking on some mild (repeat mild) jumping.

    What size Chameleon would you think I would need/prefer? Are they sized kind of smaller than other bikes, the other way around, or just normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by SDizzle
    Hope that covered everything!

  18. #18
    theHeadlessThompsonGunner
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    I'm 6'3" with a 34"ish inseam and ride an XL comfortably. I returned a L the first time around thinking it was too small, and made the right choice. If you'll be using yours for park/DJing mostly, I'd definately go L, but consider an XL for general purpose trail use. I could sit on mine all day without any cramps or the like. The XL is EXTRA LONG though, and doesn't like super tight switchbacks much at all. Other than that, I can't offer much more advice. Go to a SC dealer and see what they say, as you're right on the cusp of XL vs L. Good luck!
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  19. #19
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    Hrmm.

    I just sent a custom frame to the powdercoaters that might fit the bill. It's a cross between my XS-Trials and Replicant, and is designed around a Fox TALAS fork. At 80mm it's got the geometry of a trials bike, but at 125mm its like an urban/playbike...thing.

    Big beefy box section stays, sub 16" long, disc and v-brakes - the guy that ordered it wanted a rough and tumble steel frame that would be a 'jack of all trades' kind of bike that he could trials-it-up on, go play in the urban jungle, as well as bump the seatpost up, adjust the fork and ride it like a 'real' mountainbike.

    I sure hope he's happy with it - it's probably been one of the lengthiest, most convoluted hardtail design projects I've done so far. He's also over 6ft ( like me ) so I thought it was especially pertinant to this thread. I'll post pics when I can, or check out my gallery in a week or two perhaps.
    No longer member of the bike industry nor society, so don't hassle me.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy-Stardust
    Preasheate the info SDizzle and namaSSte. Maybe you guys can advise me on sizing too. I'm about 6'1" (maybe just a tad more), 34" inseam, I prefer a roomier cockpit and don't like being cramped, but still want a bike that's flickable. Right now I ride a Bianchi DISS XL that fits me just about right, but it's size is awkward down gnarly hills and through the tight stuff. My large (19.5) GT Zaskar fits me good too, and is more flickable than the DISS, but my duff extends past the seat a bit when I'm stroking down a straightaway...which is kind of aggravating, but not the end of the world. I pretty much exclusively ride normal to aggressive XC, but am thinking more about taking on some mild (repeat mild) jumping.

    What size Chameleon would you think I would need/prefer? Are they sized kind of smaller than other bikes, the other way around, or just normal?
    I think SDizzle hit it for you but I'll add one thing. IMO, the geometry of the Chameleon makes the cockpit seem on the shorter side. Im only 5-9" and ride a 17.5" RM Blizzard. I tired a small Chameleon (since I planned on using it as a dj/park bike manily) and found it not only to be small, but more like tiny. The medium is perfect for what I want but frankly, if I were just going for and xc bike, I could get away with a large even. Just food for thought but at your hieght and inseam, XL is the way to go. My buddy is 6-1" and rides a large and wishes it were XL btw.
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  21. #21
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    I bought my Vulture last summer, I have been extremely happy with it, just wish I had more time to ride it. I was fortunate to get it before Wade's prices went up. $500 for a custom steel 29'er was a fantastic deal! Even at $650 I think Wade's bikes are a bargain. I suggest you give Wade and the other builders a call, and tell them what you want. Then see what they suggest, and from there make your decision.
    SB

  22. #22
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    Visited Vulture last Saturday

    Vulture has moved and has more capability than ever now. Their small shop is crammed with high tech machinery. Derrick (Wade's new biz partner, formerly with Co-Motion Cycles) does the paint and oh!, does Derrick ever do the paint -- anything you want. These guys are both great personalities and damn good riders with the knowledge and skill to build exactly the custom frame a rider is looking for.

    My Vulture is by far the best bike I've ever owned and I've owned a couple dozen or so over my lifetime, three of them custom.

    Come to Barbie Camp April 2-4 and meet 'em. E-me or gimme a PM if you need directions to BC.

    -Sparty


    Quote Originally Posted by SuperBad
    I bought my Vulture last summer, I have been extremely happy with it, just wish I had more time to ride it. I was fortunate to get it before Wade's prices went up. $500 for a custom steel 29'er was a fantastic deal! Even at $650 I think Wade's bikes are a bargain. I suggest you give Wade and the other builders a call, and tell them what you want. Then see what they suggest, and from there make your decision.
    SB
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  23. #23
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    Spicer

    It's been said earlier, but Spicer is a good choice for your requirements. It sounds like similar needs/wants that I had, and Gene built up a sweet frame for me. It's a bit heavy, but it's tough. I've got Gazzi Jr 2.6 tires in front and rear right now and could easily get more in the rear. The photo's been posted before, but here goes again...fork isn't mine.

    <img src=https://gallery.consumerreview.com/webcrossing/images/frameatspicer.jpg>

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus
    Vulture has moved and has more capability than ever now. Their small shop is crammed with high tech machinery. Derrick (Wade's new biz partner, formerly with Co-Motion Cycles) does the paint and oh!, does Derrick ever do the paint -- anything you want. These guys are both great personalities and damn good riders with the knowledge and skill to build exactly the custom frame a rider is looking for.

    My Vulture is by far the best bike I've ever owned and I've owned a couple dozen or so over my lifetime, three of them custom.

    Come to Barbie Camp April 2-4 and meet 'em. E-me or gimme a PM if you need directions to BC.

    -Sparty
    Wish I could come to Barbie Camp. Alas School, and family keep me home. Also I live on the west coast.. of Florida, kinda far away.
    SB

  25. #25
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    Not TOO far away...

    SS Jimbo flew out west from Florida for BC three years ago, immediately following the 9/11 tragedy. (I think tickets cost him $45 round-trip.) He still holds the record for the longest-traveled BC participant.

    But I understand the school thing. As for family, c'mon man, our families are supposed to be supportive of our obsessions (so long as they're one of them) right?

    Enjoy your sunshine down there, bro!

    --Sparty


    Quote Originally Posted by SuperBad
    Wish I could come to Barbie Camp. Alas School, and family keep me home. Also I live on the west coast.. of Florida, kinda far away.
    SB
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  26. #26
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    Actually I am hoping to go to grad school out on the left coast somewhere. Maybe I will make it to BC one of these days. I really want to meet Wade, and attend UBI for a framebuilding class. Besides, school keeps me outta shape, you guys would run me into the ground. not that it wouldn't be fun
    SB

  27. #27
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    hey bc guys ...

    where is vulture located? are they out of bc? that'd be pretty cool, if they were canadian boys ... not that there's anything wrong with americans or being american. seriously. some times it's just nice to feel patriotic about your own country a little. especially when you live next to (or like me now, in) the most powerful country in the world.

    'course, nice bikes are nice bikes ... i'm keeping vulture in mind for future rides one way or another ...

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by kept man
    where is vulture located? are they out of bc? that'd be pretty cool, if they were canadian boys ... not that there's anything wrong with americans or being american. seriously. some times it's just nice to feel patriotic about your own country a little. especially when you live next to (or like me now, in) the most powerful country in the world.

    'course, nice bikes are nice bikes ... i'm keeping vulture in mind for future rides one way or another ...
    Nope.... Bend Oregon. The last enclave of civilization heading east in that state
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  29. #29
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    gpsser's got it right

    Quote Originally Posted by gpsser
    Nope.... Bend Oregon. The last enclave of civilization heading east in that state
    In this case when we say "BC" we're talking about Barbie Camp, which happens a few miles north of Bend, Oregon.

    The Vultlure Nest is located just a few minutes east of beautiful downtown Bend, Overagain.

    --Sparty
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    We don't quit riding because we get old.
    We get old because we quit riding.

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