Every bike should find its true calling on the road, the single-track trail, the boards of the velodrome or any surface in between. Even a master craftsman builder like Richard Sachs has long held the opinion that a bicycle is a tool – an object that offers the rider both pleasure and pain, frustration and victory – and not a precious item too delicate to soil with road grime, and which finds its purpose hanging on a living room wall or inside the glass case of a museum.
Vicious Cycles’ proprietor Carl Schlemowitz, who builds from his studio in New Paltz, New York, in the beautiful Hudson River valley, also subscribes to this philosophy. So when we write that his bikes aren’t too pretty to spatter with mud from a springtime trail ride, it’s not a knock at any lack of form or aesthetics, but an affirmation of any bicycle’s true purpose: to deliver the rider to the end of her ride or race with a smile on her face, a rush of adrenaline, and maybe even her arms lifted in victory.
Schlemowitz will build you a bike for the trail, the road or the cyclocross course, but unlike many other builders who make “catch-all” all-road bikes, Vicious offers 12 different models to suit your specific needs. Mountain bikes predominate the offerings, with 29-er, full-suspension, and women-specific geometries available. But in addition to the aforementioned road and cyclocross models, the Jeepster 29-inch wheeled tandem and the Casual Agent fully-loaded touring bike keep the line-up interesting and unique. Vicious will build frames from Reynolds 853 steel tubing, and for some models, 3/2.5 titanium tubing is an option.
Unusually for many builders these days, paint is handled in-house, and for a frame shop with a name like Vicious Cycles, you can believe the paint job offerings are unique and eye-catching. There are a number of stock paint options in stately and more reserved hues, but for an upcharge, the Vicious Cycles team encourage you to design your own scheme, and however outrageous your tastes run, they can likely match your desires.
With his company offering custom paint, it might seem odd that Schlemowitz brought an unpainted, titanium model mountain bike with him to this year’s Philly Bike Expo, but Vicious is part of a relatively small fraternity of builders who work with titanium. Like all Vicious Cycles models, this bike’s head tube was adorned with the company logo based upon Schlemowitz’s dog Shayla.
Also like any Vicious Cycles bike, this one was made to ride, searching for the lucky owner to liberate it from the confines of the show floor and allowing its tires to meet the dirt of the trail, its natural and native habitat.