By Tyler Servoss
History of Sabrosa
In 2000 Jon Hanson was interested in having a custom 29er MTB frame built. When he was unable to find what he had in mind he invested the money in a welder instead and began to modify frames to meet his requirements. This often included cutting the drop outs off and replacing them with straight drop outs to accommodate single speed set-ups.
Those early experiments eventually grew into full blown frames; hand built to the riding styles and needs of each rider. If you can imagine it, Jon can probably build it. In the past 11 years, he has built more than 35 frames from his studio at his St. George home. An impressive feat for a man with a full-time job as an engineer and a family to maintain. Because he did not want to be pigeon holed into one particular type of bicycle, Sabrosa frames include tricycles, 29er single speeds, hard tail MTB’s, commuter rigs, road touring and racing bikes.
Jon Hanson says “Every frame that leaves the Sabrosa studio is custom. We have no stock sizes, styles, colors or shapes. You decide what your fancy is, we discuss the options and then get to work.”
Jon has learned a lot about the art of fitting the bike to the rider and prefers to visit with his customers in his workshop and take measurements and discuss riding style and preference. Those conversations can also be had over the phone and a measuring instructions packet can be sent via email.
First time on a Singlespeed:
Scott Rice is part of Jon’s team and helps get the word out about the products that Sabrosa builds. He is also a coworker of mine at Comp Health Group and I was fortunate enough to be able to ride his one of a kind Sabrosa 29er single speed full rigid MTB. Riding a bike custom made for another rider can be a challenge. Scott took the time to adjust the bike to be a close fit for me by tweaking the stem length and saddle position.
My first plan was to join some friends for the annual 4th of July ride to the Francis Peak Radar domes east of Farmington. The prospect of 3,000 ft+ of climbing as a first time single speed rider proved daunting and I opted for a benches ride with less climbing and more rolling terrain.
On my second ride on the bike, when standing up on the climbs the chain began to creak and eventually the torque became too much, snapping the chain and sending me to the dirt. Some scootering and coasting brought me back to the trail head and my car. Lesson learned. Always carry a chain tool when riding a singlespeed.
Having never ridden a singlespeed I found that it requires a different approach. I had to learn to come into climbs with as much speed as possible and stay seated longer. It was much easier to spin out on the descents and flats as well. All that spinning definitely had a smoothing effect on my pedal stroke.
Cornering and descending on a rigid bike is a different experience from suspended bikes and required me to pick better lines and use more finesse over obstacles.
The bike I tested featured Avid disc brakes, Thompson seat post, Brooks saddle, a Stan’s Notubes wheel set and of course a beautifully crafted lugged steel frame and hand built rigid fork.
The rigid frame offered enough give to cushion the ride some but would buck you around if you did not pick a good line. I am a bit of a purist and the simplicity of a rigid rear end is a plus in my book. There is no hiding on a bike like this and the steel frame sent every ounce of energy straight to the pedals.
The bike also tracked through the corners very well and was easy to lean through. A definite boon for this frame design is the higher bottom bracket. I often strike a pedal when riding through obstacles on a 26er and with this bike did not strike once.
Climbing was a pleasure with the efficiency of power transfer, even if I felt overgeared at times, reaching for a shift that was not to be found.
Although I do not see myself with a singlespeed as an only bike, the simplicity of the machine with its clean lines and simple mechanics is hard to resist for those days you just want to get out and ride.
Sabrosa Cycles are part transportation and part art. A pleasure to look at and a pleasure to ride. To learn more about the frames, view a photo gallery and read Jon’s blog, visit www.sabrosacycles.com