We’ve all done it. Whether it be at a race, in a bike shop, or just out on the trails. A sixth sense kicks in, and despite having maybe seen hundreds of other *nice* bikes that day, an internal radar (rad-dar?) kicks in and draws us to the bit special.
That’s what happened for me at the Aggregate100 this weekend. Amongst the many, many perfectly nice, well turned out bikes was one that at first glance looked a little unusual. What was even better was the more I looked, the more detailing I discovered. I took some time to chat with owner, Jon Woodroof, an expat American, now based in Amsterdam and owner of Twotone – a PR and marketing agency to the bike industry.
Jon’s bike was made by 611 (Six Eleven) to his unique requirements, and rather than me tell you what they are, let’s hand over to Mr Woodroof to talk us through the build…
TH: Tell me about how the bike came into being. Why did you use 611, and how did the project develop?
JW: I knew Aaron (of 611) from http://hipsternascar.blogspot.co.uk. The shop I co-owned back then used to exchange merch with Hipster Nascar all the time. Aaron started frame building and won best new builder at NAHBS Austin 2011. Then he won best CX bike in 2012. Later in 2012 I was doing great at work and had been riding dirt roads on my made in Atlanta Costello steel track bike and aluminium Kazane road bike. I was getting radder and my poor bikes were getting sadder! I put my deposit down for a 611 because Aaron had been so rad over the years and I loved hanging out at his booth each year. It was a no brainer to get a 611, especially for the versatile machine I had in mind.
TH: What makes the frame unique?
JW: From the ground up, we had city riding but also rough roads and travelling in mind. To aid the travelling, we went for S&S couplers, which allow the bike to be packed down in to a large suitcase and avoid excess baggage charges. Also, as I am used to riding track bikes, I wanted to replicate that geometry as far as possible. The tubing is a mix of Columbus Zona and True Temper OX Platinum. There are loads of additional details though: oversized tubing, with a bi-lam seattube/seatstay cluster, the seatstays themselves curve for mud clearance, raised cable guides to allow for cable splitters [for when the bike is packed away], right down to the smoking show paint job from Airglow.
Jon also asked Aaron at 611 for his take on the frame. Here’s what he came back with…
The bike was such a complete concept from day one. There was no question what the bike was going to be. There was no question of what parts were going on there at any point. So often, I build a frame and then when it comes to parts it’s a last minute collection whatever the customer can afford or what is available. Jon had a vision and knew exactly what he wanted, which was awesome. It was super cool to use so many “new” parts on that build. From the brand new R45 disc hubs, to the Retroshift brakes/shifters, and then the juxtaposition of the new and old with the Brooks on there. It all works. It’s the only 611 without traditional badging. The paint on that bike slays me in the best way possible. I love that the bike has been used like it has. I’ve built bikes well into the triple digits at this point and I have zero doubt that this one has more miles on it than any other bike I’ve build. That’s awesome and what every bike builder should want to see. I know for a fact some of my frames have ended up on office walls. And while that certainly flatters the ego, nothing feels better than seeing Jon’s bike caked in mud from every corner of the earth.
TH: How long have you had the bike?
JW: Since NAHBS 2013 in Denver. We tried to ride to Winter Park in a blizzard. I rolled the show bike off the floor and into a snow storm.
TH: How did you go about building it up? There’s some choice and eclectic parts hanging off that frame.
JW: Since getting into bikes properly in 2004, I had about 10 years of preference accumulate before building the 611. Chris King was a clear choice. The R45 disc was just coming out that month of the show even. Barely got em! Retroshift, now known as Gevenalle, appealed to my retro taste but pragmatically I knew their setup would fare well getting packed & unpacked often. Lots of usual suspects: I always rode shimano (check), velocity rims (check), Brooks, (check), 3T Rotundo bars(check), Thomson stem & seatpost (check). These were all brands I liked before and made sense for the fast yet strong and stylish intention for the bike.
TH: The bike was clearly designed around being able to travel. Can you talk us through some of the trips that you’ve taken it on?
JW: Oh wow. Maybe too many to list? Via this tag: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/611sinthewild/
- Yorkshire for #agg100
- SF, Colorado, Austin TX, Georgia, New Jersey, Florida
- Outer Space (North Carolina)
- Munich several times (again soon to ride to Eurobike)
- Hyderabad India
- Business meetings all over Holland
- Bristol a few times and again this weekend
- Sweden, Dalsland Runt
- London several times
- A few photo shoots for Vulpine like this one in Voss
- and Bergen
- CROSS in Holland since 2013
Thanks to Jon for taking the time to talk us through what I’m sure you’ll agree is a pretty rad looking bike. It coped with the roughest sections of the Aggregate100 course without a problem, and he’ll be piloting it along the Torino-Nice Rally in a month. And that’s maybe what makes this bike so special… it isn’t the cool paint job, the exotica hanging off it, or the handmade frame, it’s the adventures it’s shared with its owner, and that’s something that can’t be bought.
Do you think you’ve got a bike that rivals Jon’s in terms of uniqueness, beauty, or the stories attached to it? Let us know and we’d love to run a similar story in the future.