KindHuman Debutes Springbok Steel ’Cross Bike: Interview with the Creators on Methods and the Future of Steel
KindHuman is new to the cycling scene, and with a new steel ’cross bike hitting the market, along with a scholarship program for young cyclists, they’re in a unique position in the industry. We chatted with founder Adam Abramowicz, and got the first look at their new cyclocross bike, the Springbok.
Cyclocross Magazine: Tell me about the company—who are you guys, how long have you been into ’cross personally/professionally?
Adam Abramowicz: Let me start by saying, thanks for this interview. I’m a long time reader and fan. Cyclocross Magazine is definitely the best source for ’cross news! I’ll follow that up with letting you know that I’m not a professional ’cross racer, far from it actually but I try real hard when I’m out on the course. Even if I look like a fool.
KindHuman is a company that I started with the help of my business partner, Gavin Brauer, early this year. In truth, I have been working on the brand, our products and the cause since 2009. The company was born out of an idea I had while managing Team TOMS Shoes from 2008 to 2011. TOMS wasn’t going to re-up their sponsorship for the following year and I kind of had this epiphany, “What if a company like TOMS existed in the bike business?” At that point I had some experience working at the shop level—Cynergy Cycles and Clemmons Bicycle—as well as the distribution level—Hawley USA—and manufacturing level—Specialized Bicycles—so I felt I knew a little bit about the business. I spent years developing relationships, testing and developing products and the brand but the difference was that I wanted to give back to cycling, through the company. That’s when the scholarship idea became central to the company. In June this year, we debuted our first bike, the Kampionne road bike and followed that up with our line of handmade in the USA steel bikes including our Springbok CXer.
CXM: Is this the first ’cross bike? What prompted it?
AA: Technically, the Springbok is our second ’cross bike. Last year, we had a handful of carbon Redneck ’crossers on the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast circuits. We love that name because we feel ’cross is kind of the redneck cousin to road and mountain biking. To the carbon fanatics out there, don’t worry, the Redneck will be back this upcoming year. We wanted to focus on our handmade line this season because it really is a great program. We only ever have a handful of these bikes in our house geometry in stock, each bike is truly made to order.
CXM: Why steel?
AA: Why not steel? In our minds steel is still a very viable material. Steel is strong and durable and it provides such a great riding experience! With steel, you can really dig the bike into the corners. Steel, in our opinions, often tracks better because it provides a bit of give over the rough terrain we find on course. There has actually been a lot of advancement in steel tubing in regards to weight and stiffness. For weekend racers, I’m surprised we don’t see more steel. You look at the ’cross hot bed areas like New England, Oregon, Northern California—a lot of those riders are on steel. Why? I think it’s because the bike is going to last, no question, for several seasons and in ’cross, in the wet and the muck and the mud, I think it’s important to have a reliable material underneath you.
CXM: What makes it unique?
AA: For starters, the fact that the bike is made to order is unique. Riders have a selection of house colors and custom colors, custom geometry or house geometry and they can have it delivered in as soon as five weeks! Our builder has been building bikes since the 70s and he’s located in Oregon so he’s very familiar with ’cross. Our house geometry, we believe, is a true North American ’cross bike. With a lower bottom bracket, it has a lower center of gravity, making it perfect for the courses we see here on this side of the pond. It also has a semi-sloping but taller top tube for easy carrying and shouldering.
CXM: Vital stats: sizes and MSRP, full or frame only? What made you choose the range of sizes?
AA: The Springbok uses Reynolds 853 air-hardened steel tubing with CNC precision machined head tube and interchange rear dropouts for simple geared/singlespeed conversions. It’s available in five house sizes and four house colors—red, light blue, black and white—but custom colors and sizes are available for a small fee. We’re very proud to be able to offer such a high-end frameset for under two-grand—$1950 with steel fork, $2000 with Easton EC90X carbon fork. The frameset comes complete with a Cane Creek 40-series headset and shipping is included in the final price. We also have several build options from Campagnolo and Shimano with Reynolds wheels and Ritchey cockpit options.
As for the range of sizes, our house geometries were developed to be competitive with what else is in the market place. The great thing is that if someone is 6’6″ or 5’0″ we can make a frame to fit them since we aren’t limited to our house sizes.
CXM: Has the frame been well received so far? Any big names riding it/any rider feedback yet?
AA: At this time, we have no “big name” riders on our bikes. We’re open to the idea but we aren’t actively looking to sponsor any big names. That’s not to say if we weren’t approached by a professional on the men’s or women’s circuit that we wouldn’t consider it. That person would have to understand what we are trying to accomplish with our scholarship plan, they would have to be an ambassador for that. We all know that the professionals ride what they are paid to ride. That’s how sponsorship works. In our minds, we want the professional rider to want to ride KindHuman because they want to ride our products and they want to give back to the sport.
As for rider feedback, I guess we should go back to your earlier question regarding “Why steel?” The riders who have been on the Springbok almost always come back praising how fun the bike is to ride. I think people get so attuned to feeling for stiffness and weight and watts and kilojoules and whatnot—that they begin to forget that bikes are fun! ’Cross is fun, that’s why we do it, right? It’s obviously the fastest growing discipline for cycling globally, and as the sport continues to grow, people are naturally going to want to get better at it. We’re seeing people using power meters on cross bikes today. When I got started racing cross in 2006, you’d never see that! So obviously, people are taking ’cross more seriously and that’s great but I think the Springbok brings the fun element back for some of us.
I said earlier, I’m not and have never been and will never be a professional. It’s just the brass tacks. So if I’m going to put down $45 for a race that I woke up at 3am to drive to three hours away in the bitter cold and mud only to finish as pack fodder—I am going to have fun doing it. The Springbok helps.
CXM: What’s the future for the company hold? I noticed you mentioned a youth sponsorship opportunity, tell me a bit about that!
AA: We’re still so young, so it’s hard to say. I can tell you that we are already working very hard on some new items for this spring. Some great new clothing and a few new bike options. We’re just happy to be a part of this industry. It really is the best, isn’t it? For a lot of people who have never worked in the cycling industry, it’s hard to realize just how tight knit we are. It’s all six-degrees of separation, but maybe three-degrees. That being said, we’re proud and happy to be a part of this business and we hope to continue to contribute to getting more people on bicycles. That’s what it’s all about. If our brand can help bring someone into this sport or reaffirm someone’s belief in the what the future holds for cycling—then we are doing our jobs.
I did mention our Take The Lead Cycling Scholarship. Without the scholarship, there is no KindHuman. KindHuman was created to support the scholarship. Going back to your question about “big name riders” we feel that for years, cycling sponsorship has only rewarded athletes based on how fast they could go. We’re trying to flip that perspective by supporting and rewarding people based on who they are, first.
When we say “Sponsor The Future” we mean it. The scholarship looks for young cyclists who are not only talented on the bike, but kids who are role models for the sport of cycling. We are looking for kids who are leaders in their classrooms, in their homes and in their communities. Kids who can shape the next generation of cycling.
I’m happy to say that we are officially searching for our first two scholarship recipients. One boy and one girl, ages 12-17 in North America. Future applicants can find our Sponsor The Future video contest on our official Facebook page. We urge anyone that knows a little leader to direct them there.
KindHuman Springbok First Look:
- Every Springbok bike is handmade to order by humans in the United States.
- Reynolds 853 air-hardened steel tubing
- CNC precision machined head tube
- Interchange rear dropout for simple geared/singlespeed conversions
- Cantilever brakes
- Semi-compact, cyclocross geometry
- XS, S, M, L, XL
- $1950.00 (Shipping included in the final price)
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