Rock Lobster Cycles is one of the pillars of the North American frame building world. For 45 years, Paul Sadoff has been building frames for customers worldwide and supporting racers near and far. Rock Lobster riders can be found in their natural habitat on the West Coast of the United States and occasionally in migration to Europe.
One such rider is Aaron Bradford, a long-time team member and employee of Shimano North America. You may remember Bradford for the gold chain he wore in the Baby Masters race at Reno Nationals that Kerry Werner then used for good pre-race vibes.
Bradford took possession of an aluminum team cyclocross frame originally built for teammate Andrew Juiliano, who was forced to mothball his plans for much of the 2018/19 season due to health concerns. At NAHBS, we got a look at Juiliano's bike he raced in Europe at the end of the cyclocross season.
After the newly minted frame sat ownerless for a time, it fell into Bradford’s hands, who built it with the best Shimano has to offer for use as a race bike and for product demonstration.
As a Shimano employee, Bradford’s bike features components and parts almost exclusively from the Japanese company, deviating only when there is not a Shimano produced option.
Bradford’s frame is a Rock Lobster Cyclocross Team AL built with 7005 Ultralite tubing from Easton. Refined over decades, the bike is purpose-built for the ’cross course using Sadoff’s own geometry and, of course, painted in Rock Lobster’s trademark seafoam green.
The frame features thoroughly modern touches, like a 12x142mm thru-axle rear end, tapered headtube with integrated bearing races, flat mount disc brakes and internal Di2 routing. A no-nonsense race bike, the rear brake is routed externally allowing for ease of servicing should the line need to be replaced.
Up front, a carbon Whisky No. 9 fork spins in a Cane Creek Forty integrated headset. While the fork is not painted, the Whisky branding is color matched to the frame.
As a Shimano demo bike, the build features Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 components. The drivetrain is 2x and features an Ultegra RX805 rear derailleur that we saw a number of North American cyclocrossers run this past season.
Introduced for Paris-Roubaix in 2018, the RX805 and mechanical RX800 derailleurs offer the first officially supported clutch derailleur for Shimano road groups and are compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains. It pre-dates the new GRX groupset Shimano released last week.
Both derailleurs are controlled by R9170 Di2 levers, which also actuate Dura-Ace flat mount brake calipers paired with RT900 Ice-Tech rotors. Bradford uses a 160mm rotor on the front but opts for a smaller 140mm rotor in the rear.
The bike is equipped with a Dura-Ace R9100 crankset, which has no official option for cyclocross gearing. While pro-only rings do exist, Bradford has instead retrofitted a set of Ultegra R6800 46/36t chain rings. He applies power using Shimano SPD pedals.
The cockpit continues to be a Shimano affair, with components from subsidiary PRO making an appearance. A Vibe stem and accompanying teardrop shaped spacers hold a carbon Vibe Aero handlebar, which features aero shaping on the tops and internal hose routing. Rounding out the clean front end is an EW-RS910 bar end A-junction and charging port. Bradford wrapped his bar with black and white striped tape.
The seatpost is also a PRO Vibe series product made of carbon and featuring a stepless adjustment clamp with 20mm of layback. A flashy gold clamp from Paul Components holds it in place. Bradford mounted PRO Griffon saddle with carbon rails, clamping it just rear of center on the rails.
Wheels are, unsurprisingly, also from Shimano. Bradford joined other North American riders in running tubeless tires for cyclocross with Shimano's WH-RS770 carbon-laminated alloy clinchers with tubeless tire compatibility, Centerlock rotor mounting and 12mm thru axles.
Bradford mounted Schwalbe G-One Allround tires with tan sidewalls that he set up tubeless. The gravel tires are 700c x 38mm on the bike, so Bradford's build was not UCI-legal when we saw it. The wheels were attached with DT Swiss toolless thru-axles.
For more on Bradford's Rock Lobster, see the specs and gallery below.
All of our coverage of new bikes and products is available in our 2019 Sea Otter Classic archive.