Over the last five years, BrittLee Bowman has become synonymous with New York City cyclocross, and she has been carving her name in the East Coast as a large presence on race day. Even back when she stuck to the regional races like Staten Island CX, and raced either unattached of with the local New York teams, her retro glasses and pigtails were just as recognizable as her ambitious riding style.
It only made sense that she would eventually partner up with an equally recognizable face in cyclocross: Richard Sachs.
Every frame with the Richard Sachs name on it is guaranteed to be made by the master craftsmen himself. He ardently believes that a name on the frame should belong to the builder, not his or her apprentice. His one man show guarantees a certain level of consistency, and the pros and cons of timelessness.
Although the design scheme makes subtle changes year to year, the actual construction of the build is relatively consistent. When listening to Sachs speak of his bikes, you get the idea that he does what he does from equal parts habit and tradition. He doesn’t glorify of romanticize the process, just offers a matter-of-fact understanding that he is a player for a defined demographic. In the same manner, he doesn’t deride large manufacturers, but rather acknowledges their place in the world as well.
BrittLee Bowman knows as much of the ins-and-outs of her equipment as anyone, from the Cane Creek components down to the clothing she wears during pre-rides. When she joined the team, House Industries was putting the finishing touches on revamping the identity of the brand. No longer would the frames be decorated with the red and white schemes that have become an iconic mainstay.
Joe Bell continues to be the painter behind the custom work on the frame, and Angelo Cruz hand-paints the pinstripe on the wheels with a matching color, but this year’s models are varying shades of orange with white design work hidden everywhere.
Some things never change, though. The team still uses Cole wheels and Challenge Fango tires, both a Richard Sachs team edition. As for the drivetrain, BrittLee employs the SRAM Force 10-speed components, although she uses a SRAM Rival Crankset.
Knowing Sachs’s penchant for design, it would not surprise me that the choice of the Rival double was an intentional accent with the flat black alloy design, or perhaps it is nothing more than matching the Stages powermeter on the left crank, which can’t employ carbon fiber to offer a reading. This is not to say that the team disbands any notion of using carbon fiber: the wheels and the Parlee front derailleur clamp are both manufactured from it.
In some ways, however, BrittLee Bowman brings modern applications to Richard Sachs’s classic appeal. She often races with a power meter and a Garmin sits attached to her Zipp stem, giving her feedback during and after the race.
Like Dan Timmerman, who has been having a great season with plenty of podiums at a high level, Bowman defies any mislead convention that the lightest materials and the newest research and design wins races.
Sachs mantra, “Technology alone is a poor substitute for experience,” is more a reflection of his process than a snub at other manufacturers. He has been working with steel for over 40 years after all, and as he states, with every cut he makes and every time he fires up his welding torch, comes a large presence of experience.
Bowman will continue to press through the season, racing her hometown race next weekend at the Supercross Cup just north of NYC and leading up to the grand finish at the Cyclocross National Championship in Austin, TX.
Frame: Richard Sachs, hand-built from Columbus PegoRichie tubing as well as Richie-Issimo frame parts and crowns
Dropouts: Piccoli Gioielli
Tires: Challenge Fango Richard Sachs Team Edition tubulars
Wheels: Cole for Richard Sachs
Cranks: SRAM Rival
Powermeter: Stages Cycling Rival
Shifters/Brake Levers: SRAM Force 10-speed
Brakes: Cane Creek SCX-5
Headset: Cane Creek
Derailleurs: SRAM Force
Pedals: Crank Bros. Candy 11
Saddle: Selle San Marco Aspide
Handlebar Tape: Cinelli Volée
Paint: Joe Bell-frame, Angelo Cruz-pinstripe wheels
BrittLee Bowman’s Richard Sachs Cyclocross Bike Slideshow:
For more information on the frame and build: richardsachs.com