by Pat Malach
It’s hard to miss Laura Winberry and her Speedvagen Family Racing teammates at this year’s Cross Crusade series in Oregon. The Speedvagen crew’s all-black skinsuits and glimmering gold bikes set them apart as they fight for position on or near the front of the elite races. As the current leader of the women’s overall standings, Winberry has carried the Speedvagen banner the farthest so far this year, and her team issue bike is in the spotlight this week.
Speedvagen race bikes are the creation of the Vanilla Workshop owned by frame builder Sacha White, who started the line to help meet the growing demand for Vanilla’s race bikes. Although not as exclusive as the Vanilla brand that White has painstakingly built over the past 15 years, Speedvagen are limited-production “racing machines” designed and built in the same shop. The Vanilla Workshop website boasts that the bikes are built to be ridden. Hard.
“If your Speedvagen isn’t racing, attacking, bonking, crashing, being ridden across whatever continent you may live on,” the website says, “if it hasn’t been scratched, scuffed, marred and covered in dirt and snot, you’re simply doing it wrong.”
Winberry, a 30-year-old Bend resident who said she originally got into cycling while competing in messenger alley cat races in New Jersey, has definitely been riding her Speedvagen hard so far this year at the Cross Crusade. In six races, she has won twice, taken second twice and finished fourth twice. With two races remaining, Winberry leads Megan Chinburg by 15 points and 2013 overall champion Serena Bishop by 28.
Tom Rousculp of Vanilla Workshop said Winberry’s team issue Speedvagen weighs in race ready with Shimano Di2 at 17 pounds. The steel frame is a mix of Columbus and True Temper tubing made to Vanilla’s specs, “and really pushes the envelope of what modern steel can do.” Paul canti brakes provide the stopping power (a disc brake ‘cross bike will be available for 2015), while custom Enve wheels laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs keep it all rolling along.
Rousculp said several features on the Speedvagen ‘cross machines are an example of the relationships Vanilla Workshop has developed over the years with partners and sponsors. “For example, we have an exclusive on the stainless Paul canti bosses we use for our rear brakes. ENVE makes our seat post head, carbon seat tubes and integrated cross stems for us exclusively.”
Other standout features include the Vanilla-designed Bezerker dropouts with stainless face plates. “It’s a place that sees a lot of wear and tear,” Rousculp said. “Usually it’s painted and gets all chewed up. With our cast drop outs there’s stainless brazed into the inside face and bolted onto the outside face, so you’re always clamping to stainless. The design also allowed us to carry the circle “V” design element we love from the stainless Vanilla dropouts over to Speedvagen.”
The clean lines and minimalist look of the bike are enhanced by the internal cable routing for both the front and rear brakes. Stainless “noodles” inside the stem and seat tube guide the cables, according Rousculp. The stainless steel also work hardens, so the more you use it the smoother and stronger it gets.
The Paul/Speedvagen canti studs on the rear are brazed into both walls of the seat tube and are about twice the diameter of a traditional canti stud, according Rousculp. They’re stainless so they also work harden, like the brake routing and no rust. Finally, they’re set 1/16” off the face of the seat stay, instead of the traditional 3/4”, less stand off means less flex and better braking power.
“The Speedvagen mantra has been to ‘Take away everything non-essential and innovate with what’s left,’” Rousculp said. “That’s what you’re seeing with the integrated braking, specifically, but also with the super thin, strong tubing and cantis. Even the cut out head tube is removing material as a head badge. The geometry of these machines are purely race-specific. We don’t do a comfort version. Even bottle bosses were left off of the original machines. In fact the prototype was Sacha’s race bike for a couple years and still has a proud place in the entry of the Workshop.
Weight: 17 lbs
Frame Material: Mix of Columbus and True Temper tubing made to Vanilla Workshop specs
Seat Post Head: ENVE/SV carbon
Seat Tube: ENVE/SV carbon
Drivetrain: Dura Ace Di2 (Chain, Cassette, Derailleurs)
Cranks: SRAM Force
Wheels: ENVE SES 3.4
Special Features: Internal Di2 battery integration and cable routing
For more information: thevanillaworkshop.com
Speedvagen Cyclocross Bike Slideshow: