“The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl.” -Dave Barry, Author
The four industry vets behind VYNL bikes might agree with Barry’s statement, and have put their minds together to create a handmade-in-USA aluminum cyclocross frame designed to have you ready to conquer the water, gravel and explosive racing you might find during your two-wheel adventures.
The founding team behind VYNL certainly collectively have more than an 12-inch LP of industry experience. Sean Coffey hails from Blackburn, Ritchey Logic and Bell Sports; Ming Tan comes from Veltec, Capo, Ritchey and Look; Sophie Ballo brings experience from Rapha and Specialized; and Nate Shaw comes from Ritchey and Bianchi. The four have teamed up together, all while maintaining their day jobs, to build what they describe “no nonsense race machines” that “reflect a refreshingly honest approach to what a race bike should be.”
Even though VYNL’s founders have an affection for what they describe as the “little bit warmer and more true” sound of vinyl, the frames are not pressed and stamped like records. Each frame is handmade in Vermont by Frank Wadelton, or “Frank the Welder” as he’s known by many. Wadelton is described by VYNL as “the man behind some of the most successful aluminum race frames in history like the Yeti ARC and the Schwinn Homegrown, to name a few.”
“Working with Frank is amazing” said VYNL co-founder Sean Coffey. “There aren’t many fabricators out there with the decades of knowledge and skill that Frank possesses especially when it comes to aluminum.”
While Frank the Welder handles the fabrication, Coffey and team have put their two decades of cyclocross racing experience to work in designing the frames from the ground up. Coffey in the past has built his own frames and has a close relationship with Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster, racing for the Rock Lobster team for many years. While Rock Lobster is seen by many to specialize in aluminum cyclocross frames, Coffey doesn’t see his new company to be in competition with Sadoff.
“I don’t see that we’re competing with Paul’s excellent work, and in fact when potential customers ask us for custom geometry we happily refer them to Paul,” Coffey told Cyclocross Magazine. “Our goal is a production line of readily available US-made, race-oriented road and cyclocross bikes that are in stock now…there’s always going to be a need for some riders to go custom instead.”
The Rock Lobster influence is reflected in the frames, with similar pricing and geometry, especially the lower bottom bracket, a long-time Sadoff philosophy. VYNL describes its new cyclocross frame:
“Geometry is neutral with a low bottom bracket for added stability at speed. The slightly lower seat height helps with remounts too, Coffey says. As a bonus this formula results in great manners when bombing trails at high speed, which given the clearance for 40c tires, is definitely doable.
VYNL selects their tubes from several quality suppliers, resulting in a size-specific, cyclocross specific tubeset optimized for a supple ride and durability. Top tubes are beefed up to handle the added stress brought in with disc brakes, and beefy 22mm constant-diameter chainstays keep the rear end stout.”
Geometry might be described as leaning towards more classic than alternative. The VYNL frames feature moderate length head tubes for a more race-oriented position than some of the newer do-it-all bikes (Inset headsets will add another 1.35cm) and chainstays that are a tad-longer at 43cm than the more-common 42.5cm. The longer chainstays may help with tire clearance should you flip the record and race gravel (most 40c tires should fit, according to Coffey).
If you’re picking up your VYNL several times a lap in search of the winning track, you want to make sure it’s not heavy metal, and VYNL’s frames aim to be light on the shoulder. Coffey said VYNL’s road frames weigh an impressive 1250g and will pass CEN test standards. That’s approaching carbon frame weight, at 2.75 pounds. As for the cyclocross frame, Coffey told Cyclocross Magazine, “We aimed for a similar sort of real-world weight for durability with the cross bikes, a 55cm is going to come out around 1400 grams I think, largely due to a few beefed up tubes and the [thru axle] dropouts.
The price? The VYNL cyclocross frame retails for $1599 frame only or $1999 with an ENVE thru axle cyclocross fork. The company also has lined up options for build kits and including Chris King headsets for the 44mm head tube. VYNL offers five sizes and custom colors options as well. Coffey’s own ride, shown here, certainly is eye catching with its metallic green glitter finish.
The company clearly put a lot of thought into its cyclocross offering, and perhaps the most important decision is reflected in the company’s timing. VYNL promises frames ordered now will arrive before the cyclocross season starts for Northern Hemisphere cyclocross racers.
In a digital world where we still see many computer-designed, machine-built cyclocross bikes unveiled at Interbike and hitting stores in January, VYNL hopes its more traditional, analog approach and timing brings a fidelity that is heard above the noise and is appreciated by cyclocross racers and handmade-in-USA purists.
Stay tuned as we get ready to take one for a test spin.
More info: vynlbikes.com