Twelfth Bike. She has had it for exactly a year now, and has used it for everything from commuting to the D2R2. Susan is an experienced cyclist, who has ridden many other nice bicycles over the years, and she likes her Sketchy the best and has a review of this bicycle here. Susan's bike has a pink, white and black colour scheme going, which I find very pleasant.
Sketchy frames are steel and handmade by Mike Salvatore, who is a welder at Seven Cycles. There is no website yet, but you can get in touch here. What intrigued me about Sketchy, was that some pretty knowledgeable local bike people started getting them: mechanics, bike shop employees, even other frame builders (Brad of Geekhouse Bikes has just had one made). What is it about Sketchy that has made it the "it" bike for those in the know?
Well, here was my chance to find out. I was able to try Susan's bike, because not only are we the same height, but she uses Campagnolo ergos (my hands don't work with Shimano STIs, which really limits the roadbikes I can competently test ride).
Threadless stem and modern compact drop bars, the feel of which I quite like. I've been trying to get a feel for whether I prefer handlebars like these to the likes of Nitto Noodles and Grand Bois Maes, but really can't decide. Possibly it depends on the bike.
Is it normal that I find brazed-on brake cable hangers "pretty?"
Paul's cantilever brakes.
A J-Tek adaptor to make the non-Campy drivetrain compatible with the Campagnolo levers.
Carmina crankset and a very cool chainguard.
Velocity wheels with wide tires (usually 35mm) that change based on season and the type of riding Susan is doing.
Lezyne pump mounted next to the waterbottle cage, which I thought was a neat idea.
Berthoud saddle (which Susan is not quite sure she likes yet).
SKS fenders and Tubus rear rack (which may get replaced with a custom-made rack at a later stage).
And this very cool Nokon beaded cable housing.
In order for me to ride the bike, we had to lower the saddle a bit, and Susan switched her clipless pedals to MKS Touring pedals. Everything else remained the same. I rode the bike with the handlebars just about level with the saddle (though maybe a tad higher) and no foot retention.
My ride was short and did not do justice to what this bicycle is meant for - which is long, spirited rides while transitioning between road and trails with ease. That's the problem with riding somebody else's vey nice custom bike - I just wouldn't feel comfortable taking it on a 40 mile ride on and off road. Still, trying the Sketchy for a few miles along the back roads allowed me to get acquainted with the bicycle's feel and handling - both of which I quite liked. Because the bicycle fit me well and I could comfortably use the levers, I was comfortable on it immediately. I rode from West Newton to Belmont and back, trying to choose hilly streets. In some ways, the handling felt similar to the Seven I rode earlier this summer: the easy acceleration and maneuverability, albeit with wider tires and a more "grounded" feel to it. I can see how it would do especially well on trails for that reason.
The ride was comfortable over bumps and potholes, though in a completely different way that the titanium Seven had been. On the Sketchy I could feel the road more, but that feeling was springy and cushioned and therefore not painful. On the Seven it was as if I could not feel the road in the first place. I don't know whether that description makes sense, but it is the best comparison I can think of. I felt very natural riding the Sketchy and can readily imagine it as my own bike, with the one exception being that I'd prefer a slightly longer top tube and lower handlebars - this felt a little bit too upright. But otherwise I would not change much about the frame or Susan's build.
I feel privileged to have tried a Sketchy bicycle and give my sincere thanks to Susan for trusting me to ride hers. I hope you enjoyed this introduction to one of Boston's latest custom builders.