The Dream RLT

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When Peter came to us to find a replacement for his ti Lemond, we knew it had to be an RLT. And when he said he wanted his bike to be able to do all the rides he wanted to and also make zippy zappy robot derailleur noises, we priced out a couple options, but it always had to be eTap HRD. The ease of use, liveability, and performance are unmatched, and it's not significantly more expensive than a Di2 kit.

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Not to mention that it just looks clean. It makes us dream of the days when we have wireless electronic brakes (dreams from which we wake up screaming when we reach the part where we've just turned around at the Hurricane Ridge visitor station to find we forgot to charge up the night before).

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It's really easy to spec out a bike with all the go-fast "look at me!" carbon bits you can find—that takes a deep wallet and the ability to discern which number is the least. And those bikes are cool, but not as cool as a classy and tasteful build with solid, reliable, and (more) beautiful aluminum bits.

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The eTap does make people pay attention, though.

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We've gushed over these wheels a lot lately, but they really are amazing when paired with a supple tire like these Barlow Passes. They really let the tire do its job and they're fantastic.

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Astral Buenos Aires Upgrade

These days, as you can tell, we look first to Eugene, Oregon for wheels. Rolf/Astral are making aluminum rims in-house, getting White Industries hubs, and building them by hand to order. Every set comes with a card with your builder's name.

So when Mitch walked in with this beautiful LeMond Buenos Aires and a pair of dangerous Bontrager wheels, we knew exactly what was needed. A 1370g wheelset that's stiff enough to let a Vittoria Corsa shine in all its suppleness.

And we were all pretty jazzed on how they look, too.

Rolf/Astral Wheels = Best Wheels

Rolf's unique design makes the best aluminum gravel/cross wheels on the market, and the best road wheels. Custom seamed rims, White Industries hubs, and built to order. With a five-year warranty, and lifetime crash replacement, and lifetime parts support, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee that you'll never think about using, there isn't a single negative thing to say about them.

Don't like paired spoke designs? Get a pair of their sister company Astral's straight-drilled wheels!

I Follow You MB, Baby

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Tadd wanted a bike to pedal up Master Link and grin down O.T.G. Was there ever any doubt? The Following v.1 was pretty damn good. Bottomless 120/120 bikes are nippy and fun. Then Evil decided to freshen it up with wider spacing and trunion-ier mounts and with plus tires it's stupid fun. With 29ers it's a stupid fast Swiss army knife and the perfect bike for Tadd.

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The new matte-not-black Evil paint offerings are ridiculously cool. Subtly badass.

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Tadd chose the X01 build for maximum shifting. And maximum shifting performance.

The OneUp Comp pedals are the best pedals out there, argue otherwise and you're wrong. or have a different preference for a very subjective bike component.

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Radiant Golden Suns

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You'll hear em before they come into view, and you'll see gold reflections on the trees before you see the wheels, but boy when you finally see em... they gold.

They really gold. Industry Nine makes some of the best mountain bike wheels in the game for a ridiculous price. Strong, stiff, and light. And customizable! These Trail 270s got a level two custom pack, but you can go level three and go crazy with multiple colors.

Classin' It Up With A Pinarello

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If your criteria for what makes a bike good is that you enjoy spending time riding it, no bike is better than a well-maintained classic steel one. And no steel bikes are cooler than an old Italian one. So when Ben walked in after hours with this fantastically-patina'd Arriba, we got excited. Really. excited.

 Perfect patina.

Perfect patina.

The bike had some issues—the shifters were beyond salvation, the bars were bent, and the saddle was awful, albeit stock and pretty groovy. And with every step of the process, we found more. The freehub, the cassette, the new used freehub... But the heart of the bike, the frame, is in perfect condition.

But eventually it all came together and we couldn't be happier. This frame is the definition of smooth and makes us want to ride. The Fizik Aliante is quickly becoming our favourite saddle, as well.

This bike was Matt's first attempt at Riley's 300-level finishing tape courses, and he killed it.

RLT Everything

Susan wanted a bike to replace her Scattante that'd be longer on long road rides, cruise the Iron Horse to Hyak, and take fenders. And the RLT 9 RDO does all that while still being fun.

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We put gunmetal grey PDW Full Metal Fenders on, and they look so smooth. It's always great when accents match, and the fenders are the same metallic satin as the stainless steel bottle cages we bolted on.

 The RLTs come with fender hardware, but custom fab is always fun!

The RLTs come with fender hardware, but custom fab is always fun!

Susan's other big criteria was tubeless tires. The Compass Barlow Pass is a fabulous all-year speed cushion.

Michael's Utility Fishing Shred Sled

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Michael told us he wanted a bike that he would work for taking to Duthie with his son, Tiger when his son's older, and ride to the river with boots and a rod to fly fish. The Niner SIR 9 is the perfect tool for that. Modern, slack, and long, but compatible with plus tires, frame bags, rear racks, steel! The SIR 9 would be a genuinely great "a-bike" for Raging River and Tokul, but like the RLT, it can do so much more than just what most shreddin' performance bikes in its genre do

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The bike was a great starting point, and we passed the bag design off to Aaron at Big Tuna Bags. This frame bag is a full custom color-matched job. You'll never see two identical ones.

There's not much more to say, so enjoy the rest of these pics of the hand-stitched bag! This bike is gonna be extra-sick when we swap to some plus-sized wheels!!

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Eyewater — Holy Moses

Wow. What the heck can we say?! NAHBS Best New Builder of 2018 Eyewater Bikes is all the best stuff that we like. Locally crafted? Tick that box—Corey Lowe builds the frames down Lakeside Ave in Mt. Baker. Fully-custom? Check. Handsome? 110%. Corey's method makes sure that you don't end up with three inches of material above the top tube and a top tube halfway down the head tube. It'll always look like a bike. Performance? Uh, yeah. But like Vittoria Corsas, while the speed is unbelievable, the comfort is what makes it dreamlike.

These bikes have the best carbon layup and molding we've ever seen. Go check out the Eyewater Instagram to see the cross-sections and be astounded. Corey says he could do a colorful finish on the frames, but he prefers to leave the carbon raw so you can see the beautiful iridescence in the tubing. The decals were inspired by a pair of holographic Doc Martens.

The NAHBS judges were understandably blown away by the craftsmanship evident at every seem and joint. These aren't glued like normal carbon lugs—they're wrapped with carbon and cured together so that the frame is stiffer and stronger. Incidentally, it's gorgeous.

Custom Cloth: Big Tuna Bags

 A teal limited-edition Big Tuna x PDJ tool roll.

A teal limited-edition Big Tuna x PDJ tool roll.

Big Tuna Bags is a local custom bag maker that we're more than happy to have in our portfolio. Aaron Anthony makes bar bags, frame bags, tool rolls, fanny packs, race totes, and stashers all the time, but he's happy to take on custom work.

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Featured here are the limited-edition PDJ tool rolls we helped design. We've got colors and colors and colors and... but they won't last much longer here.

Expect a full feature on this custom Niner SIR 9 frame bag soon.

Another Fantastic Clean RLT!

Here are some snaps of the awesome RLT we built for our friend Paul. He wanted to have a bike that could crush a long road ride on Saturday and rip the Thrilla Route on Sunday morning. We outfitted it with a pair of Compass Barlow Passes set tubeless and heatshrinked (heatshrunk? heatshrank?) the cables and hoses for the cleanest look possible outside of eTap.

Riley's obsession with clean front ends (not to say that a clean rear end isn't important—it absolutely is) got us here.

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The nice thing is that Niner and Compass took care of the rear on this build. Clean!!