Mars Cycles Custom Build
Story by Anna Maria
I'm grateful for all the time I spend on my bike. Training with my team, socializing on Rapha Women's Rides, touring with all my gear in puffy black panniers, but none of it even comes close to just riding a bike in New York City. Nothing compares to the sheer joy of Rockaway Beach rides with your friends in summer, or racing the train across the Manhattan Bridge, or just cruising the dark city streets on a dreamy bike date. I love New York because I love to bike in New York. My first real commuter build was an everything bike: I toured on in, I set it up to haul my full styling kit to gigs, I even did park laps on it on my way home from work. I called it my Rick Owens of bikes, it was burly and athletic, dark and very jolie laide. It was practically indestructible, coming away nearly unscathed after I was hit by a car, and it was very heavy. The longer I rode the bike the more I came to see that a multi-purpose bike rarely serves any of its intended purposes well. So I decided to build a bike for the thing I love most.
The first step was really dialing in a correct fit for me. Racing and training, I ride a men’s Cannondale Super Six. I had added narrow, short reach drop bars and was fairly happy with my shop fit. Over time it was clear that I was getting Ulnar nerve damage. Even though I got the “Yay Bikes!” feeling every time I got on the bike, long rides would leave my left hand numb for days. Several friends recommended that I see Blake Bedoya at Signature Cycles for my fit. Signature is a full custom bicycle design studio for brands like Seven and Parlee and they also do amazing stuff like this Louis Vuitton saddle, bag and bar tape suite. Blake did most of my fit on a size cycle. It was amazing to see my efficiency on the bike rise and fall with the smallest of adjustments. A few changes made to my existing bike and no more nerve issues, plus I had a blueprint for building my new bike.
For my build I wanted to work with Casey Sussman of Mars Cycles in Oakland, CA. His mean, sexy bikes made their East Coast debut in this years Brooklyn Red Hook Crit. With my fit dialed in, Casey was able to build me a racey, aggressive commuter that would parallel all the things I loved about my Cannondale, while at the same time taking in to account all my aesthetic concerns. It would be a fortified twin, Columbus Life instead of carbon, but I'd stick with the Ultegra 6800 that I loved so much. I wanted a bike that was all clean, open lines with a straight top tube. I hate how bikes at the smaller end of a size run have angled top tubes, and feel cramped compared to larger models. Since the frame is small, and city riding is lots of starts at tight corners, we were mindful of toe overlap. I wanted an interior brake cable to accommodate resting on the top tube in short shorts, as well as carrying the bike on my shoulder when I wear tank tops. I wanted a sloping crown and no visible rack mounts to continue with the frame’s minimalist feel.
Once Casey was done with the build, the frame was shipped to King Kog Brooklyn where the final touches were put on the bike. I needed pin heads to lock down everything because well, New York. My debadged Mavic Aksium wheels got some heavier commuter tires and the bike was ready to go. Above all the fit and function details, I wanted this bike to be black, to be totally and completely murdered out. I wanted my bike to be a mirror of my personal style, I wanted a goth bike. Minimalist and very sexy, this bike is classic Helmut Lang. I wanted a bike that would look good on the street, and leaning against the wall on a fashion set. I didn't want contrasty logos or other visual clutter. My bike is matte black, with a gloss black logo on the down tube. It is a joy to ride. It is light and fast, and completely to blame for my new need to race all men up the bridge.
In a world of fast fashion and delicate carbon, it feels good owning a bike thats made to stay with me forever. It was fun to be a part of a collaborative build, and it was really great being able to support a maker of handmade bicycles. When I walk up to my locked up bike, there's this moment where I still cant believe its mine. I really do look forward to all the miles ahead.