Words by Anna Maria Diaz-Balart
Photography by Bryan Banducci
The Log Lady, like its namesake, has undeniable nostalgia and vintage style. It’s a beautiful bike, straight out of the box. The Log Lady just looks rad. Its name perfectly compliments its throwback looks. Its updated geometry pairs perfectly with its loud, 90’s styling. I love the color blocking, it stands out without being needlessly flashy. And, like any responsible wardrobe stylist with a secret demo bike, I test rode with the bike’s logos fully geeked out. But truly, it would have been difficult to conceal the bike’s All-City origins. The classic segmented fork and Hennepin drop outs solidly position it as an All-City bike.
I have to admit I was a little unnerved when I saw the bike come out of the box. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d do with a single speed, fully rigid mountain bike. I mean I hadn’t even seen that many in the wild, and truth be told, only ridden one once. At Interbike. For like a half hour. I didn’t immediately see the opportunities. But, as I have ridden the Log Lady more and more, I have come to really enjoy it, and see all the directions that this versatile bike can take.
The bike was delivered to King Kog Brooklyn two days before the East Coast was buried by an El Nino blizzard. New York city got three feet of snow, and with literally no other way to get to work, the Log Lady became my sole form of transportation. At the first sign of snow, lots of folks drop what they are doing and get out and ride. That’s not me. Sharing plow-narrowed streets with drivers who have no idea how to drive on snow, black ice, and gallons of gritty, salty slush are not for me. The Log Lady came to my rescue. 27.5 Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires (a.k.a. a moderate trail tire), run with barely any air pressure got me safely to and from work. Bouncing along on soft tires, I would almost forget that “I could die at any minute” feeling that can accompany post blizzard commuting. I was constantly throwing the bike over plow drifts, and it never felt heavy. The geometry felt stable and nimble at the same time. I’m 5’7”, longer in the torso than legs, and the small frame felt like a great, balanced fit. I rode over everything that got in my way: ice chunk rock gardens, slush filled potholes, curb after curb after curb, and anything else that hid beneath the filthy grey snow. There was nothing visible or hidden that the bike couldn’t handle. It was just as fun as it was reliable.
The Log Lady at heart is an immensely versatile bike. Building on the enthusiasm of the limited edition Junk Yard Dog, this is a bike you can build out and gradually tune to your liking. Only instead of a frameset alone, you get a complete build. At $1499.00, it’s a wildly fun, instantly rideable project bike. Straight out of the box it’s a city ripper, a blast at the bike park, and perfect companion for novice riders on well groomed trails. Avid hydraulic disc brakes come standard. Its 44mm head tube is compatible with modern tapered steerer tube suspension forks. If you want to take it on more aggressive trails, a suspension fork is an easy swap, for as little as $150. If the single speed leaves you wanting more options, a derailleur hanger tensioner from Problem Solvers along with a SRAM NX one by groupset would be another cost effective modification for the bike giving you an 11 speed drivetrain, for as little $250.
The Log Lady is made with ACE tubing (Air hardened, Custom, Extrusion). What that means is that the tubes are designed specifically for this frame. This custom fabrication maximizes the wall thickness of the tubing where it matters most, eliminating the need for external gussets. External gussets, while adding strength, also mean tubing is exposed to more heat during fabrication, and ultimately can become weaker areas on the frame. The ACE tubing is both stronger and lighter, which is pretty cool.
While the single speed Log Lady might seek to be an all round bike to a certain type of rider, realistically the small gear ratio it comes with is definitely meant for off road use. So if you’re you looking to use it as a city crusher, you’ll likely need to swap out the cog for a higher gear ratio. Some of the riders at King Kog Brooklyn were dying to borrow the Log Lady as is. Personally, I can’t wait to try it with front suspension this spring when the trails around New York are fully open. Although I bet putting fatter, almost 3 inch tires on it would be just as fun!
Occasionally going off-road has meant leaving a fair amount of style behind, and beautiful vintage mountain bikes aren’t always a pleasure to ride. The Log Lady, along with reissues from Fat Chance, appeal to a different aesthetic without abandoning performance. That being said, the Log Lady is a lot more bike for the money. A complete bike for less than the price of a Yo Eddie frameset is pretty rad. At this point it might be hard to picture a trend taking shape. Bikes with ultra aggressive styling, wonky color schemes, and even more questionable model names totally dominate the off road market. But I do think bikes like the Log Lady signify movement towards a more pleasing aesthetic, and being able to take style with you, no matter where you go. I hope that the Log Lady is another step forward in the standardization of the 27.5 wheel, and a step back to classic styling in off road riding. The Log Lady is beautiful and on-trend in the most relevant way.