Look what just came out of The Vanilla Workshop

Posted by on March 1st, 2019 at 8:57 am

The Speedvagen Ready Made Disc OG. Built in Portland.
(Photos: The Vanilla Workshop)

Portland’s framebuilder scene has changed a lot since its heyday more than a decade ago. At one point it felt like a new builder would arrive on the scene every month. Builders were the toast of the town and were invited to display their creations everywhere from City Hall to City Club and even the Portland Airport.

The boom has passed and the number of local framebuilders has shrunk back to just a handful. The builders that remain are mostly the ones that seemed to have always been here. Sacha White is one of them.

White’s Vanilla Bicycles were some of the most coveted bicycles on the planet. “What Tiffany is to pearls, Sacha White is to bicycle frames,” was how he was introduced to a group of business leaders at an event in 2007. Now known as The Vanilla Workshop, a collaborative approach to business White launched in 2015, he and his team of bicycle artisans continue to set standards in the industry.

The Vanilla Workshop’s Richard Pool recently got in touch to share their latest “Ready Made” offering from the Speedvagen family. White stopped making only one-off, custom bikes long ago. Like other builders, he realized it’s impossible to scale-up and get more of your bikes on the road when you make everything by yourself with your own two hands. White found a niche doing small-batch builds. Vanilla’s Ready Made bikes are semi-custom. They start with a stock geometry and design and build a run of sizes. Customers can then choose a parts kit, paint and which braze-ons (attachment points for racks, pump, bottles, fenders) they’d like.

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Their latest Speedvagen Ready Made model is the Disc OG. Here’s more from the company:

“The Speedvagen Disc OG is presented without preciousness. There are no frills, the Disc OG is a dedicated hand crafted tool for road riding and racing. It’s a workhorse. Following our Speedvagen method of stripping away all that isn’t necessary we landed on a bike that is ready to rip and easy to work on, or upgrade later. The frame design uses our own Speedvagen tubing, signature seat mast, hour glass seat stays, head tube and race ready stock geometry, perfect for long days in the saddle or sprints to the line.”

The bike comes with a standard build kit that can be upgraded and customized to your wishes. The base price for a complete bike is $5995 and it takes $500 to reserve one. Wait time is just 2-3 months, a relative blink of the eye compared to the 3-4 year wait back in Vanilla’s custom days.

More details on their website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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29 Comments
  • Avatar
    one March 1, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Meh. For 6 grand, I could buy another (Just as good) hand built, locally produced bike with enough money left over to buy myself some diamond earrings, a pearl necklace, and an extra $1000 bucks to donate to a local bicycle nonprofit. Vanilla brand compared to jewelry? Got it. #Hype

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      Brian March 1, 2019 at 10:45 am

      I’m in the market. Where can I get a similarly spec’ed bike with the same craftsmanship for $3k? TIA.

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      BradWagon March 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Where?

      Breadwinner Lolo with mid range components is 6K+
      Co Motion Ristretto Elite is 5k+
      English Cycles Custom Frame Only: 3200
      TiCycles Custom Frame Only: 3200
      Stoemper Completes Range: 5800-9k
      Sage Custom Frame Only: 3600
      Desalvo Showed a Bike at CK Open house: 7500

      Obviously you’re not talking about Veloforma or Argonaut Custom Carbon… Its pretty much a standard that a higher end custom or semi custom road bike is costing at least $5k. Not to mention a few of those above had lead times as long or longer than 3-4 months. So please… enlighten us won’t you?

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      • Avatar
        jered March 1, 2019 at 4:14 pm

        Smeltzer Bikes – $1800 frame
        I’ve been seeing more and more of those around. Not sure how long they have been building for but the bikes seem to be quite nice.

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        • Avatar
          BradWagon March 4, 2019 at 9:53 am

          True, I did miss them, and likely many others. However without more info just cruising their site I would take the “starting at” $1800 statement with a grain of salt. But hopefully more like them can start offering small/local options for the sub 4k price range that tone down some of the high end features and details that might drive up the price of a custom bike.

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            Matt S. March 4, 2019 at 10:12 am

            I believe the price for an entry level Cielo was $1800 frame and fork (when they were in business). I worked at Chris King and knew the people involved with production. I didn’t know what their salaries were, but I had a good idea based on what people made at Chris King in general. No one was getting rich, everyone had good health insurance, and a company managed 401K. Cielo stayed in operation for some time and built a beautiful product. The real challenge for the company seemed to be the cost of living in Portland.

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            • Avatar
              Matt S. March 4, 2019 at 10:13 am

              Just my two cents on why hand built framesets in Portland are so expensive.

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    • Avatar
      Middle of The Road Guy March 1, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Thankfully there is something for everyone!

      You’ve compared a Vanilla side-by-side to one of those other “just as good” steeds?

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  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes March 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Pretty! But way way out of my price range (but I’m also not the target).

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    Dan A March 1, 2019 at 10:32 am

    I’m proud of our local bike manufacturing industry.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Avatar
      Matt S. March 4, 2019 at 6:53 am

      Me too!

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  • Avatar
    dwk March 1, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Wish I would have ordered a Vanilla 10 years ago, I could have been riding it for the last 5.
    I thought about it and did not want to wait.
    Big mistake.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty March 1, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Serious question here: what is it that makes a hand built (or, in this case, small batch) bike better than a commercial bike? Does it perform better? Fit better? Work better?

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      GrannyGear March 1, 2019 at 1:18 pm

      Nothing. You can buy an art print that you love at Ikea or Target, or find someone to paint it for you. For that matter, you may even find something at a garage sale or thrift store.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2019 at 1:35 pm

        Last time I tried riding my Target art print, it didn’t go so well.

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    • Avatar
      Middle of the Road Guy March 1, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      My experience with customs is that they are dialed in for your preferences and fit. I’ve got 3 customs (Indy Fab, Seven, Vanilla)…I also have a couple of stock bikes (Niner, Trek).

      My carbon Trek is my most efficient and fastest bike – numbers don’t lie – but it feels like riding a very surgical and efficient piece of plastic. It just does not thrill me to ride it and it feels disposable. My customs on the other hand, they really do feel like they have more soul. If I could have only my Vanilla or Trek, it’s not even a question and it has nothing to do with the cost.

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      • Avatar
        SERider March 4, 2019 at 9:15 am

        Important to note differences between simply independent builders or hand built and actual custom frames.

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    • Avatar
      jered March 1, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      Seriously, I own both off the shelf bikes and custom bikes. For my body type and proportions there is no real reason I need a custom bike, a stock 56cm bike fits me near perfect, I had a bike fitting and have moved those numbers to my other bikes with minimal tweaks based on riding style and that has been fine for me.

      Custom can be nice if you have unusually long legs/arms or torso and you can’t get fit dialed otherwise. Also, if you are very short or tall custom can be a great route to get the performance you want in an unusual size.

      If you are looking for a bike that doesn’t really exist… which was previously a CX bike with clearance for 45c tires, disc brakes and rack/fender mounts… That was a reason to go custom, but now you just any number of available gravel bikes.

      Lastly, if you’re super duper into ride quality and a geek you can dial in ride quality with different steel tubes in different zones and different tube shapes – for 95% of us we wouldn’t really know to credit a specific wall thickness or shape of tube. (I’d start with a wheelset build and some serious thought about tire selection to dial in ride quality first though)

      As someone who rides both those are my observations.

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    • Avatar
      Columbo March 2, 2019 at 1:05 pm

      Bragging rights. No different than golf clubs or motorboats. Can’t let your dentist peers catch you riding a Surly or whatever

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    • Avatar
      Matt S. March 4, 2019 at 6:55 am

      I think it’s about keeping the money local, supporting one’s craft. It’s a pretty good feeling to shake the hand of the person who built your bike.

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  • Avatar
    dwk March 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Looks better, which matters to some, put components on it you want (I build up my own but use stock frames which are not as attractive to me but a lot cheaper).
    Generally use really nice wheels which are really important for a lot of people.
    This bike is 6 grand and looks beautiful.
    You would pay 4 or 5 for a big brand with equivalent components.

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  • Avatar
    Lester Burnham March 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Nothing shreds like a Vanilla!

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    GrannyGear March 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    John Lascurettes
    Pretty! But way way out of my price range (but I’m also not the target).Recommended 0

    No one asked anyone if it was in their price range.

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      John Lascurettes March 1, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      Okay, whatever, Granny. I’ll be sure to steer clear of your lawn too.

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  • Avatar
    9watts March 1, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    How do they make them stand up like that for the pretty picture – with no visible kickstand?

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      Ps March 2, 2019 at 11:30 am

      Photoshop. Just like theradavist.com, all the bikes don’t have anything holding them up, but have a weird lean that make it obvious something was there.

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      Probably not? March 2, 2019 at 6:25 pm

      If you look carefully, you can see fishing line from the seat upwards to an out-of-frame pole.

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      • Avatar
        9watts March 2, 2019 at 8:28 pm

        My eyesight isn’t good enough anymore to make that out, even with lots of zooming, but I appreciate the clue. I figured it must be something like that.

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    Granpa March 2, 2019 at 8:45 am

    9watts
    How do they make them stand up like that for the pretty picture – with no visible kickstand?Recommended 0

    They are super light weight, so when the frames are filled with hydrogen, the just sort of float.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

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