Whether you’re a cycling snob, two-wheeled neophyte, or human being capable of rational thought, you should, at least once, read up on Vanilla Bicycles. Since the odds of owning one (they’re currently on a five year wait list) are just as slim as your odds of seeing one, the internet may be your only outlet to peruse some of the most magnificent creations on wheels.
The Portland-based company is the brainchild of Sacha White, a 31-year-old genius who has been creating custom builds for a scant twelve years. He describes Vanilla as a community – “a collaboration between master fabricators; expert bicycle painters; photographers; wood, leather, fabric and metal workers–all working closely to bring the intelligent, edgy, sexiness of Portland to the rest of the world.” One look at some of the fantastic examples on the Vanilla website and it’s obvious that Sacha takes great pride in his work.
Using Columbus, Dedacciai, and True Temper steel tubing, Sacha and the crew utilize Henry James Lugs (only the best), bonding them together with silver to achieve an extraordinarily strong frame that is claimed to be twice as robust as standard butted Reynolds tubing. Each bike is handpainted and assembled using only the finest components and groupsets; a quick sample of the finished products shows a collection of the best that Shimano, Campagnolo, Chris King, and others have to offer. Not surprisingly, Vanilla offers a wide range of rides: commuter, cyclocross, road, touring, and track; for those with speed on the brain, White’s sister company, Speedvagen, showcases true race machines built to the same standards and with the same passion as Vanilla bikes.
While other companies have moved their operations overseas (and essentially lost the respect of cycling diehards), Vanilla has done just the opposite. By embracing not only the Portland area community (arguably the most bicycle-friendly in the States) but also the process by which their creations come to life, Sacha and company have come to represent more that just a brand name, but a way of doing things: using the best people, and the best resources, to make the best products. It’s companies like Vanilla that make us realize what larger companies will never be able to achieve: a passionate connection with their product.
Oh, and Sacha…can you bump me up on the waiting list?
All images are property of Vanilla Bicycles.