There’s only one scenario where getting a new bike is a bad thing, and that’s when you’ve had a bike stolen from you. Especially if it’s a bike you’ve built from the ground up. But, even considering that – new bike!
Of course I’ve had several “new” bikes in recent years, but they’re always been vintage bikes. Getting a brand new bike from a shop i haven’t done since I worked at Redbike about ten years ago.
Before I even started looking, I new there wouldn’t be that many for me to choose from. For starters, I wasn’t going to spend a lot on it – $2000 was my target. And I just don’t have any interest in a lot of the bikes out there now.
I’m sure trail bikes like the Rocky Thunderbolt and Kona Process/Precept are awesome, but I don’t ride enough to warrant a bike like that. I wanted a hard tail with a long fork and 27.5″ wheels. And it pretty much had to be steel. Aluminium is fine, but steel is just a better fit.
That really left me with only two choices.
Chromag has been making super cool steel bikes out of Squamish, BC for a few years now. Most are overbuilt for my needs, but they have lighter options too; The Stylus (made in Canada) and the Wideangle (made in Taiwan).
It’s an awesome bike to be sure, but at $3200 for the Wideangle (and $4500 for the Stylus) – more than I need to spend. Honestly, the amount I ride probably warrants spending no more than $1000.
That means I had to buy the Kona Explosif. I wrote about it when it returned to their lineup in 2013, and called it a mass produced Chromag. It’s made from Reynolds 520 steel and features all mod cons like; 27.5″ wheels, 142x12mm rear end, ISCG tabs (for chain guides), a “slack” 67.5 degree tapered headtube, internal cable routing for a dropper post, and sliding dropouts.
One modern touch it thankfully doesn’t have is a press-fit bottom bracket. It has an old style threaded shell attached to a very cool monocoque section that links to the chainstays. Not something that you see fabricated in steel that often. And all the cables are smartly run under the top tube – easy to service when necessary.
It’s just perfect for me. It’s an old bike with the most useful new features.
A new bike that’s kinda old.
Luckily, I had the choice of the ’16 model running a SRAM 1x drivetrain and a Fox 34 fork, or the shop’s last remaining ’15 with Shimano SLX 2×10 drivetrain and a Rock Shox Recon 120mm. The ’16 was a clearly better bike parts-wise, but it was $700 more than the clear out priced ’15. In flat black with orange decals, it looks bad ass.
The price of the ’15 was very tempting though, and sealing the deal was the eye-poppingly gorgeous flat orange paint. I just couldn’t resist it. Between the colour, the vintage profile it cuts, and the 1994-style Kona decals; it’s easily one of the best looking bikes I’ve owned. A set of ENVE wheels in orange would really set it off, but I think would cost as much as I paid for the entire bike.
Back to Chromag; there was no question that I was going to put a Chromag bar and stem on this bike. Especially when I saw their black and orange colourway, which sure feels like it was made for the Explosif. Luckily for me, the shop I went to had just taken delivery of a bunch of Chromag bits, so without even thinking about it, we had a OSX 35mm Fubar, and a BZA 35mm stem. High priced, but very high quality.
I’m super happy with it, and I’m amazed at how happy everyone else is too. Guys I work with saw it started talking about dusting off their old rides. My neighbour who hasn’t been on a bike all summer for health reasons saw it and started talking about going for a ride. My son gushes about it every time he sees it and wants me to put the seat down so he can try it.