Valence Bicycles: Redesigning Everything Except The Wheel
Craig Fellers, November 7, 2015
When Shawn Rosenthal, founder of Valence Bicycles told me I could have the prototype Valence Titanium Road+ after his Kickstarter video finished production, I almost peed my pants with excitement. We’d been talking for a long time about a bike that would completely change how cycling is perceived, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.
Until now, bikes have been advertised by how cool they are, how fast they are, how light they are and how neon their colors are. But, you know what? I really care more about “El Numero Uno,” ME! I want a bike that works for me, that goes on the roads that I want to ride, that makes me feel confident descending and mutes the vibrations from rough roads keeping me feeling fresh after hours in the saddle. Welcome to Road+.
While Shawn can bore you with the bicycle tech specs, they really aren’t important. I’m 5′ 10″ 69 kilos, and love to ride. I ride on road with a little dirt, and nothing makes me grin more than a few single track connector trails on my road bike.
My first ride was just that. From the Mike’s Bikes in Los Gatos, my teammate Travis and I immediately hit gravel, shooting us up a fire road that connected us to the Lexington Reservoir. I barely noticed the bumps and dirt as my 32mm tires eased over the top of the rocks, sweeping me up the road.
We continued around the (mostly dry) California reservoir and then up we went along Montevina Road. This road plays a funny game: Think you are at the top, go around the corner, and the pitch increases by 1 or 2 percent. After repeating this about 6 times at the top of the climb, and you actually get to the gate, you are climbing at 25% and out of the saddle in your 32-tooth chainring.
Travis was starting to swerve paperboy-style and I had to laugh at him. Laughing at your friends is also part of any great ride, a memo-to-self: riding bikes is fun. At the top of the hill, we unclipped and jumped the fence (also a an ingredient of any great ride). Even though I am on a brand new sparkling titanium road bike, this is not something to be babied. No matter where I go, I know my Valence is built to last a lifetime. Before getting my Road+, I would have been that princess, too afraid to nick their carbon wheels to do a fun dirt connection.
Up and over the ridge provided insanely stunning views. Most people never witness such beauty with the Santa Cruz Mountains stretching off to my left and the entire Silicon Valley to my right. I am the ruler of the world up here, all of California at my command. As the road pitched down the ride started to get interesting.
I’m usually a timid descender clutching my brakes nervously when the roads look wet, but armed with disc brakes and a huge contact patch with my big tires, I confidently drop off the mountain side like a black diamond skier on wheels. When I messed up a corner, the bike corrected it. When there was a patch of gravel on the road, my bike didn’t seem to notice.
As we careened down the road, both Travis and I way underestimated a corner. We both grabbed our brakes. I stopped. Travis sailed past the turn into an adjacent driveway. OK, so that’s what people are talking about when people say you can go “deeper into the corner with discs…” This is awesome. I am having some serious fun and feeling like the best cyclist I can be.
Did I get any KOM’s? I don’t honestly know. Did I do the fastest TT around the reservoir? Definitely not. My Valence is a bike that makes riding fun. I came away with a huge smile and feeling great, and that is what riding is all about. Cheers to a new breed of bike, one that celebrates the rider and lets you return to being the star of your life story.
Keep an eye on ValenceBicycles.com for updates.
Craig Fellers is based out of Santa Cruz where he is the owner and optometrist at Midtown Optometry.