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Modern Steel Bicycles Ready for Adventure

Modern Steel Bicycles Ready for Adventure

Finding the bike of your dreams can be an intense and confusing job. There are so many options to choose from and narrowing it down to just one isn’t easy. You need to consider which type of cycling you are going for, the frame material, the components, your budget and even the color! Adventure cycling has come to open new options to ride and explore over mixed terrains. Here, gravel and adventure bikes satisfy the requirements of this type of cycling and also allow bikepacking with them

We could begin this article by telling you about all the virtues of steel bikes for adventure cycling, especially those from Scarab Cycles. But far from letting this turn into a marketing gimmick, we want you the riders, to share those qualities you like about our bikes. We at Scarab also enjoy riding our steel bikes, but our opinion is biased. At the end of the day, we see each one of our bikes come to life from the design, fabrication and all the way until it is handed over to its new owner.

 

 

Steel bikes have a long history in cycling. Since its beginnings in the XIX century, steel was the material of choice to fabricate these early machines. Thanks to science and technology, modern steel is not the same one used over 150 years ago. The properties and characteristics of steel have evolved with new alloys, production of cycling-specific tubing and the refinement of the geometries used in frame design. There is a question worth asking: what revived steel bikes and what made them find a special niche within adventure cycling?

 

 

At Scarab we make custom bikes, focused on the rider, on its owner. We exist because of the cyclists and that is why we wanted the people that ride one of our bikes to share their experience. There aren’t two bikes the same. Each one conforms to the rider, to their body’s characteristics and the intended riding style. We asked four members of the Scarab family about their bikes. Something they all share in common is their passion for adventure cycling. Karen Yung (New York), Donal Rey (New York), Santiago Gallon (Colombia), Ricardo Muñoz (Colombia), Jeremy Gleason (Alaska) and Roy Liu (Miami). Karen and Donal are a couple and they enjoy their cycling adventures together. Donal shares its passion between photography and cycling, allowing him to explore the world and document their journeys. Santiago Gallón is a complete cyclist. He always seems to be in shape and will always be willing to make you suffer on every ride but also won’t hesitate to bring down the pace to help a struggling rider. Ricardo Muñoz is an all-around athlete. He is passionate about adventure and ultra distance rides, with a keen eye on results and measurable performance. He is also one of the founders of Transcordilleras in his homeland of Colombia. The paths in life have taken him to call Nice, France home. Jeremy comes from Juneau, Alaska but his search for adventure has taken him to Colombia and now Switzerland. Wherever he might be, he doesn’t miss a chance to take his bike out and explore. Roy Liu was born and raised in Costa Rica, where he got into mountain biking. He now enjoys travelling and riding in new places and meeting their people.

 

 

Jeremy has ridden through places that most of us can only dream of: Colombia, Switzerland, Italy, Oregon, Vermont, Maine, New York, Alaska and many more. He has had his Scarab Paramo for nearly two years and says that it has taken him places that have only been limited by his imagination. 

“The custom geometry gives me the comfort and confidence to explore from sunrise to sunset.

particularly enjoy taking the Paramo on multi day self-supported bikepacking adventures. The steel frame fully loaded performs like a dream. The biggest problem I have with the Paramo is deciding which adventure to do next…”

 

 

Adventure cycling has extended its reach around the world and Colombia, the South American country that surprises with the diversity of its regions and the warmth of its people, hasn’t escaped its influence. Thanks to the roughness of its terrain and the many gravel roads that crisscross its territory, it has come to maximize the exploration of areas until now new to cyclists. It’s possible that you’ve seen a picture of a cyclist set in a spectacular backdrop, somewhere remote and improbable for someone to be riding there. There is a high chance that that picture was taken by Donal Rey and that the rider photographed is his partner Karen while they explored Colombia and the mythical climb to Alto de Letras on gravel or what is known as “Side B”. His work has been featured in prestigious publications, ad campaigns and his Instagram account. Their travels have taken them to explore places like Sri Lanka, Peru and Colombia.

 

Donal thinks that steel bikes are ideal for this type of adventure. “I think a steel bike on gravel or dirt road feels lively, quick and snappy. It smooths out the rougher roads quite nicely. I love the custom geometry on my Paramo. It really is well suited for bikepacking on unforgiving roads with its wider tire clearance and shorter trail for quick maneuvering. The custom paint job is also not bad!”. 

 

 

Today, high-end steel bikes can weigh less than 17.6 lbs (8 kg) and have a unique combination of reliability, durability and lightweight. For our Scarab Paramos we use Columbus Spirit and Life tubing, which thanks to its patented chemical composition has mechanical properties that increase the elastic range of the material and strength. It is generally thought that steel is heavier. But, do you know how much a bottle half filled with water weighs? About 1.1 pounds. Thanks to its high strength-to-weight ratio, frames built with Spirit can be only 0.7 to 1.1 pounds (300 to 600 grams) heavier than a similar frame of a different material. The weigh difference isn’t huge and steel frames will have advantages like better resistance to deformation, structural integrity, ride quality, comfort and durability.

Santiago mentions that  “In cycling jargon, it’s not uncommon to hear the funny statement: ‘it’s not about the arrow, it’s about the Indian’, which means ‘it’s not about the bike, it’s about the cyclist’. Although this can be true, the importance of having a bicycle to enjoy this amazing sport over the variety of terrains that characterize our Colombian territory is undeniable”. He also says that “there are many brands to choose from, besides options for materials, geometries and components to satisfy the cyclist’s needs. From my point of view, my Scarab Paramo, with a steel frame hand built in Colombia offers me performance, quality and comfort needed to face long and hard stages”. 

 

 

Times and trends change. It wasn’t too long ago that it wasn’t common to see a girl, an adventuress, on a bike. Least one going bikepacking or riding gravel in remote places. The confidence that a bike can bring to its rider has helped to change that. And even though we are still not satisfied with the amount of women on gravel, we’re happy to see that those leading the way are doing it in a great way! Together with her partner Donal, Karen tackles spectacular sceneries, not under his shadow but shining in front of his lens. She doesn’t lag behind and she does it on board her Scarab Paramo. Karen chose this bike “…because I wanted a bike that is strong and reliable but also beautiful – something that I can travel with, take on planes, and load up with bikepacking bags without worry”. The routes that women follow are the same, the ascents and descents equally demanding, but having a bike with custom geometry makes the conditions different. They are better. “I know it’s always going to be trustworthy but also a blast to ride. I can’t think of a better combination!”, she claims.

 

Many of the organized events that we find today as well as the self-proposed challenges, demand much more from the cyclist and the bicycle. The distances are longer, the terrain more challenging and the conditions much harder. Is here where the right bike choice becomes fundamental. For Ricardo, his Scarab Paramo meant freedom to discover incredible paths in Colombia. “I’m passionate about ultra distances, I’ve completed challenges like Everesting or an Ironman, and I can say from experience that a custom bike brings a level of comfort that translate into better performance, especially after many hours and kilometers on the bike. That’s when the body is thankful about marginal gains achieved with a bike that conform to the cyclist”. Thus, the Scarab Paramo is the ideal bicycle to tackle a taxing race like Transcordilleras.

 

 

Adventure cycling has extended its reach around the world and Colombia, the South American country that surprises with the diversity of its regions and the warmth of its people, hasn’t escaped its influence. Thanks to the roughness of its terrain and the many gravel roads that crisscross its territory, it has come to maximize the exploration of areas until now new to cyclists. It’s possible that you’ve seen a picture of a cyclist set in a spectacular backdrop, somewhere remote and improbable for someone to be riding there. There is a high chance that that picture was taken by Donal Rey and that the rider photographed is his partner Karen while they explored Colombia and the mythical climb to Alto de Letras on gravel or what is known as “Side B”. His work has been featured in prestigious publications, ad campaigns and his Instagram account. Their travels have taken them to explore places like Sri Lanka, Peru and Colombia.

Roy agrees with all of them. Exploring new places by bike is a life experience. Doing it on a bicycle that is comfortable and reliable is key. “Being in remote places, you need to have a machine that will take you from point A to point B without issues. If it takes you with a higher level of comfort, you’ll be able to go farther and for longer. I rather enjoy what the route has to offer”. His background in engineering gives him the tools to analyze and understand the performance differences among the different materials used for bike fabrication. 

“I’ve ridden and own steel, titanium, aluminium and carbon bikes. Little by little I’ve been able to identify the characteristics that each one brings to ride quality and durability. Because of this I’ve started to get rid of my carbon bikes. Weight isn’t everything. In my opinion, the performance of a titanium or steel bike is superior, especially for long journeys. For gravel and adventures, the Scarab Paramo has become my go-to option”.

 

 

When we asked Jeremy about his decision to ride one of Scarab’s steel bikes, he said: “The decision to purchase a Scarab Paramo has forever changed my standards of bicycles and the overall customer experience. The creation and design process began with identifying the bicycle´s purpose. In my case, I wanted a high-performance bikepacking adventure machine. The Paramo fit this description. I´ve had the Paramo for almost two years now and this bicycle has taken me places that are only limited by my imagination”.

 

 

The process carried out to create a Scarab bicycle is special. All the cyclists that contributed to this article agree that being able to actively participate in the personalized design and fabrication process marks the difference. 

Ricardo, also says that “taking part in the process gives a special meaning to cycling, it gives it a personal touch, and it helps me remember every ride, the reason why I started riding and why I keep doing it every time with more emotion”. 

We believe that custom steel bike fabrication is an art and Scarab dominates this artistry and its craftsmanship. This art on two wheels proudly stands on par with the best high-end bicycles. Scarab will take you along your favorite route but also to discover what the world has to offer. How about if you try a Scarab bike yourself and make every ride, no matter how long, far or near it may be, a new adventure? 

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