There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of “you shouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight”. If the gunfight is a cyclocross race, this machine by Joel McCourt of Arkansas’ Symond Cycles is definitely what you should be bringing instead.
Before he turned his hand to custom frame building, Joel had procured a degree in both Architectural Studies and Graphic Design. A stint at Saatchi & Saatchi X, while providing valuable experience, left him wanting more personal creative satisfaction from his work — something that fulfilled his love for bikes and building things.
Joel switched career paths to bike mechanic work in 2000 and began researching frame building schools, finally deciding on Doug Fattic’s tuition, based in Michigan. As well as being one of the original four US teachers, Doug also offered instruction in paint work.
Having taught himself how to apply paint to a frame, Joel relished the opportunity to study with Doug and returned to Arkansas to establish Symond Cycles. “Symond is meant to honour my grandfathers and their era of hard work and ingenuity. Si McCourt and Raymond Bascom were their names. Notice the bar above and below the word mark that aligns with the names.”
“Also on the head badge, the three bands and stars represent the three different branches of the military they served in. Both are world war vets. The eagle nods to the patriotic nature of the name but also represents freedom. For many of us the bicycle provided the first true taste of freedom.”
Joel tells us about this cyclocross bike he built for a recent customer: “Duncan wanted a CX racing bike equipped with disc brakes. We landed on doing a bi-laminate construction with internally routed cables and a stainless head tube for a little extra flavour.”
“The bike is constructed with a thin top tube (28.6 – 7/4/7), moderately thin down tube (31.8 – 8/5/8) and stiff chain stays. With the tapered steerer of the Enve CX fork I have to use a 44mm headset — thus requiring a large head tube.”
“The idea was to built a reasonable light CX racing bike with an excellent ride quality, handling and stiffness. I feel we accomplished this as my first responses back from Duncan were very positive. I am excited get more feedback as he spends more time on the machine.”
Aside from the immaculate paint and pinstriping that Joel applied himself — without the use of decals — there are other details that make this ‘crosser stand out from the crowd, like that custom stainless steel chain keeper attached to the front mech braze-on, the machined brass cable pulley and the personalised serial number and name plate on the bottom bracket shell.
The frame is built from with all-American True Temper OX Platinum and S3 tubing and looks as though it would dominate the competition in any ‘cross race. Joel’s grandfathers would be proud.
Get in touch with Joel via the Symond Cycles website.