Spring has sprung in Sydney, after one of the wettest winters in memory. Muddy conditions, however, are favoured for cyclocross racing, which is becoming more popular in Australia with every passing season. This Vanilla Speedvagen is a recent import and will be making the rounds at ensuing races.
Justin is a Sydney local who, until recently, commuted strictly by bike, until he entered last years Mountain Goat Hill Climb, part of the Sydney Rides festival. He got the taste for mud and subsequently signed up for the Rapha Super Cross event. Thus began the search for a dedicated ‘crosser.
The search took him to Hugh at the City Bike Depot on Kent Street, who turned him onto the Portland custom scene. Justin underwent a few months of deliberation before calling Sacha White at Vanilla Bicycles, to make an enquiry about a Speedvagen, Vanilla’s production line of ‘cross bikes.
Justin was fitted with the Guru system that has recently been installed at CBD and the measurements were sent to Portland. “Jenn at Vanilla Workshop is real gem and so willing to help with advice, taking the time to chat to me about the bike and options for it. In the end I took a deep breath, and went for the Surprise Me! paint scheme.
A trip to the US had already been booked for early August, which would’ve landed Justin back in Sydney for the New South Wales CX Nationals. Unfortunately the Surprise Me! paint option for the cyclocross line might not be available in time. The road version, however, had just been released…
The Surprise Me! paint scheme is devised by Sacha as an option for his frames that are kept secret until a designated release date. This edition is inspired by his 1971 Volvo 142 whose paint had been worn to the primer. It has been replicated by several applications of paint which are sanded down between coats — laid over their signature sky blue.
This is the only CX frame to be decorated with the road version of the Surprise Me! colours, and I doubt whether it would be worth asking for it again. This is also the first CX Speedvagen to incorporate an integrated battery for the Ultegra Di2 group: because of Justin’s height, it was able to be squeezed into the seat post, just under the saddle.
“Going to pick up the bike was the best decision I ever made,” Justin says. “Not only was it great to meet Sacha, Jenn and the team, as they are all wonderful people, but to see the final fit and where it was made, was close to seeing the birth of my kids. Then to just hop on and ride off was just amazing. They suggested I try the Forest Park Trails.
“That was until I met a mountain biker who suggested I follow him down Fire Lane 5, he said it was a little technical but if I took it slow I would be OK. Technical. Man, did I have to work and yes, day one and the Speedvagen was christened with a crash.” Luckily, both the new Speedvagen and owner arose from the bush, relatively unscathed.
Justin’s Speedvagen is truly a thing of beauty, with its severe S-bend seat stays, matching DT Swiss hubs and brake cabling that pierces the seat post. Justin is still settling in to the geometry but tells me their Integrated Cross Stem will be the first upgrade. I’m looking forward to seeing it again after a couple of muddy racing seasons.