Vynl Bikes is a Californian based bike company producing road and cyclocross frames. Their company slogan is “honest race bikes” and it’s the approach applied to their products. The company was started by four passionate friends who came together and reflected on their roots and the simple pleasures of riding and racing your bike. Whether it’s up a mountain, smashing a crit or even racing to the local coffee shop.
These four friends are bike industry veterans and when asked why Vynl was created, their answer was honest. “We decided to make the bikes that we wanted to ride. Simple, clean, everything you needed and nothing you didn’t”. The creators are Sophie Ballo, Sean Coffey, Ming Tan and Nate Shaw. They began to notice that the bikes they loved to ride were being considered “vintage”. Jaded with the trends of the bike industry like integrated calipers and proprietary seat post clamps, led to Vynl’s birth.
A no frills purpose built race bike.
Made in the USA by some of the best builders in the country. First at Zen Fabrications in Portland and now with Frank the Welder out of Vermont.
The geometry is based on some of their favorites bikes with a few special shapes to get the best ride out of aluminum. It’s a “very straightforward, no-nonsense bike meant to be ridden hard, that plays to the best qualities of the metal it’s built with.” Consumers are being more aware and seeing the value of aluminum bikes, we’re glad to see brands like Vynl working with the metal to it’s full potential.
Now that we have a proper introduction to Vynl, how do they perform on the road. We got two frames from and built them to our specs. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Handling, response, stiffness, compliance and serviceability. All things we want from our bikes, can one bike handle all of those categories and execute them?
Stiffness & Compliance
If you had to pick one bike to do it all then you’d want the perfect amount of the characteristics we mentioned above. We feel that’s the secret sauce of Vynl Bikes. This bike can climb, it can sprint and it can hold speed. It’s got the perfect amount of stiffness to give the rider confidence when putting down power out the saddle or on it. We’ve ridden some stiff carbon bikes and carbon gives a linear distribution of energy. while with the energy distribution of aluminum is radial, together with the geometry and the 27.2 seat tube, you get a bike that’s stiff when you need it, and compliant as well.
Handling & Response
The bottom bracket height on Vynls is a race standard 70mm, nice and low to keep you tucked into the bike but not extremely low where you have to worry about clipping a pedal while taking a hard corner. With a chain stay length of 405mm across the board in all sizes, you get a nimble machine that takes corners smooth yet spiritedly. This 405mm chain stay length is extremely important when you get to tall sizes, we’ve got a 57cm and a 51cm, both have the same CS length, so no loss in handling quality for taller riders. The bike responds to what you throw at it and does it well.
Ok let’s face it, whenever you have issues on your bike, some of us like to work on them ourselves. But there’s some things you can’t do on certain bikes, due to lack of tools or know-how. While we’ll always suggest taking your bike to your LBS and having it checked out if there’s something you don’t know how to fix, sometimes it’s best to do it yourself. You’re not going to find the headaches of internal cable routing, the special press tools needed for simple bottom bracket swaps. These bikes are built with the premise of being easily serviceable by all levels of riders. Threaded bottom brackets continue to stay on top when it comes to reliability, and Vynl incorporates the trusty 68mm English thread on their frames. The bike can be put together quickly and with ease. Easy to diagnose problems and simple to fix. Recently the’ve also introduced Di2 frames, which lack downtube cable guides adding to a cleaner finish.
If you only had one option consider VYNL. As mentioned, these bikes have the right amount of everything. They look the part, have a unique geometry and can be personalized with out selling a kidney with endless color combinations. You’ll stand out from the sea of carbon and proprietary parts. Built for purpose, on purpose.