New and Daring: Horse Cycles at Enve ShowJan Heine
Among all the amazing bikes at the Enve Builders Roundup, the entry from Horse Cycles stood out for me. Not because it was the most flashy, but because it is one of the bikes I’d want to ride, and because it breaks new ground in meaningful ways.
In fact, I’ve known about this bike for a while, because back in the spring, Horse’s builder, Thomas Callahan, contacted me to tell me about this bike. It’s intended for a rider who already has a steel Horse, but wanted a lighter bike to take on spirited bikepacking trips across really rugged terrain. In fact, he’s planning to take the bike to Kyrgyzstan later this year…
Modern steel all-road bikes tend to be heavy. Tapered head tubes and mounts for disc brakes, through axles and oversized BB shells are bulky and don’t really lend themselves to be made out of a dense material like steel. So Thomas fabricated the frame from titanium instead. He told me: “I’ve welded titanium in the past, but this is the first complete ti frame I’ve made.” The customer also wanted an (almost) level top tube and nimble handling.
That’s actually the reason why Thomas reached out: He wanted to build the bike around smaller 650B/27.5″ wheels, but the customer wanted to run our dual-purpose knobbies – and he wanted 55 mm tires and noise canceling, if possible. At the time, we were just finalizing the testing of our upcoming 650B x 55 mm Umtanum Ridge, which would be perfect for this bike. I promised Thomas a set of prototype tires for the bike, so he could show it in its final form before the production tires are available. We’ve only got a handful of prototype tires, and most are well-worn from our testing. However, one set was reserved for our photoshoot, and once the studio session was finished, I sent him the tires that will soon appear on the product pages of our web site.
The Horse’s innovation doesn’t stop with the new tires. When I saw the photos of the bike at the Enve show, I immediately noticed the bar-end shifter. Most of our readers know that I’m not a fan of cable-operated brifters – the internals wear out too quickly for my taste, unless unless you shift carefully and deliberately. I prefer electronic shifting – and the industry agrees: Cable-operated brifters are a quickly vanishing breed. And yet I’m not fully on board, because I don’t like to worry about how much charge my batteries have left. A bar-end shifter, coupled with a One-By drivetrain, is the obvious solution.
At the rear, there’s a SRAM X-01 Eagle derailleur and some minimalist dropouts – with fender eyelets.
Now you know why I want to ride this bike: A lightweight frame that may have just the right amount of flex in the right places, super-wide tires for go-anywhere prowess, coupled with smaller wheels for nimble handling even on twisty paved descents, plus an easy-shifting, bullet-proof drivetrain. In other words, my kind of bike.
Photo credits: Enve
(Click on the photos for higher resolution)