Category Archives: Mechanics

Glen Copus: An Elephant’s Place in Cycling History

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Glen Copus with a fleet of Elephants in Spokane. Photo by Ben Tobin via Elephant Bikes Facebook page.

For a man whose career has woven in and out of many major eras of bike history, Glen Copus has managed to fly under the mainstream radar remarkably well. He raced cyclocross in Santa Cruz in the late 70s and early 80s with American cross pioneers Laurence Malone and Dan Nall. He learned how to build bike frames from Keith Bontrager, one of the godfathers of mountain biking. Copus worked as a race mechanic in Europe for the US women’s road team in the 80s. He did production building for Serotta, Bontrager, and Rocky Mountain Bikes. He was in it and has the stories to tell. But one doesn’t get the impression that Copus ever wanted to be a bike industry “name” so much as he wanted to just go to the workshop, put his head down, and build amazing bicycles. When he launched his own bike company Elephant after an 18 year stint in metal fabrication, he chose the name in part to keep his own off the downtube. Today, Copus continues to build Elephant bikes out of his garage workshop in Spokane, WA–a mix of custom frame orders and small-batch production runs. In this interview, Copus discusses his long history in the bike world from shop rat to professional builder, life as a race mechanic, bike art versus commonsense craft, the business side of frame building, and more.

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The Resourceful Cyclists of Havana, Cuba

Cuba’s bicycling culture was born in the economic crisis that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Severe oil and gas shortages gave rise to the use of bicycles as transportation in the country, a trend that continues today. Kauri Multimedia produced a short documentary about bicycling in Havana and resourcefulness necessary to keep bikes running in a country without access to new parts.

Havana Bikes from Kauri Multimedia on Vimeo.

Tom Hopper: Rapha-Focus’ Master Mechanic

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Tom Hopper working for Garmin Sharp. Photo from VeloNews.

Mechanics are unsung heroes of bike racing. Most people recognize the critical role they play in a rider’s success (it’s tough to win if your bike falls apart on your breakaway). But how many of us could name the mechanic supporting Andy Hampsten the day he attacked over Gavia Pass or the guy working the pits for Jonathan Page when he took Silver at Worlds? Good mechanics are perhaps most critical in cyclocross where harsh conditions and hard racing frequently result in destroyed derailleurs, flat tires, and worse. Tom Hopper is a mechanic for the Rapha Focus cyclocross team. In this interview he discusses what it takes to be a successful pro-team mechanic, his history in cycling, innovations in cyclocross technology, and more.

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Adam McGrath: Cyclocross’ Wanderlusting, Micro-Farming Homesteader, Part 2


Adam and his mandolin in Japan. Photo via flickr.

Like the majority of American’s in their early 20s, Adam McGrath is making big transitions in his life as he finds his path. Granted, his transition is from pro cyclocross racer to rural homesteader, but it’s a transition just the same. More focused on sustainable living than podiums and prize money, Adam’s chosen to settle down on a small piece of land on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula rather than continue traveling the country and world to race cyclocross. In Part one of the interview, we talked about Adam’s rise to the ranks of pro cycling and his formative years of nearly-constant world travel. Part two picks up with Adam’s disenfranchisement with professional racing, the balance he finds living on a farm, and his future as a professional cyclist.

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Excellent Idea: Public Repair Stand

In an effort to promote bicycling, the University of Virginia installed a public D.I.Y. repair stand with an air pump and enough tools to fix almost any basic mechanical problem. It’s a simple and clever way for the school to not only show their support for bikes, but offer cyclists something practical and helpful. It’s also nice to see an institution taking a different approach to bike advocacy than slapping down some sharrows or painting some poorly placed bike lanes.

It would be great if public repair stands caught on in cities everywhere. It makes so much sense to install them along bike paths and high-traffic bike corridors. I carry a basic repair kit and pump with me every time I ride. But if I had the option to throw my bike on a stand and use real tools rather than propping my bike against the nearest sign and working my little hand pump until my arms get tired, I would do it every time.