Sick Bicycles - the mountain bike menagerie
The two mountain biking punks pissing off the internet one bike at a time
“I think… we’re just too stupid to know when to stop"
Tim and Jordan from Sick Cycles aren’t typical bike company owners. Tattooed, pierced and refreshingly punk rock, they’d have you believe they really aren’t taking this malarky too seriously.
One of the first things we have from them on tape is: “for the record, there are no dead children buried under my patio. Tim lives in my old house so they are under his" - there’s not many brands you’d get that from.
This persona has helped to shape their brand - Sick Cycles. Although half the internet seems unable to pick it up, the name has these boys’ tongues mining through their cheeks and is backed up by the model names such as Gnarcissist (a hardcore hardtail) and Gnarpoon (a yet to be revealed 29+ 171mm travel bike) or their trademark pending Slaximum geometry. Sneer at them all you like but we prefer it to those brands who name their bikes like the intern's been given a can of alphabetti spaghetti and a laxative.
Underestimate them at your peril too. Jordan’s first job out of university was at McLaren and he’s worked with many of Britain’s engineering big hitters since then.
His brains are helping to bring to market some totally unique bikes that buck industry trends and hoping to erode notions of what makes a 'good' mountain bike. Sick Cycles have gone to the logical extremes of geometry, use niche component brands and have some very interesting theories on materials. Tim says: "You can see trends coming now, bikes are getting slacker, bikes are getting longer and we wanted to jump that and go for as long and slack as you can physically go, let's see if it works."
Jordan chimes in: "The idea was that we built it right to the extreme but then we'd scale it back between the two". Then Tim finishes his sentence: "But then we rode it and it was ridiculously good immediately."
Of course, being so radical has meant the boys have attracted a fair amount of online hate. Tim gleefully explains: "It's just that initial, 'how do yo get your foot in the door of an already very established industry'? The answer is you don't, it doesn't matter and that's half the fun of it."
There are two more spokes in the wheel it would be criminal to overlook at Sick though, Bryan and Julie from Downland Cycles. Downland Cycles are the people who teach people who teach people how to build frames, how to build frames. They know their stuff and bring the quality to the boys' madness.
Downland came on board almost immediately when they heard Tim and Jordan's plans. It seems Bryan had been itching to build radical bikes for a while and was all in after a simple phone call and seeing a few CAD drawings.
The whole operation has come from conception to market in around four months. "In January, it wasn't much more than a stupid joke," says Tim, "but we were too stupid to quit, we just carried on with it and we're sort of here now."
As it stands, Sick don't actually sell any bikes and they only formed around four months ago but they're just a buzzing hive of activity and creativity. Will it work? Is it all just clever marketing? We'll probably find out when they launch in a few days.
Until then, let's take a look at those bikes.
There’s currently only one in the world and despite being designed around Tim and Jordan’s 5’8" frames, it boasts a wheelbase of 1,355mm - that’s roughly as big as the biggest Pole and the Extra Longest Geometron. Bear in mind the original sketches had the bike at nearly 1,500mm - Reynolds just simply don’t makes tubes long enough to accommodate it.
Riding the Gnarcissist on flat ground, it feels cumbersome, nigh-on impossible to manual and like a sit-up-and-beg bike to pedal around on. I was left thinking: "What on Earth have these jokers dragged me out to the middle of Kent for?"
On the trail, it starts to make sense. Yes, you still know you’re riding a hardtail but the violence is taken out of landings and there’s not much that will knock it off line. The prototype we rode with Hope wheels was still a little flexy in the rear end (what do you expect with all that length?), but this is set to be sorted with twin braces on the stays for the production model.
More than anything, it really is fun - stable and forgiving there’s an infectious giddiness that takes hold, a twenty minute session on an unremarkable bombhole had us all trying to send it as deep as possible. At Dirt we've long since consigned hardtails to the antiques bin, but the Ganrcissist did more than enough to pique our interest.
We've already had a quick look at the Gnarpoon, it's not been fully built yet but the idea is for it to be a 171mm, plus sized full suss that Sick are hoping will create the new blueprint for downhill bikes (told you they had big plans)... oh yeah, and it's got a bottom bracket for a pivot.
We've got first dibs on a ride on this steel machine so expect to see more of it coming soon.
The "Have Blue"
They've not even formally released a bike yet but already Sick are teasing their third frame. This is the Have Blue and we're sworn to secrecy on most things except it's made from carbon (gnarbon?) and titanium and it's being built right now.
Also, seeing as we're well past the 22nd of June now, we're pretty sure that isn't a date...
So how big can Sick get? Tim says: "We want to rub shoulders with the big boys. We don't want to be some niche, cliquey brand, my aspiration is to be something like Specialized, or Trek, or Brooklyn Machine Works without the stopping." Big dreams, but ones that have been shared by many a mountain biking start up. We've no idea if Sick can pull it off but they'll probably have more fun than most giving it a go.