Photograph by Misha Gravenor
While most bicycles, even from American companies, are manufactured in Taiwan, Gregory Townsend (above) offers something almost unheard of these days: road and fixed-gear bikes built by hand to your exact specifications. “It helps me to see a client ride their bike,” he says. “Tell me what you don’t like about the bike. Are your wrists hurting? Is your back hurting?” Working in his garage in Monrovia, he specializes in steel frames (“It feels more confident than carbon fiber”). From start to finish, the process can take as long as 18 months (he has a day job in information technology), but clients get to watch their ride take shape on Flickr.
For years the best way to enjoy a handmade Foes Racing mountain bike was, say, bombing down Sullivan Canyon or the Mount Lowe trail. But something unusual has been rolling out of Brent Foes’s workshop of late: the Pasadena Crown City Commuter Bike. Named for its hometown, the two-wheeler shares some DNA with its hill country siblings (it has mountain-worthy disc brakes and what is, for this genre, a fairly burly aluminum frame to suck up road vibration), offering reassuring stability without tank-like handling. » 62 N. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena, 626-683-8368.
They’re intended for cruising, but the boards from Rift Longboards are almost too pretty to use. Composed of oak, wenge, walnut, and other leftover lumber collected from local businesses, their arcing, intricately patterned inlays have the effect of pinstriping. The owners of Real Door, a wood shop in L.A., teamed up with Seamus Blackley, a CAA agent with a master’s in physics, to sell what they like to call jewelry for men. “There are a lot of guys out there who are lapsed skaters,” says Blackley, “and we want to build something really beautiful that can take people back to that.”