I had a chance to chat with Sean Walling from Soulcraft at the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Sacramento recently. Sean’s reputation as a no-nonsense bike builder has allowed him to build up an almost cult-like following here in the SF Bay area and beyond. He has been building steel hardtails for many years and his original Option 3 has 59 user reviews on our site dating back to 2000, all the while maintaining a 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers rating! The Option 3 morphed into the Option B (back in the days when 27.5 was called 650B) and now comes his latest version, the Option B+.
The Option B+ is designed for a 3″ wide Plus size tire (27.5″) but the owner wanted to keep the chainstay to a super short 16.75 inches (425mm). The problem is that when running Plus size tires, the builder can run into tire clearance issues and crank clearance issues. The solution? A special CNC’d plate design that is flat, thus allowing the clearance needed. As can be seen from the side view above, the seat tube has been curved to provide a bit more clearance and a more laid-back geometry than a normal XC-oriented hardtail. The head angle is slack and the bottom bracket is low and meant for a rider who likes to get rowdy.
And just who is the proud owner and rider of this bike? It is actually none other than one of Sean’s close industry friends, Greg Thrash, Engineer from e*Thirteen. In fact, Greg used his engineering know-how and did the CAD work for the yokes himself. Sean also got help from Curtis Inglis (Retrotec) in the bending of the seat tube. Other contributors include Cameron Falconer (yoke development), Jake Faw (yoke CNC machining) and Matt Ross.
Although produced several years ago, this video still gives a good look inside Soulcraft’s operations and style.
If readers out there are interested in ordering their own Soulcraft Option B+, the wait will be about 4 months and the cost is about $2300-$2400 per frame including custom fitting and sizing (final cost of the custom yoke plates has not yet been set, the bike you see here is Option B+ number one.)
For more information visit www.soulcraftbikes.com.