When I went to Eugene, Oregon, for the Oregon Gran Fondo I rode one of Co-Motion’s signature models, the Nor’Wester. I last rode a Co-Motion—the Espresso—in 1998. It was a dynamite TIG-welded steel bike with a killer blue to purple fade. The Nor’Wester recalls the Italian stage racing bikes of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, what I tend to refer to as “grand touring” bikes.
The Nor’Wester begins with a low-ish bottom bracket (7.5cm of drop) and a conservative chain stay length (42cm), parallel 73-degree head and seat tube angles (in the 58cm frame I rode) and a bit more rake than I typically saw in the Italian bikes, with 47mm. Combined, the bike was agile in descents, but still easy to ride in a straight line over the chip-seal road that dominated the ride. My bike had a 57cm top tube and was paired with a 12cm stem.
This beefy carbon fiber fork is one of the only items Co-Motion doesn’t make in-house. One of the details about the Nor’Wester I really liked was how I could turn in hard on a descent and the bike held any line I established without wavering or weaving.
The bike was spec’d with a mostly Shimano Ultegra group, but they paired these TRP long-reach calipers with the bike so that I could ride 25mm tires on the ride. I’m so glad they did. The chip-seal on that ride really wore on me. I was in a lot of pain by the end of the day. I could see running 28s there, and this bike would have accommodated them.
The last time I rode Rolf Prima wheels, they were being distributed by Trek and they only offered alloy wheel sets. This bike was equipped with the Ares 4 carbon fiber clincher. I plan to do a full review of the Ares 4, if only for the simple reason that riding them at the Oregon Gran Fondo was so enjoyable. In broad strokes, they featured a rounded spoke bed for superior aerodynamics and good handling in cross winds. And they did handle well, but better yet, it was a distinctly fast wheel.
The wheels rolled on Continental’s Grand Prix 4000S IIs in the 25mm width. While the wider tire mounted on a wide rim helped a lot, and as I mentioned, I think I’d be inclined to run a 28mm the next time I tackle that event.
Co-Motion describes themselves as a niche manufacturer, and while I believe that’s true, for anyone really thinking about what they want in their next bike, anyone thinking longer-term, about versatility, about more than just lightweight racer-fast, they have more to offer than people think.
I managed to fit visits into both Rolf Prima and Co-Motion, so I did more than just ride the bike, I got the nickel tour, which I’d easily have paid $10 for. Rolf Prima is located in a cool facility on the north side of town and they do all their wheel building in house. Above a some hubs that have had spokes inserted and the threads prepped and now they simply await being laced into wheels.
Which is why when I saw the tennis ball screwed to the driver, I grinned. Repetetive-use injuries are no fun and keeping the hand opened up like that decreases the chances of carpal tunnel syndrome and they also increase the builder’s precision in truing the spokes by making small adjustments easier to execute.
I love me a big machine.
Rims waiting to be built into complete wheels. I was amazed to learn that because Rolf Prima offers their wheels in so many variants—axle width, cassette body, etc.—they assemble each hub from components shipped to them. It gives them a level of flexibility unusual for a wheel manufacturer.
As I mentioned, I love big machines and this is one of three CNC machines at Co-Motion Cycles, which is also based in Eugene. They make all their own dropouts, seat collars, disc brake mounts and more.
These bins hold mitered tubes that will be built into tandems. You can see some tubes that have been brazed into S&S couplers. Co-Motion does a surprisingly high number of tandems with S&S couplers, which, honestly, is the only acceptable way to travel with a tandem. Everything else is insanity.
I’ve seen a great many alignment flat tables in my time. This was the first one I’d ever seen for tandems. It speaks to just how hard it is to make a tandem that will track straight. A truism of tandem builders is that if they can make a straight bike for two, they can do a fine job on a bike for one.
This boom allows the welder to get the welder to achieve easy access to the joints once they have been tacked. Those two-pass welds result in a better-looking, more consistent weld with less tube distortion. It takes longer, but it’s almost required in order to make a straight bike.
The orange tandem is one of Co-Motion’s Periscope models that allows for a wide variety of rider height thanks to the telescoping seat tubes for captain and stoker. The blue bike shows what the S&S couplers look like in a finished bike.
Dan Vrijmoet, one of Co-Motion’s founding partners, designed and made the clamps for the Periscopes. It’s a genius way to be able to accommodate both children and adults in the stoker position.
Clean, simple and yet beautiful.