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Road to NAHBS 2017: Vlad Dolinsky of Vlad Cycles

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We hope you’re getting stoked for the show with our Road to NAHBS series so far. This week, we’ve shared interviews with likes of James Bleakley of Black Sheep Cycles and Chris McGovern of McGovern Cycles. Next week, we’re excited to continue to bring you interviews from a tasty blend of fresh faces and established favorites alike from the domestic framebuilding community… beyond! And, don’t forget, we’re bringing a new dimension to the pre-show coverage this year, designed to award frequent readers of our Road to NAHBS series with big prizes. So get stoked, stay tuned, and keep reading.

To round out this week, we talked to Vlad Dolinsky of Vlad Cycles, the up-and-comer from New Jersey (though, originally from Western Ukraine). Since his NAHBS debut in Louisville a short two years ago, Vlad has been pushing into engaging functional and visual territory. His frames are getting curvier. His racks are becoming more sophisticated and elaborate. Rather than settling in on a visual theme and refining, Vlad seems to be playing around across genres.

As a result, Vlad’s bikes are fun and fresh. We’re excited to see where he continues to push and excited to see what he’s bringing to this year’s show.

BIKERUMOR: You’ve said your labradoodle, Charlie, “needs his own bike.” If you were to build a bike for Charlie, what would it be? Why would it be the best bike Charlie could ride?

VLAD: Well, Charlie does not like cars, so a road bike is out of the question. He prefers dirt and trail, and likes to run fast. He hates losing traction while climbing and likes to be in control when riding off camber. Small bump compliance is important for him as well as being able to continue to have traction on loose sections. So, I think 27.5 plus bike will be his first choice.

Oh, and one more thing: he hates shifting gears.

BIKERUMOR: You have my favorite headbadge of the show featuring bats. Can you talk about where it came from? What’s the story?

VLAD: Anna, thank you! Jennifer Green from Revolution Cycle is a great artist! She did an amazing work with that badge. So, here is the story behind it. I grew up in Western Ukraine prior to collapse of Soviet Union, and my home town, Chernovitz, used to be part of Romania prior to World War II. As you know, Vlad Dracula or Impaler was an actual historical figure during 15th century, ruler of Walachia or Romania as we know now. Dracula had an ability to turn into Bat or Wolf, I am not kidding, it is very well written in the Bram Stocker’s novel “Dracula”. And the horses on the head badge are coming from the Russian culture – traditional Russian carriage drawn by three horses harnessed abreast that are called Troika.

BIKERUMOR: Your debut NAHBS was 2015 in Kentucky. How have your bikes evolved from the Troika you showed there?

VLAD: From the aesthetics stand point my bikes became more individualized. That’s how the Hunchback and Impaler came along. From the technical standpoint lots of attention is given to a tube selection and making sure that our bikes are functional, comfortable and aesthetically pleasant.

BIKERUMOR: Your bikes are getting pretty gosh darned curvy and you seem to be really upping your rack game. What is pushing you in this direction?

VLAD: Thanks! I like the aesthetics of the curves and I like to challenge myself. To me it’s not just making another frame, but making a unique frame that will make someone happy. I love building racks… you can get really creative with that as well as it adds additional functionality. With custom frame, fork and rack you cam really create that unique bike and ride.

BIKERUMOR: Before you started building bikes, what was your favorite bike? How did you ride?

VLAD: I became passionate cyclist later in life when I moved from Brooklyn, NY to Boonton, NJ (suburbs of Northern New Jersey) about fifteen years ago, and discovered that people ride mountain bikes here. I tried and got hooked. My first mountain bike was a full suspension Cannondale, but I quickly learned that a hard tail is a better ride for me. My favorite were single speed steel Vassago Jabberwocky and Ti Black Sheep. Both 29ers. There is no downshifting here when you approach a climb. You stand up and hammer it! In addition, elegance of the single speed bike that has no derailleurs or extra wires, and a low maintenance was a big plus for me at that time.

BIKERUMOR: Which builder would you most like to collaborate with on a project? What would that project be?

VLAD: Probably Eric Baar. He works with all types of alloys. It has to be a tandem bike pinstriped by him at the end.

BIKERUMOR: What is your main bike at the moment? What is that your main ride?

VLAD: I ride primarily my 27.5 plus on the trails. The bike I showed during 2015 NAHBS in Louisville, KY. It was designed around 29er 100mm travel suspension fork with a little bit steeper head angle. I like the traction of the plus tires and being able to ride in all conditions. I keep a set 29er wheels for this bike that I use on smooth and flowy single track from time to time. However, about five years ago I discovered road biking. So, I ride road bike a lot during Summer now and, finally, I built myself a gravel bike that I will be showing in SLC soon. The goal here was to combine pavement, gravel and dirt riding in one ride so who knows may be that will be my favorite ride after all.

BIKERUMOR: What do you put on your hotdog?

VLAD: I was expecting a beer question! I usually put everything on it!


Looking for more information about NAHBS? Check out HandmadeBicycleShow.com

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7 years ago

Anna, I’m enjoying these interviews. I leave the hot dog off and put on a Bratwurst.

7 years ago

I am digging vlads direction with travel bikes and racks.

7 years ago

+1 to the rad head badge

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