A-D Bikes is The Bike Company of the Future and the enterprise that is restoring Austro-Daimler to its former cycling glory. Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine met up once again with President and Founder Fred Thomas at the Gull Crest fields in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in October and had a chance to ride the Ubercross Carbon Disc Classic and learn more about what is planned for A-D Bikes for 2015. “I love cyclocross bikes.” Mr. Thomas said as he took a break from riding an imaginary course that runs around two football fields, winds through the woods and labors up the Mother of All Run Ups at the nearby transfer station. “But I need to practice my cyclocross racing a bit. The last cross race I entered, I crashed through the tape, fell repeatedly and then spent the remaining part of the race in the pit trying to get my damaged bike fixed. It was such a farce that I actually had a great time.” Mr. Thomas rides cyclocross for training and rode another hour on trails in a nearby meadow before heading back home.
Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine tried out the Ubercross Carbon Disc Classic the next day and rode Mr. Thomas’ imaginary course at Gull Crest. Riding the Ubercross is like the first day of a summer vacation. The old feels new, the hard feels easy and the stale feels fresh. It is the perfect platform for the dedicated cyclocross competitor or the gravel road enthusiast. We rocketed across the grass, rolled through the trails and lifting the bike for the Mother of All Run-ups was second nature. Mr.Thomas’ Ubercross Carbon Disc Classic is built up with Shimano Ultegra 6700 mechanical drive train, Shimano CX70 cranks and front derailleur, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes running 160 mm rotors, Ritchey WCS Classic aluminum bars and Carver 38 carbon tubular rims. Alan Starret of Bikeman.com did the build. The bike (size 50 cm) weights 8.3 kg (18 pounds 8 ounces). The Champagne finish has a deeper and suitably autumn tone (something you will notice only if you park the bike next to your Superleicht Limited or tt Carbon Limited) and the down tube graphics feature the Austro-Daimler lettering. Cycling Pro Road Review has to say that the name Ubercross in the American Hustle font is the most refreshing addition to the pantheon of cyclocross bike names. “I still cannot believe that someone hadn’t already thought of Ubercross. The umlaut over the “U” even creates a smiley face, which captures the spirit of this bike perfectly. It is so original and weird that I still chuckle every time I think about it.” Mr Thomas said.
The Classic and Limited Series frame sets feature the A-D 55UCX disc carbon front fork, English thread bottom bracket and oversized head tube (1 1/8 inch to 1 1/2 inch steer tube). “The only difference between the two frame sets is the graphics. The Classic has the lettering and the Limited has the logo. They both have a great voice and both are very easy to build.” Additional features include internal cabling on the down tube and top tube, external cabling on the chain stay, an aluminum seat post collar to accommodate a 31.6 mm seat post and a Cane Creek 110 Series head set in the blue finish.
Over the course of one year, Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine has reviewed all three of the frame sets offered by A-D Bikes and has followed the exploits of the enterprise during numerous conversations with Mr. Thomas both on and off the bike. We are impressed with the quality, value and performance of the frame sets and with Mr. Thomas’ vision and management of the brand. It is easy for us to understand why consumers buy A-D frame sets and we will not be surprised to see more of these fabulous frame sets enter the market over the next year. “Everyday it seems there is a development that moves this enterprise forward, wether it is the sale of a frame set to an individual, an enquiry from an international distributor or a new connection on Facebook.” Mr. Thomas said. “I am getting to the point where I have to start planning for an expansion in both human and physical capacity which is exciting stuff because that has always been the plan. I am in this for the whole tour.”
Mr. Thomas frequently refers to A-D Bikes as “The Bike Company of the Future”. We pressed him on what he means exactly by this over a well deserved Cappucino back at his home in Cape Elizabeth. “To me it means a company that combines the convenience, selection and price of the Internet with the community, service and support of the local bike shop. It also means a company that is built around the Internet right from the start with policies and principles that are different from industry standards. For consumers, it means things like the A-D Bikes Cash or Credit Program and the A-D Bikes Conversion Program. For dealers, it means on demand access to inventory and being allowed and encouraged to sell A-D frame sets through their own on-line channels. It means Thinking Outside the Bike.”
Mr. Thomas pauses for a moment and warns that once he starts Talking Bikes, the chances of Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine missing his afternoon flight to New York are significantly increased. Mr. Thomas is given the thumbs up to proceed. “The model transaction that is in my mind has the consumer standing in his or her favorite bike shop looking at an A-D frame set or demo bike, and then ordering the right size frame set right there on the spot through the shop’s A-D Bikes iPad. Three days later, the frame set turns up at the shop and the techs get to work on the build. The consumer gets the support of the bike shop and the selection of the Internet, the bike shop gets the fitting and the labor and both parties get the relationship, the convenience and the value. That’s how I thought we should be buying our performance bikes in the 21st century.”
Our conversation on All Things A-D Bikes continued for quite a while, but your Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine correspondent did not miss his plane and in fact had plenty of time to reflect on our rides and discussions during the journey home. The A-D Bikes Cash or Credit Program and the A-D Bikes Conversion Program are perhaps the most innovative thing Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine has seen introduced in the industry since the move from down tube shifting to dual control levers. Mr. Thomas’ experience running eBay auctions at Frame and Wheel (the sister company of A-D Bikes) has clearly honed his ability to provide personal and professional service to the highest level. The Limited Series frame sets are as nice if not nicer than any frame set available on the market today and represent excellent value. And there are so many exciting things on the horizon: the Ultima Carbon Limited (an aero road frame set), the Bahn Carbon Limited (a track frame set), a steel frame set project, a Kickstarter campaign, the A-D Bikes Racing Team. It is exciting times at A-D Bikes indeed, but it is Mr. Thomas’s commitment to innovation, service and product excellence that is going to allow him to win his market and do what he always says. Be the First.
By Fred Thomas
Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine