The Bike Company of the Future
A-D Bikes is the modern face of Austro-Daimler cycling and the Bike Company of the Future. Fred Thomas, President and Founder of the company, invited Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine to the official launch of the Ultima Carbon Limited at A-D Racing’s winter training camp in Palm Springs, California so that we could take a closer took at the bike Mr. Thomas will be racing this season and learn more about what is in store for the company in 2016. “Like its steel ancestor, the Ultima Carbon Limited has exactly the same Thorndorf Purple finish.” Mr. Thomas said as he prepared for a ride out to the unincorporated town of Sky Valley located in the desert shadow of Joshua Tree National Park. “Other than that, the bike is completely different. It is an aero road frame that can be built up to weigh around 15 pounds.” Mr. Thomas is in his second year of riding for the newly formed A-D Racing, a USA Cycling racing team, and he typically starts the season with a training camp in Arizona or California. “I finally made the team.” Mr Thomas chuckles.
Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine tried out the Ultima Carbon Limited the next day on the warm roads outside of Palm Springs. Riding the Ultima is like watching the final minutes of a stage of the Tour de France. The impossible seems possible, the unreasonable seems reasonable and the forgettable becomes unforgettable. The Ultima is the perfect bike for the serious road competitor or the dedicated enthusiast. We rolled through the desert miles of Dillon Road, snapped up Miracle Hill and swept through the curves of the Tramway Road descent. Mr. Thomas’ Ultima Carbon Limited is set up with Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 electronic shifting, Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 brakes, Zipp SL-70 Aero Carbon bars, Zipp SL Speed Carbon seat post, Fizik Arione saddle and Stages Cycling power meter. Running Lightweight Meilenstien, Xentis XBL 5.8s or Alto Cycling CT56s, the bike (size 54 cm) weighs in at around 15 pounds (For the training camp Mr. Thomas runs Mavic R-SYS with Vittoria Pave 27 mm tires).
The Ultima Carbon Limited graphics feature the distinctive A-D logo on the down tube and the Ultima lettering in the period-correct American Hustle font. Cycling Pro Road Review has to say that the Thondorf Purple finish is a triumphant touch that tastefully connects the modern incarnation of the Ultima with the original. “Purple is a hard color to do well.” Mr. Thomas said. “I bought a few of the original steel Ultima frames in the secondary market and sent them to paint specialists who replicated the finish exactly on plastic cards. The cards were then sent to my suppliers who used their painting systems to match the cards exactly. It was a complicated process, but we really nailed the color”.
The Ultima Classic Limited frame set features the A-D 36 Aero carbon front fork, dual electronic or mechanical routing compatibility, a BB86 PressFit bottom bracket and an oversized head tube (1 1/8 inch to 1 1/2 inch steer tube). “Mechanics love the Ultima. It is very easy to build,” Mr. Thomas notes. Additional features include an alloy seat binder to accommodate a 27.2 mm seat post (not included), cable stops and plugs and a Cane Creek 110 Series head set in the black finish.
Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine has met with Mr. Thomas numerous times both on and off the bike since the company got started and has produced reviews about the Superleicht Carbon Limited, the tt Carbon Limited and the Ubercross Carbon Disc Classic. The Ultima Carbon Limited is the “Best in Class” offering from A-D Bikes and it nicely rounds out the company’s line up. We continue to be impressed with the quality, value and performance of the A-D frame sets and with Mr. Thomas’ management and vision for the brand. “These frame sets are going all over the world and each time the customer’s expectations are being wildly exceeded. There is no better feeling than knowing the customer is pleased and spreading the word,” Mr. Thomas says.
Mr. Thomas was spreading the word quite a bit in 2015 by competing with A-D Racing both domestically and internationally and by running a large and impressive booth at the UCI World Road Championships in Richmond, Virginia. “It was training camp for the marketing department and for my legs. I was standing for six hours a day for seven days straight Talking A-D Bikes. Too much happiness.” Cycling Pro Road Review Magazine was there and we heard Mr. Thomas describing the company to the public as the Bike Company of the Future. Over a post ride Southwest Burger at Smokin’ Burgers in Palm Springs, we asked Mr. Thomas to explain.
“The Bike Company of the Future combines the convenience, selection and value of the Internet with the support, service and community of the local bike shop.” Mr. Thomas is clearly very well rehearsed, but completely genuine. “What I mean by that is the Bike Company of the Future allows the customer to order a frame set and the parts and then have everything shipped to his favorite bike shop for the build. This idea really resonated with a lot of people. Many cyclists already have the components and wheels they need or very firm preferences about what they want on their bike. What they don’t have is the time to do the build themselves or the desire to alienate themselves from their favorite local bike shop.” Mr. Thomas says.
“If A-D Bikes is the Bike Company of the Future,” Mr. Thomas continues, “then the Bike Shop of the Future is going to look quite a bit different too. I am picturing a fully-equipped and staffed work shop, a few iPads linked directly to vendor websites, a high definition plasma television showing the Tour de France, loads of high quality parts and accessories and a full-on, hard wired Cappuccino machine. The only bikes around are demonstration bikes available for test rides. That’s it. I am know it is happening already”. Cycling Pro Road Review does not have to squint very hard to see the future Mr. Thomas describes.
Cycling Pro Road Review knows that Talking Bikes is an occupational hazard that can soak up an hour faster than Wiggo can go a kilometer. Your correspondent pedaled softly back to his pool side accommodation at the base of the San Jacinto mountains, ruminating about A-D Bikes all the way in the warm afternoon sun. A-D frame sets are inexpensive premium products and a blank canvas on which the athlete can paint a masterpiece. The company’s customer support programs (A-D Bikes Conversion Program, A-D Bikes Choice Program and A-D Bikes Cash or Credit Program) innovate the way we buy and sell performance bikes and create additional value for new and existing A-D Bikes customers. Mr. Thomas’ enthusiasm and personal connection to the brand is authentic. And there are many exciting things on the horizon and in the works: the Vent Noir Carbon Limited (a disc brake endurance road frame set), the Bahn Carbon Limited (a track frame set) and the Ultima Classic in steel. As Cycling Pro Road Review has said before, 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