Rad People Who Ride: Trystan Cobbett and his carbon cargo bike
27 August, 2013
Trystan Cobbett knows carbon. Who else would be brave enough to set out to create a carbon cargo bike with his own hands? Having spent time working at Softride in Bellingham, Washington, Trystan learned how to work with the magical material that the cycling industry now seems borderline obsessive over. Yet despite that obsession, how many carbon frames can you think of that are handmade in the US? Better yet, have you even heard of a carbon cargo bike? When not working at Bespoke Cycles in San Francisco, Trystan makes carbon frames by hand in his home shop. He kindly allowed me access to his secret carbon lair and I did my best to snap shots to give an inside look into the material that everyone wants yet still seems shrouded in mystery – well, to folks other than Trystan.
Trystan is also too nice. I met him while he was the buyer at Marin Bikes Factory Store, where he would even occasionally help out with carbon fiber repair on warranty frames. He has a deep passion for parts and he is incredibly modest despite his profound knowledge of all things bicycle. His soft-spoken manner is entirely too patient, particularly when I pester him with, “Mommy, where does carbon come from?” type questions. Enjoy Trystan’s fun responses, he’s worked in the bike industry for quite some time, traveled the globe, and gained some unique experiences in the process. Also attached are pictures of Trystan’s carbon cyclocross frame, nearing completion, the carbon carbon cargo bike, raw high modulus carbon, as well as carbon tubes. Wow, that’s a lot of carbon. Enjoy!
Name: Trystan Cobbett
Start with this, a Marin Team CXR 26" carbon frame. My oh my, that ThickSlick 26x2.0 Deluxe looks lovely, doesn't it?
Home Shop and City: Bespoke Cycles San Francisco
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
That’s a tough one, there are so many! I am a fan of the Pathway tire for my single speed cross bike, they’re great for riding from the pavement out into the Headlands and back or for a quick spin through the park before work it’s a hard compound so they aren’t great trail tires but perfect for every day use, and they’re really tough.
Poof! You get this.
As a skinny tire guy, Lucas Valley Road has to be my favorite stretch of pavement it really sealed the deal for me moving to San Francisco.
In my lifetime though, it would probably be the Friendship Highway. It connects Lhasa to Kathmandu; when I rode it back in the late 90’s it was just a dirt road, in some places it was high desert, in others it was ankle deep of the stickiest mud I’ve ever seen.
Ample cargo area - Trystan loaned his carbon cargo bike to a friend who transported transmission equipment, roughly 200 lbs, about the city.
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
Like most people I started out riding when I was pretty small, but living poor in the backwoods of West Virginia there wasn’t much else to do. I had a yellow Western Flyer with a banana seat and a coaster brake but I invented my own mountain biking because the nearest pavement was miles away.
I flirted with fast cars and motorcycles for a while, but I soon got tired of the hassles.
Since then I’ve always been in love with riding and bicycles, nothing else creates the simple equation of energy converted to speed in remotely the same way.
Internal cable routing... why not? Beneath every pricey carbon frame it looks like this - the real story of carbon when seen without paint nor final sanding.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Off road I definitely ride tubeless, even on the cross bike, I’m light on the wheels so pinch flats are incredibly rare for me, but even so I like the feeling of less rubber between me and the trail, the bike just has a bit more traction and little more get up and go. On pavement I’ve tried it out and I just didn’t find it all that impressive, perhaps it’s just the limited options of tires but it doesn’t give you anywhere near the result of tubulars or really good clinchers.
Leverage assisted steering.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Water, Phone, and flat repair but over the years I’ve had to get pretty creative to get home, so I generally carry a chain tool, tire boot, and super glue (super glue can be handy for both tires and skin).
A 70 degree headtube angle... for sending it, dummy. Yup, you calculate the headtube angle by the tube above the little front wheel, not where the headtube once was.
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
I’ve seen trucks full of dogs heading up the highway to restaurants in Vietnam. I watched my friend destroy MY bike 30 seconds after we “swapped for a minute”. I saw a jumper fall backward off of Waterloo Bridge.
High modulus carbon (thinner, tighter, smoother directional fibers) on two rights. Not so high modulus carbon... errr... low modulus? No modulus, ribbon fiber... on left. Sorry, not a carbon scientist.
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Don’t procrastinate on following your dreams, it might seem like there will be time tomorrow, but today is the day.
Pipes! Don't get too excited. Check out the wall thicknesses, something I had always been curious about.
Left my wallet in… a London taxicab immediately after arriving for a weeklong stay. I also once left my entire tool kit in the back of a Korean Mountain Climber’s equipment truck and spent an hour chasing them down the mountain on a dirt trail (I never caught them though).
Curious how those tubes come together? Voila, like this. BB area of Trystan's cyclocross frame.
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
Hopefully, my website, but it’s still in the works. I’m not a master of self-promotion so it’s been in development for quite some time…. trystancobbett.com
The cross bike and its maker. Different types of carbon can be used on the same frame as you can see by the 3k carbon toward the top (the stuff that looks almost stitched) and then the high modulus lower tubes - just like those tubes and sheets in the photos earlier.
There are not a lot of full size cargo bikes that you can casually lift into the air with a smile on your face. Trystan is an awesome guy and his work with the magical material is simply remarkable. Thank you kindly for letting us see your amazing work, you are too kind.