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YiPsan's Custom 27.5 Has Something Special

Meticulous attention to detail means this custom hardtail rides like no other--and that's a great thing.
ByMatt Phillips
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I wish I knew what alchemy makes some bikes more enjoyable to ride than others. While I appreciate almost every bike ride, I occasionally happen upon a model that adds something remarkable to the experience. It's sorta like a taco: It’s hard to find a bad one, but some taste so much better than the rest that possible explanations for their superiority transcend mere ingredients or technique.

 

Like a remarkable taco, the best-riding bikes can’t be defined simply by their ingredients—in this case, geometry or tube types. I can only describe it as a happy interaction of rider and bike. It’s seemingly impossible to quantify or predict, but is immediately evident when present. This YiPsan hardtail is one such bike.

 

Renold Yip is a one-man operation based out of his garage in Fort Collins, Colorado. I won't bother with his biography or building philosophy because I can do no better than the words the man wrote himself: I can only advise you to read this crowd-sourced interview at Velocopide Salon.

 

Yip only began building bikes in 2007, but he quickly gained recognition for his artistry, winning two awards at the 2010 North American Hand Built Show (NAHBS): Best City Bicycle and the People's Choice award. These are not awards for how a bike rides (no one rides the bikes at NAHBS before voting), but are based mostly on how the bikes look and, to some degree, on interactions with the builder at the booth during the show.

 

Glitter silver accents on the top, down and seat tubes contrast the satin black paint. The accents inside the chainstays are hidden. (Matt Phillips)

 

I've talked to Yip and seen his bikes in person, so I can understand why, despite being so new, he received those awards. He comes across as one of the kindest, gentlest, most patient people you've ever met. Really. Call him. If you feel differently, I'll eat Ned Overend's chamois.

 

If you can't see his bikes in person at NAHBS, spend some time browsing his prodigious Flickr photo stream and you may begin to understand. The man builds beautiful bikes.

 

This hardtail is Yip's personal bike—luckily for me, we're the same height. When asked to describe the bike, Yip said, “It follows a simple, straight-forward approach, where the lines are direct and if there is any decorative feature, it is preferred to be subtle. The single bend seat stay and chainstays provide the function for clearance without being distracting aesthetically, somewhat similar to the aesthetic of early mountain bikes."

 

Yip built his bike around 27.5-inch wheels using Columbus, True Temper and generic double-butted chromoly steel tubes. He chose the tube diameter with lighter riders in mind and "not a stiffer-is-better approach." Instead of TIG welding the tubes, Yip used the less-common fillet brazing method for one a very simple reason. "I don’t know how to TIG weld, " said Yip, who also joins tubes by lug silver brazing. Between the two methods, fillet allows more flexibility in tube angles. “And I like the smooth, flowing finish of a filet brazed joint. Some call it more organic and I have no complaint with that description.

 



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