Squid Bikes: Aluminum, but far from average
When you visit the Squid Bikes website, you’ll find no spreadsheets with the geometries for each of their models. There’s only one model, a cyclocross bike. It’s available in cantilever and disc brake versions, as well as several finish options. The geometry for this single model can be found in a low-res photo of some hand-written numbers on a legal pad.
This is Squid Bikes. The bikes are shipped out of a Northern California shop with paint applied, likely adorned with any variety of creatures, mermaids, or ghosts. Maybe even a squid.
“We felt that there was a lot of room in the term of aesthetics other than a logo on the down tube and pinstripes,” said co-founder and Squid athlete Emily Kachorek. “We refer to ourselves as a skateboard company selling cyclocross bikes. Graphic heavy and fun, something buyers can connect with more than normal branding you find on frames.”
The first Squid hit the bicycle ocean the week before CrossVegas in September. Pro riders Anthony Clark (JAM Fund) and Kachorek have been racing aboard the Pro Model frames, which have stock geometries with graphics they themselves had a large hand in designing.
“Following the Pro Model skateboard decks model, we give our athletes more of a connection to their bikes,” Kachorek told VeloNews. “When we started working with Anthony, we told him, ‘you can put anything on your bike, this artist is going to give you a call, and you guys can work something out.’ Of course, Anthony gets really excited. He said, ‘I want mermaids, El Caminos, checkerboards and flames.’”
Beyond getting to design their own frames, Clark and Kachorek receive a cut of the profits of the bikes they helped design. “Half of the profits from the Pro Models goes directly to the athletes,” Kachorek said. “Unlike a more traditional sponsorship, where a brand gives an athlete some equipment and they just say nice things about it, we want our athletes to be invested in the company.”
The Pro Model finishes are available in two options, each retailing for $2,100: Kachorek’s Creatures and Clark’s SWL (Sick What Lifestyle). Squid’s $1,850 1.E. Model is available in 10 powder coat finishes, and the unfinished Rattlecan frame retails for $1,600. All frames include a Chris King headset and an Enve fork.
Frames are all handmade at Ventana mountain bikes. Ventana’s master builder and co-founder Sherwood Gibson came up with the geometry for the Squid ’cross bikes.
“We feel very fortunate to be working with him and getting fabulous frames. There’s not a ton of people working with aluminum these days,” Kachorek continued. “We set out to make the highest quality frame we could, and relied on Sherwood quite a bit for numbers. We wanted to accommodate the smaller sized people. I am 5-foot-7, I’m not that small, and I still feel like I was always on the smallest size available, so we wanted to make a size one size smaller than what I’d opt to ride.”
Squid is quite accommodating, even when compared to the Cannondale SuperX, which goes down to a 44cm frame with a 51 top tube, Squid’s XS sports a 45cm seat tube and 50.5 top tube. Squid sizes go up to a XXL, which sports a 59cm seat tube and a 58.5 top tube. Since Squid is offering stock sizes in a limited number of finish options, lead times are not as high as custom builders. Squid estimates delivery to take two to three weeks.
Of course, Squid bikes are available in cantilever and disc models, with a matching Enve fork. For riders wishing to build up a singlespeed, Squid offers Beer component’s eccentric bottom bracket.
Currently, Squid frames are only available direct from Squidbikes.com, though Kachorek hopes to incorporate retailers in their own way.
“We hope to offer collaboration frames where the retailer helps in the design of a frame’s graphics, and then buyers can only purchase that frame through that one retail location,” Kachorek said, “making the retailers’ involvement with the product greater than other brands out there.”