We’re firm believers in the principle that rules are made to be broken - even the ones we make. But, that rebellious streak is tempered with the knowledge that messing with the rules (and the process underlying them) had better be worth the potential consequences (read: Expensive disappointment). So, when a good friend and repeat owner of enviously pretty bikes with esoteric flare comes knocking, babbling about weird ideas behind a one-off paint scheme, we listen. And we're glad we did.
Meet what we've dubbed “RAUCH”, the newest addition to the paint design selection at Scarab. No, the colors can't be changed. Yes, every one is a bit different. Yes, we can paint your next bike like this. For now.
This Santa Rosa in “RAUCH” is the first of its kind, built to go up - and down - the hills of the San Francisco Bay with aplomb. Its geometry is designed to reward even the most disinclined of descenders on technical Northern California downhills. A low center of gravity, sharp steering, and even weight balance give it a natural inclination to glide to the bottom of hills with minimal worry and input from its pilot.
It’s not what we’d characterize as a one-trick pony, however. Oversized Columbus Spirit chainstays and our house-made hooded dropouts deliver urgency under uphill accelerations while the Rotor 46-30t spider setup paired with a SRAM Force AXS 10-33t cassette gave gears for any circumstance. The half weight-conscious and half everyday-driver custom build kept the bike light without veering into the weird, while still complementing the decidedly one-off aesthetic of the paint design.
All that said, it felt apropos to ask the person we named the scheme after a few questions about what drove their desire for a bike so… interesting. “Are you weird? We’re weird. Let's hang out. "
SC: What did you want the paint scheme to be based on? Why?
JR: Initially, I had no clue what I wanted as the end result. But I know that I can't stand boring bikes. That doesn’t mean that single color bikes are awful, or uncomplicated paint schemes are lame. I think single color bikes can be beautiful, and Gulf Livery themed bikes are so played out the record needle has worn all the way through the table at this point.
I had been kicking around the idea of a bike interpretation of “Ocean Park # 79” by Richard Diebenkorn, and once I floated the idea by the team some additional inspiration started to bubble up, namely Omar Rayo’s geometric work. For a Colombian-made frame that was going to live in the California hills, the conversation around incorporating elements around these two artists seemed a natural fit.
SC: How do you feel about how it turned out?
JR: I’m sure there’s some 25 letter German word to express the level of amazement, awe and appreciation for the paint team, but I don’t know it. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly what I expected it would be, because I don’t know what I expected, necessarily. It's a melding and interpretation of those two artists distilled onto a bike frame. It’s not a pastiche of one or the other, or a 1: 1 copy of one work or design. The frame takes the Scarab team’s perception of those artists and the end result is something unexpected, while still keeping the inspirational guideposts.
SC: You're into bikes that look uh… weird. Why?
JR: I wish I had an answer that made sense. The practical answer is a weird-ass looking bike gets you noticed by drivers who may look up from texting to stare at your bike long enough that you get to live to see another sunrise. The less practical answer is I can spend hours staring at Rothko No. 14 or Ellsworth Kelly’s geometric shapes or Park McArthur’s unpainted highway signs. If you're staring at bare sheet metal arranged on a gallery wall, then your aesthetic meter is either highly attuned or highly fucked. I'm not sure which is the case at this point in my life.
SC: Speaking of weird bikes, what else do you currently own?
JR: Two Gaulzettis - a Pavaix and an Interclub - and a Della Santa Ossobucco. So, carbon, aluminum and steel. I was going to say I don't think any of them would classify as weird, but Roland did drill holes in the chainstays of the Della Santa by design, so I don't think I have a leg to stand on with that argument.
[ed. note: His laundry list of past marques include Pegoretti, Pinarello, Rock Lobster, Serotta, and TIME to name a few.]
SC: How do you feel about how this one rides?
JR: The short answer: Fucking amazing.
Long answer: Without veering into glossy mag review cliches and pablum, the bike sits in that sweet spot of comfort, stiffness, predictability and liveliness that every great steel frame should aspire to. There’s a harmony to bikes that are designed with purpose that marry together geometry and material in a way that just works. It’s an all-day bike. It wants to carve corners while also holding a line over bumpy stuff. It's a confident descent in a way that lets even a downhill weenie like myself enjoy a road tilting downhill.
SC: Finally, favorite place to ride?
JR: So many amazing places. The cheater’s answer would be “California” given the breadth and depth of the riding here. Any state that has Seven Sisters, the descent of Latigo and other amazing roads is just an absurd comparison for most any other place to ride a bike.
But if push came to shove, the North Georgia mountains are a hidden gem. The Six Gaps are amazing climbing, the people are friendly and Helen, Georgia is a place that has to be seen to be believed. Oh, and the descent back to town off Unicoi Gap is some of the most fun you'll ever have on a bike.
SC: How do you feel about Baby Yoda?
JR: Werner Herzog is in the show, right? Then Baby Yoda is the second best thing about it. Werner Herzog is the best in anything he's in.
Thanks to Mr. Rauch for indulging our silly questions and giving us the opportunity to get fashionably weird. Check out the new "RAUCH" paint scheme at our all-new paint page over THIS WAY, and drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading!