Say you’re looking for an everyday city bike. Most of us would simply shop and search until we found something satisfactory. But not Paul Budnitz, the founder of world-renowned ‘art toy’ creative engine Kidrobot. Uninspired by everything he saw, Budnitz instead built his own custom machine and then started a whole company around it to sell his vision of the perfect bicycle to others.
“I couldn’t find what I wanted, which is how this usually starts with me,” he told BikeRadar during a visit to his office in Boulder, Colorado. “In this case, I wanted a bike that was incredibly fun to ride, incredibly elegant and would last a really long time. That was my thing and it was either really high-end road bikes or city bikes that generally were made with lower-end components but weren’t so beautiful.”
Paul Budnitz Bicycles‘ current catalog includes two urban-flavored bikes: the No.1 with dual 700c wheels and 35mm-wide slick tires, and the No.2, a 69er (26in rear wheel, 29in front) with ultra-fat 2.35in street rubber. They share a common theme, with comfortable and curvaceous cantilever frame layouts, dual small-diameter top tubes, classic lines, internal cable routing, sliding rear dropouts and a minimalist aesthetic that’s intentionally devoid of logos and flashy colors.
While pleasant to look at and comfy to ride, the No. 1 model shown here is also light at just 9.32kg (20.55lb) all in
What’s also shared between both bikes is lots of titanium, which is used for not only the frame and fork but also the seatpost, stem and handlebar – nearly all of which is custom built for Budnitz by Lynskey Performance in Tennessee. Budnitz says he prefers the mystical metal not only for its light weight and durability but also its unique ride characteristics and renewable aesthetic. “If it ever scratches you can just buff it out so it’ll still look new and there’s an environmental component to that, too,” he said.
The componentry follows that same simple-yet-durable motif with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, Devinci machined aluminum cranks rotating on a Token square-taper bottom bracket, Schwalbe slick tires, Paul Components brake levers, standard maintenance-free Gates belt drives, Nokon segmented aluminum housing, and custom wheels built with White Industries hubs and Velocity Blunt rims.
Budnitz says the cantilevered, twin top tube layout lends a smoother ride – not to mention a more elegant look – than conventional double-diamond configurations
The result is a fast rolling and comfortable but very lightweight – and yes, elegant looking – machine that’s still well suited for the rigors of everyday use, complete with a relatively upright position ideal for navigating traffic.
Outrageously priced or good long-term value?
Budnitz’s bicycles may be mechanically simple but they’re not cheap at US$5,600 – and that’s not including pricey options such as a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internally geared rear hub (+$750), a SRAM XX 1×10 chain-driven transmission (+$900) or a titanium Tubus rear rack (+$255-300).
He doesn’t apologize for the bike’s seemingly high cost, though, instead pointing to the idea that it’s a bike that’s not only prettier to look at than most city bikes but also one that could last the user for countless years of regular use, what with the titanium frames and array of high-quality, mostly US and European-sourced components.