Billy's Lil Pink Bike - Neutrino

by Igor Shteynbuk

If you've flown with your bike, you probably dread checking it as much as you enjoy riding it.

You plan, prepare, and tweak your packing order.  You carefully wrap your frame in cushioning. You stuff clothing in all the crevices and go crazy with packing tape. Then, and no matter how prepared you feel you are, you still hand this beloved item on which you'll live for the next few days or weeks over to an airline employee. Suddenly, it's no longer in your control.

(My PH at Denali State Park in Alaska)

When the Neutrino first came across my radar, I was preparing to take my newly built Pass Hunter for a weeklong ride in Alaska. The Neutrino felt like pipe dream at the time (I had just built a bike! Why did I need another?), but when I returned to Seattle, I started to obsess about a Neutrino build that I could travel with. Spencer Harding's review on The Radavist gave me the direction I was seeking.  The article ends with the following line:  "My dream is of an ever-so-packable bikepacking rig, but what do you see in the possibilities of the Neutrino?"  A little pink bikepacking machine? Hell. Yes.

I meticulously collected the parts, applied frame saver to the inside of the frame, and wrapped the frame and fork. I intended to be hard on this frame, but also wanted the bright salmon paint to last. I had already planned to take this bike to Tucson, then San Diego a few weeks later, so a mad scramble to get all the parts and put some miles on everything in preparation kicked off. I came up with this, affectionately named Bilbo:

(Neutrino in Mission Bay, San Diego)

The bike immediately began defying all of my expectations. It isn't the fastest bike.  It isn't the lightest bike.  It doesn't have big rock eating tires, but it just GOES.  Where you go, it will go.  It can pick its way through desert singletrack (to a degree).  The gearing ratio on the small wheels loves to climb, and the tubeless Rocket Rons I decided to run just chomp up most types of terrain. The frame loves a little extra weight, and the bike settles down juuust right when you load up the front- which wasn't a problem thanks to my huge Swift Industries bag.

(Day Trip to Saguaro NP)

Beyond being a competent backcountry bikepacking rig, the bike instantly becomes an incredible urban commuter.  You know the cool dudes you see at the skate park?  Well guess what, the entire city just became your skate park. Time to jump off curbs, send it down some stairs, dart between cars- this bike begs you to make your commute FUN.  

Somewhere on my hundreds of miles of solo riding, I started to get philosophical. This bike challenges the idea of what we need from our bikes and how that affects our pursuit of gear and components.   Do we need titanium frames with 2.6" tires?  Possibly.. Do we need to set a 20 mph paceline every day? Some people do, but for the rest of us these are wants. We're a consumer culture: short travel forks, carbon rims, fancy brakes, electric shifting... kudos to those pursuing the builds they want (and this one has no shortage of excesses), but isn't there something more fundamental missing?

(Camping on the AZT)

Isn't it ok to just fall in love with being in the saddle and pushing some pedals, wherever you are?  How much bike DO you really need, and are you better off for it?  I’ll admit I'm biased- I've fallen in love with this bike. Possibly because it's mine. Possibly because I was meticulous in assembling the parts list. Even possibly because I get a little more attention on it. 

"Waste not, want not" goes the old adage. Maybe having tires bigger than 20" is really just a waste? Who knows, but good luck having more fun than this on your bike.

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