Of the thousands of days in one’s lifetime, there are only a significant few that will perpetually be remembered for their magnitude. The word for this is oleka — an apt name for a new Spanish custom workshop that believes riding their bikes will make more of your days memorable.
The Oleka shop is a band of friends focused on racing: they produce only one model at this stage, a fillet brazed stainless steel Reynolds 953 road racer, a few models of which have been built for their Equipo Oleka team.
Before honing their range to the 953 model, a couple of these featured cyclocross frames were made, one for the builder and one for John Braynard, an Austrian rider and good friend of one of Oleka’s founders. The brief was for a bike that could adapt to John’s varying local terrain and riding style.
Designed around a basic geometry, a frame was created from oversized Columbus Spirit, Life, and Zona tubes. It had to be flexible when it came to wheel sizes and finished with a reliable groupset. John takes a lot of photos and video when he’s riding and is wont to drop the bike quickly to grab the shot.
John also stressed that he wanted a ‘simple’ bike — “no ridiculous thrills or signature stay bends” — and the lack of structural embellishments actually adds to the attraction of this frame. He also requested a single color gloss “galactic vibe” for the paint and a quirky mismatched ENVE Cross Disc fork.
Being a self-confessed ‘roadie’, John was hesitant to embrace the 1×11 drivetrain, but now he has the Force 1 gearing dialed in, he’s doubtful he’ll go back. His Salzburg home lies at the foothills of the Austrian Alps and rides in all weather conditions so the simpler, easy-to-maintain system is a big help.
John’s happy with the deep dish performance — and aesthetics — of the ZIPP 404 wheels, describing how they cut straight through snow, mud, and air. “I was in Girona a few weeks ago”, he recalls, “riding with my girlfriend and came home but didn’t have the time to put the treaded tires back on. So I did a big off-road ride over a ski piste last weekend on my 28″ slicks. The bike smashed it all. No probs.”
The stainless Reynolds frames that Oleka produce are something to behold, but it’s interesting to note how this ‘crosser fits into the workshop’s evolution. It will doubtlessly double the number of memorable days John has on the bike.
Big thanks to John Braynard for the photos — follow his Instagram feed for more adventures.