Ride Bikes, Drink Beer: The Unconventional Birth of REEB Cycles

This is the story of how Oskar Blues Brewery decided to launch its own bike company, and how that company, REEB cycles, has grown into what it is today.

Giving a REEB head badge a little extra color

Lyons, Colorado, is home to two of the best trail systems the Boulder area has to offer: Hall Ranch, with its undulating singletrack and gnarly rock gardens, and the cragged climbs and sweeping vistas of Heil Valley Ranch. And anybody who’s ridden those trail systems has probably downed at least a few beers at the Oskar Blues Brewery in downtown Lyons, too. For most riders in the area, one begets the next.

Less direct a path is the one between those pints and REEB Cycles, the bike brand founded in 2011 by a few of the folks at Oskar Blues. (Yes, that’s beer backward.)

According to Tim Moore, the story goes like this:

Dale Katechis, founder of Oskar Blues, had been working with a frame builder out of Golden to manufacture a small run of Oskar Blues-branded frames. His personal mountain bike was a singlespeed with a Gates Carbon Drive drivetrain—the less maintenance, the better.

One day, it was stolen off the back of a car. (I know, right?)

About that same time, the brand he’d had been working with to build his custom frames began moving a lot of their frame production overseas.

At that point, Dale had at least two options: He could re-up with the manufacturer he’d been working with, or he could start building his own frames from scratch. One was easy, and the other wouldn’t be.

In 2011, REEB Cycles was born.

It began with just a handful frames—a few singlespeed hardtails like the one Dale had lost. The brand contracted Chris Sulfrian, a Denver-based frame builder and founder of Generic Cycles, to build them in his own workshop.

But by 2014, REEB was ready to go big.

That year, the brand opened its own purpose-built, dedicated fabrication shop in Longmont, Colorado, and brought Sulfrian on full-time to run it. A few miles down the road, they also opened CYCLHOPS Bike CANtina, which combines, logically, a Tex-Mex taco joint with a full-service bike shop and retail space (read: H-E-A-V-E-N) run by Tim Moore (who also heads up sales for REEB) and do-all mechanic Todd Buck.

The REEB fleet at CYCLHOPS Bike CANtina

1,500 miles away, the REEB Ranch opened in Brevard, North Carolina, near Oskar Blues’s east coast brewery and adjacent to the 10,000-acre DuPont State Forest, which features nearly 100 miles of sweet, sweet singletrack.

As the brand grew, so too did the offerings. What began with a simple, one-gear-fits-all hardtail now includes a variety of steel and titanium frames across several riding styles and applications. They now even have derailleurs (or a Pinion gearbox for the more eccentric among us).

The next generation REEB hardtail | Photo: REEB

And in 2017, REEB unveiled the Sqweeb, a sensuously-squishy aluminum trail bike with a supple suspension of Sulfrian’s own design—conceived, machined, and assembled entirely in-house.

The REEB Sqweeb (SQuishy REEB) | Photo: REEB Cycles

But as complete as the lineup on the website feels, it’s more inspiration than catalog. Producing a couple hundred frames a year—every one of them by hand—the brand is large enough to turn frames around relatively quickly, but small enough to accommodate even the most exacting custom request. What’s more, they encourage customers to swing by the FabREEBcation shop to see their dream bike come to life first-hand.

If you clicked the link above to visit the REEB website, you were met by the words “NO UNFUN BIKES,” which is exactly what they aim to create.

The inside of the left chainstay of every frame reads, “DRINK BEER, RIDE BIKES, GO FUCK YOU.” It’s a saying attributed to Dale, and an embodiment of the REEB philosophy.

No further explanation necessary | Photo: REEB Cycles

The brand doesn’t take itself too seriously—and they’re thriving in the face of an industry dominated by big brands who too often do.

On a Sunday morning at the FabREEBcation shop, I asked Chris what makes REEB different.

The FabREEBcation shop

“Fun. Why are you riding bikes if you’re not having fun?” Chris said. “The biggest thing is getting out and enjoying yourself. That’s why we all started riding in the first place.”

It’s an ethos that goes beyond the saddle. For him, there’s no separation between work and play. “There’s no free time, there’s no down time. There’s just life. It’s all one and the same.”

Bikes are just one of the threads tying it all together. And it helps to explain why a brewery might want to start a bike brand.

He adds, “And the bikes fuckin’ rip, so that’s a positive too.”

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