Ellsworth Mountain Bikes: So Much Quality, Little Time for Hype

At Interbike last month, element22 and I got a chance to chat with Tony Ellsworth, founder and CEO of Ellsworth Handcrafted Bikes. These days only a handful of bike companies bear the names of their founders (Gary Fisher and Ritchey come to mind), perhaps because it places accountability for product quality on the shoulders of an individual rather than a faceless corporation. Clearly Tony gets this and it shows in his genuine energy and excitement when he talks about his bikes, from the underlying technology to the manufacturing process and everything in between.

Rather than going over specific bikes at the show, Tony dived right in to a deep discussion of Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension technology. ICT is the patented suspension set-up featured on all Ellsworth FS mountain bikes and according to Ellsworth it’s the most efficient set-up out there. I won’t get into the math behind the claim here but you can check out an interactive demo on Ellsworth’s website (click the ICT Technology link) that compares ICT to the other major suspension designs (VPP, 4-bar, and FSR).

Of course element22 noticed the quality of machine work on the Ellsworth bikes on display at the show and Tony was proud to point out that most, if not all, of that work was done in house. Check out the documentary-quallty video below to see how mountain bikes are made at the Ellsworth factory in Vancouver, WA just outside Portland, OR. It’s amazing how much thought and consideration goes into building handcrafted mountain bike frames.

After meeting with Tony and going through the Ellsworth website I really got the sense that technology and quality are more important than marketing hype at the company. Rather than focusing on the new colors for 2011 or adding new “features” to products, Ellsworth seems content to let the tech and manufacturing do the talking. Of course now the only thing left to do is to see how all of that translates on the trail – hopefully we’ll get the chance to post detailed test ride reviews soon!

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