By Steve Medcroft
In this third and final instalment of our look at the independent builders of U.S. Cyclo-cross Nationals, we take a look at Barbara Howe's Velo Bella team-issue Rock Lobster.
The women of the Velo Bella racing team stand out in any race they attend. Not only because they hammer on the bike but because they have a penchant for sparkly pink hair and lipstick while racing. When frame builder Paul Sadoff was challenged with the opportunity to provide bikes to the flashy and femme Velo Bella elite 'cross racer Barbara Howe, he answered with a stocky, purple racing steed.
Who is Rock Lobster
Sadoff says Rock Lobster's history is rooted in two truths present in his life in 1978. "I was an obsessed bicycle mechanic, curious about how frames were built," he says. "And I was too broke to buy the shiny blue Bob Jackson Messina 56cm road frame I wanted."
Sadoff worked at a bike shop owned by the father of framebuilder Dean Covey. "Dean had a bunch of tubing to sell and was willing to give advice to anyone on the crew who wanted to learn." Sadoff built his first frame under Covery's tutelage and followed it up with nine more. In 1988, after a decade as a hobbyist focusing on racing frames, Sadoff went full time. Producing mostly mountain-bikes at first, Sadoff, a musician who had given up membership in a gig band to pursue frame building, named his company after the B-52's new wave anthem, Rock Lobster.
Today, Sadoff, along with an assistant, builds about 100 steel, aluminium, Scandium and carbon frames a year. About a third of them go to racers and are given at no or little cost to the rider. "I learn things from racers I couldn't learn from my own riding," Sadoff says. "Class riders like Barb are great for my product research and reputation. If she likes the bikes, it's naturally a good thing. If she doesn't it is still good as will get valuable humbling and feedback. You have to keep improving in this business."
Read the entire Barb Howe Rock Lobster pro bike article here.