In American cycling, few figures rival the legacy of frame-builder, designer and longtime racer Richard Sachs. With roughly 42 years experience in making, designing and racing bikes—not to mention playing a pivotal role in popularizing cyclocross stateside—Sachs is a fixture in the cycling world and an impassioned one. To kick off the upcoming cyclocross season and celebrate the launch of the House Industries-Richard Sachs CX Team‘s newly minted rides, Rapha Cycle Club New York hosted a Sachs retrospective. In addition to taking over the art direction and graphics for the new bikes, the bike-crazy crew (and team sponsors) at House Industries searched through Sachs’ storied career in racing and design to create an exhibition in honor of one of cycling’s great characters.
While he was part of the early era of road racing in the US, Sachs won’t be found obsessing over the Tour de France or fixated on the weight in grams of his sunglasses. One of the godfathers of American cyclocross, the Chester, Connecticut-based maker shirked road racing for cyclocross, finding the peloton a bit stale. “I think road racing is stupid,” Sachs says plainly without the faintest pause. “With road, you’re competing against everybody. All the bikes look alike, there’s no way to differentiate between anybody. All the clothing looks like it’s a yard sale of logos and fonts.” It’s why he threw in the towel on road riding altogether in favor of cyclocross in 2002.
With cross, it’s just a different kind of race… You never know who’s going to show up—and I don’t mean the guy next to you, I mean you.
“It’s much more fun,” Sachs continues. “With cross, it’s just a different kind of race. There are no team tactics, there’s no drafting. Once the gun goes, it’s you against yourself. The beauty of it is, you never know who’s going to show up—and I don’t mean the guy next to you, I mean you,” says Sachs who holds a place on his nationally ranked team. With the different environment and feel of cyclocross compared with road racing, it was time for an image change. When Sachs sought a new look for his bikes and team, he turned to his friends at House Industries.
“Richard called about 18 months ago and asked, ‘What would you guys do if you just redid my whole program?’ We re-styled the cross team. We tried to strip out all the crazy Nascar-type logos and really cleaned it up,” says House Industries co-founder Rich Roat. With the soul of the sport in mind and an eye on Sachs’ penchant for heritage frame-building, Roat and the House team looked into the past for inspiration. “There’s such a big well of influence for this collection,” Roat explains. “We’re going back and looking at older and older bikes. Some of the older bikes were cleaner. We thought that we should clean this up and keep it a bit more classic but bring in different colors. The bike industry in general has gotten so busy, so this was a radical departure.”
Follow the House Industries-Richard Sachs team this season and keep an eye out for the specially designed House Industries line of bikes as they become available to consumers throughout the year.
Images by Hans Aschim