Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz always has something new up his sleeve—Swatch watches being the latest cult object to which he's applied his winning pop culture formula. But his newest project takes the entrepreneur in a direction pretty much free of all the saturated colors and vector graphics of Kidrobot. Launching today, Paul Budnitz Bicycles is his answer to the bike phenomenon. Disappointed with the offerings of the commuter market, Budnitz saw the need for a well-made, comfortable bicycle designed specifically for the design-conscious rider. Aiming to fill this gap, the all-titanium bikes have clean, sinuous lines and superior components, also chosen with an eye for looks.
One of the top American frame builders ("arguably the top Titanium frame maker in the world," says Budnitz), Lynskey Performance, custom fabricates each piece by piece—from frame and fork to stem and bars. The cantilever frame absorbs more shock than traditional frames and titanium won't rust or corrode. When the bikes get to Colorado, builders outfit each bike with a carbon Gates belt (to keep you clean and clear of chain problems), along with the finest top-end components from the like of Chris King and Phil Wood.
"Most high-end bicycle parts are actually pretty ugly," Budnitz explains. "I was inspired by classic Aston Martins and '80s-era Maseratis," emphasizing his goal to create bikes that look timeless.
No.1, an unbelievably lightweight commuter (the frame is under 3.3 pounds), has a sleek look, defined by a split top tube elegantly forming a continuous arc by integrating into the seat stays. Designed to be a urban cyclist's dream, it's easy to imagine how this fast and agile machine will look equally great sprinting to the gym in L.A. or, as Budnitz did recently, cruising to a black-tie event in Amsterdam.
The second similarly lightweight model, No.2, has a more fun, relaxed feel, built more for ambling around town than for distance rides. What Budnitz calls a "BMX bike for adults," fatter tires, a rear wheel that's smaller than the front and softer frame geometry make for a ride that's overall smoother than No.1. The different size tires mean the No.2 accelerates fast and holds its speed too.
Due to overwhelmingly positive on-street response to prototypes, the first run sold out even before the company's official site launch. But the second production run is now available for order with an expected delivery date of Holiday 2011—if you have the $5,500 that they each cost. Add on another $750 if you want an 11-speed over a single-speed internal hub.