Sunday, July 17, 2011

Personal Rides - Ibis Hakkalugi

Time to crank up the iMac for another installment of Personal Rides, where I interest and/or bore readers with info on my personal bikes. Every bike is more then a collection of tubing, parts and wheels. There's hopefully a story and some history involved. Here's the story of my beloved Ibis Hakkalugi....

Spin the clock back to 1997. Two incomes, no kids, work related bonus burning a hole in the bank account. Ah, the good old days. Cure for this is to add another bike to the garage. A good all around investment in fun. I thought building up a cyclocross would be a cool project, since I never owned one. Use it on the road, in the dirt, and...gulp....maybe even try racing 'cross. A 'cross bike it will be.

Even though I'd yet to own an Ibis, came very close to scoring an Ibis mountain bike a few times. I read about the Hakkalugi and decided that would be foundation for this little adventure. This would be the full custom build, each component individually selected. Not exactly cost effective, but certainly fun, with a bike like no other as the result.

Wedgewood Cycle in Seattle was the local Ibis dealer (now defunct). Frame/fork ordered from them, along with every other part for this project. If that's not supporting the local shop, don't know what is.

When the frame arrived, it exceeded my expectations. How often does that happen in life? It looked fantastic - the color, build quality, all of it - with interest from the bike shop gang. When the mechanics circle the unboxing ceremony, proof you have something special.

The Hakkalugi was more of an all-around 'cross bike with fender mounts and room for fairly fat tires. Steel of course, for the fork as well, common practice for the '90s. Frame carefully transported home for the build, along with a pile of parts. I used a mixture of road and mountain bike goodies.

The original build list:

56 cm Ibis Hakkalugi frame and fork
Chris King headset
Shimano 600 STI shifters/brakes
Shimano XTR rear derailleur
Shimano 105 front derailleur
Shimano XTR hubs laced to Mavic SUP rims
Shimano XTR cassette
Shimano cantilevers
Shimano 747 pedals
Ritchey Logic crankset and BB. 36x46 'cross gearing
Ritchey 35c 'cross tires
Syncros seatpost
Flite saddle
Salsa stem
Scott handlebars

Not too shabby, eh? A very nice build for the era. I remember completing the bike and the first test ride around the neighborhood. Sweet. Nothing more satisfying then assembling the new steed with your own hands, from an idea and pile of parts. Bike rode and fit great - plus looked damn cool. Can't beat that.

I used the Ibis mostly as a road bike, even with the 35c 'cross tires, and sampled some easy singletrack rides. Huge fun. Riding a 'cross bike on dirt will put a smile on your face. After riding it a bit, embarrassed to say, the Ibis was barely used for a few years. Why? The answer...

I also bought a new Triumph Speed Triple in '97 (as mentioned, the good ol' days), with a return to full motorcycle addiction in progress. Most road thrills achieved via moto power, with mountain biking for pedal powered action. The Ibis collected a little dust, I even considered selling it. Glad I didn't...

Fast forward a few years, new job with traffic filled commute. Sitting in traffic on the Speed Triple (and later 2001 Aprilia Falco) deemed painful and stupid. Two small kids now added to the picture, minus one paycheck, moto weekend and mountain bike thrill time at a minimum. Addiction pendulum swinging back to full bicycle mode. The Ibis pulled into duty as the commuter, complete with fenders and 25c road tires. The perfect set up (as pictured above). 34 mile round trip now via Hakkalugi instead of Falco. A much better scene for all involved.

Besides making killer nice bikes, I always dug the Ibis sense of humor. During that time, Ritchey had Logic tubing and Columbus had Brain. Ibis counterattacks with Moron tubing, complete with Big Butts. And the name, Hakkalugi, how can you top that? 'Cross racing usually does involve hocking a few loogies. Don't believe me? Give it a try.

The infamous Ibis Hand Job cable hanger. I still get comments on this feature today. This paint was labeled as Gang Green. Yup, multiple rolling jokes - that defy this handmade, sweet riding frame.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. Cheap commuter skins provide alleged traction.

I finally tried a 'cross race in 2009, many years after building up the Ibis. I received the royal ass kicking, but had a great time, complete with a few spectators yelling "Go Hakkalugi !!" I plan to receive a few more 'cross ass kickings in the near future.

The trusty Ibis has become my main commuting rig over the last few years. Here, dark commute as proof. Mounted speedo died and ditched years ago. I probably have 20,000+ commuting miles clocked on this bike. Even after a few drivetrain and rim replacements, the frame and fork still look new.

Out of all my bikes, this one gets ridden the most, no contest. It still receives positive comments, now being kind of the hip collector deal. Nice road rides, rainy commutes, singletrack cruising, and 'cross racing. It's done it all. A truly versatile, damn cool bike. I've learned to never say never, but doubt I'll ever sell it. If you can only have one bike (horror...), a 'cross would be could the ultimate choice. Fast as a road bike, and can do more in the dirt then most realize.

The Hakkalugi currently hangs in the garage as a bare frame. Drivetrain complete toast - cassette, chainrings, chain, BB bearings - all history. Recently, rear derailleur hanger straightened and dropouts spaced to 132.5 mm (from 135mm), courtesy of Davidson Bicycles. All due to a crunchy derailleur eating mishap last May. Snap, crackle, pop.

The Ibis has been down for awhile, will rebuild before fall hits. We have the technology, if not the dough. Probably a modern mixture of road and 'cross parts repeated. The old school steel will roll and the freak flag will fly once again.

Go Hakkalugi !! Go Hakkalugi !!


  1. Good post, Love that "Hand Job" cable hanger, might just steal that pic

  2. great post. its hard to explain to non-believers how close we can get to some tubing, chain and cogs. i just bought a carbon hakkalugi for racing (getting my ass kicked) and tooling around, and look forward to all sorts of good times, on and off road. just finished the expensive process of filling my bits box with a unique assortment of goodies that I now look forward to hanging on the new frame. the best ride is the one you assemble yourself.

  3. Thanks. The carbon Hakkalugi is damn nice. I own the Ibis Silk Carbon road bike - rides great. If I had the dough, the carbon Hakkalugi would be on my list for sure.

    Building up your own bike is always a blast. I've also built up a nice bike for my son to race - super fun also.