James LaLonde Reviews His Nature Boy
Local midwest cross badass and former Single Speed National Champion and one of the midwest dominating LaLonde brothers, James LaLonde, did a nice write up on the Nature Boy for his personal blog, Between You and Me. At Frostbike this year he showed some interest in the bike, and we were stoked that such an elite level racer would be interested in racing our steel cross machine. For those of you not familiar, all three LaLonde brothers are wicked hammers and sponsored dudes. We're talking pro level shit. James and I had become acquainted while racing alleycats in Milwaukee the past couple of years. This past year at the MMI James finished first with myself coming in second, he is a retired courier, and in general our type of dude.
the following is his post
It usually takes a lot to get me really excited about a product release in the bicycle industry. It could be attributed to my personality or it could be the fact that when these products are released to the general public that I’ve already heard about the development or seen the photos; I’ve quite possibly held the product in my own hands. The All City Nature Boy was just the opposite of that. Last February when I attended Frost Bike the clad covered mass in the center of the small corner booth seemed to draw minimal attention. However, when I walked through the next day and witnessed the unveiling of the mysterious new product I knew I had to have one. Sure there were plenty of other production singlespeed cyclocross bikes on the market – many which may have been sparked by the increasing number of custom singlespeeds appearing in pro races across the country. A few of my favorites are built by Peacock Groove, Bob Brown, and more recently, Ellis Cycles. Larger companies began to produce production runs hoping to cash in on the market. For me the draw to the All City was that it wasn’t trying to top any of the other production frames on the market. Steel tubing, aggressive race geometry, a gorgeous straight-blade fork, internal cable routing, clearance for large tires and increased versatility with hidden fender mounts. I really could not have asked for more. The graphics are not obnoxious or plastered all over the frame and I tend to lean on the side of modesty when it comes to fancy frame adornments. The steel head badge is minimal and looks clean and although I feel the dropouts are a little over the top it gives a sense of where the idea behind the development of this frame came from: straight from the heart of the Midwest, Minneapolis, MN.
With the generous help and support of Jeff Frane I received the frame some time in late August with enough time to build it up just as the season was gaining momentum. I hadn’t raced a singlespeed bike during a cross race since 2008 and I was a little hesitant switching from my sub-18 lb. geared Ridley X-Night. It was my second ride ever on the bike and it didn’t help that when I arrived at the race there wasn’t a hill in sight. It consisted of a lot of open flats where a singlespeed could suffer. Lining up next to the Chicago Dream Team I knew I had my work cut out for me. During the first 5 minutes at high intensity my initial thought was that the bike felt incredibly good – fast, responsive, stable, and comfortable. Even though I yo-yoed off the back of the lead group on the long flat sections I made up for it in the more technical twisty portions of the course. The cornering was superb as I lightly feathered the brakes through the technical portions of the course enduring the hour of pain we call cyclocross. I ended up finishing 3rd that day which got me on the podium and only increased the excitement to race the bike for the rest of the year. In all honesty, I know a lot of factors can be adjusted to maintain comfort on a bike but the All City was more comfortable than my carbon Ridley. Needless to say, I hung the Ridley on the wall and committed to the Nature Boy for the remainder of the season.
I completed a number of other races in both WI and IL to round out the season. I had some good results with several podium finishes. It felt good to stay closer to home than years past and race local while representing the Nature Boy. All City has my attention, I can’t wait to see what they start pushing out next.
Since the season has ended I ditched my upright Bianchi San Jose for commuting and converted the Nature Boy to a city bike that best suits my needs. I’ve traded in the tubulars for clinchers with fat, low-stud count Nokians and I’ve made use of the hidden fenders mounts thanks to my friends over at Planet Bike. I kept everything else the same: dropbars, gutted Red levers, carbon cranks. It feels just as comfortable and fast as it did mid-season. Like I said, I couldn’t ask for more out of this bike.