Introducing the Amigo Bug Out
Created by Nashville-based frame builder Zach Small, the new Amigo Bug Out is an “adventure bike for burnouts and weirdos,” and we think it looks pretty cool. The Bug Out features a Tange Prestige steel frame with rotating dropouts, an IS integrated headtube, and a custom yoke. Learn all about it here, alongside an interview with Zach…
Photos by Michael Tregelles (except where noted)
Nashville, Tennessee-based Zach Small has been building bikes for around 12 years. What started as a hobby morphed into Amigo Frameworks, a company he started a couple of years ago that was whimsically named based on the fact that it began by building frames for his friends (amigos). Now, Zach is taking it to the next level with the Bug Out, a new bike that was launched at this year’s Philly Bike Expo that he describes as “an adventure bike for burnouts, weirdos, and freaks who see the humanity in 70s smiley faces, arthropods, aliens, cryptids, dogs and frogs… but only the ones who eat bugs out of necessity to continue survival and not because they believe in some sort of special hierarchy. People who are wild but kind and find solace in the fact that they are merely an eternal speck in the space-time continuum of our ever-expanding universe.” In short, Zach sounds like our kind of human, and the Bug Out looks like a pretty cool bike. Read on for details.
Amigo Bug Out Tech Specs
- IS42/52 Integrated Headtube
- ENVE Adventure Fork with three-pack cage mounts
- 31.6mm dropper-ready from 125mm-200mm length (depending on size and saddle height)
- Adjustable rocking dropouts for a rear center change of 415-435mm
- Designed around a 50mm stem, allowing an open fit with the option to shorten or lengthen the stem and switch from drops to flat bars
- Two three-pack “Anything” cage mounts on the upper and lower part of the down tube and one standard bottle cage mount on the seat tube
The Amigo Bug Out is made from butted Tange Prestige steel tubing and was designed around a custom-machined yoke paired with a 68mm T47 bottom bracket shell. This allows a road Q-factor and still provides clearance for 700 x 50mm tires, all without sacrificing the ability to run up to a 44T single chainring or 44/30 double. Note that it may fit larger tires, too (see interview below). The Bug Out’s longer front center, slacker headtube, lower bottom bracket, and ability to run a proper 125mm or larger dropper post all work in tandem to make for an extremely stable bike in loose off-road terrain or singletrack.
The Bug Out features Paragon Machine Works’ Rocker dropouts and is specced with the 398/406mm Enve Adventure Fork. Between the front and rear ends, there’s plenty of wiggle room to dial in the ride quality to your liking. The chainstay is adjustable from 415-435mm—or you can run it as a singlespeed—and the offset chip in the fork can be flipped to further tweak the bike’s rake from 49 to 55mm. As Zach describes, “Whether you want to gear up for a swift jeep road gravel race and slam the dropouts forward to a nimble 415mm chainstay length and 49mm fork offset, or if you want to set off on a self-supported bikepacking trip and have a longer wheelbase, you can pull back that rear center up to 435mm and switch the fork to a 55.5mm offset for a taller stack and slightly slacker headtube angle.”
To further dissect the Bug Out, we caught up with Zach and asked him a few questions about the bike, its design, and details. Read the interview below and find pricing and a link to the pre-order after that.
What inspired the design of the Bug Out?
The artistic direction and feel were cultivated by the help of designer Casey Robertson (@champagne_rodman) from the general feeling during the pandemic of wanting to just get away from it all and bug out. I think we all felt that in some way or another. I honestly haven’t been on a good tour or bikepacking trip in five years because of work and trying to build my framebuilding business, so I created the idea and name of the bike initially with the intention that this was going to be the vehicle that I wanted to use to bug out on and reconnect with my love of bikepacking and touring. But I like to share things, so I made a model out of it so I can have some amigos to build bikes for and bug out with.
As far as the technical direction, I went on a pretty grueling 60-mile gravel race here in Hickman County, TN (same as the Johnny Cash song) on a bike that large manufacturers would market as “gravel.” The gravel riding here isn’t the same as the stuff I’d become accustomed to living in the Midwest for several years. It was miserable, and that led me down a path of taking things I’ve learned from designing mountain bike geometry and applying it to a gravel platform. I think a lot of good ideas we are seeing introduced into the gravel market are trickling down from mountain bike design, and there are few folks who are going back to the drawing board and erasing everything that was dictated by old notions of bike design (that were really just copied over the years from road standards) and doing the hard work of redesigning these bikes from the ground up to perform better over diverse terrain.
Tell us a little bit about how the custom yoke came to be and how it was designed
I think yokes are pretty much necessary now on anything that’s going to have larger tires. You can only get so far with bending and dimpling tubes without shortening the life and structural integrity of the tube and still get a short chainstay length that helps command your rear wheel when descending in rough terrain. Big tires plus short chainstays, and then you throw in the necessity of fitting a chainring that is large enough for diverse riding—it’s pretty impossible to get all that without utilizing a yoke. I also didn’t want to have to use a 73mm mountain bottom bracket and sacrifice a more comfortable Q-factor, and if that didn’t make it hard enough, you can also run this 2x with a 30T maximum inner ring.
It took about 50 design iterations in CAD to get all that to play nice and make it look cool. It’s a solid one-piece yoke, which also helps on the manufacturing end compared to a clamshell yoke that has two halves welded together. It takes more time to machine and it’s slightly heavier at 289 grams, but it means less time doing handwork, which is always costly. I work at a machine shop and machine these myself, so I was able to understand what I could and couldn’t get away with when it came time to make it, which made prototyping it a lot faster than if I didn’t have that knowledge. But even with that, all in all, from the math to 2D geometry to 3D CAD and then building the CAM and designing fixturing to machine it, to finally machining the fixtures to make the yoke, it took me about half a year to have the part fully realized, it was a giant hurdle.
What’s the maximum tire clearance on the Bug Out?
If you rotate the dropouts all the way back, you can fit some 2.2-2.3″ tires. However, I designed it around 700 x 50mm tires and I’m only guaranteeing up to that size.
Will the new frames be made in house?
Frames and parts will be machined and made by me in my small shop here in Nashville, TN, as always. I think the heavy branding throws people a little off and they think I’m a larger company than I am. The namesake isn’t tied to my personal name, but I’m a one-man operation and every Amigo comes from my hands. I enjoy the making and production side of the craft as much as the design, so I won’t ever be outsourcing my work. However, this will probably be the only pre-order I do, after these 15 I’ll have the working capital to just start doing production runs and dropping them into my webstore.
Which bikepacking routes do you think would be perfect for the Bug Out?
I think the Bug Out will be great on a diverse range of routes. Tennessee has some amazing terrain that can be extremely challenging, and designing it around my local turf (because I’m riding one) was important to me. The bike is really capable because of this. What I love about the bikepacking community is seeing what people ride. There are plenty of people living by the adage of “run what you bring,” and everyone has their own preferences or style. I love that, and I think the Bug Out will be a great tool to express that.
I want to see people running it with flat bars or drops, singlespeed, or with that new XPLR fork (I might have to be the first, ha!). Basically, whatever gets you out and having a rad time. Specifically, though, this was vehicle to help get me back out and enjoying this style of riding again, so I have plans to try and make Grinduro. In 2023, I want to take my personal Bug Out on the Tour Divide—I’m getting married next year on the day the Tour Divide starts so I won’t be able to make it; conversely, I have some friends who won’t make my wedding because they’re doing the Divide.
The Amigo Bug Out is offered in Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large for $2,400 including the frame and fork. There are only 15 available for pre-order with a $1,000 deposit. The remainder is due after completion in February 2022. Learn more over at AmigoFrameworks.com
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