Matt’s Crust Nor’ Easter
This salmon color Nor’ Easter belongs to Crust Bikes founder Matt Whitehead. Find out more about this curious, thru-axle-equipped all-roader with a threaded steerer and the yet-to-be-released Peck Deck minimal saddlebag support. Plus, a Q&A with Matt about Crust Bikes…
Based in New Jersey, Crust Bikes’ founder Matt Whitehead started bike touring during a happenstance series of events while on a surfing trip. It’s only fitting that he named one of the flagship Crust models after the storms that bring good surf conditions to the northeast Atlantic. I had the pleasure of meeting Matt at this year’s Sea Otter Classic, where I got a peek at his personal Nor’ Easter, a bike that sits somewhere in between the the rugged dirt-touring Evasion and classic Romanceür in Crust’s wide range. Find an interview with Matt below, along with a short film following him on a surf trip, his Nor’ Easter build details, and a few photos of the new Peck Deck saddlebag support.
Who/what got you interested in bike touring and bikepacking?
I was on a surf trip in Mexico and had all my money stolen out of my bank. The closest person (geographically) was a friend in Austin, so I brought a bike for $15 and rode to his place. My friend there owns and runs a BMX company called T1, and he convinced me that I should get another bike if I wanted to keep bike touring. So, with much back and forth, I caved in and left the $15 bike for a Surly Long Haul Trucker. The LHT was like a dream.
Where did you take your first tour? Tell us a little bit about the trip.
My first bike trip when I knew bike touring was a thing (and not just for people who could not afford cars) was when I got the Long Haul Trucker and headed up to Canada with the intention of riding from coast to coast. But I got there and just ended up working and surfing more than bike touring. Then winter came and the cross country trip was postponed a couple of years.
How did you get from there to starting your own bike company? In other words, what led up to Crust Bikes?
Crust came to light when I was bike touring in Nepal. I was riding a modified rat rod of a Cross-Check. Darren Larkin modified it for me, he now builds the US-made Crust stuff. I randomly meet him on a bike tour as he was making Farfarer Trailers at the time and I was always on the look out for good ways to carry my boards. The whole trip I was just day dreaming about my dream bike, like most do. Maybe it was the altitude or something, but by the end of that trip Crust was born. The Evasion had been drawn up and things where in motion. I never thought Crust would last past that first run of Evasions, I just imagined I would get the bike I wanted, hopefully sell the rest and not loose too much money, and then go back to bike touring and basically only working a month or two a year. I’d just keep on doing what I had been my whole life. Well, things snowballed, and now I am just a rat on a running wheel, but I’m fine with that for now. It has been a really interesting few years.
What’s your ideal bike trip look like?
Anywhere warm and with Cheech and some water to swim in (like our trip to Puerto Rico).
Getting back to your salmon Nor’ Easter, why combine modern features, such as thru-axles and flat mount brakes with old school touches, such as a quill stem?
Best of both worlds, I suppose. I feel bikes from the past have a lot to offer, as do certain designs from the present. Combined, you have both function and beauty, at least in my opinion.
You have a load of bikes in your catalog that are purpose-built for touring and bikepacking. Do you have a favorite or favorites amongst them?
At the moment it would be a toss up between the Nor’ Easter or the Ti Evasion. I love the way the Nor’ Easter looks and rides. And I just can’t believe how light of a bike the Ti Evasion is and what it is capable of. Not that I need a light bike because I am slow regardless, but you know, I am a CEO of a multinational company, I should be on Ti.
Who do you think best fits the Nor’ Easter, versus your other bikes?
I guess someone who would want a Nor’ Easter would be into lugs, would want the ability to run wide tires if desired, and likes clean-looking 1x-specific bikes.
Matt’s Nor’ Easter build is slightly different than the production Nor’ Easter. Highlights include the Nitto Stem, ultra-wide Towel Rack handlebars, Fabio’s Chest saddlebag, and a new bag support called the Peck Deck, designed by Ultra Romance as a minimal saddlebag support. Here’s the full build kit with more photos of the Peck Deck to follow…
- Frame/Fork Custom Crust Nor’ Easter
- Rims Enve G27
- Front Hub SON Dynamo
- Rear Hub DT Swiss 240
- Tires Continental SpeedKing 2.2” (27.5)
- Handlebar Nitto/Crust Prototype
- Stem Nitto
- Seatpost Ti Campagnolo chorus
- Saddle Cycles Bertoud
- Brakes Yokozuna Ultimo Cable-actuated Hydraulic
- Brake Levers Origin8 Classique Road
- Crankset SRAM Dub (32T chainring)
- Derailleur SRAM Force 11-speed
- Shifter Micro Shift
- Front Bag Swift/Ultraromance Fabio’s Chest
- Rear Bag Swift/Ultraromance Fabio’s Chest