Introducing Tanglefoot Cycles: Retro-Futurism
Based out of a yurt and a small sugar shack in Vermont, Tanglefoot Cycles designs steel bikes that embrace the idea of time-proven features, with a modern twist. We reached out to learn more about their current bike lineup, as well as Discord Components and Fifth Season Canvas—two sister companies they also run. Check it all out here…
First photo set and main photo by James Joiner (@jjamesjoiner)
A month or so ago, I stumbled upon Tanglefoot Cycles after seeing one of their bikes teased on the Analog Cycles Instagram feed. As it turns out, the owners of Analog Cycles (a bike shop located in Poultney, Vermont) are the same folks behind Tanglefoot, as well as a components brand called Discord and Fifth Season Canvas, a waxed canvas bike bag company. Tanglefoot Cycles is run by Candice Passehl and James Johnson, who embrace the concept of Retro Futurism, the idea being that the key to the future lies in the past. James has been producing bikes since 2012 but has been working in the bike industry for 25 years. From bike fitting to launching the original dirt road database, James has gathered a lot of insight into what makes bikes efficient and comfortable. Tanglefoot’s models are a result of where James grew up and where he lives now, designed for rocky, technical, challenging terrain. All of Tanglefoot’s models sport unique geometry and have obvious attention to detail that’s hard to ignore.
Find details on the three bikes currently in Tanglefoot’s lineup below, followed by some information on Discord and Fifth Season Canvas.
The Tanglefoot Moonshiner is ideal for bikepacking, technical mountain biking, and the worst roads you can find. It’s a true East Coast bike with a high bottom bracket, high trail numbers, slack-ish head tube angle, and a low standover height. The frame and fork are designed to be super stiff so it feels the same whether it’s loaded up with gear or not. The frame is optimized for dirt drops but can be set up with flat / alt bars as well. The frame and fork are made in Taiwan, the stem is US made, and they are expected to be delivered in April.
- Bottom Bracket 73mm BSA Threaded
- Front Hub 110 x 15, 1.5 threading, 135mm axle
- Rear Hub 148 x 12mm, 1.5 threading, 170 rear axle
- Tire Clearance 27.5 x 3″ tires on 35mm internal width rims
- Seat Tube 30.9mm, internal dropper post ready
- Brakes Flat mount 160mm. Adapters available for 180mm rotors
- Shift and Brake Housing External
The Moonshiner comes in three sizes; small, medium, and large. Prices start at $1,100 USD depending on stem, with your choice of fork and threadless Discord stem.
Named after the tough, durable biscuit, the Tanglefoot Hardtack is a lighter and simpler version of the Moonshiner. The frame has slightly less tire clearance, 12mm (non-boost) hub spacing to keep wheelset costs down, and a 27.2mm seatpost diameter with dropper routing. The frame is also optimized for drop bars, and is best suited for bikepacking, gravel, and commuting. “The idea was to get a good sub $750 frameset out there,” explains James at Tanglefoot. “It’s like a Surly Bridge Club but with Tanglefoot geometry.” Frames and forks are expected to arrive late summer / early fall.
- Bottom Bracket 73mm BSA Threaded
- Front Hub 100 x 12mm, 1.5 threading
- Rear Hub 142 x 12mm, 1.5 threading
- Tire Clearance 27.5 x 2.6″ tires on 35mm internal width rims
- Seat Tube 27.2mm, internal dropper post ready
- Brakes Disc, IS mount, 160 direct mount rear
- Shift and Brake Housing External, 1x
The Hardtack comes in five sizes: x-small, small, medium, large, and x-large. Prices start at $750 USD.
Tanglefoot Bull Thistle
The Tanglefoot Bull Thistle is a classic US-made road-fat bike designed for mud season and snowmobile roads. It has clearance for 26 x 4″ tires, a lowish Q-factor, and includes a quill stem and lugged, custom fork crown. The Bull Thistle is made by Alex Meade Bikeworks (@alexmeadebikeworks) in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Bull Thistle Specs
- Bottom Bracket 83mm, BSA Threaded
- Front Hub 150 x 15mm
- Rear Hub 177 x 12mm
- Tire Clearance 26 x 4″ tire on 50mm rims, 27.5 x 3.5″ on 80mm rims, 29 x 3″ on 50mm rims
- Seat Tube 27.2mm
- Brakes Post Mount 180mm max rotor
- Shift and Brake Housing 1x specific, downtube braze on for shifter
The Bull Thistle comes in five sizes; 51, 53.5, 57, 61, and 64. Prices start at $3,800 USD for a frame and fork, which includes a two-color paint job with lug lining. The frames are made to order with a six- to nine-week lead time.
Discord Components is the parts and accessories brand. Currently, the line consists of 4 quill stems (steel, 31.8 clamp, 4 bolt, 0mm, 30mm, 50 and 70mm) and 4 threadless stems, 2 aluminum with a shortish stack height (75mm) and 2 steel, with a 125mm stack height. They are all are super tough, made for serious off-road riding, and all made in the US. Alex Meade (@alexmeadebikeworks) makes the steel stems, and they’re Cerakote painted in Mass. The aluminum stems are made by Swift Design Works (@swiftdesignworks), and anodized in the US. Discord only uses stainless steel hardware.
Discord also has some nice top caps that are made in Canada, and a few seat collars, also Canadian made. They plan to have chainrings and derailleur pulleys by the summer, and they are working on a drop bar design unlike anything out there. Stay tuned for more on that.
Fifth Season Canvas
Fifth Season Canvas is their bag brand, all of which are manufactured from US-made waxed canvas by small cottage industry sewers. Key Pa saddle bags, which are basically no-expenses-spared, incredibly nice saddle bags, are made in Vermont by Dave at Waxwing. The other bags are all made in an off-the-grid cabin, on a foot-powered treadle sewing machine in Maine. All the hardware is US-made, and if it’s coated, they do that in the US too. The long-term goal of Fifth Season is to offer bags with zero plastics that outperform plastic fabric bags—and make them all in the US. By the end of summer, they’ll have Vermont-made custom frame bags for all the Tanglefoot frames. They are currently working on a smaller version of the Key Pa, with plans to integrate wool from Johnson Woolen Mills in Vermont.
Tanglefoot, Discord, and Fifth Season Canvas are only available at Tanglefoot Dealers. Find the current dealer list and locations below. There will be more as the year goes on and dealer inquiries should be directed to Tanglefoot.
- ALTERNATIVE BIKE CO. Tampines, Singapore
- ANALOG CYCLES East Poultney, Vermont, USA
- BOOTLEGGER BIKES Jefferson, Vermont, USA
- CRUMB WORKS Tokyo, Japan
- C&L CYCLES Montreal, Canada
- OUTPOST RICHMOND Richmond, Virginia, USA
- PORTLAND GEAR HUB Portland, Maine, USA
- THE PSYCHIC DERAILLEUR Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
- 718 CYCLERY Brooklyn, New York, USA
We’re excited to get our hands on a Tanglefoot and some Fifth Season Canvas for a closer look later this year. Until then, you can head over to TanglefootCycles.com to learn more.
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