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Rock Lobster Cycles: Made in the USA

Rock Lobster is a small, independent operation based out of Santa Cruz, California. It’s owned and operated by its founder, Paul Sadoff, who has been building bikes almost his entire life.

Sadoff began working as a bicycle mechanic in 1976 and started his own business in 1987. Since then, Rock Lobster has produced frames for bike events all over the world, including the Olympics and world championship cyclocross competitions.

The truly unique thing about Rock Lobster is that no matter how much his business has grown, he never delegates the frame-building process to others. Every one of his bikes is hand-built by Sadoff himself. And with over twenty years of experience, you can count on the quality of a Rock Lobster bike.

Of course, since he builds every bike himself, production is slow, especially when larger companies place an order, however, it’s worth the wait. Sadoff knows what goes into a quality bicycle and optimizes it for performance and a smooth-riding experience.

Our Favorite Rock Lobster Cycles Made in the USA

World Cup CX: Named after its success at UCI cyclocross events in the US, Europe, China, and world cups, this aluminum frame has been designed as a result of years of feedback from great riders. The World Cup CX can comfortably handle a multitude of ride types and terrains, from cyclocross to longer gravel runs, to hitting your local trails or CX races, this bike has done all that and more. 

TIG S.L Mountain: The TIG S.L Mountain bike is one of the frames that started it all. It’s the bike that made Sadoff a full-time frame builder as demand for this bike was so great. Now, after 31 years of being built, the latest edition looks quite different from its original 80’s build. Bigger wheels, better brakes, larger diameter steel tubes, and slacker angles make this the quality mountain bike that it is now. There are also different options for the more hardcore bikers out there. 

Ultimundo Road: Rock Lobster has more road bikes in its range than any other type. However, the Ultimundo Road (as its name suggests) is the ultimate one package road offering. The combination of Columbus Life and Spirit tubes is the lightest Sadoff works with, making the weight of this frame under 4lbs. This is a classic Rock Lobster bike – no frills or luxury but the top of the line of what they build. 

TIG S.L CX/Gravel: Another bike that’s been in the Rock Lobster catalog for over 30 years, the TIG S.L CX/Gravel was a rare type of bike back in 1992 when it was originally made. Few builders were making cyclocross bikes like this, bikes from Europe could barely manage a 700×32 tire and yet Rock Lobster created a frame and fork that could take 700×45 tires. This design has continued and the TIG S.L CX/Gravel offers larger tires that feel stable ridden at speed and can handle hard cornering. It’s designed for fast rides that don’t feel scary. 

Manufacturing Notes

As mentioned before, all bikes are handmade by Paul Sadoff himself from this workshop in Santa Cruz, California. As it’s a small operation making limited numbers of bikes at a very high-quality level, the waitlist can take from 7 months to a year, with about 100 frames being produced annually. 

All of their bike frames are made from either steel or aluminum. As times have changed, so have Rock Lobster’s manufacturers. Though they try to use as much domestically-produced material as possible, steel tubes have been sourced from all over the world for decades. They are currently using steel tubes made from Taiwan-based Velo-Spec that uses USA steel. However, much of the frame building hardware comes from California. 

The aluminum used is 7000 and 7005 tubing from Dedacciai in Italy for the most part. However, Paul Sadoff stresses on his site that regardless of where the materials are sourced, they have to be of the highest quality or he won’t use them. He has incredibly high standards for the quality of his bikes, so though some elements may not be USA-sourced, you can guarantee that they will be of the highest quality and manufactured in the USA. 

If you’re looking for a simple bike with no frills or extras that are handmade to a high standard and simply good at what they’re designed to do, then be sure to check out Rock Lobster. 

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