Originally published in Road Magazine, July 2015
With the proliferation of aero tube shapes and carbon layup wizardry, traditionally styled road bikes don’t seem to draw the inquiring glances they once did. However, as I pedaled the Sage Skyline through its long-term test, the eyes followed the titanium bike beneath me. From established frame builders to fellow journalists and group ride junkies, people ogled this bike. ‘What’s that bike? Who makes it? Is it US Made?’ The questions poured in and the eyes kept getting wider.
Brewed in Oregon, Aged in Tennessee
Sage Titanium traces its business roots back to 2012 when David Rosen founded the company in Portland, Oregon. The now 42-year-old Rosen grew up in New York City and spent his days riding through Central Park. This inner city cycling morphed into a racing fascination on both the road and dirt. By the time he sat down three years ago to start Sage Cycles, he knew exactly how he wanted his bikes to ride.
Rosen explained, “I was a student of the sport and design for 25 years…I had a couple of bikes that were fantastic, and I sat down and thought about the previous bikes I had, what I liked, what was unique. I also knew I wanted Ti. From racing so much, I knew what I liked in a bike. I’m a pretty big guy, so I’m not a decent climber, but descending is what I love to do, and I also like powering on the flats.”
Rosen’s initial plan in 2012 was to import titanium bikes and sell them domestically. However, in 2015 Sage switched its business model, and now the company sources their titanium road and ‘cross frames from the United States. Rosen struck up a partnership with Lynskey Performance in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to help produce the bicycles. Rosen designs the bicycles in Portland and then employs Lynskey’s 31 years of titanium expertise to build his visions. This cross-country partnership is emblazoned on the chainstays of the Skyline. The left reads, “Brewed in Oregon” and the right states, “Aged in Tennessee.”
The titanium frame has many of the qualities of a traditional race frame like 406-millimeter chainstays, a 73-degree headtube and a 68-millimeter BB drop. However, the Wright-style dropouts, bent chainstays and clean welds give the Sage a distinctive look. Additionally, the frame has other details built into the design that blend form and function. Rosen designed a carbon clip for a streamlined approach to either mechanical or electronic shift routing. He wanted to let riders internally route electronic cables for a sleek look while also maintaining the option for external mechanical setups. Why not just run mechanical cables internally? Rosen said that mechanical, at its core, is a simpler system, and keeping the routing external allows for easier access and adjustability. Thus, the carbon clip puts the barrel adjusters within easy reach, so shifting can be dialed in while in motion.