Embracing the Uncertain Embracing the Uncertain

Embracing the Uncertain

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In this ongoing SRAM Stories feature we highlight the unusual or extraordinary bikes of SRAM employees. Here we'll take a look at SRAM Engineering Technician Pancho Herrera's custom Black Cat cyclocross bike.

Custom bikes are often babied, garaged, and doted on like one’s own cherished offspring. Pancho Herrera doesn’t do that. His five-year-old Black Cat cross bike is ridden everyday to and from work, regularly flogged on rocky singletrack mountain bike trails, then parked outside. And his bike has the battle scars to prove it. Of course the bike also sees some occasional cross races every year, but for Pancho his bike is primarily a tool that is engineered to generate smiles as it transports him to both intended and unintended destinations as he winds his way through life.  

Seeking out the unfamiliar and unpredictable is one of Pancho’s defining traits. An avid glider pilot, Pancho prefers the jazz-musician like dance of identifying and working with updrafts to carry him higher, rather than relying on a motor attached to a propeller to get him where he wants to go. His approach to aviation is mirrored by his other interests, “I like punk rock before it got watered down. Bebop jazz. Bowie… challenging music that skirts the mainstream.” Likewise, Pancho is an air-cooled Porsche fan with a particular passion for the oft-overlooked 912. He’s currently in the process of restoring a “J” variant of the car. When asked what the connection is between the three interests he said, “Not sure what the connection is, but they all offer increasing reward the deeper you dig into them. I’m just trying to keep things interesting…” 

It only follows that a theme of versatility would dictate the design characteristics of his bike. “The primary design goal was to have the ability to go between single speed and geared format. At the time, the Surly Sub22 with hanger was the best rear dropout solution, so that’s what we used.” An old friend of the builder, Todd Ingermanson, Pancho got to know Todd in the late 90’s when his framebuilding skills were in their infancy. This is Pancho’s third and most recent Black Cat. It’s frequently used as a test bed for all sorts of components, 2x, 1x, and single speed. Parts are often mismatching, and that suits Pancho just fine. He was on mismatching wheels until fairly recently!

Although Pancho is perhaps a racer at heart more than anything else in his varied life, when asked about his racing palmares Pancho just had this to say, “I believe that we SRAMmies share the notable achievement of making a career out of our passion for the bicycle. That’s my podium finish, anyway.”

Bike Spec

Frameset: Black Cat Cross Bike w/Trek CX fork

Crankset: SRAM RED 172.5mm

Chainring: SRAM Force 1 38T

Chain: SRAM RED 22

Cassette: XG-1190 11-32t

Right Shift/Brake Lever: SRAM RED

Left Shift/Brake Lever: SRAM Rival 1

Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force 1 mid cage

Brakeset: Avid Shorty 6 (Black in front, Silver in back)

Wheeset: Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher

Tires: Surly Knard 700x41c

Stem: Truvativ Stylo T20 90mm

Seatpost: Truvativ Team Carbon 27.2

Handlebar: Zipp Contour SL trad bend 44cm

Bar Tape: SRAM SuperSport

Saddle: Selle San Marco Regal

Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy 11

Headset: Crank Brothers

All photos courtesy of Michael Degutis

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