Cyclocross

Bike Profile: Aaron Bradford’s Hand-Built Rock Lobster Cyclocross Bike – Cyclocross Magazine

Rock Lobster Cycles is one of the pillars of the North American frame building world. For 45 years, Paul Sadoff has been building frames for customers worldwide and supporting racers near and far. Rock Lobster riders can be found in their natural habitat on the West Coast of the United States and occasionally in migration to Europe.

One such rider is Aaron Bradford, a long-time team member and employee of Shimano North America. You may remember Bradford for the gold chain he wore in the Baby Masters race at Reno Nationals that Kerry Werner then used for good pre-race vibes.

Aaron Bradford was styling en route to his third-place finish. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Bradford took possession of an aluminum team cyclocross frame originally built for teammate Andrew Juiliano, who was forced to mothball his plans for much of the 2018/19 season due to health concerns. At NAHBS, we got a look at Juiliano’s bike he raced in Europe at the end of the cyclocross season.

After the newly minted frame sat ownerless for a time, it fell into Bradford’s hands, who built it with the best Shimano has to offer for use as a race bike and for product demonstration.

Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

As a Shimano employee, Bradford’s bike features components and parts almost exclusively from the Japanese company, deviating only when there is not a Shimano produced option.

Bradford’s frame is a Rock Lobster Cyclocross Team AL built with 7005 Ultralite tubing from Easton. Refined over decades, the bike is purpose-built for the ’cross course using Sadoff’s own geometry and, of course, painted in Rock Lobster’s trademark seafoam green.

The Rock Lobster logo is iconic in handmade frame circles. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The frame features thoroughly modern touches, like a 12x142mm thru-axle rear end, tapered headtube with integrated bearing races, flat mount disc brakes and internal Di2 routing. A no-nonsense race bike, the rear brake is routed externally allowing for ease of servicing should the line need to be replaced.

While the brake hose is routed externally, the Di2 wire runs through the frame, allowing for use of an internal B-Junction and battery. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Up front, a carbon Whisky No. 9 fork spins in a Cane Creek Forty integrated headset. While the fork is not painted, the Whisky branding is color matched to the frame.

The carbon Whisky fork keeps its black color on Bradford’s bike. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

As a Shimano demo bike, the build features Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 components. The drivetrain is 2x and features an Ultegra RX805 rear derailleur that we saw a number of North American cyclocrossers run this past season.

Introduced for Paris-Roubaix in 2018, the RX805 and mechanical RX800 derailleurs offer the first officially supported clutch derailleur for Shimano road groups and are compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains. It pre-dates the new GRX groupset Shimano released last week.

The RX805 rear derailleur offers clutch technology originally developed for use offroad. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Both derailleurs are controlled by R9170 Di2 levers, which also actuate Dura-Ace flat mount brake calipers paired with RT900 Ice-Tech rotors. Bradford uses a 160mm rotor on the front but opts for a smaller 140mm rotor in the rear.

Dura-Ace R9170 levers offer control of both shifting and braking with a refined hood shape and more haptic feedback from buttons than earlier levers. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The bike is equipped with a Dura-Ace R9100 crankset, which has no official option for cyclocross gearing. While pro-only rings do exist, Bradford has instead retrofitted a set of Ultegra R6800 46/36t chain rings. He applies power using Shimano SPD pedals.

Dura-Ace has no official option for cyclocross chainrings, so Bradford retrofitted Ultegra R6800 chain rings. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The cockpit continues to be a Shimano affair, with components from subsidiary PRO making an appearance. A Vibe stem and accompanying teardrop shaped spacers hold a carbon Vibe Aero handlebar, which features aero shaping on the tops and internal hose routing. Rounding out the clean front end is an EW-RS910 bar end A-junction and charging port. Bradford wrapped his bar with black and white striped tape.

A common taping pattern for aero bars stops just past the lever. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The seatpost is also a PRO Vibe series product made of carbon and featuring a stepless adjustment clamp with 20mm of layback. A flashy gold clamp from Paul Components holds it in place. Bradford mounted PRO Griffon saddle with carbon rails, clamping it just rear of center on the rails.

A gold seatpost collar is one of the few parts not made by Shimano. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Wheels are, unsurprisingly, also from Shimano. Bradford joined other North American riders in running tubeless tires for cyclocross with Shimano’s WH-RS770 carbon-laminated alloy clinchers with tubeless tire compatibility, Centerlock rotor mounting and 12mm thru axles.

The RS770 wheelset uses a hybrid carbon-alloy construction. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Bradford mounted tubeless Schwalbe G-One Allround tires with tan sidewalls. The gravel tires come in a minimum width of 700c x 35mm, so Bradford’s build was not UCI-legal when we saw it. The wheels were attached with DT Swiss toolless thru-axles.

The Schwalbe G-One uses a series of progressively taller knobs to offer a balance of speed and traction. Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster team cyclocross bike. 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

For more on Bradford’s Rock Lobster, see the specs and gallery below.

All of our coverage of new bikes and products is available in our 2019 Sea Otter Classic archive.

Photo Gallery: Aaron Bradford’s Rock Lobster Cyclocross Bike