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Chad Nordwall knows his way around custom bikes. Beginning with a custom Land Shark in 1989, Chad’s personal history with custom bikes has intertwined with his professional life through the founding of Above Category Cycling. Above Category has firmly established itself as one of the premier shops in the world, and the brands Above Category represents are the carefully selected pinnacles of their segments.
Earlier this year Chad took delivery of his first No. 22, a Reactor built with the timeless Campagnolo Super Record mechanical groupset. Chad candidly describes his introduction to the brand:
“I’d heard of No. 22 before, but honestly I made the assumption that it was just another titanium tubed bike company that liked to use a bit of anodization to make the bikes look pretty but other than that, didn’t offer anything that warranted a deeper look. What do they say about assuming again?
Just before COVID started, one of the founders of the company came into the shop to get a few tweaks done to his bike while on a trip here in California. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him or take a look at the bike that day but Robert, our service manager, really liked what he saw and made the suggestion that we should take a closer look.
I spent a good chunk of the next day or so reading every line of copy on their website, looking at every picture and watching every video on their blog. So I then knew a lot more about No. 22—the models that they produced, the company philosophy, who the team consisted of, etc. One thing that stood out right away was how much of the frames they produced in house. I love that and sent an email to one of the founders to find out more and ended the conversation by ordering my own No. 22 Reactor.
We always want to try out a company's bikes ourselves before making a decision to bring them into the fold. It’s not only about whether we like the way the bike looks or how it rides, but also the experience of getting the frame made. The interaction, the punctuality and the professionalism among other things. While I was waiting for the frame I had a few more long conversations with them and learned a bit more about what they do and what they are working on. They just launched one of the coolest looking coupled travel bikes (something that’s been needed for a long time now) and they're currently working on something else that should open a lot of eyes as well, but more on that in the near future.
In the end, we love working with companies that push the boundaries of their chosen craft and I’m adding No. 22 to that short list of people that do so. You should too.”
As the miles have racked up on Chad’s Reactor, the honeymoon period with the new bike has carried on longer than expected. With a stable full of great options to choose from, Chad’s Reactor has become the “first one I think of when grabbing a bike.”
With the Reactor’s focus on razor-sharp road manners, it’s no surprise that Chad describes the bike as one of his “best handling… it feels really fast, stiff and stable.”
Keep an eye on the Above Category blog for an in-depth review in due course, and in the meantime treat yourself to a full gallery of images of the Reactor here.
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