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Chas Christiansen is always "in search of the stoke."
The San Francisco-based rider for Oakley lives his life that way. In other words, looking for whatever motivates and drives him. Often, that's through cycling.
Christiansen owns a No. 22 Little Wing, which he calls his forever bike.
In recent years, Christiansen was featured in a number of Oakley commercials. As a sponsored rider for more than five years, part of the deal involves creating video and content for the brand. "It was a coincidence," Christiansen says of a No. 22 bicycle appearing in the commercials as it was his primary machine. "Ultimately, Oakley allowed me to ride whatever bike I was on at the time," he says.
The commercials, the last of which aired in 2017, were seen by tens of thousands of people. And not just for a brief second either. The Little Wing, in part due to its subtly, was a hit among the videographers. (The bike, for example, doesn't reflect light like other bikes on film, Christiansen says.) The heightened publicity for No. 22 only increased the likelihood of Christiansen being asked about his Little Wing on the racing circuit during a time when titanium wasn't as popular as it has become today.
Scott Hock, No. 22's Director of Operations, first let us know about the Oakley commercial. We were having dinner with family at the time and we put it on the living room TV. It was pretty fun to see one of our bikes in such a mainstream setting.
In the commercials Christiansen, who worked for more than 10 years as a bike courier (and finished second at the 2015 Cycle Messenger World Championships) can be seen maneuvering the streets of San Francisco, a city which he describes as a challenge to ride, but not because of the pitched topography. "It's not so much the hills," he says, adding that it's the wind that makes the northern California urban-riding brutal. That's not to mention San Francisco's cable car system tracks that Christiansen weaves over in the commercials.
Christiansen first connected with No. 22 with his friend Wilis Johnson, who grew up in the same town as him in Washington, at the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Deluxe Cycles. Soon after the Red Hook Crit three years ago, Christiansen was set up with the Little Wing, on which he would soon swap in ZIPP street wheels. Other customizations that make the Little Wing uniquely Christiansen's include an Oakley and a MASH sticker, the latter for whom he races.
The Little Wing became his to- and from-work commuter and its geometry was "perfect for alleycat racing and in traffic," explaining its versatile, dual purpose. He travelled 20-30 times per year with the No. 22 and put it through just about everything. "The Little Wing is all about functionality for me," he says, adding that an unforeseen benefit of having a titanium frame means his bike won't be damaged when travelling, even with a soft-shell case.
A seasoned racer, particularly on the alleycat scene aboard the Little Wing, which he says is "light and flexible enough" to make it a perfect racer, Christiansen has taken a step back from fixed gear criteriums in pursuit of more gravel endurance races. "When I started, fixed gear races were underground. They had a D.I.Y. vibe. and now it’s serious and well-sponsored. It’s positive for the sport in general but I’m less into that," he says. Christiansen says that among the races he'll be doing this year is the Transcontinental Race, a self-supported ride across Europe, considered one of the toughest endurance challenges in the world. Christiansen is considered a pioneer in the fixed gear bike scene.
To add to his collection of bikes, Christiansen says he's been eyeing the No. 22 Reactor. "It's f*cking insane," he says nonchalantly. "Beyond beautiful."
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