NAHBS 2016: Soulcraft Treehorn – road PLUS adventure bike

650x47c road PLUS tires and the bike built around them

Disc North American Handmade Bicycle Show Road Bike
Sean Walling has been building road and cross bikes under his Soulcraft brand since 1999.

Sean Walling has been building road and cross bikes under his Soulcraft brand since 1999.

I had a chance to chat with Sean Walling from Soulcraft at the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Sacramento recently. Sean’s reputation as a no-nonsense bike builder has allowed him to build up an almost cult-like following here in the SF Bay area and beyond. He has been building steel road and cross frames for many years and some of his bikes have reviews on our site dating back to 2000, all the while maintaining a 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers rating! The Treehorn is the latest all-road bicycle featuring the new Horizon road Plus size tire from WTB that was launched recently.

This new bike is called the Treehorn and the bike featured here is Sean’s own personal bike. The timeline was so tight for NAHBS, Sean has not yet ridden this bike in earnest. WTB’s new Horizon road plus tire measures 650x47c. Why such wide tires? We get the word straight from the man himself, Sean explains, “Wide road tires are nothing new. Randonneurs have had wide tires for a long time. But this new Horizon is a more performance oriented tire with a bit lighter weight. It’s made for people that want to go fast on the 50/50 (half road/half dirt) rides.”

A shot to show the clearance left on a 47c tire. The Treehorn frame is made from 4130 steel.

A shot to show the clearance left on a 47c tire. The Treehorn frame is made from 4130 steel.

When compared to a traditional 700c tire, Sean explains that the Horizon actually has the same outer diameter as a 700x30c tire. The geometry has been kept tight, so the Treehorn is designed to be a quick handling road bike with a lot of cushion to go off road. The recommended tire pressure range is 35-55 PSI, but Sean states that running tubeless (the Horizon’s are WTB TCS tubeless ready) he would personally run around 35 PSI, hinting that under certain conditions, even less might be possible. The intention of the road Plus wheel is to create something that is stronger and lighter but gives much more volume. 3T is currently making a carbon rim specifically for this tire and there are more wheel options on the way.

Although produced several years ago, this video still gives a good look inside Soulcraft’s operations and style.
[vimeo width=”610″ height=”343″][/vimeo]

The frame of the Treehorn is 4130 steel, a material that Sean has been building with for years. 4130 is simple and inexpensive (relatively speaking) and works well with the extra cush provided by the tires in this case. The current wait for a custom Treehorn is about 4 months and final pricing has not yet been set.

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About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Portolla Valley roads. Besides being an avid cyclist, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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  • Chris says:

    So the outer diameter is the same as 700×30.
    That should mean that you could also change the wheels to 28″.
    Strangely the possibility is not referred to.
    It woud be interesting to know how this bike will handle with both sizes of wheels.

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