Tour: The Vanilla Bicycles Workshop

Shop employs 'A-list' guest builders using a utilitarian approach

Company Spotlight Road Bike
The Vanilla Bicycles Workshop

The Speedvagen in its final form. Stock framesets start at $3,450. Full custom from $4,350.

Custom frame builder Sacha White is taking a new approach to the way he builds bicycles. He’s asking for a little help.

White owns and operates the Vanilla Bicycles Workshop in Portland, Oregon. What began as a one man operation 15 years ago has grown into a full scale fabrication shop employing painters, craftsmen, metal workers and artisans.

White realized there is demand for full custom bikes without long lead times. To achieve this, he builds each frame made to order, but produces them in small batch runs on a monthly schedule. This year production has increased and the flagship Speedvagen is shipping in as little as two months for a full custom bicycle.

“In 2006 my wait list for Vanilla was exploding.,” recalled White. “I was faced with the conflict of not wanting to compromise what I was doing with Vanilla. It was important to me that I be the builder of my bikes and continue to pursue my craft. At the same time I didn’t want to be exclusive to the point that I couldn’t build bikes for my teammates and fellow racers that liked what we were doing.”

The Vanilla Bicycles Workshop

It’s all about the details.

“That year, Speedvagen was given a name and a clear direction: a small run of race bikes produced several times a year,” White continued. “The wait would be months, not years. The bikes would be built in-house with the help of ‘A-list’ guest builders using a ‘take away everything non-essential and innovate with what was left’ design approach.”

Today, the Vanilla Bicycles Workshop employs nearly a dozen local craftsmen, each bringing their own strengths to the table.

“In the last two years we have nearly doubled the number of bikes we make, and we look forward to seeing that trend continue,” added White. “Today’s frames are the best that we have ever produced.”

Custom geometry, paint and graphics are all part of the package as well as upgrade options ensuring that no two frames coming out of the Vanilla Bicycles Workshop are the same. Everything is completed in house. This maintains control of the process, ensuring attention to detail. For example, the paint process alone takes between 8-20 hours depending on the nuances of the scheme, in addition to the 35+ hours in fabrication.

“This is my way of making people’s lives better,” said White.

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About the author: RoadBikeReview is an online community of cyclists who share a passion for the sport. Visitors of the site regularly purchase gear to upgrade their bikes, share inspiring photos of rides, and keep up to date with the latest industry and technology news. Which products perform best? Where to buy them? Where to ride? How to ride better? Cyclists come to for the answers.

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