If you haven’t heard of Zen Bicycle Fabrication, it’s probably because they keep a low profile. That is until now. Zen came into being in 2011 when David Woronets purchased the manufacturing process from his then employer, Ellsworth Bicycles. With an increased demand for American-made steel and aluminum frames, Zen quickly found themselves busy. Around the same time, SAPA, a large manufacturing firm with a small local bicycle fabrication facility, shut down as well. britton_zen_visit_exp_1Working out of their 10,000 square foot facility tucked underneath I-5, the small crew produces frames for a number of small brands, many of which are closely held secrets. Others, like Lemond are proud to have their Washoe produced by David and his crew. The facility builds hundreds of frames a month, and when I visited the production floor was working solely on runs of Zen frames. Woronets launched five models ranging from road to mountain to adventure in early 2015. The model that really caught my eye is the EXP, Zen’s 27.5+ adventure bike. This aluminum frame was designed with bikepacking in mind, although the geometry is similar to Zen’s Trail model. Meaning that the EXP should be equally at home while fully loaded, or light and fast on singletrack. The details and thought put into this bike are obvious at first glance. Rear rack mounts and bosses for an extra water bottle on the bottom of the down tube extend the utility of the frame as well. britton_zen_visit_exp_16The main triangle features an extra set of bosses to attach a frame bag, specifically from J-Paks out of Colorado. The wide, flat shape of the downtube and top tube allow the bag to open wide, making it much easier to store awkwardly shaped gear. Overall, the aluminum frame shaves a full pound compared to steel, and has the benefit of being corrosion resistant. On the rubber side of things, the frame can fit the larger 27.5+ rubber and a double crankset thanks to an 83mm bottom bracket and 157mm dropouts. Early next year Zen is going to lend me an EXP to ride on a couple of trips. I will be report back with my thoughts, but if my first impressions are right, the EXP is going to be really hard to give back when all is said and done. Stay tuned.

One Comment

  1. Hi Jason,

    Great article

    I’m Looking forward to the review of the Exp. Hopefully it is close to being posted? I’m keen on this particular bike packing frame for a custom build so your thoughts on how it rides would be really welcome

    Thanks
    Garrett

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