Years back I ran into a crew in the midst of bikepacking up the State of VT. After a short conversation I learned that two of the posse owned Analog Cycles (a new shop at the time) down in East Poultney, VT. They had me at “bikepacking” but “Poultney” certainly peaked my interest. The beautiful little town and the recently founded Slate Valley Trails were starting to generate some buzz in the riding community. Now I had found it’s nucleus! Plus we had some dear friends in common that were dedicating their lives to building up the cycling scene in the area. So we seemed fated to build a rapport… or at least conduct an interview. Here we go…
Shop Name: Analog Cycles
Owners: Candice and James
Location: East Poultney VT, heart of the Southwest Kingdom of Vermont
Specialty: Tools made for exploration
Hours / Season: 11-4 Sat + Sun for walk-ins, Appointments the rest of the time. Season: March-Nov for walk-ins, Appointments year round.
MTBVT: Qualifying your shop as unique is an understatement. I’d dare say “eclectic” but your media, your equipment and your brand all feels calculated, pointedly different and purposeful. How do you define Analog?
ANALOG: Analog is simple. Simple systems that are easy for the end user to work on. Simple fitting techniques based on rider comfort and enjoyment. Most bikes and bike related stuff are overly complex, technology for the sake of technology. We try to only employ technology that is proven, that will be around in a recognizable form in 25+ years. That means no electronics, no hydraulics, ultra minimal plastics. We’re not retro grouches or luddites. We just like things that last.
MTBVT: Where do you draw influence from?
ANALOG: Our influences are all over the place:
1960’s Cameras that still function today, music, specifically the DIY punk scene from Washington DC, Dischord Records, where we take our name for our component brand, the terrain of Vermont, 120 year old bikes that still ride well on bad roads. In a nutshell, our influence comes from our favorite parts of the past.
MTBVT: I’ve also noticed that you’ve built a very engaged audience and clientele. As cyclists, we’re all a bit tribal in nature (non pc nomenclature?). How do you define your ilk?
ANALOG: I think most of our riders are looking for the same things we are. Simple tools to explore the world. The fun thing is that they’re of wildly different types. There isn’t one personality that shops at Analog. We aren’t just a hipster shop. We have lots of moms coming to us to make custom bikes for their kids to ride year round to school. We recently had a body builder in Japan buy a bike from us for cross training. We have NYC hipsters of course, but we also have farmers who use their bikes to check on cattle, and construction workers, car mechanics, just normal folk. I think they’re held together by a desire for something different to the norm.
MTBVT: Gravel riding, either spandex clad on futuristic carbon or gusseted-alloy-nouveau-retro riding in cutoffs can be pretty intimidating to the outsider. What advice do you have for someone looking to get into riding VT’s rolling hollows (asking for a friend)? How does one get to know this segment of the sport?
ANALOG: First off, you should just go. On whatever bike you have, a hybrid, a mountain bike, an old French 10 speed. Go with friends and make a day of it. Don’t set a big goal, set an easy goal. Ride to a pond and go swim and have lunch. Mix some gravel in, and maybe a hiking trail.
Don’t wear bike specific clothes. They’re expensive, they stink. If you need to hitch a ride, no one wants to pick up a space alien who smells bad. Dress like you are going for a walk in the woods. Sturdy shoes, hiking shorts, a T-shirt. If you have fun, repeat and repeat until you think: “hey maybe it’s worthwhile to get a bike made for this.” Go to a few bike shops and chat. Are they on your wavelength? If yes, ask them what they recommend. If not, thank them and move on. Maybe buy a water bottle.
MTBVT: Is there a starter kit you recommend? Bike, equipment, rides and events?
ANALOG: All you need to get started is a good attitude. But a bike with at least 32mm wide tires will help. That’s 1.25 inches. The bike should be able to carry at least a water bottle. A spare tube and pump, basic tire repair stuff is handy, but only if you know how to use it. If you don’t, either get on youtube, or have a friend show you. You can also just say screw it and go with no tools, and just walk home if something happens. Really, not a big deal. I ride in Chacos, a T-shirt and some nylon hiking shorts. That way I can go swimming at any point during the ride. Go on casual rides with friends or solo. Explore your area. In Vermont there’s a cool resource that allows you to find every public road in the state on the Vermont Department of Transportation website. Go and download the maps for your town and the surrounding towns. Dirt roads and class 4 roads are easily defined on those maps. Make it a goal to go ride at least one on any ride you do. I’d skip big events until you are comfortable on your bike, and in your abilities. Then go find events that fit your program, be it chill or competitive. There are plenty of online resources to search out rides: Bikereg, MTBVT, Facebook, etc.
MTBVT: As a shop owner in rural-most VT, what would you say the most challenging thing is? What’s the largest benefit?
ANALOG: Shoveling the driveway is the hardest part. It’s a few hundred yards long, and we don’t have a plow. Chopping firewood to heat the shop, which is off the grid, is a close second. The biggest benefit is easy: the riding is amazing. You turn left out of the shop and you’re on the beginning of 70+ miles of world class gorgeous dirt roads. 10 minute ride to singletrack. It’s amazing.
MTBVT: You have your own bike brand, Tanglefoot Cycles. First off, sweet name and right on! Second, I can’t imagine a shop owner who doesn’t fantasize about having a proprietary line of bikes. I’m in the market for a new whip… I like supporting small brands, I reach out to Analog with an inquiry. What say you about Tanglefoot bikes?
ANALOG: Tanglefoot bikes are made for exploring. Tools for exploration need to be durable and simple, and they need to be suited to the task at hand. All Tanglefoot frames are steel, the most durable material to build a bike out of, with 2400 years of development behind it. It can be dented and bent and still be safe to ride. We design these bikes for riding in really hard and nasty terrain. The class 4 roads around us are exceptionally terrible, more like trout streams, complete with water and boulders. If a bike can be ridden on these roads, it can be ridden anywhere. These bikes are not copies of west coast designs. They’re made for the east coast: high bottom brackets, slack head AND seat tube angles, no toe overlap on any size, with any tire. Neutral handling with or without camping gear. They have more in common with a bike from 1903 than a bike from 2021. In a good way.
MTBVT: What, if any message, do you have for the world at large (overestimating our audience here)? The soapbox is yours…
ANALOG: Ride to have fun, not to impress anyone.
MTBVT: If Analog had a fortune cookie, what would the message be? Tonight mine said, “the cookie is tired, ask me later.” Not sure what to make of that.
ANALOG: Your haircut will eventually be in style.
MTBVT: Favorite vintage bike paint scheme? I’m thinking mid 80’s Peugeot Versailles in aqua with the red-orange-yellow stripes. You?
ANALOG: Oh dang. I really like 70’s Raleigh Super Sports which had a root beer sparkle brown situation. Very classy.
MTBVT: After the ride… dine in, takeout or cook at home? How we going to recover from the day’s adventure?
ANALOG: Nachos at Taps Tavern with a pint of Little Wolf, or fire roasted corn and brats around the shop’s fire ring.
MTBVT: Shop playlist? What’s revolving on the 1s and 2s?
ANALOG: Pretty much always early Melvins.
MTBVT: People we should be up on? Give us some good people watchin’ on the grams. Here’s one for you: @sambarskyknitter
ANALOG: @biciclettadannata who takes really old bikes and restores them just barely enough to make them rideable. Very cool. @scale_models_and_miniatures which features tiny recreations of random things. I don’t know if it qualifies as cool, but it’s fascinating, like that sweater person mentioned above!
MTBVT: Anything else?
ANALOG: Stop interneting and go ride.
Thank you to Candice and James for their time and candid responses to our prodding questions. You are amazing humans and we look forward to riding with you soon! For the rest of you, if you like this content, drop a comment below and let us know what’s up! We hope you’ll all visit Analog soon…
To visit, contact or deep creep on the Analog fam’ go to: