Road Test: Wilde Supertramp

Mar 20th, 2024

Despite their prevalence in society, bikes aren’t commonly featured in mass-consumed media. At least, not for stories set in the modern day, and not ridden by adults. So when a show like “Stranger Things” comes out and the opening episode has children riding their bikes home from a late-night game of Dungeons & Dragons, the fog as thick as the whimsy still in their hearts, I — like most bike nerds out there — latched on. I was that kid, and at 41 years old, I still am. It struck me hard: look how much fun they are having! I thought. Sure, one of them got captured by a monster and kept from riding his bike, which could be seen as an allegory for capitalism and the ways in which adulthood forces us away from our joyous freedom of youth and into the deep valleys of our psyches as we hide away from the relentless pressures of our jobs … but I digress.

My point is that as someone who specifically leans into bicycles as my way of staying connected (perhaps too much) to that magic, looking at my stable I saw that all my bikes were purposeful, specific, fast. Don’t get me wrong, my bike is my primary transportation, and I do like to go fast sometimes, but my whole ethos had somehow become completely disregarded, at least in how it had manifested materialistically.

So when the Wilde Supertramp came into my life, the fog was lifted. The swept-back Velo Orange Seine handlebar has a perfect sweep for my sensitive wrists, and paired with the souped-up beach cruiser frame design, I find myself fighting the urge to PeeWee down the bike trail. On an early ride with this bike, I had to catch myself in the woods as I gained speed on the main corridor of my favorite national forest, leaving my dog in the dust as she struggled to keep up after leading me on some singletrack; my instincts egged me on to swing my legs from one side to the other, to shimmy my belly onto the saddle as I careened past the limits of the off-leash area. It was an exercise in self-control, and as I clipped my pup back onto her leash, gave her some water, and we bobbed along at a much more metered pace, I thought to myself, Might this bike be too fun? Of course not; this bike is the perfect amount of fun.

As spring turned to summer turned to fall, I’ve enjoyed taking this bike on a variety of adventures, from singletrack to commuting to lightweight bikepacking to a three-day trip in the Mission Range on Tribal Lands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai communities (with permission). On this trip, I was loaded up with a front rack with a basket, a framebag, and a seatbag. It was a last-minute decision to take this bike on this weekend adventure with new friends who invited me on their second-ever bikepacking trip, and I was nervous how it would handle with so much front-loaded weight I hadn’t truly tested before. To my sincere amazement, it handled better than my beloved Fargo, which has tens of thousands of bike tour miles on it from the entirety of the Great Divide to a two-week trip around Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska, and so, so much in between.

The Wilde had some interesting flex, where I could shake the handlebars a bit without upsetting the steering — much like my decidedly not-twitchy van — but was a dream to climb out of a reservoir up a suddenly steep dirt road. Even experiencing gut-punching cramps, I was able to push this bike up any hill necessary and keep up with the gang. This is no doubt due in part to the SRAM Eagle 10–52T cassette and 32T chainring, then doubled down with the laid-back positioning the bike naturally put me in while keeping traction on the front wheel with my basket, gear, and tent. I was genuinely impressed. The rest of this day was entirely climbing at various grades, and even with not feeling well, even with the relentless climbing up the mountain, I still had the sort of playfulness on a bicycle I hadn’t realized had long been lost for me.

It also handled well on the last, final, glorious day, which was almost entirely a descent down the mountain. I once again had to deploy remarkable self-control to keep myself rubber-side down. As always happens with more than five hours spent on my bike in the wilderness, I had wiped all memory of the outside world. Suddenly, I was once again on pavement. My friend who mapped out this loop warned us the last three miles would be an absolute slog of a false flat crawling back to her house via paved roads. I was worried I would be left in the dust by the group, most of whom were on sportier rigs, but I was quickly reminded why I feel such a kinship to this bike: it may be goofy and unassuming, and people can make any number of assumptions on its lack of ability to do anything well, but it truly is a bike of all trades.

Who cares if the Supertramp isn’t interested in mastering any specific discipline? It has the life experience and generational tools imbedded in its DNA: Wilde is the bike-child of Jeffrey Frane, founder of the beloved (now defunct) All-City Cycles, who partnered with the co-owners of Angry Catfish bike shop in Minneapolis. This sort of magical thinking and grease-under-nails dedication is felt in every detail, such as the mounting points on the fork and frame to accommodate just about any bag, the space under the saddle to actually fit a seatbag without rubbing on the rear tire (something I always have a problem with on the smaller frames I ride), the high-quality components that keep the bike light and stable but also totally serviceable and reasonably priced, and of course the style, paint job, and — I’ll say it — whimsy that oozes from this bike in the best way. If I go into my garage later to find this bike has somehow grown streamers from the handlebars, I won’t be surprised.

Black Mountain Cycles La Cabra

Best uses: Cruising, bikepacking, flowy singletrack, commuting

Price: $3,100 ($1,200 frameset)

Frame: Wilde TLC double-butted chromoly, mounts everywhere, internal dropper post routing

Weight: 27 lbs. (without pedals)

Available sizes: S, M, L, XL

Size tested: S


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