Razik Vortex First Impressions: Play Kerplunk, Look Exotic, Grate Cheese

03.13.2014 | 2:21 pm

Sixish years ago, I wrote An Open Letter to Delta 7 Sports, Maker of the Arantix Mountain Bike, where I related my impressions of the then-new Isotruss frame. It’s one of the most popular posts I ever wrote, in spite of the fact that it’s possible I made an occasional sarcastic remark therein.

To my surprise, in spite of the considerable attention I brought to them, the good folks at Delta 7 never invited me to come take a ride on one of their bikes. 

And then Delta 7 became known as much for the way their bikes self-destructed during the 2008 Interbike Outdoor demo day as for their exotic-looking (with pricing to match) spiderwebbish frames, and  went out of business. Imagine that. 

I wept bitter tears, knowing  I would likely never get a chance to ride something that looked like a bike mated with a Hoberman Sphere

Well. Never say never. Except for when you’re saying “never say never,” in which case it’s perfectly fine to say it twice in a single sentence.

All of this is, of course, the nonsensical preamble to the fact that a new company—Razik Bicycles—has emerged, rising from the ashes of Delta 7 like some unholy latticework-constructed phoenix. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way, naturally.) And last Saturday, I got to spend an hour or so riding one myself.

And this is what I thought.

How It Looks

Let’s start with how the bike looks, because–love it or hate it–there’s no getting around the fact that the Razik Vortex is eye-catching.

IMG 8180
Heath Thurston of Razik lifts the Vortex.

IMG 8181
The frame, up close. Yup, took this shot with my phone. Steady hands, eh?

There’s an exotic geekiness to the look of this material, and you’re going to make your own decision as to whether you like it. In photos, I don’t. Not really. It’s too “We’re doing this because we can” for me. But when I looked at it in person, the wildness of the material kind of grabbed me. I was drawn to the rough, Klingon-y look of the Isotruss weave, and I thought, “Well, that looks pretty darned cool.”

IMG 8187 

Let’s Ride

Heath at Razik was awesome enough to let The Hammer and me take a couple of the demo bikes and ride them for half an hour or so. Which, by the way, turned into 90 minutes, since neither The Hammer nor I have anything that resembles a sense of direction; we got lost and rode around the industrial warehouse maze for quite a while. In fact, it’s only due to a rare piece of luck that we aren’t still out there now.

IMG 8190

Foolishly, as The Hammer and I began our ride, Heath did not ask what I was carrying in my jersey pockets, which I figure he’s going to regret in about three paragraphs.

I tooled around for a few hundred yards, getting a feel for the bike, then I stood up and sprinted, wanting to see whether these airy tubes made for a flexy frame. 

Nope. The Vortex sprints great. Stand up, grab the drops and fly. Not flexy at all. Which brings up the question, is it too rigid? The answer is easy: it’s not. The lousy chip seal roads we were riding on are buzzy and harsh, but the Vortex smoothed it out.

As far as handling goes, the Vortex corners nice and tight. In fact, it’s a little too tight for my taste, with a shorter wheelbase than I’m used to. Riding hands-free takes more concentration than usual, and turns can feel just a little twitchy. Part of this, granted, may be that I had to ride a 56cm frame, which was too big (I usually ride a 52). 

IMG 8211

To be honest, though, the ride characteristics of the frame material — the Isotruss carbon weave — are almost impossible to tease out. The frame is light, sure, but no lighter than other carbon frames. It’s stiff when you pedal, but frame stiffness is absolutely a choice nowadays, not a material characteristic. It dampens out some chip seal buzz, but adjusting your tire width and pressure affect that ride attribute way more than your frame choice.

There were a couple of things I thought might be a problem that turned out to not be problems at all. It was a windy day when we rode, and so I listened for whistling from the frame. I confess to being disappointed that there was none. 

I wondered if rocks would get stuck and rattle around in the frame, so I stopped at the side of the road, picked up a few pieces of gravel, and dropped them into the frame. At which point I found that anything that falls into the frame easily also falls out of the frame easily. Which, alas, deprives me of getting to say, “They should have named this the Razik Rattler.”


There were two things that bugged me, however. First, the tubes—including the top tube— are thick, and the Isotruss weave juts out. So the inside of my knees and legs grazed the top tube pretty often.

IMG 8250 

Did they graze the top tube more often than they do on my own bike? I honestly don’t know. But I certainly noticed it more often.

Next, the brake cable comes out of the frame at an odd place, so it extends out (to the left) rather than up. The inside of my (admittedly massive) quads bumped this cable dozens of times  during the ride. Would I eventually adapt? Probably. But should I have to?

So, do I like it? Sure. Does it ride well? Sure (again), but some will like it more than others…which is true for every bike in the world. Was the ride life-changing? No. 

Is it wild-looking and eye-catching? Yes. In fact, for the first time ever, a couple of guys on recumbents going the other way actually swiveled their heads as I went by.

IMG 8247

Although if I were the Razik marketing guy, I might be hesitant to go with the tagline, “Even wackier-looking than recumbents.”

Bonus Features

To think of the Razik Vortex simply as a bike—something to ride—is a mistake. It is so much more, as I took the time to discover while on my test ride.

First and foremost, what other frame allows you to do this? 

IMG 8242

The ability to grate some cheese for a mid-ride picnic cannot be overestimated. Nor the ability to strain pasta with your bike. 

And what if you and (up to three) of your riding companions (ages 4 and above) gets bored of riding and wants to mix things up a bit? Well, with the Razik Vortex, a handful of gravel, and some coffee stirrers (or, in a pinch, twigs from a tree), you’re all set for an afternoon of KerPlunk-style fun:

IMG 8229 

And don’t even get me started on what a cool tanning pattern you might be able to give yourself if you were to lay out in the sun with this bike on top of you. 

Other Things That I Should Probably Mention

What haven’t I talked about yet? Well, how about the fact that Razik bikes are fabricated and handbuilt in Utah. Check out this in-process, pre-baked tube: 

IMG 8254

I only wish they’d leave that metal tube in the completed bike. Now that would be Klingon-y.

And the whole handmade-in-Utah thing is at least partially where the price comes from: a frame costs $3999. That’s a lot. And once you build it up, you’re going to be looking at a $10,000 bike. [UPDATE: Heath at Razik tells me you can get a Shimano Ultegra build for under $5799; this isn’t yet on the website but he tells me it will be soon.] If you want to go top-end electronic (Shimano Di2 Dura Ace, Campy Super Record EPS), you’re looking at $15k or above.

Which is not unheard of. For an exotic builder, in fact, it’s not even outrageous.

But Razik has some Delta 7 baggage it’s automatically saddled with, and if I were them (which I’m not), I’d focus on getting those prices down and on making it clear that this is not Delta 7. I’d be clear that Delta 7 was focusing on the novelty of Isotruss, instead of focusing on being a good bike manufacturer that happens to be using Isotruss for a frame material. 

And I’ll be interested to see what else Razik builds — Razik says they’re going to build a FS mountain bike, as well as a 29er hardtail.

Is the Razik Vortex the new dream bike, made with a new dream material? Well, ninety minutes of riding in a flat industrial park (fifteen of which was spent taking ridiculous photos) is probably not enough to answer that question.

I will tell you this: I’d be interested in riding one built my size, on a big climb. I have a feeling the Vortex might shine there. 

And if not, well, at least I’ll have the wherewithal to make a nice cheese and pasta dish at the summit.


  1. Comment by Anonymous | 03.13.2014 | 2:47 pm

    Do you have to wear a camelbak or can you mount bottle cages?

  2. Comment by TK | 03.13.2014 | 3:03 pm

    Pointless technology that looks silly and would be a pain to wash/dry. Add to that an astronomical price and you have all the ingredients of a soon-to-be bankrupt company.

  3. Comment by Joe Average | 03.13.2014 | 3:22 pm

    It’s… different. The price is prohibitive for me, and the thigh rub would be a problem too as those knobs/ridges would rip me up after a few miles. It’s a nice engineering study, but I don’t see this as practical at all.

  4. Comment by Sarah | 03.13.2014 | 3:23 pm

    That actually looks pretty wild. At first glance I didn’t like it, but the more I look, the more I like.

    Plus you could totally weave tassles into the frame. If you’re into that kind of thing. ;)


  5. Comment by Deuce | 03.13.2014 | 3:31 pm


  6. Comment by John | 03.13.2014 | 3:34 pm

    My cheese grater was only $2.00

  7. Comment by The Cyclist | 03.13.2014 | 3:36 pm

    I’m sure it will sell a lot.
    On Klingon.

  8. Comment by Dave T | 03.13.2014 | 3:41 pm

    You could totally weave in some EL wire into that frame if the price comes down I would expect to see many of these on the playa.

  9. Comment by wharton_crew | 03.13.2014 | 4:16 pm

    The problem is that only the top and downtubes are made of this material, but not the chainstays and forks. This makes it look like a half-finished project – a ‘not-bike’ trying to be a bike. I’d be more interested if they had other ‘avant-garde’ (bonus points for cool word) components in the bike. Make the front forks out of human femur bones, and the chainstays out of adamantium or unobtainium or something! Wheels should not resemble current thinking on wheels, but should be hover magnets or something.

    If you’re going to make a not-bike, you gotta go all out and make a not-bike.

  10. Comment by Spiff | 03.13.2014 | 5:12 pm

    I don’t want my bike ride internal monologue to be, “Is it gonna break now? Is it gonna break now? How about now?…”

    Also, if I can’t customize my bike with artfully applied hello kitty decals along the top tube, woud it ever really feel like “my” bike?

  11. Comment by rolis | 03.13.2014 | 5:45 pm

    Awful. Pointless. Expensive. Kind of describes most things you see in a shopping centre these days. Maybe they should make chairs out of the exeskeletontruss, bar stools….or $1,000 smart phone cases.

  12. Comment by Wife# | 03.13.2014 | 6:29 pm

    People, people, people… I cannot believe all the naysayers here so far. Sheesh…You can grate cheese on it! Cheese!

    Not to mention Fatty, you had me at Klingon-y!

  13. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.13.2014 | 8:48 pm


    Your superpower ability to withstand our barrage of comments already establishes your incredibly ‘thick skin’. After you cut the cheese, I’m surprised we didn’t get a picture of what else that bike could do.


    …or was that a picture too far?

  14. Comment by Tina | 03.13.2014 | 9:32 pm

    Lol @ John’s comment.

  15. Comment by Wife#Blech | 03.13.2014 | 9:35 pm

    TOO FAR although I am pretty sure you just helped everyone who is trying to diet and had been feeling hungry to no longer want to eat!

    Possibly ever again.

  16. Comment by DrBryce | 03.13.2014 | 9:55 pm


    You are the winner! Ding-ding, you are the winner!

    Bwahahah. Almost as funny as the re-incarnate-ors of the dumbest frame design ever asking Fatty to come take a 2nd look.

    Really? How much did they pay you to spend your time for such a worthy endeavor?

  17. Comment by UpTheGrade | 03.13.2014 | 10:04 pm

    My bike is already light enough, me not so much! Every time I see this frame I picture an emergency stop, (like today when a car just turned right on top of me), and me becoming the grated cheese, if you know what I mean. There are easier ways to lose unwanted weight.

  18. Comment by bart | 03.14.2014 | 2:58 am

    fatty, completely off-topic , but you could keep your gut as it is. It matches your thighs just great.

  19. Comment by Al Pastor | 03.14.2014 | 8:26 am

    If they are going to use a new material, why are they keeping the traditional two triangle shape? They have the opportunity to build a truly innovative bike frame that is actually stronger and lighter. Through some genetic algorithms at it and see what you get.

    By the way, I scared my cat laughing when I saw the cheese.

  20. Comment by mims | 03.14.2014 | 10:29 am

    You, sir, are a gentleman and poet. And a hilarious reviewer. I think I need one of these to add to my collection of expensive but handy “must-haves” like the
    Wegner 16999 multi-tool

  21. Comment by Jeff Bike | 03.14.2014 | 11:19 am

    Just an off topic reminder: It’s Pie Day (3.14) Remember get your pie today!

  22. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.14.2014 | 11:45 am

    Next Year Pie Day is a Saturday 3 14 15 let’s plan a ride at 9 26 am. (maybe 9 26 53) if you’re really focused.

  23. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.14.2014 | 12:05 pm

    If you’re a Strava ite consider joining Team Fatty on Strava:

    The beauty of this is we can then see our own accomplishments obliterated by Mr Nelson, making him a better rider thanks to our own sufferings, and his personal desire to ‘best’ us all. Isn’t that special?

  24. Comment by Skye | 03.14.2014 | 12:33 pm

    I understand riding with cheese in your pockets, but carrying a bunch of coffee stir-sticks seems to be a waste of space for other edible things you could have put in your pockets…. like more cheese. Or maybe pie.

  25. Comment by Christina | 03.14.2014 | 1:16 pm

    ^or the valve for your CO2 cartridges

  26. Comment by Wife# | 03.14.2014 | 1:44 pm

    Oh SNAP @Christina hee hee!

  27. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 03.14.2014 | 3:04 pm

    I don’t care who you are, that thar’s funny!

  28. Comment by slo joe | 03.15.2014 | 6:31 am

    Priceless narrative. Pricey way too much bike.

    Chritiana: Plus 1 :o)

  29. Comment by Libby | 03.15.2014 | 7:45 am

    I’m not too sure about the bike but the comments are less grating on my thighs :o)

  30. Pingback by Open House | Razik | 03.15.2014 | 2:20 pm

    [...] We had a great turn out to our open house last Saturday! Lots of people came to take the Vortex out for a spin and a quick tour around the facility to see where each bicycle is handmade. One such visitor was Fat Cyclist. You can read his review of the Vortex here. [...]

  31. Comment by NancyJBS | 03.16.2014 | 1:52 pm

    My pick for the best comment on this post: @Christina on the CO2 cartridge valve! Boom!

    Don’t tell @DavidH_marin_blahblahblah, but the foot picture creeped me out a bit and I’m a nurse!

  32. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.16.2014 | 10:10 pm

    Aha! Now I remember where I met Nancy before:


  33. Comment by buckythedonkey | 03.17.2014 | 1:51 am

    That’ll be a joy to clean (with or without cheese).

  34. Comment by Anonymous | 03.17.2014 | 3:55 am

    Just saw pricing on these and unlike all the comments, these are priced within $50 of day a cannondale or specialized with the same componentry. Gaining the advantages of strength, rigidity, lightweightness, and being a smoother ride for the same price? I think this rocks.

    So, I found out about the $5799 Ultegra build by talking with Heath at Razik — the pricing page on the site doesn’t mention it. Nor does the pricing page mention the $7899 Dura Ace build. So it seems likely to me that with your insider information, you are probably with Razik. In which case please identify yourself when you post, OK? – FC

  35. Comment by Anonymous | 03.17.2014 | 3:59 am

    Razik has a full Dura Ace build with wheels $7899. Ultegra full build at $5799 with wheels. Seams like they have hit it perfectly.

  36. Comment by Doug | 03.17.2014 | 2:29 pm

    the bikes have bottle mounts we just did not have any on the demo bikes that day FYI

  37. Comment by Anonymous | 03.17.2014 | 5:47 pm


    Fatty, the Vortex is clearly Tholian, as in a Tholian Web:


    And, next time try some Brie on your ride — much better and cheddar!

  38. Comment by Philip | 03.19.2014 | 5:16 pm

    Pricing amounts are listed on our website. The specs are not as of yet. Soon to be. The prices listed on the site all include wheelsets.

  39. Comment by TomV | 03.24.2014 | 9:45 pm

    You have a solid piece of Cheddar cheese on top and grated Cheddar AND Monterey cheese in your hand. What other bike can do that?

  40. Comment by Aqiyl Aniys | 03.27.2014 | 6:44 pm

    The bike looks sick man! I haven’t seen anything like it. It does looks awesome. I would be disappointed not hearing whistling through the frame also. LOL!


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