Gabriel Lang A.K.A. Gabo. He is the owner of the Altruiste bicycle company, builder of the PartyMaster frame which is the new frame from The Rise, builder and designer of the Altruiste slopestyle frame that Matt MacDuff used in PureDarkeness 3 and much more. Learn more about the bike building mad man in this PSBMXclusive interview…
PSBMX: How old are you?
Gabo (Altruiste bikes): My birth certificate says I’ll be 33 in a few weeks. Mentally, I’ve yet to reach my twenties.
Where are you from?
I grew up In Dieppe, A little town in the Province of New-Brunswick on the canadian east-coast. You know, the other coast. The one without all the freeride and good sushi.
Can you do a backflip (on and off the bike)?
I tried in a foam pit, once. It resulted in about 87 degrees of rotation while ditching my bike ungracefully before landing all knotted-up sideways in the foamies. All my full-rotation backflips were the unexpected conclusions to bad decisions.
What bikes do you have in your garage? And which one is your favourite?
I have a few bikes lying around the shop. Some experiments, some spare parts. Right now I have one of my track frames set up with brakes, a freewheel and carbon tubular wheels. It’s a blast to ride, but it’s not being ridden enough. I barely ride anymore! I need to build myself up a little MTB to go riding with my daughter on the local trails.
What are you listening at the moment?
At this very moment I have some King Crimson playing over the shop speakers. The new RedHotChiliPeppers album is pretty good too. I have pretty diverse taste in music. It can go from Genesis to Stanley Clarke to NoFX pretty quick.
What is your favourite food? Do you cook?
I enjoy cooking. I love Vietnamese cuisine. A good pho always hits the spot.
How many hours a day you work at your company?
More than I should! Yet I still don’t have enough time to do all that I’d like to do! I’m usually there 60 to 70 hours a week.
Do you love your job?
Who is your idol?
Frank Zappa. Great musician. Great businessman. Great free-thinker.
Why do you love bikes?
From an engineering standpoint, it’s a great machine. It’s simple and efficient and it’s a challenge to make the best of this simple design. Bikes represent freedom, from the first time you throw your leg over one as a kid. I believe in bikes as a sport, as a way to travel and commute and as a way of life in general!
Do you think it is more fun to build a bike than to ride one?
They’re not the same at all! Seeing the end product all painted and built up after spending a few days working on the frame is a great feeling. But nothing compares to riding a bike!
What is the most fun bike you built and why?
The Dobermann LePink was a fun bike! Matt’s Slope bike was also a very fun project. I never got to try it out, though!
Who do you build bikes for?
As of now I build bikes for The Rise, and a couple of other companies for who I’m working on some secret projects!
What’s behind the name of the company – Altruiste Bicycle Company.
Altruism is the act of putting other people’s well being before your own. I believe it’s what defines us as human. Also, framebuilding is a very selfless art form, as the artist can never enjoy the end product by riding it.
When did you started building bikes, and who was your mentor at the beginning, or who introduced you to the world of bike builders?
I started building bicycle frames in 2006, so that is 10 years ago! I studied to become a welder to build bicycles. I went to the best trade school, and chose to work for shops that did tig-welding and work that could relate to frame building. I was lucky enough to have been offered a job at Dobermann 10 year ago and never looked back! The Dob boys taught me the trade and also trusted me with my vision and my ideas. It was a great experience. I was very lucky to have been given that opportunity.
Matt Macduff rode the first Altruiste slopestyle frame for his loop attempt, what is specific with his bike and when can we expect to see this frame in the store?
The bike was very specific to what Matt’s riding. He wanted something to take the edge off these monster jumps he was building in South Africa. Yet the bike had to jump well. We had dreamed up a similar design back at Dobermann and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. It has a very low leverage ratio with a very aggressive falling rate to keep the bike riding as tall and stiff in it’s travel as possible, but still supple enough to make the bike stick to these high-speed run-ins and berms. and of course it’s there to save your ass if you over/under shoot a landing. It’s as crash-friendly as possible. There’s no weird bits sticking out to grab your legs in a crash, and contrary to popular belief; it’s almost impossible to land sitting on the shock. You’d need to do some pretty aggressive big-air-yoga for that to happen!
There a few details to work out, but the bike will be available soon. I’m actually taking pre-orders for a small batch of frames that will be ready mid-September.
Have you visited the boys in Africa while Pure Darkness 3 was being created?
I wish I could! Legend has it that it was an amazing time.
The Rise PartyMaster is also fabricated by Altruiste bikes? What was your input on that frame?
The boys knew what they wanted from the beginning. It was my job to take these ideas and turn them into a bike frame. I determined what material was needed where and how to wrap these pipes around the geo and make it look good! It was a really fun process. The Rise crew really know their stuff and it’s always fun to work with amazing people.
What can we expect from the Altruiste X The rise combo in the next years? Do you plan to produce more frames for other bike companys?
Hopefully thousands of frames sold all over the world! I don’t think I’d ever build MTBMX frames for another company. These guys are like family!
Now that you have your own company, can you be creative as much as you want and build bikes like you always wanted to or is something still missing?
Creativity is always limited by the customer’s request and the time allowed to build that frame. Thankfully my customers come to me because they like my style, so I get to have a lot of fun! I’d love to have more help at the shop. That would make a big difference. Otherwise I’m having a blast!
PSBMX: Thank you Gabo for your time, I hope that our readers got all the sweet details from this interview, it was a nice talk.