Los Angeles is a breeding ground for innovation, whether that’s in design, engineering or simply attitude. A place where new ideas come to life, with an optimistic, enterprising outlook in the endless California sunshine. With the help of the Mazda CX-5, we meet three Californians who are challenging the status quo, and pushing the boundaries in urban sports.
Custom bicycle designer Hernan Monenegro is a man who plans for the future. His handmade, ultra-light frames are built to be both durable and timeless.
Originally from Argentina, Hernan grew up dreaming of owning his own bicycle company. And four years ago the dream came true, when he set up Montenegro Manufacturing to build bikes for individuals.
We’re due to meet him a couple miles away at Elysian Park, the second largest park in L.A. To get there involves a short run up a series of switchbacks and offers the opportunity to feel the precision of the CX-5’s steering. It features Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, an ingenious system that momentarily backs off the throttle when you turn the steering wheel. This causes a small shift in weight onto the front tires and allows them to bite into the turn. The result is that the car steers exactly as you’d expect it to, and you make fewer steering corrections during a turn. It’s incredibly subtle but effective, and gives you real confidence in the car.
Despite Los Angeles having more cars than people, there’s a thriving cycling community here. The road to Elysian Park offers an intense climb and thrilling ride down, so it’s fitting that Hernan is at the summit with his stunning “Yoshi” bike—named one of the world’s most beautiful bicycle by Outside magazine.
The frame, handmade by Hernan out of carbon fiber, weighs just under 2 lbs. Building a bike like this take time: around 200 hours to put the frame together and another 40 to paint it. Hernan puts his time in and he expects his customers to spend time with the bikes he builds.
“I could make them light, but they would not be as durable. I want this to be the one bike the owner never sells. I design it to the customers measurements and I think my design is cool today, would have been cool ten years ago and will still be cool in ten years,” he says.
In an industry where new models come out annually, this approach to his craft is refreshing. It’s a challenge to the conventional, another perfect example of this L.A. way of thinking in the home of the Breeding Ground.
LA’s biggest green space, Griffith Park, has a nine-mile bike loop. Head to the coast and there’s the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as The Strand, which links Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance County Beach. A bike path also follows the Los Angeles River at Elysian Valley.