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Lauren’s Icarus Commuter

Any guy will tell you that putting a bike together for his lady can be an emotionally taxing event. Luckily for me, Lauren knew exactly what she wanted when I proposed the idea of buying her a new bike for her birthday. She loved my Icarus and Ian’s work but wanted something practical to commute on here in Austin. I was pushing for a full-on touring bike but she doesn’t like the idea of bigger tires and wanted something zippier.

What we agreed on is a mashup of a few things: primarily a long-reach caliper, lower trail road bike. It’ll fit 28c tires and fenders or 32c without, it has rack mounts on the front and the rear for any sort of light touring or camping we’d do but most importantly, the front cockpit is by no means racey…

She liked the riding position of her Tokyo Fixed Dream Machine build but wanted the bars a little wider and better stopping power than her cantis. After finally wrapping my head around figuring out what she wanted, we met up with Ian of Icarus Frames, who measured her and went through the new frame procedure.

In the meanwhile, I started looking for parts. Rather than going all budget, I splurged a bit and went with a lot of American-manufactured products. Ian was making a stem to accomodate the back sweep of Nitto Albatross bars to which we’d run barcon shifters on. Chris King had these “ox-blood” Sotto Voce headsets at NAHBS, so I picked one up. Then, I consulted my friend PAUL and kinda went all out. Soon, I had purchased Canti Levers, polished Medium Racers, Moon Units, Polished Tall & Handsome seat post, Funky Money cable hanger and it didn’t stop there…

As with any commuter, gearing is a key factor. Lauren had been riding a single speed to work consistently but some of the hills en route to her teaching job were a bit tough. We also want to be able to do longer rides out to the hill country, so I chose the White Industries VBC cranks (46/30) with a mid-cage Shimano 105 rear derailleur and a 12-32 cassette. Shimano 105 hubs to H+Son TB 14s are bomb-proof, budget wheels. Topping the build off are Panaracer Paselas 32c, Brooks B 17 S saddle and tape.

The paint would be from Fresh Frame and the color we chose is an elusive one. Was it blue? Or green? It changes with the light. In the shade, it’s sort of jade but in the sun, it sparkles blue. Whatever it is, the final product is stunning.

While the bike is shown here, sans racks, we’re in the process of tracking down a good front basket and a rear rack for panniers. The bike is light, coming in at just a hair over 19 lbs and it “rides like a dream”. If it were my bike, I would have done a few things differently but that’s the beauty of a custom bike, you get what YOU want and trust me, there are few arguments I’m willing to engage in with this lady. She always gets what SHE wants… who can blame her? Further down the road, I’ll look into new panniers and maybe a porteur bag but for now, I’ve spent enough money on this thing!

Many thanks to Austin Bikes for the build, Bens Cycle for the assistance in the components, Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames and Bryan Myers at Fresh Frame.

  • Chris Campbell

    Outstanding build. Great work from Ian and very stylish parts choices for a great build out! Congratulations

  • Sean Curran

    This came out awesome. Love the color with the red accents. Cockpit on there is pretty neat, I think my girl would also like this better than what shes got now. I really would to do a full on build for her at some point.

  • http://twitter.com/tmatolla Tommy Barse

    Looks great! I’ve been excited about this since I saw that frame come in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.schultz1 Wade Schultz

    Beautiful build, very much like what I’d love to do as a girlfriend bike, but she’s set on a flat bar single speed mountain conversion so who am I to argue.
    P.S. Front derailleur alignment sticker still on. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/liamgriffin Liam Griffin

    Beautiful build. One question… did you make the decision on the brake setup after ordering the frame? Wondering why you went with the rear brake setup with the cable hangar on the binder bolt instead of something integrated into the bike?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      No. We wanted it to be a long-reach caliper road. An integrated hanger means you always have to use a Medium Racer, etc. She might want a set of normal calipers and drop bars at some point.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754639578 Miles Away

        An integrated hanger wouldn’t mean you would be bound to using a Medium Racer, it would just look superfluous if you didn’t. And… whilst I don’t like ANY superfluous parts on a bike either, i’m just saying you would be constrained by the one brake.

  • http://twitter.com/wadestevens Wade Stevens

    Wow, wow, wow.

    Enjoyed seeing the teaser shot from Ian – so happy for Lauren that it turned out so nice and that she’s so happy with it – and that you survived! Sounds like a learning experience.

    The oxblood and jade just work perfectly. Nice choice! It’d be super awesome if Brooks had a color to suit ….

    Makes me want to get another pair of Doc Martens ….

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      because you can put any BCD on them and they look better than just about any other option.

  • Jono Davis

    Quick, pull the sticker off the front derailleur before anyone notices!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      yeah, whoops.

  • Andre Ball

    What tool/utility/cargo belt is that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000090115645 Noah Lynch

      Fabrichorse.com

      • Andre Ball

        thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregralich Greg Ralich

    Lucky girl; luckier guy!

  • http://twitter.com/corkgrips bob

    awesome build. love the lambda pedals, the regular touring pedals feel so inadequate by comparison!

  • hans

    that thing is going to be great in the hills and Lauren looks so happy with it! way to go man!

  • hannibal chew

    Nice whip!

    Quickies on a commuter bike? Man, I need to move somewhere that relaxed. For real.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Her office has a bike room.

  • recurrecur

    Deeply thoughtful build. It all just makes so much sense.

    But, then I love any bike with Paul Mediums Racers…

    I had no idea you could fit a 32T cassette in a road derailleur.

  • sygyzy

    Wow beautiful bike!

  • http://www.facebook.com/aggiodavo Dave Coultas

    Beautiful bike and great details but surely Lauren didn’t argue for Shimano hubs? Paul, WhiteInd, King? You were splurging right? ;-)
    Love the colours too.

  • philip

    loving the red bits on the bike.

  • http://issuu.com/pntmagazine PNT

    Beautiful bike and Lady! The photos show they match each other.

  • Don

    Exquisite, and inspiring for our budget builds out here. I’m putting one together for my sister and may mimic your wife’s gearing. Interested to hear how she likes the VBC chainrings. I also like the 32s on the wider rim; I guess that’s the thing these days, and it’s a good thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emlyn.walters Emlyn Walters

    whats around the top tube is it a grip to carry it ?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      It’s some Brooks tape, protecting the paint from the barcon hitting the frame.

  • Casper Borg

    What does this setup cost? :) I’M IN LOVE!!!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      You don’t want to know…

      • Casper Borg

        I would like to know. :) 2000 GBP?

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          Google the parts and look at Ian’s pricing then.

  • scott halverson

    Wow, 19lbs with a heavy(more than 1lb if that’s a B17) saddle? Impressive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gustavo.placeres Gustavo F. Placeres

    John, would like to know where I can get the waist belt and lock holder?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Fabric Horse

  • http://twitter.com/CapitalCrewBike Larry Miller

    What bars are those?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Nitto Albatross

  • LP

    Where did you get the pedals?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      MKS Lambda

      • LP

        Thanks!