Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
An Icarus Road Bike with Shimano Ultegra for My Mom
An Icarus Road Bike with Shimano Ultegra for My Mom

It says a lot when someone buys the two most important women in their life custom frames from one builder. Ian Sutton from Icarus Frames is a good friend of mine, so when I realized that my mom was in need of a new road bike, I called him up and got the ball rolling.

This is the third custom bike I’ve bought from Ian. The first being my Viking Track, then Lauren’s Porteur and now, this True Temper road bike for my mom.

The geometry is clearly road, but the drivetrain is geared more towards a cross bike. Up front, I chose Shimano‘s Ultegra cross crank, with a mid cage Ultegra rear mech and a 32t cassette in the back. This will help my mom get up steep hills with ease, while giving her the range she needs while riding coastal North Carolina roads.

Circle A nailed the paint, coating the frame and the ENVE fork in a bright “marine” blue.

Easton was kind enough to send along the bars, post, stem and even bar tape. I couldn’t be more thankful! For her wheels, I bought a set of the NAHBS display Chris King Alloy Ride wheels. Taking advantage of the trade show pricing, I also bought some King Cages.

When I dropped the parts off to Mellow Johnny’s I still needed a headset – NoThreadset in Sotte Voce black, a saddle – Fizik Vitesse- and tires – Continental Gran Prix 28c. In the end, it came out great. As shown, it weighs 17lbs on the head.

There is no greater feeling in this world than to see your mother happy, healthy and riding in style. Cycling has no doubt changed her life for the better and to me, this bike was worth the investment. She did her first century last summer and I’ll be pressing her to do another this summer!

Apr 2, 2014 25 comments
Pass the Torch with Mitch from Map Bicycles
Some of the first batch of Randonneur Project bikes using NOS stamped lugs. These were easier to manipulate than cast lugs, but obviously, supplies were limited...

Pass the Torch is a concept I’ve been thinking about for some time. Its intent is to allow frame builders to share stories from their workshops. Whether it’s technique, random thoughts, or even, as in this case, production procedures, Pass the Torch will (hopefully) be a great, well-rounded resource for builders and nerds alike (myself included).

The first person to contribute is Mitch Pryor from Map Bicycles. Mitch creates some of the most elegant randonneuring frames and he documents his process with apparent ease. It’s not easy for frame builders to take the time to photograph their work, so I appreciate the time and energy Mitch puts into doing so.

These 3D printed lugs caught my eye and prompted me to reach out to Mitch and ask a few questions. Read on below and in the Gallery captions, as Mitch discusses a recent development in lugwork for his Randonneur Project.

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Words and photos by Mitch Pryor

The laminate process is unique in that it allows a LOT of options in joinery and a more modern aesthetic than a casting, in my opinion. With the bi-lam, you not only get total flexibility of joining tubes of any size at any angle, but you get a very clean look with a traditional feel, and more personality than a straight fillet.

When I started doing the Rando Project, I was using lugs and building all those different sized bikes using the same castings was not ideal. Fit up has to be just right for everything to turn out spot on, and I wasn’t happy. It was a fight. Inspiration to try the bi-laminate approach came from looking at pictures of the French constructeurs tandems.

Here is where they had the same problem as me – no lugs would work. I made the switch to this approach in 2010 and have been doing it since. It’s a lot of work for style, so it costs, and that’s why I started working with Steelman on the S&P frames. It’s been working out great, but the urge to complete the look of a lug of my own design has been hard to resist.

That’s where Jono came in. Since I work primarily with physical things, it’s been hugely helpful to be able to model different design possibilities with Jono’s help. The 3D printed lugs you saw are what we arrived at over the past year of fooling around and tweaking the design. With the 3D samples we can actually miter tubes and set up the fixture as if these are actual lugs, to check angles, fit, and proportions.

3D printing makes it easy to dream, but reality is that tooling for the casting molds, and required minimums, make turning these laminates into investment castings very cost prohibitive to a company of my size. I’m planning to do the extra work of building with them as two laminates for now, fillet-brazing them together and then silver-brazing the frame, until I’m convinced there is enough reason to pursue a new casting.

Maybe a Kickstarter approach marketed to the framebuilder community to gauge interest. We’ll see.

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Follow Mitch’s work at the Map Bicycles Flickr.

Apr 2, 2014 7 comments
Chris’ Spectrum Track Bike
Chris' Spectrum Track Bike

Over the years, Tom Kellogg has produced some insane track bikes, most of which go for a steal on eBay, Craigslist and at swaps. These machines have tight clearances, little details, great paint and you’d be hard pressed to find any two of similar breed.

Chris bought this frame off the Boston Craigslist years back. He’s raced it at Red Hook Crit and while it spends a fair amount of time hanging on the wall, sometimes he takes it for a spin into work at Mellow Johnny’s, where he wrenches.

Details include: custom fillet stem, insane seat stay cluster with bi-lam lugs, clearances for a 19mm tire up front, that fork, the clincher Shamals (rear rim was a road Shamal, laced to track Shamal hub) and yeah, that paint!

Apr 1, 2014 7 comments
The 2014 NAHBS Drive-Side Gallery
nahbs.chopped

At a glance, this chop-job might actually appeal to some of you. Hey, it’s got everything you need. Low-riding porteur rack, shifting options, multiple paint finishes, massive tire clearances, rim options, disc brakes (hydro or cable) and a reasonable saddle to bar drop.

Doing this little exercise made me realize one thing: damn, there were a lot of disc brakes at NAHBS this year!

While I enjoy detail photos, the drive side of a bike lets you see so much, especially when it’s shot at a nice and level side profile. You can see clearances, BB drop, overlap, trail and reach.

The drive side photo is the most important portrait you can shoot of a bike, in my opinion anyway… This Gallery breaks it down. Flip through for easy comparison and if you missed any of these photosets, check out the 2014 NAHBS archive.

Mar 27, 2014 9 comments
Cuppow and a Chris Chance in Los Angeles
Chris Chance

Photos by Kyle Kelley

I absolutely love everything about these photos. Greg from Cuppow brought his Chris Chance road bike to the west coast for a little R&R&R (riding, rest and relaxation). While he was in Los Angeles, Kyle took him to the blacktop for breakfast and shot some photos of his rad ‘Chance.

Check out more here!

Mar 27, 2014 3 comments