Category Archives: made in the usa
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
Mars Cycles Track
Beautiful Bicycle: Mars Cycles Track

In my groggy state at this year’s NAHBS, I met Casey Sussman, the builder of Mars Cycles, a small frame builder out of Oakland. His bright magenta track bike caught my eye but in a world of mail-order “fixies”, I didn’t initially register the bike as a hand made frame.

Once Casey introduced himself, I quickly realized that was no mail-order, made in Taiwan bike. It’s a legitimate, hand made track bike. Clean fillets, racing geometry, non-nonsense details and that tapered head tube. Mars Cycles’ work, at this point, is focusing on crit-ready track bikes and Casey’s bike is a prime example.

Mars Cycles will have a few racers rolling these frames at this weekend’s Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn, so if you see them, make sure to wish them luck!

Leave a comment in the Gallery with any comments or concerns.

Mar 26, 2014 26 comments
Outlier: New Way Shorts
NewWayShorts

Photos by Emiliano Granado

My favorite piece in Outlier’s collection was photographed by Emiliano down in Mexico last month. The New Way Shorts are indeed, new and improved versions of previous Three Way Shorts models. $120, made in the USA and seriously, one of the best pieces for your spring and summer wardrobe. Scoop up a pair at Outlier, while they’re still in stock!

Mar 26, 2014 1 comment
Blue Lug Visits Paul Comp
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One of my favorite shops, Blue Lug from Tokyo, visited one of my favorite US-made component companies, Paul, right after NAHBS. I’ve yet to spend time in Chico with the crew from Paul, but these photos make me feel like I was there. Thanks Blue Lug!

See more at the Blue Lug Flickr!

Mar 26, 2014 Comments are OFF
2014 NAHBS: Alchemy Cross
2014_NAHBS_Alchemy_Cross-COVER

Alchemy has been through a lot over the past few years. Originally from Austin, the shop moved to Denver in 2013, prior to NAHBS. While they’ve gone through a few hiccups in the process, the shop is cranking out some incredibly nice steeds.

Cody’s cross bike is a prime example. There ain’t no ISP on that baby, the topper is welded onto the seat mast. The internal cable routing is clean, CX1 with custom painted Rotor cranks, and damn that paint job. This is one of my favorite bikes in the show and it doesn’t hurt that the owner is a damn great guy.

See more in the Gallery!

Mar 16, 2014 23 comments
2014 NAHBS: Thomson Elite Dropper Post in 27.2
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Yep. Everyone thought this project was shelved, but it’s alive and ready to roll out in Summer of 2014. The Thomson Elite Dropper Post will ship with both a cable and switch mechanism or this handy, under rail switch. Run it on your hardtail, rigid, or even *shudder* your cross bike.

Mar 15, 2014 12 comments