I don’t know about you all but personally, I miss seeing off-the-wall crazy custom bikes at the various tradeshows. With the pandemic canceling the 2020 and most likely 2021 dates for various open houses and NAHBS, I’ve just accepted the fact that those balleur bicycle gallery shoots will have to wait. That said, when projects like this fall into my lap, I’m more than excited to take some extra time documenting them.
ENVE launched their Foundation Gravel wheels last week and in a perfect world, a press-camp was supposed to happen in Arizona to test out those wheels. ENVE planned on pinging various builders to fabricate the chassis for their full gravel lineup. One of those builders was Retrotec and Curtis went overboard for the event, building a handful of titanium frames alongside Oscar Camarena of Simple Bike Company. When the press camp wasn’t happening, Curtis decided he’d send this bike out for me to document. He needed photos for his website and I won’t say no to content like this…
It’s this symbiotic relationship I’ve formed with various builders over time that really strums at my heartstrings. Curtis’ work is some of my favorite and to see him team up with Oscar – one of the most talented welders in the business – brought me extra joy.
Documenting a bike like this takes time, patience, and a little bit of scouting to find the perfect location. Since Curtis rides a massive frame, I didn’t get to ride this tall-n-handsome machine but yesterday I rode my Sklar out to scout for a shoot location with just the perfect backdrop – the Jemez Mountains.
Enough of my rambling, let’s check out this bike in detail…
These Retrotec Ti frames are the culmination of a joint effort with Curtis and Oscar. Curtis has wanted to offer Retrotec Ti bikes for years but never had the time to dedicate nailing down the process that working with Ti requires. Welding titanium takes lots of practice. Many builders attest that it takes hundreds of hours to get it right and even then, you’re always mastering the trade.
Insert Oscar, who is known for his no-nonsense approach to bike building and fabrication. Over the last couple of years he and Curtis have talked about doing some Ti bikes together and last fall they finally made it happen. It was a lot of work but they are hoping to do two batches a year.
Because Retrotec has such an iconic look, Curtis spent a lot of time making sure the overall appearance of the Ti frames matches the aesthetic of the steel Retrotec frames. The top tube is slightly ovalized for added compliance and the curved seat stays are capped off with a beautiful set of Paragon Machine Works bullets.
These bikes are fully custom and are made from American 3AL2.5V throughout and will run $4300 for a frame. Complete bikes are also available, such as this beauty, laced with White Industries, Cane Creek eeWings, SRAM eTap, ENVE cockpit, post, and Foundation Gravel AG25 wheels. If you’re curious, this massive bike weighs only 23lbs on the nose. Contact Retrotec for ordering.
Speaking of the wheels, yes, you can buy just the rims and lace them up to whatever hub you like. Rims are available for $625 a pop from ENVE direct or your local dealer.