I’m always amazed at the frequency and abundance of absolutely stunning bikes that come across our Readers’ Rides inbox. Case in point is Shaun‘s self-built tourer, which he’s documented wonderfully below, so let’s get to it!
My submission to Reader’s Rides features a self-built, handmade, one-off frame, fork, and handlebar stem. I enjoy making my own things from raw materials – from woodworking to metalworking, and everything in between – spanning from skateboards to snowboards, and lamps to tables. I made my first bicycle frame a little over 11 years ago out of my parent’s two-car garage – a Columbus SL tubed road bike with Nashbar carbon fork. The vast majority of the parts for that first frame, from the lugs to the braze-ons, were all pre-made, off-the-shelf parts, and featured very little customization.
This is now the second frame I’ve made. Inspired by the master framebuilders of recent, whose work I’ve come to admire, I wanted this frame to be something special and wrought with detail. I dove in deep with this one, with much of the construction on the frame, fork, and handlebar stem being entirely custom. From the cable stops and brass cable adjusters to the handlebar stem cap and seat stay caps, right down to the lugs – it’s all handmade. Parts that were purchased pre-made, such as the dropouts and biplane fork crown, have been modified, at least to some degree, to my liking. On even the smallest parts, I tried to squeeze in some sort of detail where I could.
Before COVID hit, I was working/living in New York, where I had acquired and built up a lugged 1984 Specialized StumpJumper with biplane fork crown. I had a short commute to work and would ride it regularly on dry days. I absolutely loved the ride quality of that frame, but, unfortunately, it was a few sizes too small for me, and I parted ways with it after moving back home to Oregon. I had wanted to make a new bicycle frame for some time – something more practical than my first, with clearance for larger tires, and mounts for fenders and racks – and figured this was as good a time as any. I tried to carry over elements of the relaxed, stable geometry from the StumpJumper, but of course the end result of this frameset is a little different in appearance.
I chose a Columbus Cromor tubeset for the frame; spec’d with thicker walled tubing, I figured this would be a practical selection for a more utilitarian frame. The result is a frameset that is a little on the burly side, but one that should be able to resist dings and take a beating on loaded tours and backroad rides, should the need come.
Much of the work has been done with minimal tooling, relying mostly on handfiles, a hacksaw and a jeweler’s saw for lug work and tubing mitering, and a small drill press and inexpensive mini bench-top lathe for the more precise and custom parts. The mini lathe and an oxy-acetylene torch setup were inherited from my grandfather, and have been cherished greatly, with both seeing regular use on this project and others.
The lugs started out as straight-gauge chromoly tubing that was then TIG-welded into lug blanks and then filed and sawn into what you see.
There were a few firsts on this project – it was the first time I’ve tried fillet brazing, my first time bending chain stays and fork blades (and building the fork blades into a complete fork), and also my first try at a handlebar stem from scratch.
I try to use regional materials where possible on my projects, in this case, I was able to incorporate some beautiful madrone hardwood into a set of custom locking grips, complete with cable routing for bar-end shifters.
The paint work is also of my own doing – a custom mix of pearls, topped with a two-part urethane clear, with the stem getting just a clear coat. It’s not perfect, there are imperfections here and there, but it’s what I’ve come to expect from a backyard paint job.
Don’t adjust your screen – the painted script on the non-drive side of the frame is mirrored on purpose, to mimic the lug design and retain symmetry. The name Corydalis stems in part from a native plant we have out here, Corydalis scouleri, that is quite common along the margins of the many creeks and streams around the foothills in the Cascade range of the Pacific Northwest. However, the name more accurately represents much more to me than a genus of plant, growing to encompass the many creeks, streams, waterfalls, and organisms that call the Cascade foothills home, and the experiences I’ve had within that special landscape.
Finally, a few last finishing touches are a TIG-welded stainless steel rack set and LED taillight (both homemade, of course).
It’s always difficult to capture every detail, but hopefully these images give at least some idea of the time spent to create what I think is a genuine representation of my own interests and aesthetics. At this point, this project is mostly complete and on the road, but there are still plans for a front lowrider rack and maybe even a handmade pannier set! The bike rides wonderfully and I can’t wait to explore more backroads on it through my local hills of the Cascades.
I’ve enjoyed seeing each new edition of Reader’s Rides here on The Radavist – especially the homegrown stuff that others have submitted – and look forward to seeing more!
We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!