2021 Philly Bike Expo: Chapman Cycles Basket Commuter

Based in Pawtuxet Village, RI, Brian Chapman builds intricately detailed bikes blending classic design and vintage parts with a modern approach. Brian is no stranger here, as we’ve documented a number of Chapman Cycles over the years. Jarrod Bunk linked up with Brian once again at this year’s Philly Bike Expo to photograph the Basket Commuter bike Brian recently built for a customer that wanted to carry a dog on-board. Continue reading to learn more about this bike and to see all of its exquisite detailing!

I’m really excited about this bike as it challenged me in several new ways. The steering lock, locking brake lever mod, and removable (yet secure) basket for a tiny dog kept the gears turning in my mind while creating the design.

Building with classic Nervex Professional lugs was a rarity for me and they ended up requiring lot more work than modern castings.

The combination front cable hanger and steering lock design had been in the back of my mind for some time. If you only knew the hours that went into designing and making this little thing! I obviously can’t charge an hourly rate for this little guy but I learned a lot and that’s worth something. I was inspired by Mike Barry from Mariposa Bicycles when I saw a similar mechanism on one of his touring creations at J.P. Weigle’s French Fender Day some years ago.

I was also inspired by 80s BMX rear brake de-tanglers that utilized the pressure between the upper headset cup and head tube to hold the lower cable plate in place. This proved to be a much cleaner option than attaching a special braze-on to the head lug.

I fabricated the rack, along with the stem. For the basket that attaches to the front rack (not pictured) there will have to be a bottom or lining put in for the pup.

The drivetrain is Dura Ace 7800 and the brakes are vintage MAFAC Competition with a combination of Grand Bois and Rene Herse hardware.

I cut down the Honjo fenders so the bike can stand vertical on the rear wheel if necessary (without dog in basket obviously!)

One point of minor irritation with this project was the Challenge 30mm tires measured small at 26mm. They are definitely the skinniest tires I’ve had on one of my bike builds in a long while! That said, they are nice tires.

The paint was also done by me in-house — It’s a one-person show over here building complete bikes at a glacial pace! Ultimately, this design and build took me longer than usual, but I think it was worth it!

Check out more of Brian’s designs at Chapman Cycles.