Following up on their previous shop visit, Daniel and Karla take us back to Básica Studio in Mexico City. This time they delve deeper into a larger spectrum of Básica’s bikes, along with some updates on builder Eli Acosta.
Last summer, my partner Karla and I were in Mexico City and had the opportunity to visit Básica Studio, the bicycle frame-building project founded by frame builder Eli Acosta and architect Txutxo Lopez. We documented our visit in a previous story where we showed both of them in action along with a team of mechanics, a wheel builder, and two apprentices that Eli had as part of Básica’s frame-building school for women.
A few months later Eli told us that she had been elected as a beneficiary of the Philly Bike Expo x SRAM scholarship for Framebuilders, and because of that, Básica Studio would be participating in the 2022 Philly Bike Expo. Eli started working on two bikes for the event, but sadly her USA visa had expired and her appointment to apply for renewal was put off for months – as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic – to a date way past the Expo. Fortunately, she was told the scholarship would be available when she could use it, which we hope will be the next edition of PBE!
While in Mexico City, Karla and I spent a few afternoons in Básica Studio and, besides emptying their coffee pot and filling their caguamas, we also documented five finished bicycles. Save for one, they were all being ridden and their owners had brought them to the shop for servicing. These bikes roll in and around the city, doing everything from commuting, to light touring, to fast road rides. So, let’s take a look at them below…
Ayrton Senna Inspired Criterium Bike
Of the five bicycles we documented, this is the only one that wasn’t being used at the moment and is more of an exhibition bike at Básica’s shop, hence the flat pedals instead of clipless or straps. Eli and Txutxo designed it as a criterium bike but it ended up never being actually ridden; it was their first experience with a tapered steerer and aero tubing.
The paint on this bike, done by Txutxo, was directly inspired by Formula One Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna. As a kid, Txutxo got to see Senna a race and he says that, to date, this paintwork remains his favorite, and the one he’s most proud of.
Txutxo’s Borrowed Road Bike
Near Mexico City’s downtown, there’s a park named Bosque de Chapultepec, which contains attractions like lakes, picnic areas, and museums. Calling it a park feels a little underwhelming to me, as it’s more of a proper patch of forest in the middle of a huge city. For us bike folk, Chapultepec offers the nearest option when you want to ride on dirt, but don’t have the time to go through two hours of city traffic in order to leave the pavement behind. There are also a few sections for practicing mountain biking, with jumps and all. One morning, a handful of us rode to Chapu, as locals call it, and I had the chance to photograph this bike during a very muddy ride. Básica Studio made this bike for a friend of theirs, then one day the friend said she’d be leaving on an extended stay to another country, so she left the bike for Txutxo to take care of. Since then, Txutxo has been using it around town and on group rides with his roadie crew.
The bike has a proper road bike groupset and tire clearances, but my favorite detail besides the pink color is that it also has mounts for a rear rack, which Txutxo has made use of before. I actually started following him on Instagram when he was on a bike trip in Oaxaca.
The (now extinct) “Línea Económica”: Two Examples
On our visit to Basica Studio, Eli told us about the intention of offering hand-built bikes at a more affordable price than their usual builds, in order to make it possible for more people to have a custom-size frame. We were lucky to see one of the first, fresh out of the oven. We were actually there when the owner picked it up. These two bikes happened to be on opposite sides of the sizing spectrum – one in the extra large, and one extra small. However, a few weeks ago Eli was in our hometown and said, while she was looking for a cowboy hat that fit her, that this project had ended. However, a few bikes did come out of it.
The green bike is someone’s daily ride, and that someone is very tall. It has an interesting combination of a 1-inch steerer and disc brakes, and although I’m not usually inclined to patriotic feelings, finding the word “México” engraved on the seat stay bridge did make me feel a little joy.
These are the very last photos my Canon EOS T3 camera took. After over six years of service, I think the Mexico City humidity mixed with the Sonora dirt brought its life to an end, or at least that’s what I like to think.
Shortly after we took these pictures, the owner of this bike showed up to pick it up and a few days later, she joined Karla and a group of forty women and non-binary folk on a three-day bike trip. Drop bars at an upright position and decent tire clearance are, in my opinion, a very good choice for a commuter and touring bike. To make a 700c wheel work with such a small frame, the fork had to be modified in the shop which canceled the cost and time-saving advantages of using a pre-fabricated fork. Things like this are what made Txutxo and Eli decide to discontinue this line of frames.
Columbus Airplane Gravel Bike
One day Eli told us “You have to come to see this one!”; no need to tell me twice. The project for this frame started when one of the stays on the owner’s previous bike broke. He went to Básica looking to get something made locally, but sort of replicating the geometry of the broken bike from which he took the carbon fork and some components.
To keep the weight low they chose Columbus Airplane for the down tube, which has the shape of a drop, and I thought it felt kinda plasticky and scarily thin for someone who hits the ground once in a while. The paint on the stem cap is a custom nail polish work made by the owner’s little nephew.
Big thanks to Txutxo for taking the time to answer my questions. Stay tuned to see what Básica Studio comes up with for the next Philly Bike Expo!