The Norwegian city of Oslo recently played host to the Service Course Oslo‘s Bikes of Oslo Showcase, featuring a plethora of custom bikes during a weekend of riding and soaking in the summer sun. We’re honored to host the report here, at the Radavist, featuring the bicycle photography of Magnus Nordstrand and the riding/lifestyle shots from Herman Ottesen. Check out the bikes along with an interview with the Service Course’s Jonas Strømberg below…
What makes the Oslo cycling community so exciting at the moment?
Jonas Strømberg: The interest in cycling as a lifestyle increases month by month. We see people get inspired not only by racing anymore. It’s only a couple of years ago that cycling was all about intervals, but now it’s a desire to explore new places and go on exciting adventures, hoping to be the first one to find untouched and unseen places. With this desire to experience new land, the community has moved more into gravel. That said, what is great about Oslo is the broad spectrum in the cycling community with a good mix of road, gravel, MTB, e-bikes, and cargo bikes too. In the last couple of years, the city of Oslo has set a goal to become a greener capital, and one step is the increased amount of bike lanes, moving cars away from the city centre. This helps locals open their eyes to alternative transportation and therefore they are investing in more bikes. Many of us know Oslo as a cycling mecca where you can go from the brand-new city beach to amazing gravel roads in less than 30 minutes. This is still unknown for most new cyclists and something that really amazes them. People in cycling gear is a more common view in the city and something several restaurants are adapting to by making room for groups of friends drinking and dining in bibs and sweaty jerseys with bikes next to them. We also see people with roots in other sports taking an interest in cycling both because of the lifestyle and through fashion. For a long time skateboarding has been the trendsetter but now we see that cycling is taking the leap. For example, you can often spot a commuter wearing a high-end shoe brand with fresh white PNS socks, or wearing bib shorts combined with a flannel shirt on the gravel road.
What do you find most satisfying when it comes to creating a custom bike?
JS: For us, it’s the process itself that is unique, where we become a helping hand for the customer in the creation of a custom bike that can seem overwhelming if you were to embark on it yourself. With our experience, we help customers create the perfect components and fit, with a lot of energy going into the builds, always happy to share our knowledge and personal experience. Because of this, we become a key part of the process and we’re just as stoked as the customer when the bike is ready for collection and riding at the end of the process. Having several custom bikes ourselves we know that customers will be more than satisfied but getting the feedback from each of them at the end of the process that this is “the bike of my dreams” is the driving force for us – to see and hear the joy that it brings to each individual. Each custom build is a very personal creation and that’s why we love doing it.
Why would you recommend going for a specialist custom build over a stock bike from a household name bike manufacturer?
JS: Working in the business for almost 20 years now I have huge respect for the bigger companies, they put a lot of energy in developing new products, marketing, and sponsoring. That said, we create something different for the customer – something unique you can’t pick from the “supermarket shelf”. Getting something tailored may take a bit more time but that’s all part of the charm – you’re the only one with this bike and it’s always worth the wait. Plus, you may be surprised how far your budget can go with a custom build in comparison to a high-end stock bike, it might be a lot closer than you think.
LASSE’S LEGOR LWTUA
Build features: Custom geometry // Stainless steel (XCr) // GRX Di2/Easton/Enve // Garbaruk Chainring // AG28/Ultradynamico.
“My Legor is built for hardcore gravel, 650b wheels with wide tires, made to go smooth over all types of gravel, easy trails, and any surface you can throw at me. I realized after doing The Rift in Iceland that I needed a rugged bike for a more comfortable ride, both my back and neck have been grateful since. I worked with Jonas at TSC Oslo to get the geometry just right and Mattia helped with the design. I chose two of the original Land Rover colours for my frame, this icon of a car that can pretty much go anywhere seemed like a good fit for my bike too. Since I own a couple of bikes, it was nice to get some colour on this frame. I usually go very minimal on the design of a bike but for this, I am super happy to give it a little flair (in my mind) for once.”
KJELL’S OPEN WIDE
Build features: Custom paint // GRX Di2/Easton/Enve // AG25/G27 wheelset // Garbaruk Chainring.
“I’ve been in love with cycling and bikes since I was in my late teens, starting first with road bikes and then mountain bikes. Last year I decided I wanted a gravel bike, something that was purer and simpler than a mountain bike, and which would give me a kind of “road” experience and feel while out in nature. I was looking for a bike that needed to do only one thing, in that it should be optimally suited to gravel and nothing else. I also wanted it to look like a classic road bike with a simple straightforward design. I tested the Open and immediately felt like it was the most fun bike I’d ever ridden. Anki and Jonas suggested the build with Enve components and Easton crank. No real compromises, just solid top-end stuff the whole way. I had it custom painted, and choosing the colour was the most difficult. part. I feel like a bike has to look good in addition to riding well. In general, I’m a minimalist, and I wanted something understated and subtle. Part of the choice of colour is that olive is a colour I really like in general. But in addition, it is a similar colour to my first real race bike I got when I was 20, an Eddy Merckx Corsa made from Columbus SL steel tubing. I like the fact that the Open pays homage to my first race bike. The thing that I really like about it is that it always inspires me to want to ride. Part of it is that the bike rides so well, and the more I ride it the more I appreciate it. The other part is that I love the way it looks. Just seeing it sitting in the entryway of my apartment makes me want to get on it and go for a ride. There is something really liberating and exhilarating about getting on it knowing I can go almost anywhere, a sense of freedom I can’t get from anything else. Since I’ve had it, I’ve only ridden it in the areas around Oslo, mainly because of the Covid-19 situation. At some point, it deserves to travel and be ridden elsewhere, although I don’t have any specific thoughts on where. If I had to name two possibilities I would say Tuscany and Kenya, each for very different reasons.”
HANS-PETTER’S STRIBE JUNO
Build features: Custom paint by customer // GRX 1X // Silver Zipp cockpit // Russian Raketa hubs
“My Stribe Juno is inspired by my favourite place on earth – California and the west coast bike culture. Riding bikes should be fun and a lot of colours are fun, right? Black bikes are so 2013. My old friend Anki helped me out picking some of the parts and built the bike. I painted the fork and used several hours online during lockdown searching for the most colorful parts from Chris King, Phil Wood, Russian Raketa, Paul Components, Mash SF, etc. I can’t wait to go back to California and ride the Verdugo mountains and eat and drink at Night Market in Silverlake.”
ANKI’S ENGLISH V3
Build features: Carbon ISP/Carbon in HT // Polished Rival Levers // 3.4 AR/Carbon-Ti hubs // Darimo/Extralite/Hope/Berk //Custom/weightweenie everything
“My English is built specifically for the gravel in Nordmarka Forest in Oslo. I ordered the frame in 2019 and was supposed to have it done in July this year, but because of the parts shortage, he was able to build it a bit earlier. The main focus on this bike is the weight but still to have durable parts. Geometry is more like a road bike, so a bit aggressive, but still really comfortable due to the carbon seatmast and the skinny seatstays. The frame has a carbon integrated seat mast from Enve with a custom seat post topper and a carbon insert in the headtube. All tubes are custom from English and it has the skinny wishbone/seatstays he is known for. Chainstays are really short because Rob offset the seat tube on the bottom bracket. Fully-internal rear brake routing and dedicated 160mm rear flat mount to run the caliper without an adapter. Fits 700x45mm tires. Rob also did a short write up on the frame”.
JULIUS’ OPEN UP
Build features: Allroad (2 wheelsets) // Killian paint // Zipp 303s wheelset // Zipp Build kit // 2x Force AXS
“The story behind the bike is simple. My Open UP SRAM Force AXS 2×12 setup is the boiled-down version of my bike dreams come true. I’ve had talks to Jonas about what I’m looking for in my next bike, and he knows what I admire in The Service Course stable of amazing bikes. Originally I was considering a two bike solution, a lightweight road bike, and a sturdier gravel bike. I ended up going for an Open UP because of the road geometry, which allows a proper aero position. The carbon makes it lightweight and gives it the responsiveness that I prefer. Jonas fixed a playful 650b 47mm semi-slick tubeless setup for gravel adventures and a fast-rolling Zipp 303s 32mm slicks for road racing. I’m really excited about the electric gearing of Force Axs, something I didn’t grant a lot of functionality to previously, but I was curious enough to put it on my dream build, with the ease of the squeeze and the little buttons for micro-adjustments, I didn’t regret it at all. To personalise the frame I was lucky enough to get @Kilianboy to do the paint job, I asked him to do a stone-like/mineral sort of look and gave him a hint on which colours I’d like and he did a beautiful job. I’ve ridden it for two months now and I’ve loved it from day one but I find myself being more and more in love with it, as I’m getting to know it better. I’d like to bring it to Como and ride the North Italian landscapes. The epic climbs in the mountains and the scenic gravel roads and rolling hills combined with everything Italy has to offer should make it a great experience.”
BJØRN’S BELLE GRAR
Build features: Ultegra/GRX Di2 mix // Enve Cockpit // Custom geometry // Open U-Turn fork
“After having Italian road bikes like Pinarello and Bianchi for several years it was time to go out and make my own unique bike for the gravel roads of Oslo. I contacted the guys at The Service Course to figure what to choose, the process was super smooth and I ended up with steel for added comfort. Enrico “Belle” sent me pictures during the process and I was taken really good care of. When it comes to colour, blue has always been one of my favourites, so I searched around and found House of Colors. Here my eyes just fell in love with the kamen blue – still today it amazes me and looks different every time. I must say this is my dream bike and will be for many years to come. A big thanks to Jonas and Anki for helping me out with this project.”
ESBEN’S LEGOR COMMUTER
Build features: Custom Rack // Flat bar pub bike // Honjo Fenders // 50mm tire clearance // Will fit a drop bar // The Vandelay Splatter paint scheme
“When you have a 3x Michelin star restaurant to commute to every day, you need something equally special to ride there, right? This is one of our favourite custom bikes we have had the pleasure of working on and will be sharing the full story once the build is 100% complete. For now, this is an “amuse bouche” thanks to internationally celebrated chef Esben Holmboe Bang.”
ALEXANDER’S SPEEDVAGEN RUGGED ROAD
Build features: Custom geometry // Matching Silca Framepump // Large frame size // Carbon ISP // Force AXS/Easton
“I had been ogling a Speedvagen for years when I finally pulled the trigger late last year. We had just moved back to Oslo after 4 years in NYC and figured Speedvagen, as an American staple within the frame builders community, was the right touch to end our US adventure. The request to Sacha at SV was quite simple: I want a bike that wants to be ridden fast and hard in the Oslo outback. That we ended up with the Rugged Road was a given. Richard at SV had to endure A LOT of back and forth before we finally landed on the Ichicho paint job in a two-tone Alpers blue. Jonas and Anki then helped me complete the build, sourcing a ton of cool parts from Enve, Cane Creek, Ceramic Speed, SRAM, Garbaruk, and Easton. The bike is meant to be the one bike I would never consider selling and it truly is. There is no way I’m parting with it. It’s also meant to be ridden, not just a beautiful bike that is too nice to use. This might explain why it’s all dirty in the pics… I had just finished a rather dusty ride… haha. I’m thrilled to have a steel bike that can take some rough handling without me worrying about the bike’s ability to hold up, invisible hairline fractures, and everything else that comes with carbon bikes. Whenever the paint job gets too banged up or I want to switch it up, back to the shop it goes and it’ll look brand new again. I have tons of plans for the bike, some more realistic than others, but a few of them will eventually materialise I’m sure. First up is probably a run through the Strade Bianche course together with my mate Lars (who rides a custom Belle), hopefully already next spring. Huge thanks to Jonas and Anki and everyone at The Service Course Oslo for making this happen.”
… and of course, bikes are meant to be ridden!
Many thanks to the Service Course for pulling together this event and allowing us to host it. Which is your favorite bike and why?