The bicycle business has always been interesting. In my more than forty-five years in the bicycle business I’ve seen some pretty kool things. Probably the most notable was the introduction and refinement of the mountain bike which I witnessed up close and personal because of my friendship with Gary Fisher and the rest of the North Bay Ne’re-do-wells.
I think we may be entering an equally interesting time right now. I’m not sure what to call this new era or bike, though the industry has called these new bikes things like Gravel or All-road bikes. What all of these new style bikes have in common is they incorporate disk breaks. Moving away from caliper or cantilever breaks allows fitting the bicycles with larger tires and fenders than ever before; even allowing for multiple wheel sizes to be used on the same bike. The result of this innovation is the re-invention of the road bike. Combining high performance wide tires with more traditionally road bike geometry and components, all the sudden we have a drop bar bike that can do everything, it’s efficient on road rides and comfortable on trail and gravel. Who would have guesses that this would be an unintended consequence of putting disk brakes on a rode bike?
The frame in the pictures is for my friend Adam Hale, and yes, it is a big bike. Adam is somewhere around 6’7”. Last year he won The Race Across Washington, a self-supported, predominately non-paved surface, event. While the frame looks sort of like a MTB it will have drop bars. As for the frames specs; the tires in the pictures are 29×2.4 and there is good clearance for those and fenders. The curved seat tube allows 17” chain stays. The seat tube angle is 73 degrees. The head tube angle is 72 degrees. The fork is offset 65mm.
We have posted about All Road bikes previously on What’s New for June 2017. While both bicycles have similarities, as with all custom bikes they are very different finished bicycles. Read up there if you would like more information.
Sorry, we didn’t get anything up over the holidays. Hope you had a great holiday season.
Here is another rack we made. It’s done in the classic style with 6 mm tubing, but manages to come in at less than 220 g. While this one is pictured “nude”, if powder coated the selling price comes to only $175.00.
Our basic prices for racks at current are as follows:
Rear Touring Rack $375.00
Rear Touring Rack For Low-rider Panniers $450.00
Front Low-rider Touring Rack $350.00
Porteur Rack $375.00
Rear Constructeur Rack $275.00
Handlebar Bag Rack $275.00
Stem Mounted Decalleur $125.00
Seat Post Mounted Bag Support $275.00
Rear Touring Rack $275.00
Rear Constructeur Rack $175.00
Handlebar Bag Support $175.00
Recently we had an interesting project. A customer wanted a Randoneering bike with all the lights being powered by the Schmidt SONDelux Generator Front Hub, which is designed to work with a special fork end that does away with the need to plug wires on and off for wheel removal and re-installation. All stuff we’ve done before and pretty straightforward. The problem arouse when the customer stated that he wanted to be able to “Rinko” the bike, which requires dropping the fork out of the frame and he didn’t want to be plugging and unplugging.
For those of you unfamiliar with “Rinkoing” it is a process that was developed in Japan to quickly take a standard bicycle down to its most minimal size in order to bring the bike on a train. An experienced “Rinko” person can complete the process in less than fifteen minutes. A key part of the process is to remove the fork, wheel, and fenders as a unit, and place it on the non-drive side of the bike, with the steerer toe strapped across the head tube. The rear part of the rear fender also needs to be removed to make the package as small as possible.
Like many of you I was aware that Rene Herse had developed a system to route power from a rear mounted generator to a front mounted light. His system utilized a spring loaded “brush” which was originally used in electric motor. Simple and effective but it really wasn’t intended for regular and repeated removal of the fork. Also, this design was created just after WWII. With all the advances in technology and particularly micro technology it seems like there must be a better way.
The key piece was a spring loaded “connector” which would allow establishing and breaking a circuit over and over again. It needed to be mounted in the steerer tube, insolated from ground, and have enough spring loaded travel to reach the contact plate mounted on the inside of the head tube. It took a little looking, and there were several dead ends and missteps, but we eventually found the perfect piece. It was made of stainless, and for a very different use, but perfect for our application. We mounted the connector in a piece made from structural plastic and mechanically secured it to inside of the steerer. The contact plate was made from brass shim stock, a wire was soldered to the back and it was mounted with double sided tape to the inside of the head tube. The wire goes through a hole in the head tube, into the down tube, and eventually up the seat tube to the rear lights. Mission Accomplished!
Not too long ago we received a 1950’s vintage Bertin for restoration. The reason we received the frame was that at some point, probably in the 60’s, someone had clamped a Pletcher rack onto the seat stays and crushed them. So we had to replace the seat stays, as well as fix small dents, frame and fork alignment, and chrome clean up that is normal on older frames. The repairs were pretty straightforward.
The refinish was the real issue. My daughter and Administrative Assistant, Laura’s contribution was finding the period correct graphics and tubing stickers. Which she managed to find in a miraculously short amount of time. Even down to the French language Reynolds stickers. Amazing what you can find when you know your way around the internet and have a lot of patience.
An even bigger hurdle was that this frame had been pin striped, obviously by hand, in a really unique manner. We were aware that Jeff Pinard, of Forever Powder Coating, who does our pin striping, was very good at what we normally ask him to do, lug lining, box stripes, etc., but this frame posed a special challenge. Needless to say, he nailed it! All you need to do is check out the down tube pin striping to appreciate how good Jeff really is.
All in all this was a fun project and it is a great pleasure to see this frame going back on the road.
Finished frame (click on pictures to see them full sized):
Original Condition (These were originally taken for paint and decal reference, so some are not the best quality):
As an added bonus, though we didn’t have this reproduced, it is an interesting piece of history. This is an LA Bike License, like a license plate for a bicycle, from 1970:
Recently we have had some inquiries about how a person could get a custom rack without quite so much money. In many ways the answer is quite simple, don’t chrome it. Not only is chrome expensive, but it also requires us to provide the part to the chromer polished. You might think that the plater would polish the part himself, that’s the way it used to be, but let’s just say we’ve been accused of being a little “picky”. So, powder coated it is. A perfect solution? No, but if you want cheaper you’ve got to give something up. The process of powder coating is cheaper than chroming, and doesn’t require any polishing to look good. It isn’t quite as durable as a good chrome, but it’s still pretty durable. There is even a “Chrome” powder color, or you can match the color of your bike. The colors available can be found at https://www.prismaticpowders.com/powder-coating-colors/ We would suggest ordering swatches when you get down to your three favorites, to make sure the color is what you picture off of the computer screen. I’ve also heard that some frame builders won’t make racks unless you are ordering a bike from them, we will happily make racks, or most other things, as stand alone projects.
Powder coated rack prices are:
Rear Touring Rack $275.00
Rear Constructeur Rack $175.00
Handlebar Bag Support $175.00
Some of you are probably aware that Stevenson Custom Bikes is constantly trying “new” ideas and concepts. Some times the new ideas don’t work or are only partially successful; rarely a new concept works beyond our wildest dreams. Falling within the second category is an “All Road” prototype we recently built and tested.
‘All Road, what the heck does that mean?’ You might ask. Well, in the simplest terms, it’s a disk brake road bike which is designed and built around 26” fat road tires and wheels. The tires are marked 26×2.3 (58.42mm) but actually measure about 55mm when mounted on Stan’s flow rims. I’m running them tubeless with about 40lbs tire pressure and they rock! If someone would have told me that I’d ever be riding big fat road tires at 40lbs pressure and liking them I’d have laughed. I normally have my tires at around 110lbs pressure and couldn’t imagine 40lbs doing anything other than going squish. I need to give credit where credit is due, in all fairness, these tires are what makes the bike work; they are exceptional!
Compass deserves credit for taking a concept which popular wisdom would say wouldn’t work and bringing it to fruition. The tires even sound good; much like the silk Clement Del Mondos I rode in the ‘70s. The 26” size allows the bike to be built with relatively short chain stays. The bike is designed with road bike geometry, 73 degree parallel head tube and seat tube, but mountain bike looks, with sloping top tube and lots of seat post showing.
If you don’t look down the bike feels like a skinny tired road bike. Looking down is disorienting. Those big tires shouldn’t be so fast, but they are. And Yes, the brakes work with less hand strength, and going around corners fast on these big tires, the bike feels like it’s on rails.
While part of the concept of the All Road bikes is that they can be ridden on and off road, often during the same ride. I have yet to take it off road, but expect it to work just as well off road as it does on. I’m so glad that I took a chance on this idea that I originally thought was outrageous and unworkable, and am very happy to be surprised by such a smooth ride.
This article was posted on Facebook, where we received some negative feed back on the article. Here is our response:
Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck… well not always. While I fully agree with Phil Brown that my prototype “All Road” bike looks like a mountain bike with drop bars, there are a couple of things that make it a very different animal. First off the bike has a 73 degree headtube angle. Most modern mountain bikes, and Paul’s early Fisher Mt. Tam, have around a 68 degree headtube angle. Secondly, the fork on my bike has 63.5 mm of offset, most mountain bikes have forks with around 38.1 mm offset, or less. Paul was hardly alone riding a mountain bike with drop bars. John Tomac and Jackie Phelan were notable examples of riders who raced and won off road races on mountain bikes with drop bars. I as a barely converted “roadie” certainly had drop handlebars on my mountain bike as well, but putting drop bars on a mountain bike certainly didn’t turn it into a road bike, or an “all road” bike. Putting compass tires on this frame did make this bike ride like a road bike. A sort of unusual looking road bike, but a road bike none the less.
Here is one of our recent projects to show what we’ve been working on.
This is a prototype which I think is going to morph into a new model. The frame is built out of air hardened steel tubing, and weighs 3.2 lbs! I fillet brazed the frame with minimalist fillets. The complete bike weighs 17.2 lbs. I think we are going to call the model “Superlight” which will sell for $2200.00 for frame and fork.
Mail: 3800 B Lorne St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501 | Phone: (360) 402-2234 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org