NAHBS 14, Part VII

NAHBS 14, Part VII

This Ellis very nearly won Best of Show. I spent so much time looking at it that I told David he should keep a towel nearby to wipe off all the drool. In our considerations I remember comparing this bike to Greg Louganis’ final, gold-medal-winning dive at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. He executed a flawless reverse swan dive; a well-performed swan dive is simple enough, but for a reverse swan dive, the diver is blind to the water for nearly the entire dive. This bike had a similar, confident grace to it. I don’t really want to dissect the reason why this bike didn’t win. There isn’t one. Another bike simply won.


In a room full of extraordinary handmade bikes, this one fully deserved some sort of award. IMG_8219

But that’s the rub. Other than Best of Show, the President’s Award and People’s Choice, you must enter a bike in a specific category, and you can only enter one bike per category. We do that because it forces a builder to have a sense of what other people think is their  best work.


I think that’s a good system; it asks the builders to look at their own work through the eyes of others. If they listen, if they take the opportunity, it becomes a service. When I’ve entered my own work in competitions, the act of selection has forced me to think about just how good I think a piece is, to ask myself whether the piece is really that good, or if I just like it more than other pieces I’ve written.


This bike sports exquisite lug work, but what makes this bike truly special are the other touches that often get overlooked. This bike has an attention to detail that comes through in the Di2 braze-ons, the polished spacer and the Di2 junction box attached under the stem.

IMG_8217Thinned points, windows and paint that doesn’t creep up the shoreline of the lug. This is how it’s done.


The rounded points on the bottle bosses to leave room for derailleur adjustment was yet another killer touch.


This Moots was built as a retirement present to Peter Chisholm of Vecchio’s in Boulder. We were considering it for Best of Show, at least until we found out that this bike was truly a one-off.

IMG_8252 IMG_8238

The engraved and polished seat caps showing the old Moots logo and the Campagnolo logo and the engraved seat tube are truly stunning touches.


Because of the way the seatstays attached to the seat tube (at the sides rather than at the back), Mark Norstad at Paragon had to make this custom brake bridge because standard Moots brake bridges aren’t wide enough.


The old-school cable guides are a great detail, but were apparently very difficult to weld without damaging the top tube. IMG_8253

You want old-school? How about tied and soldered spokes?


How many companies will make a seat tube decal for you?


Mosaic took an extra step with the bikes they displayed and had select retailers build the bike up to their spec, making each bike a collaboration between builder and dealer. It seemed such an obvious thing to do once I saw it, but this was definitely the first time I’d seen this done. IMG_8232

This ti bike was built by Velosmith Bicycle Studio’s Tony Bustamante. You might better recall him as Radio Freddy of Belgium Knee Warmers. No detail was too small for him to address. Case in point: Tony took Scotchbrite and scuffed the cable housing to give it a matte finish more in keeping with that of the frame. And that housing ran continuously from the lever to the brake through a guide in the top tube. IMG_8233

It used to be that you only saw welds of this quality coming out of Seven Cycles and a few other places.


Color was used sparingly, but to great effect. IMG_8236

The stripes on the fork were echoed in the Velosmith water bottle.IMG_8234To reduce flex under braking, a small support was added between the seat and chainstays.



  1. Aar

    I’ve been in serious lust with Ellis bikes since I first found out about Dave’s work at NAHBS in Richmond. The exceptional thing about this white and red bike is that EVERY Modern Classic he lovingly builds is THAT GOOD!

    As a “Campy guy”, it was hard to pick my favorite Campy bike of the show. Just because of the pre-event PR, I resisted choosing the Moots. In the end, the obvious labor of love behind all of the intricate custom work combined with the 80th Anniversary group to win me over.

  2. Winky

    The Ellis is beautiful, but not helped (visually) by the choice of groupset. The DA crankset is a bit ugly, and I can’t get past the bulky derailluers and that stupid junction box. Campy Super Record mechanical would be my choice.

    1. JPrumm

      The Ellis with the DA would be my choice. I happen to think DA looks good. I will dream about that bike. Man the white paint is amazing!

  3. Pingback: NAHBS via Padraig at Red Kite Prayer & Some Tandems | The TandemGeek's Blog

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