The Bishop

The Bishop

One of the greatest currencies we can share is trust. To simply put your faith in another person and let go of the outcome. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great. The greatest compliments I’ve been given as a writer have not come from those who have praised my work after it’s written. No, they’ve come from those people who give me the faintest nudge of an assignment and trusted me to run the ball to the endzone.

“Sean Kelly?”

That’s all it takes. I’m off.

We’re in a true golden age of frame building. The skill level of even garage builders is stunning, higher than much stuff sold commercially back in the 1970s. The veterans are turning out work the belies a care for craft that has nothing to do with commerce and everything to do with integrity. And there are the young Turks bent on making a mark.

It has never been a better time to be the client of a steel frame builder.

Of that new generation few builders have impressed me with their dedication to art the way Chris Bishop has. What he’s chasing—frame sales aside—is unintentionally going to result in a legacy. He’s paying respect to a grand tradition that harkens to an age when anything worth making was worth making well, meant to stand up for a generation, and if it was meant to last it ought to be beautiful. To his credit, he’s smart enough not to hijack an order for his own purposes; he’s a great artisan, but he’s an even better listener.

When I ordered this frame I made a conscious decision to request that he do more of what he was already chasing. His penchant for adding fillets to lugs to smooth the transitions between the points and thinning the points to blades was something I’d seen rarely in the last 10 years. His sense of proportion was refined, beyond his years. I simply wanted to give him a palette to go dance with his muse. While I didn’t want a cost-is-no-object bike, I told him to do the work he wanted and I’d keep sending money as I was able until he told me to stop.

I did the same thing with Joe Bell. I told him to go nuts. “Go do what you do,” I said. I gave him direction on what colors I wanted and I asked that “There will be chaos, keep pedaling.” appear somewhere on the bike, but that was it. I need to add a nod to Joe’s assistant Jonny Pucci. He’s a real talent. He worked out the math on the repeating kites; crazy difficult to do on a swaged tube.

The highest compliment I’ll ever give either of these guys, two of my favorite artisans I’ll ever have a chance to own work by, is to simply give them a chance to do what they do best, without the worry of whether or not they are putting too many hours into the job for it to be profitable.

Yes, I’m proud to own this bike, but I’m more proud to give them a chance to do work they want to be known by. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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  1. Pat O'Brien

    Hot damn! That is drop dead gorgeous. I could pick one part to riff on. But, I wouldn’t know where to start.

    1. Carson

      Same. I kept scrolling, thinking “OK, that’s the coolest detail, no, no that is.”
      The whole fork crown area is sublime. The Bishop cut-out on the BB shell is just so great. PB – We’re going to need some post-build photos!

  2. Bill

    Wow! Echoing everyone else’s sentiments.

    You know, a Campy gruppo (red and black) would look just stunning on that paint scheme!

  3. 32x20

    That paint work is incredible. There’s only one spot where my eyes didn’t believe the flags go under the lugs on the headtube. That kind of crisp masking is almost unbelievable.

  4. Rocket

    Well, the frame workmanship looks very impressive….the paint does not really do it for me, although I like the logo area near the top tube / seat tube junction. It is interesting to see this article right next the “The Couch”. When I look at the beautiful gloss back chainstays, I think I would almost be afraid to ride this bike for fear of chipping the paint. And that brings up the question of what is the value of a bike? I know some view bikes as works of art, for me the value is in the ride. Kind of like a ’59 Les Paul flame top; sure it look great, but put that in the hands of Duane Allman and he can take you to another world. Enjoy the bike and I hope you actually ride it.

  5. Jay

    The frame finish is beautifully done, but I found the Maryland state flag sublimated into the head tube badge to be the icing on the cake.

  6. Wisco

    Why people pay $5k for off the rack carbon continues to amaze me when you can feed your soul with a frameset like this.

  7. peter leach


    @rocket “… the paintwork really does not do it for me… ” has me shaking my head. I don’t think that I have ever seen paint with that depth of colour and shine.

    Enjoy it!
    Full speed ahead. Damn the chips and scratches.

  8. MCH

    The details really are fantastic. I’ll comment on just one. I’ve never been a fan of the Breeze style of rear drop out…until now. Other builder’s execution of this drop out always seem heavy and clunky to me – out of step with the grace of a fillet brazed or lugged steel frame. Sure, they’re OK on an industrial, welded frame. But on a fillet brazed or lugged frame, at least for me, no way. On your Bishop, though, the use of fillets and subtle shaping changes the big, ugly drop into something light and lovely. Perhaps you have to be a real steel frame geek to care deeply about something as utilitarian as a drop out. If so, Chris Bishop is a geek of the highest order. Well done.

    1. Jay

      Bikes like this are on of a kind, not mass marketed. No lawyer tabs required (and no self-respecting custom builder would add them).

  9. Author

    Everyone: Thanks for your enthusiastic compliments. I’m in love with it.

    A couple of notes: I’m planning to build it up with mechanical Dura-Ace. Yes, there will be more photos once it is fully built. I will ride the shit out of it, but I’m a little frightened of doing big group rides on this bike, so it might not show up on some of the faster rides.

    Wisco: I will never argue against a top-shelf carbon fiber frame. I’ll still have that in my garage as well, but I needed a great steel frame.

    MCH: Likewise, I’ve not been a fan of those dropouts, but Chris wanted to use them because they are super-light and he knew he could make them work visually. I really had to trust him on that. He was right.

    Arnie: No lawyer tabs. That’s one of the great things about a handmade steel fork. They don’t have to use them.

  10. Aaron

    Lovely piece of work. I noticed the Richard Sachs fork crown 2.0 version – Did he use the whole Sachs Columbus Tube set? If so, awesome! If not, what pipes did he use….

    Get on that machine. She’s too pretty not to ride.

  11. Hoshie99

    Those thin lugs at the top tube and seat tube junction are stunning. The filing was no small task; that is dedication to the details.

    I hope you get to ride many happy miles on your new bike.


  12. SusanJane

    The red flag pattern “feels” like a herringbone… a bit weird for me. Besides that excess (imho) it is a delight of detail. The black/white choice is a super WOW. But the prize goes to the Duce and related card suits. My guess is this one always stays clean 😉

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  14. Jesus from Cancun

    Question: What is the weight?
    Answer: Who cares. Just beware. Don’t drool over the handlebars. Making them slippery could result in fatal accidents.

  15. Steve

    The only thing more stunning that Bishop’s lug work is the way Joe Bell highlighted those details with paint. Love the red, white and black scheme and the turqoise works for the accents but it seems a bit much for Bishop’s name IMO. Truly very, very nice use of brass and silver brazing to sooth all of the transitions (especially the Breezer drop-outs). Let us know if you find a rear skewer that will fir around it so it doesn’t hang straight down (I have a Ti frame with these and the rear skewer arrangement is a bit wonky!).
    Re-affirms my faith in lugged construction; just put a deposit down with a builder yesterday and I may have to re-think my preferences…. Was going to keep it simple but this is way too gorgeous not to give it a try!
    Cheers, looking forward to seeing this beauty completed!

  16. Albie

    Bishop is so good and paint on his bikes has been stunningly idiosyncratic that the RKP bike isn’t instantly identifiable as a Bishop. And yet that forces the eye to the details. I think with this frame there’s perfection in the imperfection. Which is to say I agree with SusanJane above, the kite pattern is too busy considering the stark black and white frame palette.

  17. jorgensen

    I had to consider this one for a bit. I like that it is not primarily RED. The execution is outstanding and it does enhance the metalwork. The repeating triangles… I think they are successful on the seat tube, and maybe a nod to the House designed Richard Sachs paintwork. The Head tube and the blue down tube letter fill are my holdbacks at this point. It will be interesting to see what color handlebar tape this bike gets.

  18. Marc

    That bike is stunning. Whether the paint job is exactly to one’s own aesthetic taste or not is irrelevant. As long as the owner loves it, it is beautiful. Would the critics above look at a picture of someone’s baby and point out the features they don’t like? Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you should share it. Respect.

    1. Albie

      Marc, have you seen other Bishops? Paint is an essential design element. As for not adding constructive comments, well, I didn’t say anything about the disproportion of the head tube (amplified by the kite design, actually).

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