Off the Bike Attractions

Off the Bike Attractions

One of the reasons I wanted to host the Ronde et Vous was to provide an event that sat somewhere between a gravel ride and the Handmade Bicycle Show. Because the gravel category is so conducive to the custom frame market, I figured it would be a good place to show off some gorgeous bikes and give readers a chance to interact with brands they might have no relationship with.

One of the things that I noticed about the Pursuit frames was how the tube shapes echo work other companies are doing. I see that not as a copycat thing, but that really good engineers come up with similar answers to common problems. The trick is that as understated as the Pursuit design language is, the bike is still distinctive.

After initially talking to a number of builders, our group of exhibitors was modest, in part to keep the event more intimate (I wanted the brands to have time to interact with everyone) as well as the reality that some of the builders who expressed an interest in attending chose to go to Portland for the Chris King open house, an event I’d have liked to be at. Alas, their dates were announced after ours, which prevented me from being there. Next year I’ll be working extra hard not to overlap with them.

Bill Cochran and Jared Nelson came down from Bozeman, Montana, to present Pursuit Cycles. Pursuit is a new brand producing carbon fiber road bikes in Bozeman. Led by Cochran, the other founders include framebuilder Carl Strong, who designed the geometry and size run for the bikes, and Jared Nelson, a veteran of Seven Cycles and McLean Quality Composites (which has a deep reach into composites in the bike industry).

So far, Pursuit is producing one road frameset, Their eye is on the future: disc brakes only. One of the aspects of these bikes that I really love is just how clean the design work is.

Pursuit is unusual in that it produces bikes in a finite run each year. All of the bikes for 2018 have been sold and they are taking preorders for 2019. I’ll be reporting more on their methods and process in the future.

Brian Cannon, one of the sales people for Co-Motion, drove down from Eugene, Oregon, to show off their gravel tandem as well as his personal gravel bike. The idea of riding gravel on a tandem is catching on, so far as I can tell. Most of what I’ve seen so far has been bikes adapted to gravel use, either by squeezing in the biggest possible tire into a road frame, or putting a skinnier tire on a mountain frame.

The Kalapuya is the first tandem I’ve encountered that was made specifically for gravel riding. And with its complement of brazeons on the fork and elsewhere, it would do well for bikepacking.

With plenty of clearance for WTB’s Riddler 45, the Kalapuya looks well-suited to taking on dirt roads while cushioning two butts.

George Mount, whose bike collection is itself of a museum display, brought along some very special bikes. In the foreground is a road bike that Albert Eisentraut built for him that he has been riding for a number of years. It was his primary road bike until the chartreuse machine behind it was built.

Eisentraut thinned the points on the lugs, a touch that fewer and fewer builders are doing these days. Where the downtube decal is located, those white lines are strands of spaghetti hanging from a mouth, George Mount’s mouth, in fact. You can see the disembodied mouth at the top of the seat tube and at the right of the down tube.

Yes, that bike is gold plated. It’s a one-of-a-kind, built by Gianni Motta for Mount. He even raced it a few times. Even beyond the completely surreal fact that the bicycle frame and fork are plated in gold, there’s the fact that to increase ride quality the seatstays were brazed in upside down, with the larger diameter end at the dropouts.

The bike also features one of the earliest known examples of aero tubing. The seat tube, seatstays and fork blades were all flattened, mostly likely in a vise.

The aero mount for the down tube shifters and Campy aero bottle are terrific touches.

Mount also showed off some other odds and ends from his career like some of the shoes that were custom made for him, one of which featured bull hide laces and another that were fur-lined for winter riding. The question he got most, though, was when he would write something else for RKP.

Mount’s gravel bike can run 33mm tires and stops with the aid of TRP’s Spyre mechanical discs. The frame is pretty typical for Eisentraut in that there’s no way to guess what he might do.

The head tube joints are both fillet brazed, but the seatstays wrap up around the seat tube in a crazy sort of bilaminate. It’s got brazeons for racks both in the front and rear. And yes, that’s a Campy triple drivetrain, which gives him a 1:1 low gear (28×28).

While we didn’t have anyone on-hand from Seven Cycles, I brought along my Airheart for riders to check out. What fascinated people most consistently were the couplers (they don’t weigh much and actually make the frame a bit stiffer), the 46/30t subcompact crank from FSA (I rarely ever go more than 40 mph on this bike) and the Redshift ShockStop stem (yes, it really makes a difference on rough descents).

The other maker of domestic carbon fiber frames, Allied, was represented with the Alfa All Road I reviewed last year. I get a lot of questions about how stiff the frame is and how that affects the handling of the bike. Yes, it is stiff, but not overly so, and that stiffness really gives the bike precise handling; you know exactly where this bike is headed, unless the tires are sliding, and even in a slide, with a frame like this, you get excellent feedback on how you can push the bike.

Mark DiNucci is a man of few words, but he joined the gathering to talk a bit about his work.

We got him to talk a bit about the brass fillets he did on this bike as well as a couple of others. The raised ridge in the brass is, amazingly, something he does by hand. He showed off the front triangle of a frame in process and pointed to the seat lug and said, “I’ve got at least 10 hours in that lug alone.”

I never guessed how gratifying it would feel to have people tell me they had a great time and would be back next year. It really is a good feeling. Who knew? I’m pleased to have delivered a different sort of an event, one that featured both riding and looking over cool bikes, plus post-ride conversations over a beer that weren’t hurried because someone had to get home or to a restaurant for dinner.

Stay tuned for our announcement of next year’s event.

 


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7 comments

  1. Michael B

    Did you get a picture of Brian’s personal Co-Motion that you can share? That bike is gorgeous. I am also still lusting over the red DiNucci that Mark brought out on the second night. I NEED to save up the money for one of his frames.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Somehow, I didn’t get any shots of Brian’s bike, so I’ve asked him if he can send a few along. Yeah, there’s nothing quite like DiNucci’s work. There aren’t many builders capable of that kind of excellence.

  2. Neil Winkelmann

    Gravel could be a bit of a source of resurgence for the custom industry. It’s a category where people aren’t going to go crazy over 50 grams like they do on the road. It’s also not mountain biking where increasingly complex technical solutions from mainstream manufacturers now seem “essential” to our enjoyment. Gravel bikes sit in a sweet spot, amenable to small-scale, built-with-love makers. Disclaimer: My gravel bike is a hand-built Ti bike from Naked Bicycles.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Needs change in gravel from region to region, so custom allows builders to craft the right bike for the rider’s needs. I think it’s a big part of why the gravel category is one of the most interesting categories at NAHBS. It’s also one of the toughest to judge as a result.

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