I will start by saying that Bryan, from Royal H Cycles, is a friend, and that this bike was a collaboration of sorts between Bryan, who used to work at Seven Cycles, and Mike Salvatore, one of Seven’s welders, with input from Rob Vandermark, Seven’s founder, lead designer and all-around main man. My biases with this bike run wide and deep, but…
It’s a pretty special experience to get to ride someone’s idea. The idea in this instance was a carbon/titanium reverse lug. Basically, the titanium parts of the frame slot into the carbon tubing in a new way. Bryan brought this prototype frame to NAHBS, and I built it up to ride shortly after.
If you have not ridden a Ti/carbon bike, the first thing to know is that the mix of materials produces a pretty surprising ride quality. Titanium absorbs shocks amazingly well (read: low amplitude vibration), and carbon fiber eats road buzz (read: high frequency vibration), so mixed material bikes feel incredibly smooth on the road. The enhanced comfort and more stable pedaling platform mean you end up feeling faster, even with less power into the pedals.
This is my experience anyway, and riding the Prova had me continually questioning the feedback of air flowing over my shoulders, even as I coasted. The bike just comes up to speed so quickly and holds that speed longer than you expect it to. It is smile-inducing, and fun.
Bryan builds mainly in steel, and his lug work is what I would describe as elegant and minimalist. He fell in love with bikes in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when lug work was still present in the race bike world, but designs were more deco than rococo.
For the Prova’s inverse lug, he took that minimalism to its logical conclusion, with no flourish or scrap of extra material. The design is industrial, and that creates a nice simple contrast between the titanium’s brutalist shine and the carbon fiber’s color-swallowing blackness. It’s a head turner. I have not ridden it without another rider asking, “What is THAT?”
What makes Bryan extra interesting to me as a bike builder is the breadth of his experience. At Seven he built Ti dual-suspension mountain bikes, steel roadies, and full custom, full carbon tri bikes. I don’t know any one individual who has worked at such a high level with so many materials without being a frame building celebrity. His bikes are more than worthy, and I recommend you check them out, if only to know what he’s working on.
The Prova frameset will run you $4500 with custom geometry. See more at Royal H.