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On show: North American Handmade Bicycle Show, Part 8

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San Francisco bicycle collector Brett Horton commissioned this amazing bespoke town bicycle with the frameset custom built by the folks at Bishop Bikes and nearly every other part fabricated as a one-off.

San Francisco bicycle collector Brett Horton commissioned this amazing bespoke town bicycle with the frameset custom built by the folks at Bishop Bikes and nearly every other part fabricated as a one-off.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Joe Bell applies one of 17 separate coats to Shelly Horton's Bilenky Cycle Works frame.

Joe Bell applies one of 17 separate coats to Shelly Horton's Bilenky Cycle Works frame.
(Image credit: Brett Horton/www.thehortoncollection.com)
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The rear hub uses Rohloff internals housed into a highly polished custom Phil Wood aluminum hub shell.

The rear hub uses Rohloff internals housed into a highly polished custom Phil Wood aluminum hub shell.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Brett Horton is a long-time bicycle memorabilia collector located in San Francisco, California. Proper custom head tube badges will come later this year.

Brett Horton is a long-time bicycle memorabilia collector located in San Francisco, California. Proper custom head tube badges will come later this year.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Bilenky Cycle Works crafted the custom bike with an art deco motif.

Bilenky Cycle Works crafted the custom bike with an art deco motif.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Bilenky Cycle Works also fabricated this stunning front brake cable hanger.

Bilenky Cycle Works also fabricated this stunning front brake cable hanger.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The standard Rohloff shifter has been modified with a full-length leather grip.

The standard Rohloff shifter has been modified with a full-length leather grip.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The lighting wire is neatly fed into the down tube.

The lighting wire is neatly fed into the down tube.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The fenders attach to the frame but also to the rear rack with hidden hardware and leather washers.

The fenders attach to the frame but also to the rear rack with hidden hardware and leather washers.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stock Honjo aluminum fenders were highly polished and accented with color-matched paint.

Stock Honjo aluminum fenders were highly polished and accented with color-matched paint.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The custom front hub shell is made by Phil Wood and houses Schmidt dynamo guts.

The custom front hub shell is made by Phil Wood and houses Schmidt dynamo guts.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The seat lug is especially delicate on Shelly Horton's mixte frame.

The seat lug is especially delicate on Shelly Horton's mixte frame.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Custom pedals, really? Well, close. New old stock Campagnolo Euclid bodies are augmented with custom machined cages and custom made half-clips from King Cage.

Custom pedals, really? Well, close. New old stock Campagnolo Euclid bodies are augmented with custom machined cages and custom made half-clips from King Cage.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Legendary frame painter Joe Bell supposedly spent over 100 hours painting both Horton bikes.

Legendary frame painter Joe Bell supposedly spent over 100 hours painting both Horton bikes.
(Image credit: Brett Horton/www.thehortoncollection.com)
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The exquisite paint work is by Joe Bell.

The exquisite paint work is by Joe Bell.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The nutted stem bolt is more fitting of the aesthetic of the bike than one with an Allen head.

The nutted stem bolt is more fitting of the aesthetic of the bike than one with an Allen head.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Columbus actually provided custom tubesets for the project, including bespoke labels, too.

Columbus actually provided custom tubesets for the project, including bespoke labels, too.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Brooks graciously provided leather saddles outfitted with a few custom changes.

Brooks graciously provided leather saddles outfitted with a few custom changes.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Brake cables are fed through the handlebar on Shelly Horton's bike. Fully custom Cinelli bars are slated to be included around May.

Brake cables are fed through the handlebar on Shelly Horton's bike. Fully custom Cinelli bars are slated to be included around May.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The custom rack features interchangeable bits to secure the rear bags.

The custom rack features interchangeable bits to secure the rear bags.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Horton is even machined into the custom pedal cages.

Horton is even machined into the custom pedal cages.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Phil Wood also machined the custom chainrings for both bikes.

Phil Wood also machined the custom chainrings for both bikes.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The chain guard firmly and securely affixes to the frame via these stout standoffs.

The chain guard firmly and securely affixes to the frame via these stout standoffs.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Brett Horton says the inspiration for both bikes came from this vintage CLB chain guard, which was modified with The Horton Collection logo, deburred, and polished.

Brett Horton says the inspiration for both bikes came from this vintage CLB chain guard, which was modified with The Horton Collection logo, deburred, and polished.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Columbus provided custom tubesets for the bikes using mostly new old stock but also some truly special pieces made from bespoke tooling just for this project.

Columbus provided custom tubesets for the bikes using mostly new old stock but also some truly special pieces made from bespoke tooling just for this project.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The front hub features Schmidt dynamo internals housed in polished aluminum shells custom machined for the project by Phil Wood.

The front hub features Schmidt dynamo internals housed in polished aluminum shells custom machined for the project by Phil Wood.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Housing stops on production bikes are typically function-over-form with little thought put into their shape or appearance. Not so with these.

Housing stops on production bikes are typically function-over-form with little thought put into their shape or appearance. Not so with these.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Both bikes was immaculately painted by the renowned Joe Bell.

Both bikes was immaculately painted by the renowned Joe Bell.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Subtle green accents decorate the inner edges of these dropouts.

Subtle green accents decorate the inner edges of these dropouts.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The chainguard that started it all. Brett Horton says that these stand-in crankarms will ultimately be replaced by custom ones machined by Phil Wood.

The chainguard that started it all. Brett Horton says that these stand-in crankarms will ultimately be replaced by custom ones machined by Phil Wood.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The webbed bottom bracket shell houses a special Phil Wood eccentric bearing setup that was developed especially for this project but may be sent into production.

The webbed bottom bracket shell houses a special Phil Wood eccentric bearing setup that was developed especially for this project but may be sent into production.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Chris Bishop followed an 'art nouveau' theme when carving the lugs for Brett Horton's bespoke town bike.

Chris Bishop followed an 'art nouveau' theme when carving the lugs for Brett Horton's bespoke town bike.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The pedals are based on new old stock Campagnolo Euclids but with custom cages made by Phil Wood and half-clips made by Ron Andrews of King Cage.

The pedals are based on new old stock Campagnolo Euclids but with custom cages made by Phil Wood and half-clips made by Ron Andrews of King Cage.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The custom beech and mahogany rims mark the first time Ghisallo has made wooden rims with an inlay.

The custom beech and mahogany rims mark the first time Ghisallo has made wooden rims with an inlay.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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You can just barely see the distinctive red 'Phil' logo carved into the brake caliper.

You can just barely see the distinctive red 'Phil' logo carved into the brake caliper.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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These Mafac center-pulls have been polished and refurbished but they'll ultimately be replaced with bespoke calipers made by Phil Wood.

These Mafac center-pulls have been polished and refurbished but they'll ultimately be replaced with bespoke calipers made by Phil Wood.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Custom Laplander bags are fitted to the rear of Shelly Horton's bespoke townie for now but they'll ultimately be replaced by ones created by Mulholland Brothers of San Francisco.

Custom Laplander bags are fitted to the rear of Shelly Horton's bespoke townie for now but they'll ultimately be replaced by ones created by Mulholland Brothers of San Francisco.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The stem on Brett Horton's bike is a modern reproduction of an old Rene Herse model. The knob on top activates the generator-powered lights.

The stem on Brett Horton's bike is a modern reproduction of an old Rene Herse model. The knob on top activates the generator-powered lights.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Seat stay caps are finished in contrasting red while the seat lug boasts a subtle webbed point.

Seat stay caps are finished in contrasting red while the seat lug boasts a subtle webbed point.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Brooks delivered a B33 leather saddle for Brett Horton's 'constructeur' town bike with a few custom tweaks.

Brooks delivered a B33 leather saddle for Brett Horton's 'constructeur' town bike with a few custom tweaks.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shelly Horton asked her husband to get her a $500 town bike to ride with the couple's four-year-old son. Months later, this is what she got.

Shelly Horton asked her husband to get her a $500 town bike to ride with the couple's four-year-old son. Months later, this is what she got.
(Image credit: Brett Horton/www.thehortoncollection.com)

Brett Horton was asked by his wife, Shelly, to find a town bike "under $500" that she could use to ride with the couple's four-year-old son, Trevor. Most people would have simply purchased something at a local bike shop and been done with it, but not Horton, who along with Shelly co-owns and operates The Horton Collection in San Francisco, California – perhaps the most comprehensive collection of bicycle racing memorabilia currently in existence.

Instead, what transpired was a months-long process that ultimately escalated into not one, but two, truly bespoke "constructeur" machines built in joint collaboration with some of the finest bicycle companies in the industry.

Brett Horton's bike was built by Bishop Custom Handcrafted Bicycle Frames in Baltimore, Maryland with an "art nouveau" theme that included intricately carved new old stock Everest 'batman' aero lugs while Shelly Horton's mixte was made by Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with an "art deco" motif and lugs apparently inspired by a door in a train station. Legendary painter Joe Bell, who Horton says used more than 17 separate coats per frame, did the immaculate finish work on both bikes.

Unlike other bikes at NAHBS – even the most impressive ones – both of Horton's machine are truly custom in nature from head to toe, comprising not only bespoke framesets but with nearly every component built as a true one-off specifically for this project.

Much of the work was done by Phil Wood, including the custom aluminum hub shells housing Rohloff internals out back and Schmidt dynamo guts up front, chainrings, cogs, rear dropouts, pedal cages, and even special eccentric bottom brackets that fit inside standard-diameter threaded shells. Additional pending items include center-pull brake calipers, crankarms, and headsets.

Rims were specially fabricated by Italian producer Ghisallo using mahogany inlays in the beech substrate, special stainless steel half-clips were made by Ron Andrews of King Cage, and Brooks provided subtly-tweaked versions of its B-33 and B-57s leather saddles. Remarkably, even Italian tubing powerhouse Columbus tossed its hat into the ring, digging out some 'new old' stock but also cutting new tooling to draw the 14mm-diameter mixte tubes on Shelly's bike – along with proper "Citta Donna" and "Urbano" labels to make it official.

Remarkably, Horton says the inspiration for both bikes comes from a pair of vintage CLB chain guards, crudely stamped from sheet metal and originally intended for value bikes back in its day. From there, Horton had the original logos replaced with his own Horton Collection icon, the windows were deburred, and both pieces were finally polished to a high-quality finish.

Horton estimates that over 2,000 man hours have been invested into the his and hers town bikes and while the cost of the project would likely extend into the six-digit realm, in reality it's nearly impossible to put a monetary value on the time and materials most of the companies contributed to the builds.

Despite the fantastic current appearance of the bikes, Horton says they're still not done yet with some additional items still to come later in the season such as custom-bent bars made by Cinelli and proper head tube badges.

As for that original simple request: several months have gone by and Trevor is now five but Horton says that these bikes aren't meant to be "wall queens" and he and Shelly took the bikes for their inaugural ride on the Sunday after NAHBS.

"We intend to be reasonably nice to the bikes by sparing them the abuse of off-road riding through this year's show season," Brett Horton told us. "To preserve the "show" look, Phil Wood made extra pedal plates, chainrings and cogs which will be put on and removed as needed. After that, they become normal bikes that are used on pavement and dirt alike, lugged around on car racks, put on airplanes, and ultimately ridden into the ground as they were designed to do."