Skip to main content

Tech feature - March 8, 2006

Image 1 of 39

Another relative newcomer

Another relative newcomer (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 2 of 39

In a bold protest to logic and reason,

In a bold protest to logic and reason, (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 3 of 39

Independent Fabrications has worked closely

Independent Fabrications has worked closely (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 4 of 39

Crumpton Cycles may be pretty new

Crumpton Cycles may be pretty new (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 5 of 39

Parlee Cycles showed off

Parlee Cycles showed off (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 6 of 39

Not sure

Not sure (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 7 of 39

One of the rare installations

One of the rare installations (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 8 of 39

Roark Titanium’s Multisport Aero Coupler

Roark Titanium’s Multisport Aero Coupler (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 9 of 39

One of the more unique alternative

One of the more unique alternative (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 10 of 39

Ruegamer also offer

Ruegamer also offer (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 11 of 39

Not one to make things boring,

Not one to make things boring, (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 12 of 39

True Temper displayed

True Temper displayed (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 13 of 39

Full-suspension frames

Full-suspension frames (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 14 of 39

Is there a weld there?

Is there a weld there? (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 15 of 39

Old Man Mountain

Old Man Mountain (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 16 of 39

Bill Rider was another builder

Bill Rider was another builder (Image credit: James Huang)
Image 17 of 39

Time will tell how well these joints will hold up, but Bill Rider’s ‘internal-external’ fillet brazing method of construction makes for a nearly invisible joint.

Time will tell how well these joints will hold up, but Bill Rider’s ‘internal-external’ fillet brazing method of construction makes for a nearly invisible joint. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 18 of 39

Bill Rider was another builder using the new Super Strength Steel tubes but joined in a unique fashion that he terms ‘internal-external fillet brazing’.

Bill Rider was another builder using the new Super Strength Steel tubes but joined in a unique fashion that he terms ‘internal-external fillet brazing’. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 19 of 39

Another relative newcomer to the custom carbon scene is Crumpton Cycles out of Lance Armstrong’s backyard in Austin, TX.

Another relative newcomer to the custom carbon scene is Crumpton Cycles out of Lance Armstrong’s backyard in Austin, TX. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 20 of 39

Crumpton Cycles may be pretty new to the business of carbon construction, but the cleanliness of this joint certainly doesn’t suggest as such. Keeping a joint like this bare is a good indication of Nick Crumpton’s confidence in the quality of his work.

Crumpton Cycles may be pretty new to the business of carbon construction, but the cleanliness of this joint certainly doesn’t suggest as such. Keeping a joint like this bare is a good indication of Nick Crumpton’s confidence in the quality of his work. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 21 of 39

In a bold protest to logic and reason, DeSalvo displayed a full titanium fixed gear road bike complete with titanium S&S couplings for when you just have to take your fixie on the road with you on your journey.

In a bold protest to logic and reason, DeSalvo displayed a full titanium fixed gear road bike complete with titanium S&S couplings for when you just have to take your fixie on the road with you on your journey. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 22 of 39

Is there a weld there? Guess there’s no coffee machine on the premises at IF judging by this impossibly small and clean weld bead on the head tube of this 953 prototype road frame.

Is there a weld there? Guess there’s no coffee machine on the premises at IF judging by this impossibly small and clean weld bead on the head tube of this 953 prototype road frame. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 23 of 39

Independent Fabrications has worked closely with Reynolds in developing their new 953 steel tubeset as seen in this stunning prototype frame. In addition to its amazing strength and fatigue properties, 953 is also a bona fide stainless alloy and doesn’t require paint.

Independent Fabrications has worked closely with Reynolds in developing their new 953 steel tubeset as seen in this stunning prototype frame. In addition to its amazing strength and fatigue properties, 953 is also a bona fide stainless alloy and doesn’t require paint. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 24 of 39

Mint Cycles was one of several builders to use True Temper’s new S3 steel tubeset, as seen in this outstanding ‘townie’ bike. Anyone need me to run to the store for anything?

Mint Cycles was one of several builders to use True Temper’s new S3 steel tubeset, as seen in this outstanding ‘townie’ bike. Anyone need me to run to the store for anything? (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 25 of 39

Old Man Mountain has made the jump from top-notch front and rear racks into the world of full-suspension mountain bike frames with this cleanly-built single-pivot aluminum rig dubbed 'the Boomerang'.

Old Man Mountain has made the jump from top-notch front and rear racks into the world of full-suspension mountain bike frames with this cleanly-built single-pivot aluminum rig dubbed 'the Boomerang'. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 26 of 39

Not sure if this would actually make it into production, but the OMM Boomerang’s rear disc mount is awfully clean.

Not sure if this would actually make it into production, but the OMM Boomerang’s rear disc mount is awfully clean. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 27 of 39

According to Parlee, using unidirectional carbon fibre in the lugs shaves a bit of weight (about 15g per frame) but adds an appreciable amount of strength to the joint. Moreover, Parlee claims it’s an absolute pain to work with!

According to Parlee, using unidirectional carbon fibre in the lugs shaves a bit of weight (about 15g per frame) but adds an appreciable amount of strength to the joint. Moreover, Parlee claims it’s an absolute pain to work with! (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 28 of 39

Parlee Cycles showed off their new unidirectional ‘lugs’ on their flagship Z1 frame.

Parlee Cycles showed off their new unidirectional ‘lugs’ on their flagship Z1 frame. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 29 of 39

Roark Titanium’s Multisport Aero Coupler is allegedly the only aero-tubed titanium TT/Tri frame equipped with the handy S&S coupling system. Travelling triathletes should take note: airline fees be gone!

Roark Titanium’s Multisport Aero Coupler is allegedly the only aero-tubed titanium TT/Tri frame equipped with the handy S&S coupling system. Travelling triathletes should take note: airline fees be gone! (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 30 of 39

One of the rare installations of a Chris King Perdido integrated headset that I’ve seen, as used in this Ruegamer Zen Master frameset.

One of the rare installations of a Chris King Perdido integrated headset that I’ve seen, as used in this Ruegamer Zen Master frameset. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 31 of 39

Ruegamer also offer the custom carbon treatment in a full TT configuration and also offer a full-featured paint facility.

Ruegamer also offer the custom carbon treatment in a full TT configuration and also offer a full-featured paint facility. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 32 of 39

Brent Ruegamer is a newcomer when it comes to offering frames under his own label, but his lengthy experience in building carbon frames at another well-established carbon frame shop shows through in this unique custom carbon frame which features a titanium top tube and down tube.

Brent Ruegamer is a newcomer when it comes to offering frames under his own label, but his lengthy experience in building carbon frames at another well-established carbon frame shop shows through in this unique custom carbon frame which features a titanium top tube and down tube. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 33 of 39

Spectrum have put together a package that would do well against any other Ti offering, but with a 'small brand' touch

Spectrum have put together a package that would do well against any other Ti offering, but with a 'small brand' touch (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 34 of 39

Fillet-brazed joints in this Rex Cycles steel and carbon wonder are almost too beautiful to cover up with paint.

Fillet-brazed joints in this Rex Cycles steel and carbon wonder are almost too beautiful to cover up with paint. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 35 of 39

One of the more unique alternative material offerings was this steel and carbon frameset by Steve Rex. The concept isn’t a new one, but this may be one of the cleanest executions that I’ve seen.

One of the more unique alternative material offerings was this steel and carbon frameset by Steve Rex. The concept isn’t a new one, but this may be one of the cleanest executions that I’ve seen. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 36 of 39

Not one to make things boring, the Sycip brothers even add a touch of class to this steel upper rocker pivot mount on their FS frame.

Not one to make things boring, the Sycip brothers even add a touch of class to this steel upper rocker pivot mount on their FS frame. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 37 of 39

Full-suspension frames were rare at NAHBS, but still present, as evident in this Sycip Double Dribble frame complete with a Ventana rear end.

Full-suspension frames were rare at NAHBS, but still present, as evident in this Sycip Double Dribble frame complete with a Ventana rear end. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 38 of 39

True Temper displayed a bare fillet-brazed S3 frameset, demonstrating just one of the ways in which this superlight and ultrastrong steel tubeset can be joined.

True Temper displayed a bare fillet-brazed S3 frameset, demonstrating just one of the ways in which this superlight and ultrastrong steel tubeset can be joined. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 39 of 39

Wound-Up has a new full carbon disc-specific tandem fork as seen on the front of this Co-Motion Robusto road tandem. According to Co-Motion, the new fork is lighter and stiffer than the aluminum-crowned version.

Wound-Up has a new full carbon disc-specific tandem fork as seen on the front of this Co-Motion Robusto road tandem. According to Co-Motion, the new fork is lighter and stiffer than the aluminum-crowned version. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)

North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2006, part 3

Handmade meets high tech

With part 1 and part 2 of our coverage of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show concentrating on all things pure in construction, James Huang looks at the performance angle when it comes to traditional materials

The handmade crowd has long been at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to performance. The forgiving nature of steel, both in its fabrication and during its use, along with its arguably superior ride quality, has made it the perennial material of choice for many builders in this segment of the industry. However, without truly high-performance options in tubesets, many of these frames simply could not compete well with the newly developed aluminum, titanium, and carbon frames out in the marketplace. Even just a few years ago, it was not unheard of for a reasonably high-end steel road frame to weigh in the neighborhood of nearly 4lbs while some mass-produced carbon fiber ones were coming in at nearly half of that. Ride quality and artistry notwithstanding, that's a big chunk of avoirdupois to overcome.

These days, however, steel purists, as well as the bicycle industry in general, have much reason to rejoice. The steel bicycle tubing industry is enjoying a self-generated renaissance of sorts much as the aluminum tubing business did back in the early '90s. While some were expecting the demise of high-end steel as a viable alternative, steel manufacturers have rolled up their collective sleeves to develop several new tubesets that can truly rival the alternative materials in terms of overall performance, such as Columbus' Spirit, True Temper's S3, and most recently, Reynolds' 953. Frames built with these top-end ferrous materials can easily come in at well under 3 lbs.

In spite of its deeply traditional roots, the handmade crowd here at NAHBS certainly hasn't completely shunned non-ferrous alternatives when it comes to frame materials. Well-established alternative frame material big-hitters such as Spectrum, Parlee, and Calfee were well-received in San Jose, and newcomers such as Ruëgamer and Crumpton Cycles were in attendance as well. In fact, out of the 64 builders who displayed at the show, no fewer than 15 of them offered frames in titanium, carbon, or some combination thereof, and a number of traditionally steel-intensive builders such as Independent Fabrication and Vicious Cycles were seen integrating titanium and carbon into their lineups.

Does titanium and carbon belong in the 'handmade' category? Some might scoff at the idea since those frames don't necessarily fit into the traditional handmade mould, but these frames are still built in the requisite fashion, one at a time by human hands, and often encompass just as much attention to detail. Are you likely to find intricate lugwork or heaps of chrome on a titanium or carbon rig? Well, no, but as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1