Handbuilt Bicycle News



Paul Skilbeck

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Contemporary road bikes at NAHBS

With all the buzz currently surrounding the all-road, gravel bike category, it’s worth remembering that the racing or endurance road bike is how many custom builders got started in the industry, and it remains a mainstay of their businesses.

Contemporary road bikes at NAHBS
Photos photos courtesy NAHBS and Mosaic Bespoke Cycles

We asked the companies to tell us about their bikes.

Mosaic RT-1d


Philip Ball of Mosaic Bespoke Cycles:

Purpose of and inspiration for the bike
This particular bike is an RT-1d from our model line up. It is a performance oriented, disc brake road bike featuring our oversized, double butted titanium tubeset. We designed and built this bike for our local Shimano sales rep and tailored it to his fit and preferred riding style. He was in need of a frame to hang his new Dura-Ace 9170 groupset on for shop visits and demo events, so we are honored he came to us. It features 12mm thru axles, flat mount disc brake mounts and internal routing for the brake hose and the Di2 wiring - all standard options on the RT-1d.

Favorite features
The paint details of this frame are what make it really stand out. We based the layout on one of our Alpine paint schemes and added a few extra details to make it unique. We color matched the base blue, green splatter, and dark blue stripe to Shimano's corporate colors - from current brand standards and a bit of a throwback. The splatter paint adds incredible detail to the paint, and then we worked multiple layers of gloss clear top coat to ensure a smooth as butter finish quality to the entire paint. Aaron hand traced the PRO logos on the stem and seatpost before painting the cockpit so he could paint them back on, which adds a level of depth and completeness to the paint job.

Frame tube and component selection
As this bike is supposed to help our rep highlight the Dura-Ace groupset, it was only appropriate we built it on our performance road platform. The oversized, butted tubeset give this frame a really great ride quality - snappy and responsive but it still carries the classic titanium feel - supple and not harsh like a carbon fiber race bike. 


No.22 Drifter


Mike Smith of No.22 Bicycle Company:

Purpose of and inspiration for the bike
The Drifter was designed as an all-road/gravel bike to respond to the growing demand for more performance-oriented, race-ready bikes in this discipline. As such, we skipped the fender and rack mounts on this one, shortened the wheelbase a bit and made the handling a little more lively when compared to a touring/gravel or cyclocross frame. The result is a bike with stable, balanced handling through high speed gravel corners, but with quick enough responses to be ridden aggressively on-road for mixed-terrain events.

Favorite features 
Despite the flashy anodized finish on this frame, the best features are pretty hidden. The tubeset is butted in-house on our CNC lathe, with a unique butting profile programmed for each different tube on each different size frame. The machined parts of the frame: dropouts, head tube, even small parts like the seatstay bridge are all our own, which allows us to optimize every little part for our frames compared to buying pre-made components off the shelf.

The fork, stem, headset, seatpost and even the seatpost binder clamp are all our own as well, with model-specific graphics touches on each. Our hope is that every part of this bike feels special.

The Silca Impero frame pump was a neat project for NAHBS this year. We actually made our own barrel for the pump out of titanium, replacing the aluminum barrel the pump comes with. This let us perfectly match the frame's graphics on the pump. It's an expensive way to make a pump, but for a show bike it's perfect.

Frame tube and component selection
Except for that pump, this bike is the most popular bike in our new "Ready-Made" lineup, which includes bikes with pre-set component specs in stock sizes that ship in two weeks. That means that value is really important for this build, which retails for a pretty aggressive $6,799. To get there, we use an Ultegra 8000 build throughout to keep the budget in check, and then spend where it really counts: a fantastic set of Reynolds ATR carbon tubeless wheels, Schwalbe G-One 35mm tubeless tires, and our own cockpit with custom finishing.

Design challenges
Gravel is a really challenging segment to make a great bike for, because people have such a huge range of intended uses for these bikes. We have some riders that want to be able to ride a road fondo event on Sunday, commute during the week, and then do a back/gravel road century on Saturday, all on the same bike. Designing a great bike for this means carefully picking priorities. Tire clearance, for example, is a pretty generous 40mm, but we specifically didn't design this bike to take huge, MTB-sized tires. That lets us keep a tighter wheelbase and crisper handling that's really optimized for a 35-40mm tire.


Parlee Z-Zero Disc


Tom Rodi of Parlee Cycles:

Purpose and inspiration
Fun. We wanted to just do fun bikes this year for NAHBS. The Z-Zero Disc is our flagship custom carbon road machine. We wanted to do a fun bike for the show that also showed off what our build and paint teams can do.

Favourite features
The paint, which was designed and executed by our lead painter, Brian Burke, is our favorite part. It is a four color neon fade with splatter but all the dark areas are clear coat to bare carbon with ghosted highlights so you can also see how nice the carbon layup is underneath the paint and clear coat. Anyone who loved the early mountain bikes in the 80's and early 90's would love this but with the carbon exposed it has a more modern, technical look.

Frame tube and component selection
The build was done around our in-house made SL (Z Carbon Technology) tubing which we have developed over the past 18 years, and the bike features our newly released carbon bar, stem and seatpost. We've worked really hard the past five years to make our own tubes, forks and parts and we wanted to highlight those.

Design challenges
Nothing too complex on this one, as the geometry was straightforward road geometry and sizing. We are big believers in disc bikes for road bikes and the challenge the last couple years has been to get weight out of road disc bikes. We are making progress in that area. For example, this bike weighs just 15.6lbs, which is impressive when you consider that it has electronic shifting, disc brakes, deep section wheels and 28c clincher tires and daily driver reliability. We have a sister platform to this model called the Z-Zero XD that is our multi-surface/gravel platform and those are a bit trickier to build as clients want to run larger tires, fenders, light racks and more accessories as well a wider range of gear options - this bike was a traditional road disc SRAM eTap HRD build.

Additional notes
We gave each of our lead painters a blank canvas to work with at this NAHBS and each of them really killed it! We have been painting in-house for over 10 years but this is really the first time that we focused at a show just on Brian, Cody and Dave's work, so it was nice to see how much love their work was getting.