Builders’ Ball was an absolute whirl of excitement and energy. It was one jam-packed day of amazing bikes, people, and conversation. Some of New England’s best builders were here along with lots of old and new friends to see. This will be a three-part series of three bikes over the next three days that really stood out to me regarding craftsmanship, utility, and beauty. Enjoy!
To kick off this trio, check out this Chapman Cycles 650b Flat-Bar Tourer. It was an absolutely stunning machine with details for days, flawless paintwork, and custom components that would make even the most known, classic constructeurs to pick their jaws off the floor. Here is Brian’s transcribed blog post about this build along with my photos from the show.
Gorgeous paintwork and lining on our Wavy Fenders as always from Brian
“I’ve known Frank for years as he has been a staple at many handmade bike shows. He even puts on theAnn Arbor Handmade Bicycle Show in Michigan. He’s well known in the cycling community as the curator ofLugs Not Drugson Instagram which features beautiful handmade bikes from around the world. So when Frank asked me to build him a touring bike, I was honored.
Many don’t know that our draw-bolts are actually plated brass. By machining the ends, you can make some gorgeous contrast with silver and Noir fenders.
Frank has many bikes and knew what he was looking for in regards to fit and components. It was definitely a collaboration between the two of us but what you see here is mostly the brainchild of Frank. The drivetrain is almost exclusively SunXCD with their cranks, chainrings, front, and rear derailleurs. The downtube shifters are Huret friction with a wide range double up front and a 9-speed 11-34 on the rear. The wheels were built by Tommy at Cutlass Wheels in Baltimore and have the Pacenti Brevet rims laced to a White Industries MI5 rear hub and Schmidt SL wide body dynamo in the front.
Integrated spoke holder
There is a large part of the cycling community who are embracing the 45° back sweep on these Jones handlebars. Jeff Jones has been developing and perfecting these bars for a long time and has a lot to say on how they should be set up. In this case, with some insight directly from Jeff, I set the 710mm Bend H-Bar up for Frank by not cutting them down and using long grips. The grips are the extra long ODI longnecks of which I used two pairs in order to get the full bar covered. I also used downtube shifters and smooth clamp locking brake levers to maximize the amount of hand positions. I find the locking brake levers essential for these bars because if you’ve ever tried to lean one that is loaded against a wall, it really just wants to roll and fall.
Some of the traditional features I like to include on the bikes I build are the integrated pump, integrated lighting, handmade racks, and handmade stem. But on this bike I tried to take it a little farther with the handmade cantilever brakes, stainless straddle cable hangers, and rear cable hanger. The geometry of my brakes hasn’t changed since I built my first set 3 years ago. I have changed some small details but I’m very happy with their performance as is. The custom straddle hangers are minimal and use pinch bolts to hold the cable as opposed to a set screw style. These were quickly cobbled together the morning after I was thinking of them and future iterations may vary a little.
Because of the non-traditional geometry, I was not able to build using lugs. To get a lug edge though, I chose to do a bilaminate construction combining fillet brazing and faux lugs. This can be seen on the head tube and in the seat cluster. The frame has clearance for 650b knobbies but it is shown here with 48mm wide Compass tires and the new Wavy fenders from Velo-Orange. The frame obviously has a sloping top tube and I wanted to make it look as integrated into the design as possible. Choosing the angle was not arbitrary and was based off of many criteria including frame size, head tube length, stem angle, and bar angle. I’m convinced that 11° is perfect on a bike this size. Frank is 6’1″ and I wanted the bike to be proportionally balanced.
Additional lining on the headtube and bi-lam lugs
Frank sent me a photo of the gray he liked and I matched him up with this warm gray. The head tube is a very light shade of it and I did the lining in burgundy. I did many mock-ups in Adobe Illustrator going back and forth with Frank in regards to that third color. Burgundy won out over pink, red, and navy blue. There are no straight lines on these Wavy fenders except for the edge but I wanted to play around and try and paint them. A couple yards of 3M blue and green tape later and I had my edge. It’s actually difficult to see the transition in certain lights but the burgundy stripe is clearly visible. This gray bike may be understated from a distance but once you get up close, there’s a lot to take in.”