If you have been following this blog close enough, you may have picked up the hints that a custom frame has been in the works for quite some time. A custom bike? For me? For someone who resisted the urge for a long time, thinking a stock frame was good enough, this is a big surprise, even to me.
Right now the project is very close to fruition. I’m not going to go into full details right now. (You will get them soon! Don’t nag!) But rest assured, it’s not a carbon fibred thing, nor is it a fat bike. And yes, it will be cool. (I hope!) I’m a bit nervous about it all, as one should be when it comes to custom frames. (Well, for those of us who don’t have loads of disposable income.)
In any case, this post is to talk about how this all came into being, and whet your appetite for when it’s ready.
Flash back to late 2013. After five and a half years of the Long Haul Trucker, I decided to sell it. I had fallen out of love with it maybe a year earlier, but financial necessity precipitated the sale. I figured I could make do with the bikes I already had in my stable, and I had a lot in the stable at that time.
Then in January of 2014 on a work trip to the Bay Area, I made my first visit to Rivendell’s headquarters. Part of fun of visiting is to get to test ride as many Rivs as possible, and believe me, I did. It was lots of fun! And it tempted me: maybe I should get a Rivendell? I had resisted this urge, partially because I never had the cash, partially because I didn’t want to be like all my other friends, and I know many folks who own Rivendells. But wouldn’t it be nice? I got thinking about it, maybe I could save up?
Then I remember a conversation that I had with Bob K of Bantam Bicycle Works sometime in the past year. He said if I ever wanted a custom bike from him, he’d give me a really good deal. This sounded really tempting to me, partially because it would take a while for the bike to get built, meaning I could save cash in the meantime, but mostly because I could get exactly the bike I would want. A Riv would be nice, but it would still be a compromise. Why not go for the big one?
This is another thing that scared me for so long about getting a custom: What do I want? The Long Haul Trucker served me well, why get another touring bike? There’s plenty of suitable bikes out there that make good city bikes (British three speeds, old mountain bikes), why would I need a custom one? Maybe if I wanted to get all fancy integrated racks powdercoated to match the frame, but I couldn’t see myself going down that road.
But after ditching the LHT, I realized what I wanted: a great all-rounder. Something that would work for moderate touring, but lots livelier than the boat-anchor ride of the Long Haul Trucker. Something with lots of clearance. And a metric shit-ton of braze-ons for maximum versatility. So I talked to Bob, we shook hands, and the bike slowly took shape.
Right before Valentine’s Day, the frame and fork were completed and powdercoated. Over the past six months I had been saving up the cash for parts. I don’t have a stockpile of parts, nor could I strip one of my bikes for suitable parts. And going into this thing, I knew it wouldn’t happen fast, so I had patience. I worried that I might not be able to complete it until winter, but the upcoming tour pushed me enough to get it all sorted. (While I could theoretically use the Crested Butte, it probably wouldn’t be the most fun ride for repeated long days.) The bike is slated to be built in the next week or so, giving me the time to put it through the paces before my Eastern Oregon excursion.
And I can’t wait.