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by James Huang
November 10, 2017
Photography by James Huang
We kicked off our coverage of the 2017 Philly Bike Expo with just a smattering of amazing custom machines from Bishop Bikes, Engin Cycles, No.22 Bicycle Company, and others. That was just a small sampling of what was on tap inside the Philadelphia Convention Center, however, and we continue today with another round of phenomenal creations.
As one might expect, many of these bikes are covered in luscious paint jobs, or otherwise treated to varying levels of ornateness. But it’s important to note that in terms of function, what sits on the surface is just window dressing; what lies beneath is far more important. Many new builders create an initial splash of interest by making a big visual statement, but the ones with true staying power back that up with the substance of reliable construction, proper alignment, and the reassurance of a solid business model.
There are lots of custom builders out there these days, but which ones will last? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, enjoy our second round of bespoke bikes here.
Want more? Follow this link to find all our coverage from the Philly Bike Expo.
Julie Ann Pedalino (yes, that’s her real name) is one of several female builders that are rapidly earning solid followings in the industry, and for good reason.
The lugwork on this Pedalino is stunning. Interestingly, the shapes aren’t cut by hand, but rather by CNC machine.
Serial numbers were once done like this on earlier Pedalino frames.
This Pedalino gravel bike was simply incredible.
The lugs on this Pedalino may be cut by a machine, but there’s still an incredible amount of hand work required here: brazing, filing, painting, etc.
Seriously, this is almost too pretty to ride. Almost.
A neat heart-shaped cutout underneath the bottom bracket shell allows trapped water to escape.
This Pedalino tourer looks pretty quiet, until you look a bit closer.
This is your first clue that there’s a theme here.
Yep, that would be the USS Enterprise.
Starfleet emblems, anyone?
Velocolour is a two-person company based in Toronto, Canada. This Grupetto Si ‘cross/gravel/adventure bike belongs to company “creative monster” Suzanne Carlsen.
The masking work on this frame is incredibly intricate.
Carlsen did an incredible job blending all of the line elements on her Grupetto. The closer you look, the more you see.
Why don’t you see more paint jobs like this, you might wonder? Probably because they’re so insanely time-intensive to produce.
Carlsen’s favorite detail is how the lines on the underside of the down tube flow from one pattern to the next and across the two different colors.
Details matter. It’s important to not paint the entire length of a finished-to-match seatpost so as not to change the seatpost diameter (or risk unnecessary scratching).
The graphics on the fork wrap all the way around to the inner surfaces of the blades.
True classics like this Richard Sachs road bike never grow old.
It still feels odd to see a Richard Sachs frame that isn’t red, but that doesn’t make this one any less beautiful.
Richard Sachs is one of just a few frame builders who have their own signature set of lugs.
If you want a Richard Sachs frame, you’d better be patient. Typical waiting times are measured in years, not weeks or months.
Cycles BiKyle had on display an incredible collection of new Pegoretti framesets.
The Pegoretti Responsorium is known not only for its unsually stiff chassis, but also for Dario Pegoretti’s legendary paintwork.
See this Santana tandem? It fits into that travel case on the floor behind it.
Santana’s new Z-Couplers are truly brilliant. You can see the one connecting the seatstays to the seat tube quite readily, but the one on the top tube is practically invisible.
Santana says its Z-Couplers are not only lighter than the S&S couplers that have dominated the travel bike market to date, but also much cleaner-looking when assembled.
The clever geometry accommodates both bending and torsional loads. Just a single bolt is needed to hold everything together.
Santana offers the Z-Couplers separately should other builders want to use it, but they’re only available in limited sizes.
Many builders at the Philly Bike Expo got their start at the United Bicycle Institute.
Casey Sussman of Mars Cycles crafted this track bike as a tribute to some of his favorite builders and influences.
The triple-triangle frame layout was inspired by legendary Japanese builder Koichi Yamaguchi.
The pierced seatstay bridge is a nice touch.
The head tube construction mimics the work of Six-Eleven builder Aaron Dykstra.
The dropouts are made by Minneapolis builder Erik Noren of Peacock Groove.
Yamaguchi also inspired the partially open down tube.
Campagnolo crankarms with a Shimano chainring? Mars Cycles builder Casey Sussman says he did this on purpose to irritate the purists.
The teardrop-shaped fork blades and lugged crown are tributes to another Japanese builder, 3Rensho.
Mars Cycles also showed off this gorgeous ‘cross bike.
If you’re a frame builder who’s also known for incredible one-off paint jobs, a tandem is just about the best you can hope for in terms of canvas size.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it sure is hard to miss this one.
Waterford Precision Cycles has two divisions: lugged frames are made under the Waterford label, while TIG-welded steel bikes are sold under the Gunnar brand name.
Beautiful partially polished rocker-style dropouts on this Gunnar gravel rig.
Rody Walter of Groovy Cycleworks never disappoints with his show bikes, and this classically styled all-terrain cruiser just adds to his list of eye-catching one-off creations.
Groovy Cycleworks built this machine for a customer who wanted something to ride around at car events while he was showing off his Volkswagen bus.
The one-piece welded cockpit is something of a Groovy Cycleworks trademark these days.
The plate-crown fork and curved rear end are designed to accommoate everything from fat bike wheel setups to conventional 29er ones.
The ceramic-coated rims are given the matching graphical treatment, too.
According to Groovy Cycleworks builder Rody Walter, the curve in the seatstays is meant to match the curve on the rear end of this client’s vintage Volkswagen bus.
Fat City Cycles founder Chris Chance is relishing in his long-awaited return to the business. This Chris Cross model is designed to tackle cyclocross courses and bikepacking adventures alike.
The segmented crown is a Chris Chance signature feature, along with the reinforcing tangs that are brazed on the front.
After a long hiatus, the Fat Chance label is finally back.
The custom dropouts on the Fat Chance Chris Cross frame use modular inserts. They can be easily adapted for different thru-axle sizes, and other attachments such as rack mounts can be added as needed.
The Slim Chance has always been Chris Chance’s only road model, and this modern iteration is as beautiful now as the original was two decades ago.
True Temper is no longer in the steel bicycle tubing business, but Chris Chance says he’s got a “healthy supply” to keep production of the Slim Chance going for quite a while.
Cycles Ed showed off this whimsical “All Steer” kid-sized tricycle, complete with front- and rear-wheel steering.
The rear wheels are steered by counterrotating the two grip shifters.
What’s the point of rear-wheel steering? If you’re looking for a logical reason here, you’re asking the wrong questions.
Cycles Ed builder Ed Jones fashioned an impressively well-engineered mechanism for moving both rear wheels in unison.
As part of the “All Steer” play on words, the front of the trike bears a brass ring mounted to pseudo-nostrils.
The front axle is held in place with direct-mount stem clamps from a downhill bike.
To keep the pedaling action feeling natural, the pedals are modified so they can float a bit on the axle.
Is it a trike or a pickup truck? Yes.
Cane Creek headsets are used for the steering axles, while external bottom bracket cups are used for the rear wheels (capped with more headset parts).
Jones brazed spoke sections and hex nuts together to form a novel lacing pattern. The acorn nuts are meant to look like the lugnuts on a semi truck.
Several mainstream companies were on hand at the Philly Bike Expo, such as Jamis, who showed off its latest Renegade family of gravel/adventure bikes.
The topo pattern on the carbon fork is a nice touch, as are the supplemental bottle mounts for truly long rides.
The hidden seatpost binder is a nice touch rarely seen at these price points.