Philly Bike Expo 2018 tech gallery, part two

by James Huang


Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and nowhere is that more evident than in the custom bicycle scene. Almost by definition, we turn to custom bikes because we can’t find what we want in the mainstream market, be it a level of craftsmanship, a certain color, or something so outlandish that no major brand would dare touch it.

Chris Bishop certainly falls into the category of builders that buyers turn to because they want a particularly special steel road bike. Bishop builds less than 20 bikes per year, though, and in order to help get just a few more riders on his bikes, he’s teamed up with Carl Schlemowitz (of Vicious Cycles fame) for a new range of steel frames that will bear the Item4 label. These will still be fully custom, but exclusively TIG-welded instead of using Bishop’s signature brazed construction, and will also feature a more modern aesthetic.

Also included in this round of coverage are two especially unique dirt jumpers/pump track bikes from Ground Up Speed Shop and Altruiste Bikes, a fantastic 29 Plus hardtail from Colorado builder Peter Olivetti, a sweet steel road bike from California builder Aaron Stinner, some randonneur bikes from Coast Cycles and Chapman Cycles, some shiny and colorful parts and accessories, and more.

Want more from the Philly Bike Expo? You can find our complete coverage here, and if you want even more custom bikes, make sure to check out our comprehensive catalog of showstoppers from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, too.


Aaron Stinner was at the Philly Bike Expo in spirit with this rim-brake steel road bike.

Just enough color.

Peter Olivetti brought to the Philly Bike Expo this bruiser of a 29er Plus hardtail.

The two-tone paint was done by Spectrum in Boulder, Colorado.

Olivetti’s signature feature is an antique coin that he brazes to every seat tube.

Curvaceous.

Chris Bishop is joining forces with veteran builder Carl Schlemowitz to launch a new collection called Item4. The modern aesthetic stands in stark contrast to Bishop’s more traditional frames, like the one in the background that was built for a customer’s L’Eroica project. Both of these frames will be headed to the paint shop before they’re delivered.

Two Bishops, two very different styles.

The brazed open dropout at right is classic Bishop; the TIG-welded thru-axle one at left, not so much – at least, not yet.

Chris Bishop is known for his incredible lugwork.

This sort of artistry is undoubtedly beautiful, but not many people are willing to pay for the kind of time that’s required to do something like this. Chris Bishop estimates that a new Item4 will cost around US$1,000 less than one of his more traditional framesets.

Bishop’s attention to detail is evident in the way the chainstay bridge is milled-out – an extra touch that most people would never even notice.

The rear brake hose runs through a full-length tube that’s brazed into the frame.

Chapman Cycles produces some truly incredible randonneuring bicycles.

If classic randonneur bikes are your thing, it’d be hard to do better than this.

The Philly Bike Expo actually had a whole section dedicated to randonneuring bikes, such as this one from Coast Cycles. It’s a segment of cycling that seems to be gaining in popularity.

A layer of shallac on the cotton handlebar tape lends an unmistakable sheen, while also protecting the fibers underneath.

Polished aluminum simply never goes out of style.

Eric Baar of Ground Up Speed Shops hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He’s perhaps best known for his pinstriping and paint work, but he’s also a masterful titanium craftsman in his own right. This is his personal rig that he painted and built-up right at the show.

The step-down machining on the top of this seat tube adds an interesting touch.

Baar machined a solid bar of titanium to use as a chainstay stub for extra tire and drivetrain clearance.

One showgoer asked Baar if his automotive lettering enamel was water-based, to which he jokingly replied, “Nope, it’s poison-based.”

The three-piece bar looks way cool.

More pinstriping on the fork legs.

Baar also spends a lot of time fabricating parts for race cars, and the hot rod aesthetic is certainly alive and well here.

Baar has even decorated the box he uses to store his paintbrushes.

New Jersey builder Crust Bicycles brought a massive collection to the Philly Bike Expo, but this adventure machine really caught my eye.

Where is it you’d like to go today? No matter what your answer is, it seems like this machine would be able to take you there.

The folks at Crust Bicycles clearly have a sense of humor, too.

White Industries is all set for Shimano’s new Micro Spline freehub pattern.

White Industries only introduced its headset a couple of years ago, but they’ve already been widely embraced by the handbuilt community.

White Industries’ crankset features a burly 30mm-diameter machined aluminum spindle, plus a neat chainring design that will accept any symmetrical five-bolt inner chainring.

Altruiste built this unique creation for an employee of Industry Nine, who had visions of a fat bike dirt jumper to use on the company’s backyard pump track.

All of the aluminum bits were meticulously disassembled and anodized to suit the “watermelon” color theme.

Over the top? Just right? It honestly doesn’t matter what we think; as long as the owner is happy, it’s all good.

Chances are good that you’ll never see another bike like this.

Yep, even the seatpost cradle base was removed from the shaft to get the desired two-tone anodized look. Obsessive.

The one-piece handlebar-and-stem come courtesy of Colorado-based builder Oddity Cycles.

Did anyone at Surly ever think that this tire would be used for something like this? Seems unlikely.

The folks at Velocity clearly know how to have a good time – and they make some fine rims, too.

More purple!

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