Tech features Tech gallery: 2023 Made handmade bicycle show, part four
Just the way you want it, however that may be.
Production bikes from mainstream brands are incredibly good these days, with generally excellent ride and handling characteristics, good value, solid build kits, and so on. But yet as much as these bikes have to offer, they’re still aimed at the middle of the bell curve. Some personalization is always possible by swapping parts as your budget allows – maybe even custom paint. But even then, you’re still starting with a dish that’s pre-determined on the menu, and those changes can be akin to adding cheese or omitting the sauce.
For some, that’s just not enough.
By definition, custom builders exist to provide what isn’t otherwise available off the shelf. Perhaps it’s an unusual fit to accommodate your own proportions or preferences. Maybe there’s a certain ride quality or handling you want, but can’t find from a big brand. A paint job to mimic an old race car you were obsessed with as a kid. Extra (or just very specific) mounts for the bags you want to carry for your next bike bikepacking adventure.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what your reasons are, or how outlandish or simple your requests may be. But the beauty of being able to tap this sort of expertise (and having the budget to do so) is that you don’t have to justify your motivations to anyone but yourself (and maybe your significant other).
We’re four rounds into
our coverage from the Made show, but don’t you worry; we’ve still got at least two or three more to come. Ioklin Frameworks made the trip to Portland all the way from Taipei, Taiwan. And boy, am I glad they did because this bike took my breath away. Ioklin was one of a handful of builders at Made using Columbus’s new Trittico integrated routing system. OMG, this seat cluster. Some custom bikes just speak to you, and this one certainly did to me. Check out the facing work on the flat-mount caliper tabs. This is how each and every frame should always be. The joints on this Ioklin frame are so tiny that they’re practically invisible. The Columbus Future Trefoil fork features a direct mount for 160 or 180 mm-diameter rotors, and a nifty cosmetic cover that attaches with magnets. Framework Bicycles is an upstart brand out of Ontario, Canada, but you’d hardly guess based on how incredibly refined the frames look. While 3D-printing is all the rage, Framework is instead making its lugs from CNC-machined aluminum, which the brand says delivers better dimensional precision, a smoother surface finish, and more durability than what’s currently possible with printing. Because of how precisely the lugs are machined, Framework doesn’t bother with separate bearing cups, instead preferring to press the bearing cartridge into seats that are milled directly into the lugs. The filament-wound carbon fiber tubes are also produced in-house. The resulting aesthetic is an intriguing mash-up of old and new. Aside from the chainstays, the carbon fiber tubes are perfectly round from end to end (at least for now). The blind thru-axle dropouts make for a particularly clean execution. Ports for the internal routing are specifically designed for easy assembly and maintenance. There are countless companies out there making their own frames, but a lot fewer that are also making their own components – and Framework’s crankset looks pretty darn sweet. Like the lugs, this is completely made in-house from CNC-machined aluminum. The crankarms are drilled lengthwise to save weight, similar to what Rotor has been doing for years. As with the headset, Framework opts to press bearings directly into the seats that are machined into its lugs. The impressive level of precision makes for an incredibly smooth-turning assembly, but I have some concerns about how exposed the bearings are without any supplemental seals or shields. Framework uses its own tri-lobe collet-style interface to connect the crankarms, spindle, and chainring. Framework has even engineered its own internal routing setup, with an upper headset cone that supports an unsually generous amount of steerer tube – at least for about two-thirds of the circumference. I’m not sure how I feel about how much unsupported steerer there is on the front side. Framework isn’t sold on the whole UDH thing just yet, preferring to run its own sacrificial rear derailleur hangers for now. Ever seen those “digital camo” wrap jobs that auto companies sometimes use to conceal new models that are undergoing pre-release testing? Hiding underneath this incredible paint job by Black Magic Paint is an Enve Custom All Road for one very special customer. Black Magic Paint says this head-to-toe finish took a whopping ten days to complete. And the cost? As the saying goes, if you have to ask … The darker parts of the bike look like they’re just black at first glance. But once you get the bike into the light, you can see the tinted red carbon clearcoat peeking through. While this sort of finish isn’t for everyone, that’s the beauty of custom paint: you can get it exactly the way you want it. Sage words, indeed. Yep, even the DT Swiss hubs are finished to match. The underside of the Look Keo Blade pedals not only get the white pattern, but also the red-tinted carbon clearcoat. Incredible. It took me a second to realize the Fizik Argo (custom covered by Busyman) featured the exact same pattern as the rest of the frame. Naturally, the Arundel Mandible carbon fiber bottle cages get the same red-tinted clearcoat. Bonkers. Just bonkers. Stinner Frameworks showed off its new Carrizo titanium all-road bike. This one belongs to company founder Aaron Stinner, who, needless to say, is quite tall. Stinner designed the new Carrizo to clear 700c tires up to 40 mm-wide. The rear dropouts are of Stinner’s own design, and provide lots of weld area for the adjoining stays. The replaceable derailleur hanger is notably beefy, and fender mounts can be easily added on, too. The carbon fiber fork is made in Asia, but uses Stinner’s design. Stinner offers several options for customers that want fully hidden cable routing, including the custom White Industries headset featured on this new Carrizo all-road model. The Stinner-designed dropout is interesting enough, but also intriguing is company owner Aaron Stinner’s apparent preference for mechanical disc brakes on his personal steed. Colombian brand Scarab Cycles has only built drop-bar bikes since it was founded five years ago, but it’s now branching out into hardtail mountain bikes with the new Darien model, built with Columbus steel tubing. As I’ve now come to expect from Scarab, the finish on the new Darien looks pretty fantastic. And while many hardtails are targeted at the ultra-hardcore crowd, the Darien is very much intended to be a cross-country machine. Scarab has equipped the Darien with a SRAM UDH-compatible dropout and a T47 threaded bottom bracket. Scarab’s Santa Rosa Integrated model features fully internal routing courtesy of Enve’s latest one-piece cockpit design. This particular Scarab also features the brand’s striking (and incredibly intricate) Magdalena paint scheme, which recalls a particularly “eye-opening” bikepacking trip that crossed the Magdalena river in Colombia. The black parts of the finish are apparently transferred from printed paper, but there’s also a lot of careful masking and paint work to get the various colors and overlays. Stated with pride, clearly. I’m a sucker for bikes with painted-to-match cockpits. The steel tubes and classic profile are a tribute to tradition, but the hidden cabling, disc- and electronic-specific component compatibility, and clearance for 700×35 mm tires also keep the Scarab Santa Rosa Integrated thoroughly modern. I don’t anticipate stiffness to be a problem here given the tubing proportions. Sycip Bicycles has been in the custom business longer than most, having first opened its doors in 1992. Although Sycip is more than capable of making some truly wildly outlandish and creative machines, more straightforward builds like this titanium gravel bikes are its bread and butter. Segmented seatstays have long been a Sycip hallmark. On steel frames, the open ends are capped with brazed-in coins. Paragon Machine Works recently started supplying builders with SRAM UDH-compatible dropouts. Check out the slick green anodizing behind the real head tube badge (which is screwed on, just as it should be). Classy. The rocker-type dropouts allow for singlespeed use should this owner ever decide to go that route, while the interchangeable plates offer some measure of future-proofing as brake and axle standards change. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent