Kelly Bedford Custom Steel Bike Build
Old world Lugs and stainless steel wrapped around custom electronic shifting, prototype cranks and more. This project is the result of a murderer’s row of talent (and me) taking a swing at old-meets-new…
The expression on Kelly Bedford’s face was the exact opposite of every other frame builder I’ve spoken to about all the features I would like, rolled into stainless steel…
While I know there are other people capable of knocking out what I wanted, nobody else but Kelly smiled (much less said “yes”) when I asked for a… Lugged Stainless steel bike (strike one for some) with an ISP seat mast (strike 2 for a few “traditionalists”), a lugged press fit 30 BB (strikes 3 and 4 for guys who either couldn’t fabricate the BB from scratch or just refuse to acknowledge BB30), an oversized stainless head tube (strike 5 for the folks that couldn’t machine it in the right size), internal routing for a center of seat lug brake cable exit (see strike 2 again as you can’t do that without ISP and add strike 6 as some couldn’t handle making a solid internal channel for ease of cable routing) and lastly strike 7 for the guys that didn’t want to make a bike to handle an internal Di2 system.
That’s a big list of potential “strikes” but 7 is a lucky number as Kelly’s reply to the request was immediate and completely without reservation.
“I’d love to do it. In fact I’ve been looking for a project like this. It brings new things in to the mix and really pushes me to use a lot of capabilities. And it’s a great material. None of what you want is really an issue if you have the fabrication skills”.
Kelly has the skills.
Two things can happen when you talk to loads of builders working almost exclusively in metal. 1ST, they give loads of reasons why you don’t need a feature (or 7) they can’t or won’t make. 2ND, the more Napoleonic in the group will feed you tons of bullsh!t (either verbally or on their website) about carbon fiber. Kelly does neither because he’s honed skills that don’t require excuses and he’s made a few thousand bikes from Steel, Ti and some of the best carbon bikes on the road.
He started out like lots of the guys with careers long enough and at a quality level high enough that they reach ‘legend’ status (legend is my word, not his)… It started with a love of riding and racing (initially fostered by his older brother) and like most racers, he started wanting top notch gear he couldn’t afford (despite him and his brother working in bike shops).
At that point his father (an aircraft mechanic) said “if you can’t buy it, make it!”
With that, Kelly hit up Proteus (iconic folks that actually helped a lot of builders get their start), ordered a frame building kit and put together that first bike for his brother.
A few years went by and he continued to hone his building skills until one day a friend who knew his work quality called and asked if he would be interested in popping up from his Florida home to Upstate NY.
It was there he met a young Ben Serotta… So young in fact that Serotta couldn’t afford him as a full time employee. It was still a significant meeting as at that time Kelly did the design and cutting for the first TDF lugs… The lugs that Serotta used to make the Team 7-Eleven bikes…
Kelly continued to work for Serotta from his home in Florida but as you probably figured out, things started going pretty well for Serotta. Kelly moved up to NY and went about running Serotta Bicycles production for the next few decades.
In that time, Kelly had the chance to work with every common frame material in high performance cycling and that includes the dreaded chat-room retro-grouch’s kryptonite / Catnip…. Carbon. Kelly calls it “fantastic stuff, particularly in the hands of some of the better builders”. This is refreshing perspective versus the mudslinging so common in the world-is-flat realm of the metal-or-nothing crowd.
Some Pez readers might remember this little project in the black stuff, originally put to paper with Kelly and Paraic McGlynn (now running Cyclologic)
The who’s who list of North American frame builders that learned their chops with Kelly is not short (and Kelly is quick to say that he learned a lot from many of them). Neither is it a short list of skills obtained in designing and building frames from multiple materials to a quality level such that many of Serotta’s models became industry benchmarks.
I could (and probably should) go on more about Kelly, but he’s way better at building than he is at talking up his talents and you’re likely interested in the bike he’s made for me and what went in to it…
What you’re seeing is my version of that often attempted (to various degrees of success) old-meets-new cycle, mating a classic/traditional design and look with very modern bike tech.
I’ve mentioned a few of the features above…
This is a full KVA stainless steel tube set mated via individually fab’d custom lugs.
With a bike like this, Kelly basically had to do more work than would have been required to put together 3 lesser custom frames
One of these 3 frames is a beautiful fillet brazed steel with tubes mitered for custom geometry and hand filed and finished.
Now imagine cutting that bike into pieces, leaving just the joints at the correct geometry.
Those joints form the lugs used to mate the tubes.
I drew the lugs that I wanted and sent them to Kelly and his next step was to reproduce my drawings by hand onto these custom lugs. Needless to say, taking two dimensional drawings (from a horrible artist) and putting them on to a rounded surface, making all of the swerves and curves nice and even, isn’t exactly easy for most folks. (This partially explains why the bulk of lugged steel bikes are made with mass produced cast lugs).
Drawing, cutting and filing (all by hand) these custom patterns into each one of the filet brazed tubes (joint sections) to create the finished lug set also takes longer than welding a standard frame set. That means we’re already into roughly twice the time required to build simpler frames, and we haven’t yet started putting the main tubes together.
Time is also a consideration in that the head tube and press fit BB30 shell were fabricated from scratch rather than purchased from one of the tube or lug suppliers like the vast majority of custom metal bikes.
The Bottom Bracket alone is 5 custom made pieces brought together with beautifully finished filet.
The head tube (inside the one of a kind head lugs) was also a custom piece. This was machined to size to receive a stainless and brass, individual ball bearing head set (a “Star”) that is an 1-1/8th inch unit which is a bit larger than the standard 1” set used for lots of lugged steel bikes.
Once all of the lugs, one-off BB and Head tube were finished fabrication, Kelly mitered and filed the main stainless frame tubes to match the custom geometry specs and set about using Silver solder (a must have for Stainless) to weld the frame together.
Add together the fab time equal to 2 bikes with the BB and head tube fabrication and then the main tube cutting and welding and that’s roughly your 3+ bike build time. And that’s if you know what you’re doing.
During final build up he inserted a solid channel to run the rear brake cable from the front/side of the top tube (ported by a ridiculously clean example of fillet).
The tube is solid straight through and out the back of the center of the seat tube lug (made possible by the integrated seat post).
He also punched the port for the custom Di2 routing and fab’d what I think is the best / cleanest executed head badge in cycling – simple, solid well defined.
As there’s only a couple of holes for all of the wire/cable routing, the rest of the frame is very clean. There’s very little clutter on the tubes making for a minimalist look that is part of the new meets old design…
That lack of cables (or Di clutter) is down to full internal wiring and a one of a kind brain mounted inside the stem from Fairwheel Bikes Jason Woznick and Compu Wiz Jeff Roberson.
I wish I were original enough to claim any of the thinking behind the brain that allows this project to work, but nobody that knows me would believe it anyway so why try… This started a while back with another Fairwheel project with some details found here Link to early Nutball thinking.
Our version is a smaller Di compatible brain that provides sequential shifting.
The Sequential drive uses a single button on each lever, one “up” and one “Down”. The Front and rear derailleurs act in tandem with the rear to provide the full hi and low range offered in the standard group.
The big jump in ratio that happens at the front (either up or down) is softened by the rear mech automatically shifting a couple of gears in the opposite direction as the front shifts. The system is programed to grab the next logical gear inch combination (harder or easier) in the direction you are shifting.
My contribution in this incredibly cool system amounted to a phone call to a guy smart enough to have relationships with other really smart people, but contrastingly dumb enough to answer the phone when I called.
For Jason and Jeff’s part, this required hacking an existing Shimano Di2 brain to learn its language and thoughts. Then Jeff built a circuit board from scratch and programmed that board so that it would send a new set of thoughts to Shimano’s stock front and rear changers in their native tongue. Then it was Fairwheel’s turn to properly splice / solder the board into Shimano’s shifting system, the custom levers and custom internal battery system.
If you had to put a cost to this brain / board construction and programming based on Jeff’s day-job pay, this bike project would have been some place near the cost of a reliable automobile (which is solid confirmation that Jeff doesn’t work in the cycling industry…).
Whatever the cost should have been, I can say that I actually prefer the sequential shifting to Shimano’s standard 4 button pattern.
Beyond the electronic shifting brain, the full parts selection took a little thinking because it would be pretty easy to spoil the whole new-meets-old aesthetic by using most of the parts available that are considered cutting edge. While there’s nothing wrong with carbon, trying to slap on any of the multi shape bars and jumbo-fat stems that represent most of today’s top of the line just wouldn’t do. Nor would it work to a set of deep section aero wheels. In fact most of the typical “superbike” parts available would simply blow the vibe… I needed reserved designs.
The biggest problem of all should have been in finding levers to that fit the aesthetic but it wound up being the easiest and least expensive. TRP Brakes’ RRL SR levers came out ahead of the frame and spotting them at Interbike was a HUGE relief. This was a better solution than buying vintage levers that would both feel like crap in your hands and lack the proper leverage ratio for modern brakes.
The Bar wrap was a “natural” choice… HandleBra
Of course these are brake levers only (no shifting function is built in). On the plus side, there are no levers to remove but the minus is I needed switches and Shimano’s stock buttons are a little too thick. So it was down to mounting a set of buttons available through CatEye (remote button kit 169-9200) that was originally made to mate with their heart monitor computer. Fairwheel wired these under the hoods on the inside of each lever in a spot roughly the same place as Campy’s thumb lever (though these are much smaller and frankly easier to live with than Campy’s).
The wires run down the cross bar section of ENVE’s carbon bars, which were painted to match the lugs.
We picked a stem that was just large enough to take the brain inside…
But there was no room to spare as too large a stem would look out of place on a frame with relatively small tubes.
The New Ultimate stem comes in white, but not the right white, so it also took matching paint…
The KCNC seat mast topper was also colored to match to the lugs. This one is their Majestic and comes in a pretty large range of lengths and setback.
The original was black but I took it down to bare metal before the paint was added.
PPG’s Bianco White was also laid on to the hub shells.
The hubs were DT Swiss 240 laced to H Plus Son TB14 Rims.
The rims themselves were a great suggestion from Fairwheel as they’re reasonably light and have a great polish finish.
And while they look old school, they’re actually fairly light for a VERY sturdy build and are a modern 23mm wide brake track (outside the bead). Wrap these in 25 section Vittoria Open Corsa SC tires and you have a shape/size double whammy of comfort potential.
The last thing getting a coat of the cream white are a special set of cranks from EE Cycle works.
Of all the parts that really needed a dead on paint match, these were they. The cranks and lugs sit too close together to have the colors be off even a little.
[Quickie note: Creative Cycle Works handled all of the parts paint work, while the frame lug painting and hand edging were handled by Kelly].
The Alu cranks are a conservative looking set up but that’s not to say that they were easy to design (and get right).
They’re a through axel design with a single bolt holding the non-drive side and axel to the spider and drive side arm. These fit through a pair of press fit 30 cups and bearings.
They are a very stiff set of cranks despite being very light. Coupled with Praxis chainrings, you have a great shifting set that’s just as comfortable being painted matte black and going on someone’s 12 pound aero-light frame as they are getting a cream white coat on a lugged steel project.
[A side note is that EE will not be manufacturing these and you’ll eventually see them offered retail through Pacenti Cycle design.]
Tucked directly around the crank axle, the internal wiring set up for this bike (and most Di2 installs) takes up a fair bit of room, even in an oversized BB shell.
Fairwheel had to craft a one piece sleeve that fit between the two bearing cups to shield the wires from rubbing on the EE axle as it turned.
EE Cycle Works were also an easy choice for brakes as the mechanical linkage design in raw metal finish was a great visual match, right down to the bushing material being a cream white.
The linkage also accepts the cable pretty close to the center or the brakes rather than off to the side like most brake sets. It was with these brakes in mind that I chose the center rear brake cable exit for a super clean look.
The cable set for the brakes is Aican’s new compression resistant Bungarus (a kind of snake). These are individual links like Nokon and a few others BUT each link is a 2 piece construct that has it’s own liner. They’re an easier setup than links with solid liners as you can add and take away links to get the exact right length. And they’re almost half the weight of Nokon with no difference in performance / feel.
I left the steerer tube spacers and cap (from Parts of Passion) raw/unpainted as well.
They matched up very well with that stainless head set from Star…
I mentioned above that this is a loose ball bearing unit and they’re not exactly a common part found at most retailers. I wouldn’t have thought of this but Jason at Fairwheel snatched it out of the corner of his mind as having the right look, material and function.
You first need a careful touch to squirt out the grease (and Jason handles a syringe like a late 90’s grand tour champion…)
Then you use the push rod provided to squirt the bearings from a tube that holds the exact amount for each race (top and bottom)…
And place them carefully into the bottom race (upper and lower)…
It’s a little different than most current 1-1/8th inch headsets which require slightly less brain power than is used in understanding Legos. But the end result is a beautifully matched stainless piece that works super smooth and should be plenty durable.
Why The Weenie Parts?
It’s notable that most of these parts are pretty damn light weight. After seeing a few preview pictures of this build, some forum folks chattered that “weight doesn’t matter on a bike like this”.
That’s the same unfortunate type of thinking that a lot of “material purists” have.
People that try and imply that their choice of material is superior very frequently start by proclaiming the insignificance of their favorite materials suggested inadequacies. In the case of the “steel-is-real” crowd, Newton (and his stupid laws) is almost always the first guy assassinated.
While none of the parts for this bike were chosen with weight as a first or second priority (FYI, my top 2 were aesthetic and function), there’s very simply nothing wrong with the incidental performance benefits of lower rotating weight at the cranks or wheels and the lower center of gravity created by having lighter parts at the top of the bike (Bar, Stem, levers, Seat mast topper). In fact the benefits of lower weight are pretty much accepted world wide by anyone with a mind broader than the edge of a razor.
So that’s the frame and parts chosen, fab’d and finished to give me a certain look and a comfort focused ride quality. That the complete build offers very good performance (acceleration and handling) is just a bonus.
This bike’s smooth ride is primarily a function of frame weight, wheel / tire choice, tube set choice, cutting and butting position, geometry and a proper fork.
A lugged steel frame and fork like this will weigh double+ the weight of my Parlee Z5sl frame and fork (the complete build is 18lbs versus 13 for the Parlee ACDC bike). That’s not meant as a slap in the face though; in fact it’s an important factor in making one of the smoothest riding bikes I have ever owned.
You almost never hear that weight aids in the smoothness of some steel bikes because lots of steel fans are so insecure about weight that they immediately tell you “it doesn’t matter”. It’s a shame really that they can’t be honest about weight and that weight does matter because they lose the opportunity to talk about why… Instead they spout out magic pixie dust verbiage about “planning” and “resonance” and “lively”… In some cases they’re valid descriptions but a lot of the time it just sounds like denial.
If someone can admit that extra weight matters, they could tell you that a couple of extra pounds of frame and fork weight will act a bit like a tuned mass damperwhen it’s between the rider and two 25 section tires mounted to wide section rims pumped to 95 psi…
Really… If you didn’t click the link above, do yourself a favor and get a little education before you read the rest
While mass dampers in some applications need to be tuned very specifically, in cycling, a couple of pounds of extra frame and fork weight will act as a damper across a pretty wide range of vibration / impact forces typical to road riding.
There are a few other parts that also flex besides your tire casings. Your spokes, bars, stem, saddle rails, even your cranks and pedal axles all have some flex to them as well. Doubling the weight between all of these springs/cushions damps vibes better than a lighter frame (with similar stiffness) will.
Of course the frame has some flex too and in ride quality terms that flex is mostly related to large bump damping. It’s here where the tube set selection and butting profiles (or lack of) can make a pretty big difference.
There are straight gauge tubes and there are tubes with differing amounts of material removed from the in the middle… Take material away and the tube will flex easier (and be a little lighter). It’s pretty simple stuff.
Some builders will relieve even more material in the case someone asks for as light a bike as possible, but try and build a 13-14-15 pound steel bike and you’re going to have something that will be quite a bit more flexible all around. A 900 gram steel frame set (size 54) from just about any builder will be springy over larger bumps and it will also flex more at the head tube (handling) and at the Bottom end (drive train stiffness). In my case, and at my weight (155) I’ve tried a couple steel bikes at this weight (14ish lbs) and they just flexed too much for my taste. (in fairness it’s been 6 plus years since trying the 14 pounder and parts mixes available now might allow that to change)
I didn’t want a noodle and Kelly made the tube selection to give this bike similar stiffness in the drive train to my other performance related bikes. That also meant a little less bounce / springy feeling. It’s actually pretty similar on big bumps to a few of the more racy carbon bikes in the house like Blue’s Axino SL. It’s not overly jarring and it’s not so springy that you’re still bouncing 50 feet past the big hit.
But big, jarring bumps make up a really small percentage of road riding for most folks… It’s the granular road surface / small to medium bumps and high frequency vibes that make up the vast majority of riding and it’s this type of surface that this bike seems to do a better job of absorbing. The reduction in hand, arm and neck fatigue is notable versus the superlight bikes I have with similar stiffness (and those other bikes have similar or the same fit…).
A great example of how much fatigue is caused by high frequency vibes is the launch of loads of Physical Therapy and exercise machines launched in the past few years. They work (and work well) by adding vibration not only to traditional exercise movements but to simply standing or sitting…
Vibration very simply creates a sense of instability and your body’s natural reaction is to have the muscles make micro-adjustments (tiny contractions) that add up to greater fatigue over time.
Vibrations come in many different frequencies and they’re not completely eliminated on virtually any performance oriented road bike/wheel/tire combination but this bike does a fantastic job of reducing a lot of what I’m used to feeling.
Now I would guess a loud cheer is welling up inside folks that think I’m going to jump on the magical vibe absorbing / planning / resonance band wagon and claim this smoothness is down to the bike being metal. I’m not… Isotropic materials (metal) simply don’t absorb vibrations in their structure like Anisotropic materials (wood, bamboo, flax, carbon fiber) can (not all of these do as good a job absorbing vibes as some would suggest once they’re impregnated with resin and it cures to a solid).
This will really piss off some of you reading this, but folks that say “steel is smooth” in general terms are pretty plainly full of shit.
I’ve had more than one steel bike ride like crap. I’ve ridden steel that rode as harsh as any of the worst stereotype creating Aluminum or Carbon. I’ve ridden steel as overly flexible as the sloppiest “noodles” that some jackasses think only comes from Titanium. I’ve had steel crack from poor welding and I’ve had steel bikes with geometry bad enough that no other attributes were worth noting. And I’ve ridden bikes with these issues in Alu, ti, carbon and combo-materials too.
Kelly’s Stainless isn’t “how steel rides” any more than Parlee’s carbon is “how carbon rides” or Kirk’s Ti is “how Ti rides”. For all of these guys, the net ride quality of their bikes is a result of how well they plan and execute an individual frame build.
Really, you’re too dumb for words if you think the ride quality of these guys’ bikes is simply a function of writing a check to a certain tube supplier.
This bike and its ride quality aren’t about material… This is about the right choice of butted tubes and their being measured and cut in the right places to allow the butting to matter.
This is about fantastic craftsmanship in joining the tubes for long-long term use (never mind the way it looks).
This is about the right geometry.
This is about a particular wheel and tire combo that would smooth out lots of bikes but works particularly well with a heavier frame and fork that will use up a touch more of the deflection capacity that comes with running a 25 section tire at slightly lower pressures than my typical 23.
And yes… This is also about being incredibly beautiful lugged steel.
I wanted a bike that looked completely different than anything else in any of the groups I would be in. But to “be in” a group I have to keep up and everything had to work well together to do that.
Firstly, the custom shifting functions as Shimano Di2 should. Gear changes are super precise and quick, and the sequential brain is, in my opinion an upgrade. Shimano and Campy could offer the programming option easily and they should.
Sequential shifting won’t be for everyone, especially for racers that need an instant BIG ratio switch at the front end. But it is a no-brainer for A LOT of people, especially those that would put together a bike with the comfort / performance focus of this particular ride.
There’s a performance upgrade to be had eliminating the added drive line friction of chain cross over and this very simply and seamlessly eliminates that cross over. And it functions with simple slick instant shifting typical of stock Di2. You just forget about front versus rear shifting and ride.
The levers are a comfortable ergo shape and they have a pull ratio similar to stock SRAM. They actuate the EE brakes well, and the EE brakes are what they are… similar in power to Dura Ace brakes but with a bit less abrupt initial bite and a bit smoother modulation. That they look kool and shed grams is just icing.
The frames stiffness is enough that the bike is very responsive to pedal stroke input. There’s as little BB/chain stay flex here as anything I own in the sub 1K carbon.
The EE cranks also work very well in the stiffness department. I’ll be really interested when they reach the market in their retail form to see what’s changed, but they function well and are a simple set up.
The light and stiff bar, stem, post topper and saddle coupled with good frame stiffness means standing acceleration feels a lot better than most folks might think. The weight that you feel when you stand and rock your bike back and forth under you is pretty heavily attributed to the components you bolt on at the top of the bike. It’s basic physics that the higher the weight is from the ground, the further you have to move it side to side as you rock your bike (the tire contact is the fulcrum), so you’ll feel bar-stem-post-saddle weight more than weight lower on the frame. In this case, those components (save maybe the Star Headset) are firmly in the “light weight” family.
The fork Kelly put together is also a good match for the frame stiffness and the wheel set. It’s as stable as any of the flyweight race carbon out there. With a bit heavier wheels than I’m used to, there was a chance that I would feel more flex in hard corners or under heavy braking, but this is solid under all conditions.
The Wheel set here is focused pretty much on softening the ride (followed by a second priority that they be metal and look appropriately shallow for the bike). The wide rim and 25 section tires are a fantastic choice for smoothness… I’ve run them on 4 bikes and very frankly they’re a more enjoyable set up for every single inch of road that I cover that isn’t being covered under the stress of going fast or up something steep.
Change the subject from comfort to performance and these wheels are plenty stiff, damn durable and the smoothness and stability is a confidence booster, but…
I’m spoiled with a few sets of carbon tubulars that very simply handle quicker, accelerate and brake faster and hold speed better at much greater depths…
You can change this (or any other) bike’s character to a HUGE degree with wheel, tire and tire pressure changes. And you can run slightly lower pressures on tubular tires that bridge some of the comfort gap created by stiffer deeper profile rims and shorter spokes. But you can’t make a deep carbon rim look right on this bike. And you can’t make a deep carbon rim as comfortable as the wheels I selected for this bike unless you drop the tire pressure to a point where they feel to wishy-washy (not to mention the damage / safety risk).
That being the case, I’ll stick with the wheels that I had built for this bike (and honestly think about ordering another set for longer mile days on some of the other bikes I have).
Combine stable wheels with very good frame stiffness, a low center of gravity, front geometry that’s pretty easy to tip in to turns and a reasonable wheelbase for stability and you have a direct handling bike that will track a white line like a young Tom Boonen.
This is a VERY smooth ride but it is also a corner eating monster that boosts confidence at speed. And because it holds its extra weight relatively low, standing up and giving it the gas gets a great drive response and feels lighter in your hands that the scales would have you believe.
Now I know there are folks that want to interpret the statements above as meaning there is no difference in performance with this frame and fork versus the super-light carbon in the house and I wish I could say that’s the case. But much like this custom wheel set is less quick than the lighter carbon tubular sets I have, so too is a frame and fork that carries an extra 2-3 pounds…
Physics exists folks. Physics is much more “real” that the suggestion that steel has a magical ability to eliminate gravity.
While this parts selection is much lighter than what most folks put on similar lugged steel bikes, they’re only the rough equal to the weight of the parts typically on “light weight race carbon”. That being the case, my parts selection keeps the weight gap to my lighter bikes from ballooning rather than creating an overall light weight package.
This bike weighs 18 pounds and I can feel the difference versus the 12-13-14 pound bikes I have when I stand and accelerate. I also feel the difference when I’m at max effort up a reasonably steep climb.
Changing to a light set of tubulars helps acceleration / climbing and that wheel weight drop also quickens up the handling (and braking), but the differences between this bike and the lighter bikes I have are not completely eliminated with a wheel swap. It just is what it is (and there’s math backing it up).
The real question is “how much of a performance difference is there between this bike and the lighter / more aero stuff I have?”
A smart person can tell you that the performance difference is “X”. An idiot (or several) will tell other people how much they should value “X” versus any number of other bike qualities…
I’m partial to “x”, but not so much that I can’t acknowledge that the feeling a bike gives you while you ride it will also affect how you perform.
I always understood that fit matters in performance, but my tipping point toward wanting to go further toward comfort came after I had recently rode a VERY beautiful lugged steel bike that was fantastically smooth. It had honestly been a few years since I rode a bike like that and despite its weight (roughly 19.5 lbs), I loved that ride quality.
What I didn’t love was the clunky 8 speed transmission… I didn’t love the sluggish response (and big BB twist/flex) when I stood up and really gave it the gas… I was appalled at the lack of brake force… I hated both the noodle of a fork and the top heavy weight distribution that combined with crap geometry for shit-your-pants cornering / handling…
[quickie note here though… This bike was EXACTLY what the rider that had it wanted (in stiffness and geometry) and they’ve loved this bike for YEARS… It’s a rider roughly the same height, but different body type and measures (my boxers reach for instance is 5 inches longer and 20 he’s pounds lighter than I am), which goes to show that the same bike can suck, or be fantastic based on who it’s built for and what they want.]
I wanted that silk feeling and I wanted the old world lugged style but I needed a little “X” thrown in so that I could have my cake and eat my riding friends’ cake too…
Rather than scoff at the new parts standards and modern layout like so many of his fellow builders, Kelly licked his chops at the chance to mi”X” things up a little and built a bike that stops traffic at group rides and makes the roads seem like a steam roller had recently passed by.
Sure I’ll have another 2-3-4 superlight aero screamers in the barn to go beat brains in. And a few of them will have fantastic ride quality that will get close to this. Hair splitting close enough that there’s no way anyone could argue against owning bikes like that.
You can accurately say that there are times when less is more…
But there’s something to be said about the ride quality here that’s not been matched so far by anything else in any other material… The extra pounds are so frequently unnoticed and the extra smoothness is noticeable enough that I’ll own another bike or two like this for sure…
There are also times when the pluses “outweigh” the minuses.
The suggested retail price for this frame and fork would be in the range of $7500. It would be very difficult to price this bike fully built as the Transmission, levers and cranks technically don’t exist. Swapping out some of the special parts for high end stock would have you some place north of $13,000.
Kelly’s much more traditional offerings range from $3,000 to $5000. Tig welded Ti and Steel and Lugged steel (stainless or non…) are all available. Kelly also has a new Ti/Carbon mix frame available for $4995 (unless you’re like me and would ask him to specially shape / cut and file the joints). Each of these models is made to measure and will require some time and attention with regard to your personal details.
Kelly is also taking on a (very) few dealers. They’ll need a strong resume with regard to fitting, customer service and a strong background in custom bicycle sales…
Find Kelly at Kbedfordcustoms.com
Find the insane parts mix at Fairwheelbikes.com
Thanks for Reading,