Latest news, product updates, technical how to's, bling builds and more from AVT Bike.

Archives for April, 2019

Threaded Headset Options: Chris King GripNut and 2Nut Headsets

Some might not know that Chris King offers two options for threaded headsets: the 2Nut and the GripNut.

Our Gios build is coming along, and it's got a Chris King GripNut headset.


We'll give you a quick run-down of what the differences are, and why you might want one over the other.  

Chris King 1 1/8" 2Nut on the left, with a spacer in between the adjusting nut and locknut, and the 1" GripNut headset on the right.

The Chris King 2Nut is basically Chris King's high-precision take on the classic threaded headset.  The bearing cap is threaded, and then there's a lock nut on top of that.  The headset allows you to leave your steerer long by using spacers, a cable hanger, or just about anything else you can find to attach to a spacer (like a bell, for instance), and mechanically, it works exactly the way just about every other standard threaded headset does.  If you have a threaded steerer that extends at least 5 full threads above the top of the adjusting (lower) cup, you can use the 2Nut, and depending on how much more than 5 full threads your steerer has, you can fill the space above the adjusting cup with spacers to take up the extra room underneath the lock nut. 

Notice how the 2Nut on the left looks just like a standard threaded headset, but the GripNut on the right looks different because the locknut (called a lock ring) actually threads into the adjusting ring.

Here you can see the GripNut adjusting cap assembly taken fully apart. The three parts are: the adjusting ring, the thread collet (the split part which is actually the part that threads onto the steerer tube), and the upper lock ring.

If you have very little steerer tube extending above the upper bearing cup, or if you want to cut your steerer tube as short as possible for the lowest stack height, the GripNut is the best option because it uses a special expanding collet to clamp the steerer tube, which requires fewer threads. 

So while it looks a lot like the 2Nut, it is functionally very different.  The design is also more secure and resistant to going out of adjustment over time than a standard threaded headset design.  The main downside of this design is that you have to cut your steerer tube to the correct length (between 11 and 14mm above the top of the bearing cup, not the adjuster cap).  This obviously limits your ability to add anything like a cable hanger down the road, but on many bikes–especially classic racing bikes–this just isn't an issue, and keeping the headset's stack height low is a bigger priority.

Both headsets are available in 1", 1 1/8", and 1 1/4" sizes for straight steerer tubes, so you really can get whichever style works best for your bike and your intended use.  If you've got any questions about these, or anything else we sell, don't hesitate to get in touch.  We have experience with these on our bikes, and are always happy to help you decide which type will work best for you!

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Introducing STELBEL Frames.

If you're a regular reader of our blog or follow us on social media you'll know that we're big fans of steel frames here at AVT. So you can imagine that when Chris King ceased production of their house-brand Cielo frames back in 2017 we were naturally disappointed. Since then we've been looking hard for a comparable replacement, something that matches the exceptionally high standards of engineering, product design combined with custom geometry to create a truly world-class frame.

We think we've found the answer to that in Italy, with STELBEL frames and I'm pleased we're now able to offer them on as the perfect canvas for the high end parts we know and love from Chris King and others. A worthy successor to Cielo, I'm sure you'll agree!

Who are STELBEL?

Certainly not as well known as many Italian builders, STELBEL fly under the radar, and not just for their understated paint designs. I first came across them during a discussion with a colleague a few years back about whether TIG welding high end steel frames was something that was first done in the USA. Turns out it wasn't... that honor goes to Stelio Beletti in Italy back in 1973 (which he went on to patent in 1975). Back then this was cutting edge stuff! Remember pretty much everything was lugged or filet brazed at that time, both heavier forms of construction, and limiting in terms of tubing profiles and frame design.

1977 Stelbel Integrale. 


With so many high end steel frames to choose from today, both off the peg and custom why choose STELBEL? Given the competition in the steel frame category I guess it comes down to details that really make a frame stand out in a crowded market. For me there are a few things that jump right out with STELBEL:

- Frame Design Details. I think it was the dropouts that first caught my eye a few years ago and they still look sharper than anything out there today. Classic Italian design & engineering that creates something so visually compelling and functional at the same time, combined with the chunky chainstays they contribute to a stiffer frame ensuring all the power goes to the rear wheel. This thinking carries over into all the other frame components such as Headtube and BB Shell which are both engraved with the STELBEL logo.

- A full range combining specific models with custom geometry. Yes custom geometry is great, but there are also some benefits to a frame designer spending the time to create a range of bikes for specific purposes. It means as a customer we're not starting 100% from scratch each time and we can pick the frame best suited to the type of riding we're going to do. This means that certain elements of the frame design like tubing selection, frame components such as the type of BB shell and fork have all been carefully designed for the intended usage. 

Having this, combined with custom geometry gives a perfect combination of made to measure plus a frame that's designed by an engineer who's carefully considered the intended use and has gone through many prototypes to refine the frame design. Within each model design there are still plenty of options to customize the frame for whichever electronic shifting system you use, plus options like extra bottle cages, fender mounts and more.

- Just enough customization but not too much.... In the same vein as the frame design, STELBEL's approach to paint is a combination of leaning on their in house design expertise combined with a high level of customer customization. What this means is that the paint design schema (ie the patterns, logos, panels etc) is fixed for each model, but then the actual choice of the color used is totally open to whatever the customer wishes. 

Given the current trend towards rattle-can finishes (personally I'm not a fan, they look great from a far, but up close terrible) I'd rather let a professional designer handle the paint design in a way that really showcases the amazing craftsmanship that goes into producing the frame. Paint color can also be carried over to matching bars, stem and seatpost to complete the matchy, matchy look we strive so hard to help you achieve here with components from Chris King, White Industries, Phil Wood and more.

Right now we have our first frame on order, a staff build perfectly suited to the Pacific North West comprising an Antenore Disc stainless steel frame with matching fenders, practical in winter, fast in summer. Stay tuned as we take you through the build and design process and give us a shout if you have any questions on ordering a STELBEL for yourself.

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White Industries has your bottom bracket

With all of the bottom bracket standards these days, it can be hard to figure out what will work with your bike and crankset, and once you do figure it out, you don't always have a lot of options.  This is where White Industries comes in: with their BSA and T47 bottom brackets, there are options for 24mm (Shimano Hollowtech 2), 28.99mm (Sram DUB), and 30mm spindles, so if you have one of these two common threaded standards, you'll have no trouble getting a quality bottom bracket to fit whatever cranks you have.  On top of that, all of White Industries' BSA bottom brackets are available in their full range of colors! 

From left to right: BSA 24mm, BSA DUB, BSA 30

All White Industries bottom brackets us replaceable Enduro sealed cartridge bearings, complete with an extra seal on the outside (in these photos, that's the orange or blue part, depending on the bearing).  This seal is easy to remove, clean, and lubricate, which means that keeping your bearings in great shape is a cinch.  On top of that, all of the bottom brackets use precisely-sized bearings that match the diameter of the spindle for which they're designed.  Many other manufacturers tend to use bearings that have a plastic inner sleeve where they contact the spindle, and while that seems to work fine, we like the solidity of a metal-on-metal contact that these have.

Here you can see the metal inner race of each bearing.

If you have any questions about compatibility with your frame or crankset, feel free to get in touch

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White Industries Cranksets: Get The Gearing You Want

There are lots of things to like about White Industries line of cranksets: they're made in the US; available in various lengths, colors, and bottom bracket standards; and maybe best of all, they give you amazing flexibility when it comes to chainring types and sizes!

White Industries Polished M30 Crankset with BSA bottom bracket and CLD hub.

Whether you want a square taper crankset (with models for singlespeed MTB, or road) because it allows you to adjust the bottom bracket width and chainline to your hearts content, and use an incredibly-durable, low-maintenance bottom bracket like one of Phil Wood's square taper models, or you want a quality, Made in USA, 30mm spindle crankset that gives you the color options to match your headset, bottom bracket, or hubset, there is a White Industries crankset that will fit the bill.

G30 Crankset with TSR Chainring

If you want to run a 2x system, White Industries' Variable Bolt Circle (VBC) system is hugely flexible in its chainring options, with big rings from 52 down to 38 tooth, and small rings from 38 down to 24 tooth.  And if 1x is more your style, White Industries' TSR chainrings use a narrow-wide tooth profile to keep the chain in place and running quietly.

The same G30 crankset as above, but this time with a 46/30 VBC chainring combo.

Whichever type of chainring you start with, you can always swap it out because they're all attached with an easy-to-use lockring.


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Spring Classics in the State of Jefferson

In Southern Oregon, the Honey Badger Series rides are our Spring Classics.

Last Saturday, while across the world in France, riders were punishing themselves in the Paris-Roubaix Sportive or maybe Phillipe Gilbert was hopefully practicing his victory face in the mirror, a couple of us from AVT were exploring the dirt roads of Shasta County on yet another ride in the Honey Badger Series, the local dirt ride series that kicks off the riding season for many riders in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Cycling in the Shadows of Shasta on the Honey Badger.

The series has been going on for many years, and last year was taken over officially by the Siskiyou Saddle Tramps, where you can check out some of the favorite routes if you’re so-inclined. It’s Southern Oregon’s version of the fun unsupported, just-show-up-and-ride adventure ride where some riders go out to hammer and work on their race form and others just go out to see the scenery, and where whatever the goal, it’s okay because as long as you’ve got the route, you can go at your own pace.

Early on in Saturday's ride as those who would hammer, set out to hammer.
Descending one of the early rollers of last week's ride.

One of the really nice things about this series is that they naturally become more challenging as the year goes on. This is due to the snow that blankets the mountains all around us for much of the winter and on into the spring, and forces our rides down into the valleys. Valley riding tends to be on the flat side, and that’s just fine for spring legs that are only dreaming of being able to tackle the climbs of summer and fall.  Leading up to last Saturday’s ride, this year’s Honey Badgers have stuck mostly to the floor of the Shasta Valley, which is a bit like a treasure chest full of beautiful gravel and dirt roads that are low enough that they open up pretty early each spring. As the snow begins to retreat though, we can venture higher, and that’s what we did on this last one, which definitely had us feeling the elevation afterward!

Up into the mountains....

Looking down on the ribbon of dirt road up one of last weeks bigger climbs.

Hey! My bike's getting photo bombed!

If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check out the Siskiyou Saddle Tramps website, Facebook, or Instagram to see about upcoming rides.

Photos by: Brendon Potts.

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The GIOS #RetroRebuild - Part 2 The Full Reveal!

So, a few months back you may have read about us embarking on a retro rebuild project on a vintage 90's GIOS. It was all inspired by the limited edition release of the Astral Radiant rims in polished silver which reminded us so much of some classic Campy Shamals that we just had to find a suitable canvas to build a bike around them!

This was the starting point as far as inspiration for the bike build:

Remember our aim for this build was not a full 100% retro build, we were going for the retro look as close as possible but with some modern touches like 2 x 11 drivetrain, quality bearings from Chris King and a wider modern rim.

So how did we approach the rest of the build?

The wheels were the starting point for this so lets deal with those first; Astral Radiant 20/24 rims on Chris King Silver R45 hubs, these were handbuilt by our in-house wheelbuild team and finished off with some tan-wall Vittoria Corsa G+ 25c tires.

Next up we added a Chris King GripNut 1" headset in Silver, the perfect combination of old school standards with modern day bearings that will last a lifetime.

For the rest of the build we spec'd the brand new Campagnolo Potenza groupset which is available in a polished silver finish. This is a really great way to be able to build up a retro looking build with all the benefits of a modern groupset such as 2 x 11 compact gearing, dual pivot brakes and more. My only draw back when it comes to the Potenza polished groupset is on the rear derailleur which I think they could have done a better job of replacing the black plastic parts with silver ones.

For the finishing touches we went 100% retro for the cockpit, sourcing a vintage 3T titanium 1" quil stem, and NOS (new old stock) 3T bars with a classic bend. Seatpost is a used titanium one we had gathering dust, not sure on the brand but it fits and looks great on this build. For the saddle we went new with a white Fabric Scoop Ti, and white Fizik bar tape; again both modern options that totally fit our retro look. The build was finished off with stainless-steel King Cage bottle cages and Phil Wood skewers.

The finished article. Sit back and enjoy the rest of the photoset of the finished build, we hope you like the result as much as we do! 

Interested in buying this bike? Or looking for help with your own retrorebuild.. give us a shout!

Full Specification:

Frame & ForkGIOS Compact Pro (used)
WheelsAstral Radiant Polished rims on Chris King silver R45 hubs
TiresVittoria Corsa G+ Tire - 700 x 25, Clincher, Folding, Black/Tan, 320tpi
SkewersPhil Wood
HeadsetChris King Gripnut
BBCampagnolo Record Ultra-Torque Bottom Bracket Cups, Italian
CrankCampagnolo Potenza Crank, 175mm, 50/34, Silver
Bar3T handlebar Ergo Power Due 43cm TDF Bend (NOS)
Stem3T Titanium stem Pro 1 Inch Quill 130mm Length 3T Vintage 73° (used)
SeatpostTitanium (used - brand unknown)
ShiftersCampagnolo Potenza
BrakesCampagnolo Potenza
Rear MechCampagnolo Potenza
Front MechCampagnolo Potenza (braze on)
CagesKing Cage Stainless Steel
SaddleFabric Scoop Ti
ChainKMC X11-93
CassetteCampagnolo Chorus Cassette - 11 Speed, 11-27t, Silver

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These parts don’t just look good….

The parts we sell may be beautiful, but what really sets them apart is their design, function, and manufacture.

We post a lot of photos of beautifully machined and anodized parts from the likes of Chris King, White Industries, Paul Component, Industry Nine, Onyx Racing Products, and Phil Wood, and it can be easy to forget that the lovely finish is just the icing on the cake, as it were.

Onyx not only offers a huge array of colors, hub spacings, and axle types, but also have a unique silent clutch freehub

You can kind of look at the world of bike parts as coming in two types: those that come from a company with a clear history, an accessible staff, and a design process that takes their future usefulness into account, and those that don’t. While there are some really high quality parts coming out of Asian factories, the nature of many of those parts is that they are designed fill an order and that’s that. This is probably largely because so many of these factories have grown up to fulfill OE (Original Equipment) orders, where a bike company needs so many thousands of a certain hub one year, and then a year later they want something different. The mentality in this model is one of replacement in the case of failure—not service. Another aspect of this is simply one of distance and language. These factories are far away from many of the end users (that’s you and me), and aren’t set up or in a position to hear much from them, so making and supporting a product that is durable and serviceable just isn’t part of the business, and even if it is, the end user might have a very hard time actually reaching the company.

Paul makes some of the best brake levers available.

But that’s not the case at all with the parts we sell. Rather than being in the business of supplying large bike companies with cheap, replaceable parts, the companies that make them are almost all founded by people who wanted to create an alternative model in which parts are designed to be durable, serviceable, and as future-proof as possible because they were tired of dealing with low-quality parts that broke.

White Industries has a huge range of parts in various standards to adapt to just about any bike.

One example of designing from the standpoint of future-proofing is the White Industries freehub system. When a new freehub standard comes out, White Industries is great about designing a driver that will work with their current hubs so that if you have a wheelset you like, but you want the latest drivetrain, you aren’t forced to retire your old wheelset to get it.  And should you need a small part like a pawl or bearing for your older hub, getting one is easy.

In addition to their peerless bearings and freehub design, we love the ability to swap axles and endcaps on Chris King hubs to make them even more personalized.

Another perfect example of this is a Chris King bearing. Not only are these bearings made to extremely tight tolerances so that they run smoothly and efficiently from day one, they are also designed so that as they wear over thousands of miles, they can be adjusted and serviced so that instead of degrading, they wear-in to roll even more smoothly.  And when, after who knows how many tens of thousands of miles and grimy conditions, a bearing actually needs to be replaced, you can rest assured that there will be a replacement available.  This ensures that rather than having to simply buy a new wheelset when your hub fails for one reason or another, you’ll be able to service or replace the part that is worn, and keep going.  Whether it’s the bearings or the freehub, which only fully develops its classic buzz after hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles, Chris King hubs recall the best aspects of a time when the best parts were made to be broken in a bit in order to achieve their full potential because the intention on the part of the manufacturer was for the part to be in service for a very long time to come.

Industry Nine brought every part of production in house when they wanted the tightest control over their anodizing. The results are impressive.

And finally, one point that may be immaterial to the function of the part, but which bears serious consideration, is what happens to all of the metal and cutting fluid that’s left over after the part is finished. Chris King has to be the gold standard here, and has talked more than most about their careful recycling of everything from aluminum scrap to cutting fluid, but they’re not the only company that we sell who is careful about the disposal and recycling of their waste products. The regulations governing how these things are dealt with in the US are often a headache, but with each year bringing more news of the messes that are being created in places where there aren’t any such laws, we think they’re worth it.  We’d rather pay a little extra now, if it helps ensure the future of the people who make the parts we love, and the places we love to ride those parts.

So next time you find yourself contemplating whether that Chris King, White Industries, Paul, Phil Wood, Industry Nine, or Onyx part is worth it, these are some things you might add to your list of considerations. We tend to think that most of these parts look like a bargain once you think about them this way. What about you?

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