Category: Bling Builds

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Bling Builds: Kellan's Steel Land Shark Road Shark

Kellans' Landshark Road Shark with its new Phil Wood 1' Threadless Headset

Long before John Slawta of Landshark Bicycles got into making frames from carbon fiber, he was known for his beautiful steel frames.  Though many well-known racers have used his frames, probably the most well-known is Andy Hampsten, who won the 1988 Giro d'Italia on one.  This one, built with Columbus MAX tubing–is a perfect example of the beautiful workmanship that John has been known for in his long and prolific career as a framebuilder.  AVT staffer Kellan bought this Landshark Road Shark frame used a few years ago, and has added to the build as he found parts that would complement it well.    

Kellan's Landshark

But John isn't just known for his ability to take tubes and create a bike from them, because one of the aspects of every Landshark that jumps out first is the paint.  John, who had planned and studied to be an artist, paints each frame himself, and the results tend to be elaborate, which means that this relatively subdued scheme might make this frame even more noteworthy!  Still, while it may be relatively low-key, the skull and crossbones motif shows that the bike is very much a Landshark.

Low profile until you get close, Phil Wood polished 1" Threadless Headset, Landshark

AVT staffer Kellan bought this Road Shark frame used a few years ago, and has added to the build as he found parts that would complement it well.  He's echoed the frame's black and white paint with his choice of Sram Force drivetrain, and the rest of the parts work well to keep up the contrasting black and white or black and silver look.  Some of the component highlights include black Phil Wood Pro Road hubs built on Astral Radiant rims, with matching black Phil Wood Skewers, and the latest addition, a polished silver Phil Wood 1" Threadless Headset.

And like many good projects, this one isn't quite finished.  Kellan plans to put a Wound Up fork on the bike as a final touch.  But that will have to wait for another post.  For now, we hope you enjoy the photos!  

Phil Wood Pro Road Hubs, Skewers, and Polished 1" Threadless Headset, and Columbus MAX tubing
Astral Radiant rims on Phil Wood Pro Road hubs: one of the options available on AVT Works custom wheels

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Stelbel Build Part 1; Frame Design & Geometry

Since we added Stelbel frames to our site a few months back we've been working on a staff frame order to document and showcase the process when you order one of these frames. 

Step 1. Decide which model to go for.

As we described in a previous post, Stelbel offers what we consider to be a perfect mix of custom geometry combined with a range of specific frame models each with their own ride characteristics and intended use. 

My plan for this frame is for it to be a true all-year-round road bike ideally suited to the riding here in Southern Oregon. That means full length fenders for winter road miles, and clearance for a wider, gripper tire in the summer without fenders. Not a gravel bike per-se, more a versatile road machine that can handle the many miles of gravel / fire roads here without compromising on a roadie position. A roadie's gravel bike if you like...

So that means a disc build which narrows down the options to 3; SB/03, Rodano and Antenore. Of the 3 it was a pretty easy decision, I ruled out the SB/03 as it's a little racy, so that left the Rodano & Antenore. Similar in riding style, but what sealed the deal for me is the stainless construction and raw back end on the Antenore Disc.

Step 2. Frame Geometry.

Stelbel can work with a variety of different ways to size up your frame and get the ideal geometry, but normally the best place to start is with a full bike fit (by Retul or similar). I ride a custom steel frame most of the time and had been fitted on this last summer by Bike Effect in Santa Monica so with my position pretty dialed I used this a starting point.

Taking precise measurements from the Palmer frame, these were sent over to Stelbel with some explanatory notes. In particular regarding the seat angle on my Palmer frame which is pretty steep, combined with a 25mm set back post. I left it to Stelbel to figure out what to do with this; either reduce the seat angle and go with a zero set back post, or stick with something similar. Turns out they are used to building frames with steeper seat angles and are not fans of the zero set back post, so they recommended a 25mm set back combined with a 75 degree seat angle.

Chainstay length is TBC, based on whatever they need to accommodate a fender and 28c tire, i'm expecting it to be a little longer than normal which is fine for this type of bike in order to give the fender / tire clearance it needs.

Lastly, I decided to reduce stem length from 130mm to 120mm to provide a bit more stability in handling, with keeping the rider position as close as possible to my current ride.

Within a day or so, Andrea at Stelbel crunched the numbers and sent me back this frame design to check over:

Step 3. Frame Design & Features.

For the last step in the process I had some specific asks for Stelbel to make this a true year round frame rather than a pure road disc frame. I went with the Columbus Futura Gravel fork, which is a little longer axle to crown than what's normally spec'd on this frame. It provides the all important fender mounts and extra clearance to run at least 28c tires with fenders in the winter, then wider gravel tires in the summer without fenders.

I also asked for a pump peg on the inside of the headtube to run a Silca Impero frame pump. Fender mounts will be of the bottle cage bolt variety at the foot of the seat-stay so as to not stand out too much without fenders attached. Having used eTap for the past few years I decided to stick with this groupset option, especially as it builds such a clean frame without cable guides.

Step 4.  Final Review.

Once I had checked and double checked Antonio's design it was time to sign-off the design and let Stelbel get to work. Now the really hard tasks start... waiting until the fall for the frame to be finished and deciding on the paint color!

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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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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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Bikes of NAHBS: Part 2

Best of NAHBS 2019 bikes part 2

As anyone who has been to a show like the North American Handmade Bicycle Show knows, the number and variety of bikes is a bit overwhelming.  From traditional to outlandish, there is a huge range of bikes to see, and that means sensory overload at the very least.

We like bikes that have (according to us at least) a tasteful use of color through paint and parts, and that look like they'd be fun to ride.  At this show we also found ourselves drawn most to the road bikes that were on display. Even having narrowed the choices down that much, there were still a lot of them to choose from, and that makes the process of determining which ones will show up here that much more challenging!

Here are a few more bikes that stood out to us:

Simple Bike Co Titanium All Road

This is one of a few Simple Bike Co bikes on display at NAHBS, and they were all very cool.  Oscar from Simple has been building for many other US-made brands over the years, and many of us aren’t familiar with the frames he builds under his own brand, but we should be!

The matte paint on this bike gives it a really clean look, and we love the way the Chris King matte slate InSet and R45D Centerlock hubs pick up the titanium color and contrast with the yellow.  

Black Cat All-Weather All-Road

This Black Cat is one of those bikes that if you weren't looking closely, would let you walk right by it; but if you happened to actually give it a second glance, you'd be pulled in by its details.  The paint, which had a beautiful semi-gloss finish, was an intricate pattern of blue on blue, and that theme was echoed in the blue Chris King R45D hubs, tapered NoThreadSet, and fenders that were painted to match the frame, fork, and stem.  Overall it was a surprisingly subtle bike considering how much it had going on, and we really liked it.

Mosaic RT-1

With so many beautiful bikes to choose from at the their booth, it’s hard not to feature a couple of bikes from Mosaic in our coverage of NAHBS.  If you've ever visited Mosaic's website, you'll find that they have an extremely thorough range of paint options, and the bikes they brought to NAHBS really showed-off what they're capable of when it comes to paint.  Of course once you get close to the bikes, it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on than flashy paint, but that paint sure is effective at drawing you in!  The Chris King InSet is one of the few parts that isn't custom painted given that the everything from the Silca pump to the hubs on the Enve wheels get the custom treatment on this shimmering blue beauty.

Caletti Jeremiah Kille Titanium Adventure Road

This Caletti was eye catching to say the very least. With paint by Jeremiah Kille, and a booth designed around the bike,  it really stood out.  It’s also a perfect example of an instance where having hubs, headset, and other parts that don’t match. Generally it just makes sense that you would try to color-match these parts, but with paint like this, the shiny black Chris King InSet works perfectly with the matte turquoise R45D Centerlock hubs and ThreadFit 30 bottom bracket.

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Ride to Nahbs 2019

Bikepacking to NAHBS 2019 in Sacramento, CA

My buddy Nick put it best when he said that one of the great things about going to the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show is that it gives us the chance to just talk about bikes.  Events like it remind us that we’re not alone in our fascination with, and passion for these things—just look at all the work that the builders have put into the ones they've got on display!

A special event like that warrants a special introduction, and what better intro than a ride to the event?  I had seen Nick and another friend when they arrived in Sacramento after a similar ride the last time the event was held there, back in 2016, and had promised myself that I wouldn’t miss it were I given the opportunity to do the ride next time.

Nick setting out into the early morning from Santa Rosa
Early on the first climb

That’s where I stood when I got the word that he was putting together a ride to this year’s edition of NAHBS. It would leave from Santa Rosa, and ride the 110-or-so miles to Sacramento, where the event was held.  Getting to the start would be a trick, but I knew that missing it wasn't an option.

Shige and Nick high on the first climb.  It was steeper than it looks!

Where the first iteration had followed pavement all the way, this time Nick wanted to stay off the paved roads as much as possible because of how narrow and full of cars they were on that previous ride. The options for any kind of roads between Santa Rosa and Sacramento are pretty limited as you get closer to the Central Valley though, so it wasn’t simply a matter of choosing a different route and being done with it.  In the end, the route was a bit of an open question of whether we'd be able to make it, and that meant that it had all the makings of a great adventure.

Our little group consisted of  Shige and Rie from Sim Works; Nick, the master of ceremonies, Adam Sklar, builder of swoopy bicycles, Derek from Siskiyou Saddletramps, and our friend Eli.  We even got the royal treatment in the form of some old friends who rolled out on the first leg with us!  

Our crew plus a few who rode out with us on the first leg enjoying the view on the first summit
Our collection of bikes waiting while we ate in St. Helena

That ride ended up being a perfect example of bikepacking at its best (and most multi-surface), taking us up out of the Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valleys over a lung and leg-buster of a climb, before heading down a brake-burning descent into St. Helena in the Napa Valley, at the beating heart of the California Wine Country.  We had been told that we had to stop at the Clif Family Tasting Room, which is set-up to be very welcoming to cyclists and happens to have fantastic coffee.  Once outside though, we were pulled across the parking lot by the smell of tasty tacos, at the Azteca Market, so it was with full bellies that we set off from St. Helena, and headed up to the secluded town of Angwin for the last resupply of day one.  After a stop at the market for dinner and breakfast, we managed to squeeze in a bit of singletrack—complete with creek-crossings, slippery, rutted descents, and a touch of bushwacking—before emerging at last in Pope Valley to bathe in the golden light of a California spring evening on our way to camp on the shores of Lake Berryessa.

Riding trails around Berryessa

The morning of the second day found us anxiously awaiting the sun as it rose behind the mountains that we would soon climb. While the day before had been warm, it hadn’t been hot, and the night got cold—much colder than the summer sleeping bags that many of us had so hopefully packed were prepared to handle.

Lake Berryessa waiting for the sunrise

Soon we were back on the road though, and for the next many hours we pushed our bikes across washed-out creek crossings, struggled to maintain traction on steep-cattle-trampled climbs, and squinted at our maps to make sure we were actually where we wanted to be (or at least still headed in the right direction). We rode through an epic stretch of scorched earth and charred manzanita bush stumps before being rewarded with a 360 degree view that really let us stretch-out our eyes.

The day started down in the verdant green lowlands
Through the burn
Shige climbing up through the remnants of a burn
Big views....

After taking in the panorama for a bit, we pushed on down the hill into the valley, only stopping to form small bucket-brigades to pass bikes over cow-field gates that happened to cross our path. The descent was, as they say, ripping; but was over before we knew it, and we found ourselves surrounded by peach orchards, then walnuts, oranges, and kale.

The crew as we near Sacramento
Sacramento in the distance

We refueled at the first convenience store we found, and headed off across the flat expanse of valley toward Sacramento, which was already showing the tops of its tall downtown buildings in the distance.

20-or-so miles of narrow farm roads full of afternoon traffic gave way to wide clean shoulders and miles of slow-to-stopped traffic on Interstate 5 when we had to bypass a large flooded area, and then it was back to narrow roads and no shoulder as our mellow paceline rolled along the Sacramento river toward downtown. We finally pulled up to the state capital as dark was really settling in, and after a quick stop at Sacramento Convention Center, where the show was taking place, we all dispersed in search of our respective showers and dinners.

Riding to the show was a great experience, and though I might be wary of doing the exact same route again, given some of the challenging spots we encountered, getting to show up at the bike show on a bike felt awesome, and I'd highly recommend it.  If you get the opportunity to ride to next year’s show in Houston, go for it!

Photos by Brendon Potts

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Bikes of NAHBS: Part 1

Some of our favorite bikes from NAHBS 2019

This year's edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show just finished up this last weekend in Sacramento, California, and we were there to see what we could see.  It's really impressive to see the workmanship on many of the frames on display, but of course, it's usually the paint that catches the eye first.  Paint jobs this year were, as usual, amazing, over-the-top, tastefully understated, garish, and just about everything in between.  The bike that won best finish didn't even have paint on it, but more on that later....

Whether or not you're looking for your next bike, we find the ways builders combine parts and paint to be really inspiring, and hope you do too.  If you see color combos or parts that you don't know where to get on these bikes, and you'd like to get the same setup on your bike, we're happy to help you get exactly the look you want, so feel free to get in touch

For the moment, enjoy the bikes....

Mosaic GT-1

The bikes at the Mosaic booth were all stunners, but this one had a special combination of a subdued green-green fade paint job combined with Chris King's Matte Mango R45D Centerlock hubs, Threadfit bottom bracket, and Inset headset (with matching spacers) that gave just the right amount of 'pop'. 

Very nice indeed.

Dekerf Ti Mountain Bike

Chris Dekerf has been building frames in B.C. for over 30 years, and in that time he's also brought paint in-house, which makes his paint that much more impressive.  This Gulf Racing-themed bike was thorough to say the least.  He repainted everything–right down to the adjusters and air cap on the fork and the Enve stem.  Talking with Chris, it becomes clear how much he cares about each aspect of building the bike, and this is a perfect example of that.  The iconic paint is accented perfectly by the black White Industries headset, and CLD+ hubs.

Hunter All Road

Rick Hunter's bikes have a beautiful simplicity to them.  Even when they seem to have fun and odd details, he somehow makes a bike that looks unassuming and just very much about being a great and beautiful bicycle.  This road bike is a perfect example of that with its simple lines, single-color paint, and black White Industries R30 cranks, bottom bracket, headset, CLD hubs, and Paul Klamper brakes and Boxcar stem.  Even with the latest electronic drivetrain the bike wouldn't look out of place anywhere. 

Well done!

Sycip Designs Breakaway 

Jeremy Sycip has a varied repertoire—from cargo bikes to lightweight road and mountain bikes—but we really like the look of this all-weather fat-tire road bike with Ritchey Breakaway couplers.  With a wide-range double drivetrain, and just enough red accents from its shift housing and Chris King headset and spacers, R45D Centerlock hubs, Threadfit bottom bracket, and even the Silca pump, we think it's got a great balance of utility and bling.

We hope you enjoy these, but stay tuned for more, and if you have any questions about the parts and how to get look and parts you want for your bike, just get in touch.

All photos: Brendon Potts

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Starting a GIOS #RetroRebuild - Part 1

If you're a regular to the AVT Blog you'll know that we're big fans of a nice steel bike build, and when that's a classic retro one it's a bonus! One of the great things about the parts we specialize in is their ability to fit all sorts of old or unusual frames. The blend of old and new components is something that, if done right can look great and prolong the life of older, classic frames when paired with high quality parts from Chris King, White Industries or others that will go on for years themselves. 

Inspiration Part 1:

The idea for this build really all started a few weeks back with Astral doing a very limited edition run of sliver polished Radiant rims, reminiscent of the classic Campagnolo Shamal rims from the 90's. So that got us thinking, wouldn't it be an awesome retro rebuild to lace up a pair of these wheels on a classic looking frame from the past. The idea took hold in my mind and I started building up a mental picture of what I wanted, some classic Italian steel combined with modern parts that look retro but work great. No disrespect to some of the older parts from the 90's but bearing performance in particular has come a long, long way since then. The other modern rim that works great in this sort of application is the HPLUS SON TB14 which is a new box section rim that looks very similar to the classic Ambrosio Roubaix rim. 

Inspiration Part 2:

A quick search on eBay showed up a vintage GIOS frame that I recognized from at least 6 months earlier indicating it had been on the market a while, so sent the seller a speculative offer and was pleasantly surprised when it was accepted right away. I've always been a huge fan of these GIOS frames and remember racing against a guy who had one when I was an under-18. You know the type of guy.. the one who had ALL the gear at age 16, Delta brakes, Italian frame with lots of chrome.. I could only look on enviously as my paper round couldn't stretch to the level of bike bling back then! 

Anyway, back to the present day... The frame showed up and it looks great, functionally 100%, no dents or major scratches, but clearly some cosmetic wear and tear. After closer inspection I did consider whether to go for a full renovation and have the frame repainted, but honestly there's something I quite like about the older frame that shows some use. Bikes are meant to be ridden, not hung up on the wall and admired from afar, so a few bumps and scratches which give away the frames age are fine with me. I want to be able to ride this bike regularly.. in the summer at least!

Right now the plan is to clean up and polish the frame as best as possible, which will include removing some of the non-GIOS graphics on the seat stays. The build will start with a Chris King silver GripNut headset and some Chris King Silver R45 hubs laced to those shiny Astral Radiant rims. As for the rest, stayed tuned for more details on this build over the coming months. It's going to be a stunning mix of old and new that respects the retro heritage of this special frame!

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