Category: Bling Builds


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A custom wheelset for when you need a trio of wheels....

Sometimes you need a custom wheelset because your current wheelset is worn out, and sometimes you need one because you're building your dream bike and there isn't a stock wheelset that will do the trick!

That was certainly the case with this trio of AVT Works Custom Wheels that we recently built for a customer's new bike!  This rider wanted two front wheel options for his new bike, and they needed to match, so he had us build two front wheels-one with the tougher Enve M930 laced to 20mm thru-axle Chris King ISO AB hub, and one M630 laced to a 15mm thru axle Chris King ISO AB hub–and one rear wheel built around a Chris King ISO-B hub.  He has two different forks for this bike, and needed a wheel for each, hence the different spec.  All three wheels were laced with Sapim CX Ray spokes which are the strongest as well as one of the lightest spokes on the market today.  If you've been checking our posts recently, you'll remember that we posted some photos of this wheelset in process as we got the parts and again once we'd finished the wheels.  We did that not only because it's a trio of wheels that uses rad parts, but because this rider wanted silver accents! 

The stock hub on the left, and the finished product on the right

We love black parts, but sometimes it's really refreshing to see something that's really different, and this wheelset is nothing if not different!  We started out by switching the hardware on the hubs out to silver.  Chris King had just recently changed all of their hubs (apart from silver) to being supplied with black hardware, so we had to swap the axles and adjuster caps out.  

All of the parts set out and ready to build

Once we got the hubs prepared, we built the wheels.

The finished wheels are gorgeous.  The silver Sapim CX Ray spokes give the wheelset give the wheels a completely different appearance than the black spokes we're used to seeing laced to carbon rims, and we think it's a rad way to pull together  a classic look with modern parts to create something truly unique!

Built, but with the original decals

The resulting bike is an impressive combination of the latest tech and a very thorough matching color scheme!  Notice that the final touch on the wheels was to swap out the stock decals to matching matte punch ones.  This is a detail that we like about Enve rims, and it's certainly used to full advantage here!

The wheels with their new decals on the bike

There are many ways in which a wheelset can be custom for its rider, and this one is a perfect example of someone making use of just about all of them: the rider needed a wheelset that would match the quality and color scheme of his bike, that would be able to accommodate his two different forks and their intended use, and finally, he needed a wheelset that would handle the kind of riding for which his bike was designed! 


Admittedly, this set might not be in everyone's budget, but whether you are looking for one where money is no object or one on more of a budget, there's no reason to think a custom wheelset is out of reach!  We have a whole host of options to help you get the best wheelset for your riding style, bike, and budget; and with 34 years of experience, our wheelbuilder will build you the best wheelset around, and we think you'll be happy you took the leap!


For more info, head over to our AVT Works Custom Wheels page!

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12 Bling Builds of Xmas - Mike Desalvo's Builder's Choice

Even though we already did a post about this bike not too long ago, we just couldn't leave it off our 12 Bling Builds of Xmas list because it's simply a beautiful, well-executed bike!

Like many of the other bikes we've featured in this series, this one would be perfect for the terrain around our home base of Ashland, Oregon, and we feel like that also means that it would be great in most other places as well!  The titanium frame, clearances for larger tires, and durable, beautiful, and mechanically great parts kit would be able deliver great performance nomatter where a ride might take you!

And it should come as no surprise that we like a bike that doesn't forget how it looks, and this one is one of the most beautiful bikes we've seen this year!  Painting titanium isn't necessary for the frame's durability, and that fact opens up more options in terms of how much of the bike gets painted.  This one makes perfect use of that!  Finally, the Matte Turquoise Parts from Chris King get integrated into the whole bike so well, that they really work well as accents that tie the bike together rather than just screaming over the rest of it.

This year's order window for these bikes has closed, but we're sure Mike can still build you something similar: it'll just have to be your choice this time!


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12 Bling Builds of Xmas - Kellan's Landshark MTB

If you checked out our post of Kellan's Chris Cross from last week, you already know that he has some impressive bikes!  This one is solidly in the one-off category, and was the first 27.5" bike that John at Landshark had built!  Kellan explains the build:

Since I could not find exactly what I wanted out of a stock bike I knew I wanted to go the custom route.  Since I wanted a fast handling bike to handle the tight singletrack I normally ride on I opted for steeper angles than what’s popular at the moment.  Once the frame was designed the next step is coming up with a paint scheme. Since I went through this with a previous Land Shark I had some ideas but wasn’t complete sure.  The original idea was to copy the Alexander Calder BMW art car from 1975 but when looking at similar cars I stumbled upon this photo of the Hamann McLaren and decided to show John the picture.

Since I wasn’t completely sure what the paint would look like I ordered a black Chris King InSet 7 and a black PressFit 30.  For the rest of the build I wanted to go with parts I knew would last: I did a Shimano 2x11 XT build, rounding it out with a Thomson post, Ritchey bullmoose bar, and a wheelset using White Industries CLD hubs laced to Velocity Blunt SS rims.

The paint is different on each side:

Of course you need your name painted on the bike so you can recognize it is yours:

My friends at ESI sent me some custom grips to add a bit more color:

The bike spends 90% off its time with a rigid Enve MTN fork but occasionally I put a 100mm fork to change it up a little:

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12 Bling Builds Of Xmas - Argonaut GR2

I once made the mistake of dropping on to say hi to Ben at Argonaut and going for a ride around Bend with him... he absolutely ripped my legs off!! Thankfully the by-product of all that fast riding are some truly amazing bikes that come out of the Argonaut workshop. 

Unlike many builders, Argonaut waited a long time to release their first gravel bike...and for good reasons since technical standards like flat mount brakes and thru axle sizes had yet to settle down somewhat and reach an industry consensus.

The result is the stunning looking GR2 launched earlier this year.

What I love most about this bike is that it approaches the gravel bike design from the angle of a pure roadie. This is a slammed, aggressive machine that wouldn't look out of place in a road race peloton with some deep section road wheels on it. But with clearance for 37c WTB Riddler tires this thing is ideally suited to ripping up the fire roads of Oregon. 

Back in the day we'd just ride gravel on a road bike with no need for a specific bike... do we really need specific bikes for gravel? Maybe, or maybe not.. but if you have the luxury of having a bike like this in your stable you're certainly going to going a lot faster.

Frame Specs:
Full carbon bladder molded frame construction
Rider specific layup pattern
142 x 12 rear spacing
Speed Release front and rear thru-axle
ENVE GRD Fork
Chris King i8 Headset
Chris King T47 bottom bracket
Chris King R45D hubs on Enve rims
Clearance for 700x38c tire.
As pictured: 16lbs

Photo Credit: Argonaut Cycles.

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12 Bling Builds of Xmas - Nathan Riddle's Santa Cruz Chameleon

Nathan Riddle's gravel bike is pure custom, even if it's built on a stock frame!

Local Ashland, Oregon, shredder Nathan Riddle, is best known for his mountain bike skills and Riddler tires he designed for WTB, but even he had to try out the whole gravel bike thing, and we love his take on it!  It seems fitting that such a great mountain biker wouldn't build your ordinary gravel bike, and this is definitely not your ordinary gravel bike!

He approached the process in true mountain-biker fashion by starting with Santa Cruz's classic Chameleon frameset with a Chris King InSet, and building it around his 700x45c Riddler tires.  By using a Sram 1x11 drivetrain he was able to free up the front shifter to operate his dropper post too!  Because he used a Rockshox Reverb dropper, which uses a hydraulic actuator, the process of using the shifter for the dropper remote wasn't entirely straightforward, but by using a Bikeyoke cable-to-hydraulic adapter and removing the shift internals in the shifter, he got it to work. 

This bike is a bit like a DIY version of the Desalvo we featured last week, but it also falls a bit more on the mountain bike end of the spectrum with it's Rockshox SID fork, which, while short travel by mountain standards, is has a lot more travel than any standard gravel bike would be used to!  This definitely would be an awesome bike for our area because it looks like it would rip gravel and singletrack!

From the sound of it, this bike is a test rig to get the build right, and Nathan plans on swapping the parts over to a purpose-built TI Desalvo gravel bike, so we have something else to look forward to!

One of the things that we love about this bike is how the rider comes through in the build: it's hard to get that feel in a stock gravel bike, and it's one of the reasons that this one made our list!  

Photo credit:

Nathan Riddle

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12 Bling Builds of Xmas - Gabe's Gravel Bike

Here's another bling build from a local builder for a local rider, and it's a perfect example of the ideal all around bike for the area around Ashland, Oregon, where we're based.  A great steel frame can have a just bit of spring to it, which is why they're sometimes said to feel more 'alive' than those made from other materials, and this one definitely has the ideal amount of spring!  It's stiff, with just enough spring to take the edge off the rough stuff and make the rider feel like their bike is helping them with each pedal stroke, all while keeping the weight to a minimum to make an impressively light bike! 

With 700x42c micro-knobby tires, dynamo lighting, and a very wide range 1x drivetrain, this gravel / allroad bike is designed to rip the dirt roads that spread out in every direction from here, without feeling sluggish on the pavement!  The build is a mix of White Industries G30 cranks, tapered headset, headset spacers, and XMR rear hub with a SON Dynamo front, and a Chris King ThreadFit 30 bottom bracket.  The shifting is handled by Shimano Ultegra Shifters paired to an XT rear derailleur using a Wolftooth Tanpan. 

Check out the photos below, and let us know if you have any questions!

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12 Bling Builds Of Xmas - Palmer Custom eTap

Today's Bling Build was built by our own Alex Palmer!  Here's how he explains the process:

When I was a bike obsessed kid in the late 80's and early 90's I had the good fortune that my Dad taught high school technology (ie wood / metal shop)... cycling was in the family for generations so it was only natural to scratch that bike nerd itch by trying to build some steel frames. It was a pure home / garage project, using my Dad's metal working skills, some Reynolds 531 tubesets and very rudimentary jigs.. but the result was around 20 or so frames that we built before I was 18 and gave up bike racing and went to Uni.

Steel frames rapidly went out of fashion at the time in the mid-90's so I forgot about making bikes..... then fast forward to the summer of 2012, I had some time on my hands between jobs, the steel frame scene had made a full on comeback with some interesting new features like oversized tubing, electronic shifting etc. So I thought i'd see if I still had the skills to build a frame.

Given that my frame building experience was somewhat limited I stuck to lugged construction, and sourced some really nice oversize lugs which let me run the largest diameter Columbus LIFE tubes I could find. The geometry is full on custom.. I ride a really forward saddle position, and love frames with short chainstays so I went all out and built this with a 75degree seat angle, tucked the rear wheel in as close as possible and used a 25mm set back seat post. The rear wheel clearance is paper thin with 28c tires, anything larger and it shaves a little bit of paint off the back of the seat tube!

While the bike was originally built with Di2 in mind, the advent of eTap a few years ago saw a re-build, and I love the clean lines you get on a steel frame without any cables or wires. The frame was repainted last year by Co Motion in a 7-Eleven inspired livery complete with Silca Impero frame pump. The build features ENVE bar / stem / fork / seat post / bottle cages, Chris King headset and BB, EE Cycleworks brakes and some Zipp 303 wheels re-built by our AVT wheelbuilder on some black White Industries T11 hubs, secured in place with matching red Phil Wood skewers.

It's still my goto ride and I still absolutely love it... fast handling with enough comfort for longer days in the saddle and that nice steel springy feeling. Stay tuned in 2019, this might not be the last you see of Palmer Bikes!

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12 Bling Builds Of Xmas - Starling Murmur 29er

It's no secret here at AVT we love steel bikes and frequently feature them in our Bling Builds blog feature. But a 29er steel full suspension bike is a much rarer beast.. and one that gets a killer ride review from legendary Dirt Mag journo Steve Jones is pretty much a total unicorn. 

"THIS GARDEN SHED BUILT STEEL 145MM BIKE has changed our expectations GREATLY. NOW WE KNOW HOW A GOOD MID TRAVEL BIKE CAN AND SHOULD FEEL LIKE. the Starling Murmur LEAVES US ASKING THE QUESTION – DOES ALUMINIUM OR CARBON FIBER REALLY HAVE A PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGE AT ALL?" Steve Jones - Dirt Magazine.

So we just had to include the Starling Murmur in our top 12 Bling Builds of 2018. No it doesn't come with a full flight of Chris King or White Industries components...in fact it doesn't have any of those. 

But for a full sus rig, that's designed in a garden shed in Bristol, England its certainly worthy of it's place. Stay tuned in 2019 as we'd love to get our hands on one of these (with a full component of Chris King goodies) to rail down our local trails here in Ashland, Oregon.

Photo Credits:

Pinkbike.

Dirt Magazine.

Starling Website.

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12 Bling Builds Of Xmas - DeSalvo Tomac-ular Spectacular

I grew up in the 90's and my cycling heroes of the time from the pages of VeloNews and Cycling Weekly were the likes of LeMond, Frishknecht, Cipollini and of course John Tomac. As he was mixing road racing with 7-Eleven / Motorola alongside crushing the Grundig World Cup (and racing DH!), Tomac's drop bar Yeti was one of THE iconic bikes of the 90's, complete with Tioga disc drive rear wheel. Tomac was definitely onto something given the current trend towards gravel bikes with wide 650B tires which are starting to look a lot like a mid 90's MTB.

So I was stoked when I saw Mike DeSalvo's NAHBS Tomac-ular Spectacular earlier in the year and it was a shoe-in for a spot in our 12 Bling Build Of Xmas.


Anyway, back to the sublime welds on the DeSalvo...you might have seen a few DeSalvos on our blog this past year, for good reason. Mike is a neighbor of ours in Ashland, Oregon and we love to support local builders, but he also turns out some on the most beautifully crafted, understated bikes around. I think without doubt, most people we all ride with round here, including everyone on the AVT staff have a DeSalvo on their "one day wish list".

A regular winner at NAHBS, Mike took a different approach to the show this year building just one bike, and turning it over to his fans to come up with the inspiration for that bike. The lucky winner came up with the idea for a Tomac inspired, drop bar MTB complete with blue goodness from Paul and White Industries. FOX gravel fork and drop bar actuated dropper post.

From this:

To this!


Photo Credits:

Cycling Tips.

DeSalvo Cycles.

The Radavist.

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12 Bling Builds of Xmas - Kellan's Chris Cross

Kellan's Chris Cross has to be part of our 12 Bling Builds of Xmas because it's a unique and colorful build, and an impressive bike!

Back in August we profiled this Fat Chance Chris Cross that belongs to AVT staffer Kellan.  It's just such a cool and unique bike that we felt that we just had to include it in our 12 Bling Builds of Xmas series!  This is a Fat Chance unlike any other, with its wild Land Shark paint job and precisely eclectic parts kit that ties into the paint perfectly.

Here's what he had to say about it (from the original post)...

“I wanted something unique so for paint I reached out to Sara Slawta (Land Shark) and told her I really like the Stickman from Fat City Cycles back in the day, but to surprise me, with the caveat that I'm not the biggest fan of the color pink. 

After I saw how great the frame looked I reached out to ESI who have made custom grips for me before and told them to come up with something wild to keep with the theme. 

Rounding out the build I went with parts I know always work: 

  • White Industries G30 crank, with mismatched extractor bolts and White Industries BSA BB.
  • Chris King headset in Matte Slate; 
  • Thomson cockpit, including their new dirt drops; 
  • Brooks C15 saddle; 
  • Donnelly PDX tires, great for racing cx in the PNW; 
  • Rolf wheels were great to deal with being a semi-local company; 
  • Lastly I have always wanted a bike with Shimano Di2 so this was the perfect time. With a bit of a delay on the hydraulic calipers from Shimano the bike is photographed with TRP brakes for now.”

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