Your Dream Touring Bike

ABOUTCYLING have this great list on their site

I’ve completed an internet trawl to find some of the nicest, most aesthetically pleasing touring bikes getting about and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what’s coming up.

Somehow I’ve ended up with the majority of these bikes made in the USA, so either my taste is for North American builders, or perhaps North American builders are better exposed on the internet. I’m keen to get a more international splash of handmade bikes on this page, so please drop a comment with a bike that you think is just as worthy as these. It has to be pretty special, with nice paint and colour-matched parts – good driveside pictures are also essential.


Out of the 28 bikes on showcase, this is the characteristic breakdown:

  • Handlebars: Drop (20), Flat (8).
  • Brakes: Disc (14), Cantilever (10), Road (1), hydraulic rim (1), V-brake (2).
  • Mudguards: Metal (15), Plastic (6), None (6), Wooden (1).
  • Frame Material: Titanium (14), Steel (10), Stainless Steel (4).
  • Gears: Derailleur (17), Internally Geared Hub (9), Gearbox (2).
  • Shifters: STI (7), Barend (5), Gripshift (10), Downtube (2), Trigger (2), Stem (1), Retroshift (1).
  • Country of Origin: USA (19), Australia (3), Switzerland (3), The Netherlands (3).


This Swiss company works with titanium to make unique touring bikes for purposes from light touring to expedition. We couldn’t pick one to show you, so we settled for three. Many of their bikes use Rohloff 14s hubs, Pinion 18s gearboxes and Gates Carbon Drive. Integrated racks and seatposts, and matching stems finish the Hilite look.

Van Nicholas

This Dutch builder has specialised in titanium over the years, putting together some mighty fine looking touring bikes. The Pioneer Rohloff 29er is unique compared to most touring bikes, in that it can squeeze in wide 700c tyres. Van Nicholas come with all the top end touring gear, including Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff 14s hubs. Matching stems, handlebars and seatposts complete the look.


Breadwinner of Portland (USA) are Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira. These two builders teamed up together “to get more beautiful bikes to more people who ride everyday”. Although I’m not a huge fan of the green, the matching stem and pump look superb, and make sure to check out the headtube badge in Breadwinner’s website – it’s a work of art. The only thing I don’t agree at all with is the use of Shimano Ultegra crankset and derailleurs, as they’re too modern-looking on such a classic bike. If it were mine, it’d be silver Campagnolo components instead.

Ti Cycles

Dave Levy of Ti Cycles has gone all out on this unique ride. In Dave’s Portland (USA) workshop, he has managed to create a titanium frame that looks nothing like the rest on the list, given the hyper extended top tube. The more impressive features include the custom ti racks with integrated mudguard struts, the u-lock holder and the Supernova dynamo light fittings. My only gripes are the use of yellow on the stem and the Shimano road crankset which seems a bit out of place here.

Horse Cycles

Light blue is pretty much my favourite colour, so it is no suprise that this stainless steel Horse by Thomas Callahan in New York (USA) makes the list. It seems a bit more randonneur than most on this list, but given it has custom front and rear racks we’ll consider it a tourer. The colour-matched ‘guards look incredible, as do the racks and fillet-brazed stem. My only gripe is that the crankset does not fit in… at all. A White Industries crankset in silver would make me much happier.


This stainless steel, fillet-brazed beauty is possibly the wackiest ride on this list, and is without doubt the most expensive. Somewhere between a work of art and a very capable tourer, it was built by Joseph Ahearne in Portland, taking six weeks to build, at 10-12 hours a day with no days off. The estimated value is $25,000 USD, which is presumedly made up in labour costs. Interesting features include the high polish finish which exposes immaculate fillet brazing, KVA stainless steel tubing which is much thicker than any other option, Ritchey breakaway parts, additional support tubing for the seatstay/toptube, custom steel racks with a built-in lock holder, a flask holder on the downtube, a super retro Shimano derailleur and a logo panel made of stainless which has been laser cut and left unpolished on the downtube. This Ahearne Flickr album is a must see to understand the level of detail and work that went into this amazing ride!

Chapman Cycles

Chapman cycles touring bike

This touring bike features stainless steel lugs, fenders and fork crown, which looks beautiful against the stealth finish. The fork has a built in dynamo connector, allowing the dynamo wire to run on the inside of the fork leg for a neat look. This wire powers both the lights and the USB plug found on the top of the stem. The Tubus rear rack has been stripped of it’s original paint, and chrome plated, matching the front rack perfectly. Even the saddle has a custom finish on it, the leather replaced and re-stitched to match the yellow cables. More photos on the Chapman website.



It’s my opinion that Firefly Bicycles of Boston (USA) make some of the nicest titanium and stainless steel bikes in the world. The upper bike is setup with Shimano electronic gearing which is normally only featured on road bikes, but has been fitted to work with MTB parts in this case. The lower two bikes have splits for Gates Carbon Drive which works seamlessly in combination with the Rohloff 14s hub – we certainly love our drivetrain. The Firefly lettering is sometimes buffed up to a glossy finish on the downtube and can be chemically coated with anything from gold to a rainbow effect. Other nice features include built-in rear racks, internal cabling, custom dynamo light mounts and stunning titanium stem and seatpost combos. James Medeiros and Tyler Evans of Firefly have nailed these modern touring bikes. More @ Firefly’s Flickr.


Alex Cook of A-Train Bicycles in Minneapolis (USA) has whipped together an incredibly simple and elegant tourer. The material of choice: stainless steel. This frame uses stainless S&S couplers which bring the packed bike size right down to about half the regular length. The A-train custom racks blend right in to this bike.


I was trying to pick one titanium Bilenky tandem, but just couldn’t do it. These two titanium bikes are probably the nicest touring tandems I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The top tandem, which a bit more of a randonneur, has enough purple to be crazy, but somehow still pulls off a very elegant look (in my humble opinion). The below tandem is long-distance touring ready with a Rohloff hub and some schmick looking racks. The frame is without doubt the most impressive part however, as the curvy, retro style is still very functional and even breaks into three parts so that you can easily get it into an plane. These incredible tandems are manufacturered by Stephen Bilenky and family in Philadelphia (USA).

Independent Fabrication

Indy Fab of Newmarket (USA) have been around longer than most, and as a result, have mastered the frame-building trade. The finish on an Indy Fab is generally 10/10 and these look to be no exception. I also have no doubts that both would be sturdy enough to complete round-the-world trips. Here’s hoping they get ridden regularly! Via Indy Fab.


Jordan Hufnagel has put together this georgeous classic tourer in bespoke bike central, Portland (USA). The paint-matched stem and racks are pure class and I especially love the wooden panels that are inserted into the racks. More images @ UrbanVelo.


Tony Pereira, based in Portland (USA), has built this 650b bike up nice and classic. The high top tube, downtube shifters and birch finish give this bike a timeless look. A colour-matched stem, pump and Tubus cargo rack finish the build very well. I can’t help but think the bike would look much better with some brown leather Brooks bartape to match the saddle.


Darren Baum of Geelong (Australia) is a household name around custom bike enthusiasts. His frames are world class and are always dressed with incredible paint jobs. These two bikes have been put together for two cyclists who completed a charity ride across three continents, documented on the website The Long Road Tour. Check out the Baum Flickr for more.


Pilot make their titanium bikes in the Netherlands; the finishing is top quality! On these bikes you’ll find Rohloff 14s hubs, Pinion 18s gearboxes and Gates Carbon Drivetrains. They’re certainly something to drool over.


This custom Clockwork randonneur was too good to keep off the list! Apart from the stunning looks, there are lots of nice design details to be found including a custom mount for downtube shifters located on the top tube. The matching painted rack and leather saddle complete the look.


Keith Marshall from Canberra (Australia) is inspired by Japanese metalwork, but really, the Japanese should probably be inspired by him! This stainless steel beauty is again a bit more on the randonneur side of things, but damn, look at it! It features S&S couplers to break the frame down nice and small, internal cable routing for the dynamo lights and beautiful Llewellyn lugs (these lugs are best in the business btw). More @ Kumo Cycles.


John from the Radavist takes photos of the nicest custom bikes in the world, but also has his fair share of sweet rides! I love the simplicity and colour of his Geekhouse, which is made by Marty Walsh and the team in Boston (USA). John has the colours and tones on this bike right down to the gold bidons – I love the custom racks too! The bike employs a double 50-32 crankset and an 11-36t cassette which gives ample low-end gearing for the type of riding John does. More @ The Radavist.

Vanilla Bikes

Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles in Portland (USA) had so many pre-ordered frames to build that he no longer takes orders! That’s 5+ years worth, so I hope you’re not lusting for one too badly. This Vanilla is more of a randonneur than a tourer, but given it’s impeccable finish it was too hard to keep it off my list. I particularly love the lugs and the colour matched guards/pump. The stem is a work of art too, check it out on the Vanilla website.


Rivendell are very well known for their touring bikes but this Hunqapillar takes the cake. The diagatube is the most obvious feature on this bike, designed to stiffen the bike up by increasing the triangulation. Wooden guards, a lugged frame construction, retro racks and the Rohloff 14s hub give this bike a distinctive look.

Building a Beautiful Touring Bike

Follow these tips and you can have your very own gorgeous tourer. Remember, it doesn’t have to be custom-made to look incredible!

1. Keep your colours to a minimum. Two colours are enough (not including your black and silver components), three starts to look messy but can be pulled off.

2. Balance your silvers and blacks. Bikes typically look better with a mix of black and silver components. It’s hard to completely avoid black as it’s often found at the lever hood or on the tyres at a minimum. I really like it when silver hubs, silver mudguards and a silver crankset are used with all black components.

3. Match the colour of your seat and bartape/grips. This is the easiest way to make any bike look extra nice.

4. Use metal mudguards. Polished or hammered metal guards are all class. Who cares if they weigh more?

5. Paint your mudguards the same colour as your frame. Colour-matched guards are all class.

6. Paint your stem and racks the same colour as your frame. You’ll notice a number of the bikes featured in this article feature colour matched parts.

7. Use classic-styled cranks on classic-styled builds. There is nothing worse than a modern road crankset on a classic build (see the Horse above). White Industries, Middleburn and Campagnolo make some nice classic cranks.

Dream Bike – English Cycles 5.8kg (13lbs) steel and carbon beauty


Remember the stunning Naked time trial bike from Oregon-based frame builder Rob English last year? Well, Rob is back with an even more striking build, this time the V3.1 built for customer Irvin and dubbed by Rob as the ‘Tron’ bike.

Rob has got a way with frame building that has seen him pick up the much coveted Best of Show award at the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), and that flair for creativity is expressed beautifully in this latest creation. It’s a stunning bike don’t you think?

The frame is a marriage of True Temper steel tubes, including a discontinued S3 aero down tube, and carbon tubes from Enve. The use of carbon has allowed the weight of the complete bike to tip the scales at a shockingly low 5.8kg (13lb). Just the carbon seatstays alone, the first time Rob has used them, saved 40g compared to equivalent steel tubes. The skinny carbon seatstays finish in a neat steel wishbone assembly that flows into the steel top tube.

There’s some lovely details. Just look at that head tube for example. The carbon is on display at the head tube and seat tube, with the integrated seat mast capped with Rob’s own custom seat clamp.  The carbon head tube, seat tube and seatstays are bonded into the steel tubes, with a small titanium pin through each joint. The fork is a 235g THM Scapula painted to match the frame, work which was carried out by Colorworks.

The build is nothing short of top draw either – you couldn’t really deck out such a frame with nothing but the best could you now. A Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 groupset – the battery concealed inside the seat tube – is complemented by a carbon fibre THM Clavicula M3 chainset with Praxis chainrings and Zero Gravity brake calipers. The crankset, an updated version released earlier this year, a modular design that works with any chainring configuration or bottom bracket standard. The crank arms weigh just 344g and a double spider (there’s a choice of spiders for different chainring combinations) is 39g. In other words, seriously light.

The build is finished with a custom English stem weighing 122g with an integrated mounting boss for the Di2 control box. Wheels are Enve SES 3.4 carbon tubulars.

Check out for more

Sabbath Silk Route – tourer titanium


The Sabbath Silk Route is a load lugging all-rounder that creates its own niche by using a titanium frame. Thoroughly practical but we suspect most buyers would prefer to start with a frame and make their own component choices.

Titanium framed touring bikes are a rarity, probably mainly because they tend to be regarded as a luxury in the relatively traditional world of pedal powered haulage, but also because most of the big name titanium frame builders tend to demand a higher premium for their wares than British company Sabbath. Based on a £1199 frame (some outlets include the fork at that price) this complete Silk Route shows that a titanium-framed tourer can be had for a UK average month’s salary.

The Silk Route is a fairly recent addition to Sabbath’s range, which has been slowly evolving over the past six years. The frame is designed in the UK and built overseas to keep costs low. It’s nicely designed and well finished, with a practical blend of plain gauge tubes biased towards luggage hauling durability rather than minimum weight.

The frame on its own weighs 3.65lb/1.65kg (size dependant), which is fairly hefty for a titanium frame, but the resulting stability in ride feel when loaded front and rear is precisely what’s required on a bike like this. If you’re not looking for a haulage bike you should probably look at one of Sabbath’s lighter, butted-tube models.

All Sabbath’s frames use the well regarded 3Al/2.5V drawn tubes (the figures refer to a 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium mix in the titanium alloy). There are six models in the range covering racing, touring, everyday or sportive use and the racy models use lighter butted tubes.

While the Silk Route is designed for touring, its long wheelbase, easy-riding geometry, Surly steel fork and big tyre clearance make it suitable for steady trail use as well as ideal for rough roads. There’s enough room for 38mm tyres if you feel a need for bigger treads than the 32mm Continental Touring Pluses fitted, and the 36 spoke wheels with Mavic 319 rims and Shimano LX hubs can take a fair bit of punishment.

A Brooks B17 saddle is a nice touch on a bike like this too, and a reminder that Brooks’ saddles, while not light, are still among the most comfy seats around.

There will be riders who’ll baulk at dropping £2199 on a Shimano LX/105 level bike with a workmanlike steel fork, trouser-guard equipped crankset and middle of the range finishing kit, but if you’re attracted to the idea of your new bike being based on a titanium frame you’d be hard pressed to build a rack and mudguard equipped tourer with decent wheels and a Brooks leather saddle at this price.

You can remove that trouser guard if you don’t like the look of it and Surly’s steel fork is fitted because it’s one of the best off the peg touring forks on the market, with threaded eyelets for every rack type and the sort of stability, combined with the thick plain gauge steerer tube, that justifies its relatively high weight.

Handling was rock solid, even riding hands free with front and rear loads. We’re not particularly recommending this but it’s a great way of testing stability on touring bikes and a great way of getting your loads spread properly assuming the basic geometry is fine. Another good front end stability test is being able to brake hard without fork flutter with an outer cable guide mounted on the upper part of the head tube: many bikes with cantilever brakes need the cable guide to be mounted on the fork crown.

The Silk Route could be an ideal starting point for riders who like the idea of owning a utility rather than race focused titanium frame. But we can’t help but think that most of those riders would prefer to make their own parts choices. A few of the parts on the Sabbath just don’t look at ease on a £2000+ bike. But that’s probably missing the point. You could find yourself paying this much for a frame alone from some of the more established titanium frame brands, and you’re still getting a tough maintenance free frame that won’t rust.

All Sabbath framesets can be built with different component parts and custom finishing options so the details on our test bike are not set in stone. Its ‘bright brush’ titanium finish with subtle, almost invisible, sandblasted graphics is practical, and part of the appeal of titanium is that it’ll buff up like new year after year.

Tubing shapes of the Silk Route include curvy rear stays for extra heel clearance, a biaxially ovalised top tube for lateral rigidity plus big weld contact areas at the seat and head tube and an oversized, ovalised down tube.

All the tube profiles are said to be designed to improve stiffness and stability when hauling loads, and our ride experience bears this out. Long chainstays ensure that panniers stay clear of your heels, and Sabbath say it’s built to carry up to 35kg: the test bike rack, a fairly basic Tortec model, is limited to 25kg.

There’s are three sets of bottle cage bosses (one set underneath the down tube) and threaded rack mounts, all welded rather than riveted into the frame, and in keeping with the traditional touring bike approach there’s even a pump peg on the head tube for a frame sized pump.

Our test bike weighed in at almost exactly 28lb/12.6kg without pedals. There is masses of bar/stem height adjustability and in addition to the components we’ve already mentioned the finishing parts included a standard Shimano LX touring crankset (with removable trouser-guard), 105 3 x 10 gear mechs and 105 shifters, Pro seat post, stem and compact handlebar, SKS ‘guards and LX cantilever brakes.

The gear range was more than adequate for the most mountainous terrain, the wheels were well built and the geometry and riding posture emphasised comfort and stable control at both low and high speeds. The head angle on the medium frame is 71.5 degrees, the seat angle is 73.5 and the horizontal top tube length is 56.5cm, with a 54cm (centre to top) seat tube and a 15.5cm head tube.

Don’t expect a sturdy long wheel base bike like this to feel as lively as a steep angled race bred model. Snappy acceleration or sprightly handling will never be highlights, even if you strip the touring gear off and fit skinnier treads.

But there’s something incredibly soothing about a bike like this once you’ve got it up to speed, with big sweeping turns on long descents being a real highlight. That said, slow speed traffic riding is also incredibly confident, with the long front centre meaning no mudguard toe overlap if you make sharp turns. Our month of riding uncovered no unpleasant foibles, loaded or unloaded.


A thoroughly practical titanium touring bike, both utilitarian and potentially superior in durability to the traditional steel framed approach and more comfy than most aluminium framed options. Most riders would probably start with a frame alone and equip it to suit their particular needs.

SA bike maker in UK making the best: Pretorious Bike


The Pretorius Outeniqua is a new titanium race bike with stylish looks and a sweet ride. It’s available as a frameset for £1,950 (with a full bike fit included) although ours came as a complete bike in a £5,999 build.

Here are six key reasons why you might want to buy it.

1 The frame is strong, lightweight titanium.

It’s 3Al-2.5V titanium, to be precise, which means it’s actually 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium. This is the alloy that’s used to make most (but not all) titanium bikes.

Titanium has high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios and an excellent fatigue life. If you’re looking for a bike that’ll still be going strong several years down the line, titanium is a very good choice. It won’t snap if you stack it and will cope fine with the inevitable knocks it’ll pick up during regular use. It won’t corrode when you forget to clean it either.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that everyone should be riding titanium. Carbon, when done right, can certainly be made into bikes with higher stiffness-to-weight than anything else right now. But titanium certainly has a place still.

2 It’s a well made, tidy frame.

The Pretorius is well put together with classic straight lines and neat welds throughout.

Although the Outeniqua has a fairly traditional air, it boasts some distinctly modern features. The head tube, for example has an internal diameter of 44mm from top to bottom, but it comes with a Chris King 1 1/8in InSet upper bearing and a 1 1/2in external headset cup down below and the fork has a correspondingly tapered steerer to improve rigidity.

The other feature that performance bike manufacturers have increasingly turned to over the past few years for adding stiffness is an oversized bottom bracket. Pretorius have gone with a BB30 design too.

The wall thickness in both the head tube and the bottom bracket is thicker than elsewhere too. It’s a meaty 2mm for extra stiffness rather than 0.9mm of the other tubes.

The tube shaping is subtle. The slightly sloping top tube, for example, tapers from 38mm at the head tube to 34mm at the seat tube and the seatstays slim down 3mm along their length. And while the head tube and the down tube (42mm in diameter) are oversized, they’re not that oversized.

The details are tidily done too. The dropouts are a smart half-moon design and the cable stops are welded into place rather than riveted. And while our test bike comes with mechanical shifting, the Outeniqua is also available in Shimano Di2 options if you want to go down the electronic route. With Dura-Ace Di2 the battery can now go inside the seat post.

The Outeniqua comes with a brushed finish as standard although custom paintjobs are available from £200. You can choose from eight different decal colour options and you can pick the Chris King headset colour to match if you like.

The overall result is a frame that looks stylish rather than one that’s trying too hard.

3 A proven geometry.

The Pretorius’ geometry is racy and efficient without being too extreme, although if it doesn’t work for you, you can get a custom version made.

Road bike geometry is rarely all that radical. People have been making road bikes for a long time now and we know what works. Our Outeniqua is a large (58cm) model which comes with a 58cm seat tube, a 57cm effective top tube, and a 17cm head tube – although you need to allow another couple of centimetres of stack height for the external headset cup.

Compared to a 58cm Specialized Tarmac SL4 full-on carbon race bike, for example, the Outeniqua has a 1.2cm shorter top tube while the head tube and seatstays are about the same. The frame angles (73.5° head angle and 73° seat angle) are the same too, so you know what you’re getting here: it’s a well-proven set up.

The standard Outeniqua frameset (see below) is £1,950 but if none of the seven sizes is right for you, an extra £200 gets you one built to a custom geometry.

4 Excellent frameset components.

Buy an Outeniqua frameset and you get an Enve 2.0 fork and Chris King Inset 7 headset as part of the package. Both are excellent.

The Enve 2.0 fork, which retails alone at £390, is full-carbon right down to the dropouts. It comes with a tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in steerer and, despite weighing in at just 350g, it provides loads of stiffness whether you’re pinning it into a fast turn or throwing the bars about on an out-of-the-saddle climb. It also damps road vibration well without leaving you feeling too isolated from the road; a great combination.

The Chris King Inset sealed bearing headset is a winner too. With this one the upper cup sits inside the head tube while the lower one is external. The high-quality bearings should last an age.

5 You can choose you own spec.

Pretorius will build up the Outeniqua however you like. We had a high-end spec comprising a Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed groupset, Reynolds Thirty Two wheels with Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, Enve carbon bars, stem and seatpost, and a Selle Italia SLR saddle. There’s an Arundel carbon bottle cage on there too. You’re looking at £5,999 for that lot.

In this build, the Outeniqua weighs 7.2kg (15.8lb). Spend six grand on a bike and you can get lighter without too much trouble – especially if you go for a carbon frame – but this is certainly a highly respectable weight.

I won’t talk too much about the specific build because it’s not set in stone, but you really can’t go wrong with these components. If you prefer Shimano or SRAM to Campag’s shifting, no problem, go with that instead.

The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels are very light and spin beautifully. We have the clincher version and they weigh in at 1,351g. Reynolds’ Cryo Blue pads provide good braking on the carbon rims in the dry, although the braking is nowhere near as good as you get with aluminium rims in wet conditions. That’s always the way.

Getting your saddle position right on the Enve carbon seat post is really easy and the sub-200g Enve bars come in either standard (144mm drop, 85mm reach) or compact (127mm, 79mm reach) versions.

But I wasn’t going to go on about the spec too much, was I? So I won’t. It’s good though.

6 The high ride quality.

The Pretorius offers a quick, agile ride. Put in the power and it responds with a sharp kick forwards. It doesn’t have the all-out rigidity of some top end carbon bikes when it comes to a sprint but it’s still impressively efficient and it whips up to speed in no time. Of course, that’s partly down to the components as well as the frame and forks. The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels in particular make a big difference here, accelerating beautifully when you ask them to.

The ride position is balanced. It’s certainly low and efficient, which is exactly what you want for a bike of this kind, but it’s not ridiculously aggressive. Most people with reasonable flexibility will be happy getting in the big miles on this setup.

You also get a good compromise between stability and reactive steering. The Outeniqua is manoeuvrable enough for last second line changes when a ride mate decides to swing out for no apparent reason, but it’s not so nervous that you can’t relax when you want to.

The ride-quality is the Outeniqua’s most valuable feature. There are no wrist-shuddering jolts coming up through the Enve fork and you don’t find yourself clinging on for dear life when you hit a patch of jagged road. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Outeniqua keeps everything nice ‘n’ smooth. As well as making life comfortable for you in the saddle, that means the wheels stay firmly in contact with the road even when the road gets rough under fully loaded tyres.

Again, the components help with the comfort; I always get on well with a Selle Italia SLR saddle, for instance. To me, it offers the best combination of lightweight and comfort of any saddle out there, although if you’re not such a fan you could go for something that suits you better.

All in all, the Outeniqua offers a sweet ride. Swift, responsive, comfortable, it’s a great performance option with a big helping of style thrown in.


Stylish titanium road bike with a high ride quality; comfortable and it should last you many years.


Seven launch their lightest bike ever – titanium carbon love fest

US bespoke brand Seven Cycles are launching a new road bike with a carbon fibre and titanium frame that’s their lightest ever.

The 622 SLX weighs 1kg in a 54cm frame size. It uses rider-specific carbon tubes joined using titanium lugs that are designed to be stiff and durable as well as adding a whole lot of style.

Seven Cycles already make frames that blend carbon fibre and titanium – their Elium SL and Elium SLX road models, for example – but they reckon the 622 sets new standards in that it retains the feel of a metal bike but in a lighter weight.

“We hear a lot of riders who love the road feel of our metal bikes wanting a lighter option, and we hear a lot of the people riding our carbon bikes express an interest in getting more road feel,” said Seven Cycles founder Rob Vandermark. “This bike is really for them. We wanted to maximize the positive characteristics of each material, and we wanted to do something with an almost sculptural aesthetic.”

We have to agree that the 622 is a good looking bike, those beautifully shaped lugs lending a classy air that distinguishes it from the crowd.

The 622 name refers to the materials used, six being the atomic number for carbon and 22 being titanium. It’s available as Seven’s ‘custom kit’ option which is a full bespoke service. You visit an approved retailer and order a bike that is sized specifically for you and comes with features of your choice. You get to choose the degree of drivechain stiffness you get, the amount of vertical compliance, the speed of the handling and so on.

Of course, a bespoke bike like this is never going to be cheap. You’re looking at £4,950 for the frameset. Youch! And then you’re going to have to factor in a lot more cash for the build – you’re not going to want to deck it out in kit from the parts bin.

Pretorious Outeniqua – ti lovely lickable bike

classic lovely ti …. review the new titanium model from Pretorius

You might not have heard of Pretorius before so let’s start by telling you a little about the brand…

Pretorius Bikes is a shop just off Shoreditch High Street in London. It’s been around since 2008. They offer Colnago, Scott and Cinelli bikes, and their own titanium models too. Like the other two options in the lineup – and the majority of ti bikes out there – the Outeniqua road bike is made from 3Al-2.5V titanium (meaning there’s 3% aluminium in the alloy, and 2.5% vanadium) which has excellent fatigue life and resistance to corrosion.

The Outeniqua’s frame is pretty classic looking; they’ve not gone over the top with the shaping here. The top tube slopes very slightly downwards towards the seat tube but it’s far from the most compact of compact geometries. The top tube slims down a little along its length too – from 38mm to 34mm – although you have to look pretty closely to spot that.

If you think the head tube looks chunky, that’s because it is. It has a 44mm internal diameter, taking a Chris King 1 1/8in InSet bearing at the top and a 1 1/2in external headset cup at the bottom, the extra width being designed to provide more front end stiffness. The fork is an Enve Road 2.0 which is full moulded carbon fibre, including the dropouts, and it weighs in at just 350g.

The down tube is oversized although, with a 42mm diameter, not excessively so, and the seatstays taper down from 22mm at the bottom bracket shell to 19mm at the dropouts. Speaking of the dropouts, they’re a neat half-moon design while the cable stops and bottle cage mounts are neatly welded in place.

There’s nothing too strange about the Outeniqua’s geometry. We have the large (58cm) model in on test and that comes with 73.5/73° frame angles, a 57cm effective top tube and a 19cm head tube – that’s including the stack height of the headset. It’s certainly a race-centric set-up – your ride position is low and stretched – but you wouldn’t call it extreme.

Our model has a brushed finish so any little scratches are easily buffed away with some wire wool. You can go for a painted finish if you prefer. Custom paint jobs are available and start from £200. You can also choose from a range of eight different decal colour options and select the headset colour.

The Outeniqua is available as a frameset including the Enve fork and Chris King headset. That will set you back £1,950. You can have it built up however you like so we opted for high-end components throughout… well, the guys at Pretorius did offer. We have a Campagnolo Super Record groupset, Reynolds Thirty Two carbon-rimmed wheels and Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres.

The handlebar, stem and seatpost (31.6mm diameter) are all carbon offerings from Enve while the saddle is a Selle Italia SLR which is, of course, the best saddle in the world (according to me). Oh, and we have a bottle cage and bar tape from Arundel on there too.

That little lot weighs in at 7.2kg – which is a highly respectable 15.8lb – and retails for £5,999.

Everyone around here reckons it’s a really good-looking bike. Cool, classy… words like that are getting bandied about. But so far we haven’t got a clue how the Pretorius rides so the next item on the agenda is to get out and get the miles in. We’ll let you know how we get on; there’s a full review coming your way shortly. In the meantime, check out the Pretorius Bikes website.

616 Bicycle fabrication

following on from the reblog below look at these 650b beauties …. they also do a 29er for taller bods …. here is their site in full glory

We are all 29er junkies over here, but let’s face it not all size riders belong on a 29″ wheel. Over the years, we have observed many shorter riders grinding through trails on a 29″ wheel. What really caught our eye were the angles of a frame that seemed so whack to have to accommodate for the shorter top tube length but yet still allow for sufficient tow clearance. We decided there had to be a better option, so we turned our sites on the 650b.

Our intentions from the beginning were to create the best riding custom steel 650 to feed this niche. What we discovered is that the 650 is not only the optimal bike for a shorter rider but it is also one of the most fun rides for a rider of any size.

A smaller wheel equals better leverage to the rear tire, plain and simple. In our prototype process, we noticed immediately the quick off the line response especially riding a technical trail with many switchbacks. The front tire seemed to roll over everything and cut through sand just like a 29er. Overall we knew we were on to something. Matched with our custom steel formula we created the fastest xc riding machine on the planet. Frame weight: 3.5 lbs (medium).

  • Hand selected tubing per customer ride preference
  • 4mm custom poured headbadge
  • Laser cut stainless bridge plate with logo
  • Custom laser etched ID plate with customer name, serial #, tubing used,  and year it was built
  • Decorative lug head tube piece (per customer request)
  • Custom paint with painted logo (no decals!)
  • Custom geometry per customer request (additional charge may apply)