By Nick Hussey, 13 June 2012 | Comments (11)
All photography by Kayti Peschke.
15 minutes before the Vulpine Cycling Fete opened last week, a green bike appeared on the Vulpine stand. I was running around like a loon making sure everyone was fine but I stopped. There are probably scorch marks on the carpet.
Ricky had brought the bike down the night before. He wanted to reveal it to me but I found it on its own in the melee. I preferred it that way. I can be so aware of wanting to show I'm pleased sometimes, that I try too hard and look fake. I don't have to fake my reaction. I didn't know Emmalou had come up behind me and had seen my face. Just staring and grinning. She put a hand on my shoulder and she knew.
Bike means a lot to me. Mainly because they mean I can ride! Also because they are a symbol of freedom, independence and speed. And mostly because I just think they're beautiful. I'm obsessed by design in everything, let alone the most potent symbol of my lifelong obsession! So to see your 'Ultimate Bike' in the flesh is quite something. Then I ran off again, stealing glances as I spoke to people throughout the day.
I say 'Ultimate Bike' in inverted commas because of course it is MY ultimate bike. I need a very short, high bar position due to the wreckage of my spine. So short and high that it is only possible to achieve through a custom build. I entrusted Ricky Feather to create a road bike that was heavily informed by road racing (my background), but grounded in my new reality, without compromising beauty.
As I discussed the build with Ricky I realised that I should stop trying to hark back to the racing days and asked if he could make some important additions. These signify my final psychological cutting loose from racing and entering a new era of a riding for cycling's sake. Not to nail myself or to train, which is pretty much how I've ridden for 26 years.
So I asked for mudguards, wider tyre clearance and a rear rack. This was not to be sit-up racing bike. This was a beautiful lightweight tourer. A go anywhere with your friends cafe bike. A mountain trip with camera equipment steed. My wonderful commuter.
I approached Ricky because I'd seen his work and consider him amongst the very finest framebuilders in the World today. His attention to detail is extraordinary. He is also, importantly a very good and kind man. A pleasure to work with. And he has a whippet. A clincher. What he has achieved is, in my eyes, extremely beautiful. A true piece of artisanal perfection.
Look out for the little things that make this a Feather. Such as the hand cut Vulpine V in the head/down tube lug. The gear cable adjusters within it. All in hand polished stainless steel (see the previous blog). This is not chrome but buffed up steel! It is then lacquered to retain its finish. I hope it's a bike I'll be riding all my life, swapping out components as they degrade or technology upgrades.
I'll let you know how it (I don't really do he/she) rides soon. It's going to be a LOT of fun.
Full build specification. Contemporary technology (save the complete absense of carbon!), classic looks, updated:
Frame: Feather Cycles custom Columbus Spirit main tubes. Stainless steel Llewellyn lugs and Columbus XCR stainless chainstays. Columbus Life seatstays (for comfort). Painted Vulpine Green apart from head tube lugs, right chain stay and dropouts.
Fork: Feather Cycles custom straight blade Columbus SL.
Stem: Feather Cycles custom steel. 10cm. 15 degree rise.
Handlebars: Nitto Noodle 42cm.
Headset: Chris King Silver.
Chainset: Campagnolo Athena 11spd 50/34, 170mm.
Bottom Bracket: Campagnolo Chorus 11spd Ultra Torque cups.
Shifters: Campagnolo Athena 11spd.
Brake calipers: Velo Orange Grand Cru long reach (a revelation!)
Rear mech: Campagnolo Athena 11spd.
Front mech: Campagnolo Athena 11spd, braze on.
Cassette: Campagnolo Chorus 11spd, 11-25.
Chain: Campagnolo Chorus 11spd.
Front hub: Royce mid flange.
Rear hub: Royce Venus, Campagnolo.
Rims: Mavic Open Pro 32 hole, silver.
Quick releases: Campagnolo (some old school I've been saving for years).
Tyres: Continental GP4000S 25mm.
Seatpost: Thomson 27.2mm, 0 setback.
Saddle: Fizik Aliante.
Bottle Cages: Arundel
Tape: Fizik Microtex white.
Valve caps: Token, green.
Pedals: Shimano (ShhhHHHH!) A520 SPD touring or Time RXS (depends on the ride).
Mudguards: Velo Orange smooth 37mm, custom painted in Vulpine colours.
Rear rack: Velo Orange Constucteur stainless steel.
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