Jon’s vélo léger

Bikes that are light weight are a little more fun to ride, I’m just going to throw that one out there. With lightweight components and thin walled tubing, many steel bikes can hold their own in this age of aluminum and carbon bicycles. Jon was not obsessive about the bike’s weight but he definitely wanted something that was sportier than the typical touring bike. I ended up using a combination of Reynolds 753 and Columbus Spirit tubing to build his frameset. And although the bi-laminate construction method isn’t saving any grams, it was a style choice that we both got behind. There were other stylish choices like the TA Carmina cranks that, although they weren’t the lightest, look fantastic and perfectly in place on this bike. That extra weight was definitely offset by the Phil Wood titanium bottom bracket with Magnium shell. The complete bike weighed in just over 19lbs with the rack and fenders. The rack was made using thin wall 5/16″ chromoly tubing. There was also a generous amount of titanium hardware used throughout the build.

Other methods of lightening up the bike included milling out the bottom bracket shell and using the minimal Pacenti rear dropouts. The wheelset is built from Velocity A23 rims (24 hole front/28 hole rear), White Industries T11 hubs, and DT Aerolite spokes. The Dura Ace 7700 drivetrain is still one of the most beautiful component groups ever produced and light weight compared to many of its competitors. The brakes are MAFAC Competition centerpulls with Tune titanium brake pad holders and ultra light Kool Stop pads. We originally were going to use an aluminum stem but it just didn’t look at home on the bike. I ended making a fillet brazed stem which, again, isn’t lighter than alloy, but definitely more appropriate for this bike. It also makes a great place to mount the bell.

Although it wasn’t intended to take any weight off of the bike, the rear fender was cut down 4″. The reason being that Jon needs to bring this bike on an elevator and hold it vertical on the rear wheel. The fender still does its job of keeping Jon dry but might not be true for anyone riding directly behind him!

While visiting the shop here in Rhode Island, Jon was able to pick this gorgeous Studebaker blue from the vintage paint chip book that I primarily use. It is a stately color that is not so dark that it hides the details in the fastback seat cluster or the Henry James lug edges on the head tube. The natural leather of the Berthoud saddle with titanium rails and the shellacked cloth bar tape complement the blue nicely. I’m pleased with the final product and the fact that it has been getting a lot of use already as it has become his daily commuter.

See the full slideshow of photos from the build.