Friday, March 1, 2019

A Unique Ellis, the 27+ Neve!

I haven't posted on the blog in the long time!  Facebook and Instagram are great, but after a ride on this new bike I felt like it deserved more than just a couple sentences and some pictures on the Book of Faces...

Ryan placed an order last spring for a fatbike so he could ride through the winter on the icy gravel roads around his Central Wisconsin home.  Knowing that riding a fatbike on the road can be a bit ponderous, I suggested that he give one a try before he committed to that platform for his new bike, and after a brief ride he agreed that might be too much bike for what he wanted to do.  I suggested a 27+ wheeled bike (essentially 27.5x3.0" tires with studs) might be better for what he wanted to do.

From there, we discussed the drivetrain, and while I am a big Di2 booster, he settled on a Rohloff internally geared rear hub.  I've done a couple Rohloff bikes while I was at Waterford, and one complete 29+ build back in 2015.

Kevin's Rohloff 29+ turned out great, but we didn't want to use flat bars for this build, so I started doing my research to see what our options were.  Thankfully, the Rohloff hub is well loved, and lots of designers have been tinkering with different shifting options for just about any handlebar setup you can imagine.  The Gebla Rohbox jumped out at me as it can be operated with modified SRAM road shifters, and Ryan was on board.   

Now we had the wheel size, drivetrain and shifting setup, there was just the final hurdle that Ryan had requested, FENDERS!  Back to the interwebs and I found Mark Koenigsfeld and the custom wooden fenders he builds under the MK Fenders name.  These fenders are fully custom, from the radius, the width, the species of wood that you'd like, to custom paint and graphics, so I knew that I'd need to have my wheels in hand in order to get the specs exactly right.  With a Rohloff hub, the bike is essentially setup like a singlespeed with just a single chainring up front mated to a single cog on the hub in back.  This requires some way to tension the chain, enter the same Paragon Machine Works Rocker dropouts that I used on Kevin's 29+.  Since the rear wheel would have the potential to move through a range a positions I knew I would need to have the fenders built with a little extra radius to accommodate these adjustments.  Math ensued, and I forwarded on my numbers to Mark at MK so he could get started on the fenders.

The fenders also presented a question for the fork, was there an aftermarket fork that would easily work with these wheels and allow clearance and easy fitup for the fenders?  I did find a Surly fork that would have worked, but it had so many bosses it would have made Frankenstein jealous. It was not the look that Ryan or I were looking for.  I dropped a note to Steve Garro at Coconino, the master of the filleted unicrown fork, and he gave me the inside dope on which blades work best and how to proceed with building my first unicrown fork!

Mitering the blades was slow going as I gradually ground each side and dry fitted them, careful to make sure the clearance was the same on both sides.  After brazing, I finished the fillets up super smooth and checked the fit of my front wheel with the studded 27+ wheel.  Still plenty of room for fenders in there! 

Another consideration for the frame was the unique cable routing required for a Rohloff hub.  I knew that I wanted the routing to be internal if possible and as always, smooth and clean.  The twin cables for the shifting would run inside the top tube, entering from opposite sides of the head tube and underneath the top tube.

The underside of the head tube end of the top tube. 
Running two separate brass tubes through a 31.8mm top tube is tricky business, if either of these touches the tube wall or the other internal, they will rattle terribly when the bike is ridden.  Much easier to fit up and braze them in to the raw tube so I can see what's going on inside there!
Below, the exit points where the two separate cables will head down the seat stay to the rear hub. 

The rest of the frame came together fairly straightforward, I just had to make sure the chainstays allowed for enough tire clearance on the inside, and chainring clearance on the outside.  The resulting chainstay fillet turned out very pretty.

After plenty of the elbow grease the frame headed off to the powdercoater for a Bronze Chrome finish, and then the build.... 

 Super pleased with how this one turned out, all business from this angle!

 The hard maple fenders from MK fit perfectly and look great!

In back, there's a lot going on, Paragon Rocker dropouts, the Rohloff hub, Gebla Rohbox, SRAM hydraulic disc brakes and some tidy fender mounts.

I think my my favorite detail of the build is the internal cable routing and the super smooth routing throughout the build.  Up front, the cables loop around the head tube, but don't rub at all. 

No interference, just everyone headed where it needs to go!

 The front brake loops around the back of the unicrown, leaving the super smooth front uncluttered! 

The shifter cables exit and run right down the left seat stay into some double housing clips from Paragon! 

I took the bike out for a ride this afternoon on the bike path that starts about a block from my shop.  The path included some pavement, snow, ice, and eventually it turns to frozen dirt and ice.  The studded tires were a revelation on the ice, zero slippage!  I'm also really stoked about the Rohloff/Rohbox setup with the SRAM shifters, so simple and clean, I could see riding a bike like this a whole lot through a Wisconsin Winter!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ellis Cycles in the Press

 Dave Wages, owner of Ellis Cycles, works on brazing a bicycle fork to be used on a street bike in his workshop in Waterford. A custom builder, he has frames costing as much as $6,000.
A nice shot of me brazing a fork by Mike De Sisti as seen in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

There's been quite a bit of interest in Ellis Cycles lately, and I've done a few interviews and had photographers struggling to set up their equipment in my relatively small basement shop. 

About a month or so ago, Tom Held visited from Wisconsin Trails magazine, they were doing an article about Wisconsin framebuilders and wanted to do an interview and photo shoot.  We talked for about 1 1/2 hours and I gave him my whole career history, not sure how much of that will make it into the final article.  I understand that folks with a subscription have already received their January issue, but I'm still waiting for it to show up on the newstand so I can get my copy!  (I hear there's a picture of yours truly on the cover.)  Here's a link to their website, I would imagine the new issue should be up any day now;  Wisconsin Trails Magazine

Next I had the pleasure of chatting with Diane Lees, (The Outspoken Cyclist) for their broadcast on Dec. 15th.  It was fun recalling the years I spent learning the craft at Serotta and Waterford and the last 5 years of Ellis Cycles as well.  You can check out this interview here;  Ellis Interview on the Outspoken Cyclist

Finally, I got a call earlier this week from our local newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, they also wanted to highlight some Wisconsin based framebuilders.  So, we did a quick interview over the phone, and then on Thursday I got a visit from a photographer who shot some pics of me brazing a fork and then we headed outside for a shot with me and my stainless rando bike from last year's NAHBS.  I picked up a copy of the paper this morning and I also found the article online at the Journal's website here;  Journal Sentinel Article


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stealth Ellis Road Bike


 This bike has had a bit of an interesting life, it started out as my blue DRB last year, and I had built it with clearance for fat tires and TRP CX9 mini v-brakes (see pic below).  Well, after riding for a good chunk of last season, I decided to explore a rando style build that would also accommodate fat tires along with fenders, lights and a front rack, and I was pleased to have that bike named as "Best Steel Bike" at NAHBS this past spring (see 3rd pic).  I really liked the DRB frame, but now it was searching for a purpose, so I decided to modify it for short reach brakes and this is the finished product.  Along the way, I added a slightly lighter rear triangle since the stays wouldn't need to support canti's or v brakes, and the finished frame tipped the scale at 3.5lbs exactly.  I made sure that the bridge is as high as possible with the short reach brakes, so I could still run 28c tires, and I also built a steel fork similarly, although in the picture above the bike is sporting an ENVE 1.0 fork.  

 The original DRB

"Best Steel Bike" NAHBS 2012
 (This one is handling all the fat tire needs these days, plus it's not a bad road bike with skinny tires mounted up!)

First ride on the Stealth bike tonight, can't wait!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Almanzo 100!

Lisa took this one right before I headed off to the start line.

I certainly wasn't expecting to "race" today, so I found a spot a ways back at the start line.  Probably at least 300 folks came out for the 100 mile loop, not sure what the final count was, and that's not including the ones who started the Royal 162 at 7:00am. 

You poor sucker, you've got no idea what you're in for!

There was quite a bit of fresh gravel on the roads, but usually at least one "line" where the gravel was either more packed down or where the fresh stuff hadn't quite made it.  Riding on the shoulder here reminded me of the pros riding the gutters at Paris Roubaix.

While I was taking the above shot, I figured I take a "panda" shot of myself, and I didn't even crash!

The first 30 miles were pretty easy, we enjoyed a tail or cross wind for the majority of that distance, but then we turned into the wind for most of the next ten miles into Preston and the scene above.  Looks like some folks are starting to feel it!  There were some nice folks who were providing water here, but they ran out just as I showed up, so we rode up into Preston's grocery store to find water and supplies. 

After we left Preston, I rode with a few folks and then settled into my own pace through a beautiful tree lined road only to emerge onto this stretch of southbound road with no shelter whatsoever.  At this point, folks were scattered all over the course in ones and two's, hard to find anywhere to hide from the wind. 
The bike performed flawlessly, despite the heavy coat of Minnesota dust it collected.  Here I'm stopped in Forestville State Park at about the 67 mark, and I was already feeling pretty empty.

To add insult to injury, the last 10 miles included 2 pretty significant climbs, here you can see some folks dismounting for the walk and another taking a rest or trying to massage out the cramps in his legs.  (I was already walking, so there's no shame there, imo!)

Looking up the hill...

After patiently waiting for an extra hour and half more than I expected, Lisa caught this shot of me creeping into the 25-35mph headwind that we enjoyed for the last 2-3 miles of the course. 

Some shots of the dust crusted bike and bag.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything.

 Polished stainless sleeved seat stays and brake bridge.

 I just finished Al's new Ellis yesterday, so I thought I'd include a pic here, it's a really cool mix of classic and modern aesthetics (I know, I'm beating that Modern Classic thing to death!), with a fillet brazed main triangle and a polished stainless fork and rear triangle   The shot above is a more simplified take on my sleeved seat stays than I usually do on the Modern Classic, but I think it should blend well with the smooth front end.  More pics here;  Ellis Picasa

Next, on to the riding! 

 Look at me, all kitted up in my Ellis duds!

This past weekend Lisa and I headed out to Western WI for the Dairy Roubaix!  The start point was basically in the middle of nowhere between Muscoda, Boscobel and Dodgeville, but that was kinda the whole point.  The ride took advantage of as many unpaved gravel roads as possible, many of which seemed to point either straight up or straight down!  Not to say that this area is mountainous, but the hills that is does have can be quite steep. 

A shot of the gravel as I prepare to head back down into on of the many valleys.  

This upcoming weekend should be another fun one, we're heading up towards Eau Claire for the Strada Fango.  There's a map of the course here, and it looks like it might be borderline mountain bike terrain in some areas, but I think I'll just put some cross tires on the DRB and run with it! 

I wonder if this guy will be there? 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mike's Ellis

Mike's frame just shipped out yesterday, here's a cool shot of the lower head lug and fork crown.
This is one of my favorite details, note how the crown is cut to mirror the lower head lug detail.

There are a couple more pics of Mike's frame and fork on my Picasa page here; Ellis Cycles Picasa.

You can also check out the other projects I've got in progress there and watch for updates! Just started working on two upcoming Ellis' that will feature quite a bit of polished stainless.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reassembling My S&S NAHBS Rando

When I started planning this bike to display at NAHBS, I rather early settled on building it with S&S couplers so that I could easily pack the bike and travel with it without incurring huge airline fees. I had shipped my Di2 equipped DRB to California in late 2011, and it became instantly apparent how simple Di2 made packing a bike. Now I no longer had to deal with shift cables, all I had to do was break the chain with a quick link and then unplug and unbolt the derailleurs. Once I arrived, reverse the process and the bike is ready to ride with no adjustments at all.

In addition, since the bike features a dyno front hub, rack and light, I needed to have a way to quickly assemble and disassemble these parts to fit in the S&S case. Along the way, I made sure the brakes would also be easy to disconnect and reset up out of the case. When I arrived home from Sacramento, I figured I'd document the rebuild, so that folks could see the amount of time and thought that went into making this process as simple as possible. So, if you follow this link to my Picasa page, you can see not only some really nice finished photos of the bike, but about halfway through the album I start a sequential group of photos documenting the build and some cool features of the bike.

This bike was featured in a quick article on Bike Portland, and I managed to raise the ire of some traditionalists by suggesting that if Rene Herse or Alex Singer were around today, they'd be building bikes with Di2. Sure it's pretty speculative to guess what anyone who built 40-50 years ago would be doing today, but they were known as early adopters of technology like derailleurs and ultra lightweight tubing, so is it that hard to imagine them using the most advanced parts of the time? Another comment questioned whether my bike was truly "innovative", but I challenge that this (or Ultegra Di2) may be the most appropriate group for a travel bike, and I think my Di2 wiring must be somewhat innovative, it's certainly been copied enough since I first introduced it at NAHBS in 2009!

Judge for yourself.


p.s. Before I get inundated by folks reminding me that the Rene Herse and Alex Singer marques are still in business, I'm referring to the man, not what the current output of these brands are.