One of the greatest aspects of cycling is the tightknit community of passionate people who bring the sport to life. It’s this passion that drives artisans to create purpose-made bikes by hand with custom fits and finishes for dedicated riders that desire this level of personalization.
To that end, we wanted to celebrate the people behind these bikes and connect them to the machines they create in a way does both justice. So, we worked with cycling photographer Jordan Clark Haggard to capture the personalities of these individuals and the beauty of their creations in the following photo essay.
We take an up-close look at the most intriguing aspects of these builds while offering a brief bit of insight into who these people are and the backstory behind the bikes they’ve created.
Irishman Aiden Duff is one of the few frame builders brave enough to build custom bikes from carbon. Using this material to build one-off machines requires some real out of the box thinking and a huge amount of fixture and material investment up front to build bikes that perform at a world-class level while looking this clean. As a fan of both vintage road cycling and professional boxing, Duff brought two bikes that capture his love of these sports.
The Brooklyn Chewing Gum Cycling Team-themed TT bike, built using a frame design that was UCI legal at the time this team was in its prime, is an exercise in resto-mod engineering that brings modern materials and performance to form factors that are reminiscent of machines from a beloved, yet bygone era.
The white disc road bike Duff brought to the show is a custom bike built for none other than 6’6” (198cm) Heavyweight Boxing World Champ, Anthony Joshua. The custom paint speaks to Joshua’s approach to the sport. On the top tube, is “AJBXNG,” signaling the rider and his sport. On the stem is a nod to the worth ethic required to become world champ, “258” means 25 hours a day, 8 days a week—more than 24/7. The headtube features a lion symbolizing Great Britain and Joshua’s need to “Stay Hungry.” The 220.127.116.11 on the chainstay signifies the World Champ’s status as second to no one.
And to ensure that this bike holds up to the incredible amount of wattage Joshua can produce, it features a new patented “Plasma” treatment to better join the ends of the carbon tubes. The controlled polymer ablation process (CPA) allows a full carbon-to-carbon bond with greater adhesion. Duff says this process has shown a 21 percent increase in shear strength with no weight penalty and is available on all of their frames.
Technical mastery, engineering acumen, and high performance are the calling cards of Mr. Rob English. All of these qualities are on display with this stunning road bike. In fact, this bike is so clean that it’s easy to miss the details that make this a very, very special machine.
Brake hoses run internally from stem to stern. To make this possible, Rob machined custom headset bearing seats to match up perfectly to the BMC carbon fork that features factory equipped internal hose routing. The bearing seats were then brazed to the ovalized aero headtube for an extremely sanitary front end assembly that is second to none. For the rear hose run, English used a T47 bottom bracket to allow the hose to route around the SRAM DUB bottom bracket spindle without exiting the frame. At the rear caliper mount, Rob used his own custom-made steel flat mount disc brake bosses that are actually lighter than a typical carbon flat mount brake mounting boss!
The top tube is custom ovalized to improve ride quality while allowing Rob to use a smaller, lighter tube with the same lateral stiffness as a larger round tube. The aero seat tube is custom machined to tuck the rear tire in nice and tight. Not content to stop there, Rob engineered a super clean, stealthy removeable front derailleur braze-on to allow the customer the option to switch to a 1x drivetrain in the future without having an unused fitting hanging out in space.
Brook Fowler’s bikes are a means of self-expression. Like Brook, they are precise and incredibly useful, yet cheerful and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. A longtime SRAM Dealer Service representative and a former manager of the department before joining our Marketing team, Brook knows bikes and knows how to make people happy. What could make someone happier than receiving a beautifully lugged handmade purple mixte? We’re going to need to think about that for a while… nothing’s coming to mind.
This Moots Routt was painted by one of the top artists in the business, Rudi Jung at Black Magic Paint. A NAHBS Best in Show Finish award recipient, he’s not only made a colorful yet cohesive design, he’s done it with a level of precision and craftsmanship that is second to none. This effort is all the more impressive when you consider that he did the whole thing with one hand tied behind his back. Well, not literally tied behind his back, but Rudi only has use of his left arm, so his right arm might as well be tied behind his back. To learn more about Rudi and his story, The Radavist has a great photo essay highlighting his paint shop.
How do you make a meticulously crafted titanium gravel bike even better? Add a bassboat paint job with some serious metal flake. That’s what Aaron Barcheck at Mosaic Cycles did to this little beauty called the GT-1. But this isn’t your typical bassboat paint job with a metallic basecoat buried in clearcoat. Sister company, Spectrum Paint and Powder Works, used a red-tinted candy clear over multiple layers of clear coat laced with sparkling bits of metal flake to get this beautiful effect. And just to make it harder, while proving that this is how they did it, they threw in a color fade for the top coat. Respect.
While this Wizard of Oz ruby red slippers-inspired paint job might not be everyone’s cup of tea, for people that are into it… let’s just say that Aaron’s going to need to include a towel with this bike to wipe off the drool from the fans drawn to it.
To say Dario Pegoretti is a framebuilding legend is a bit of an understatement. He’s built racing frames for the sport’s biggest names competing in the world’s biggest races. And he did it with a panache and artistic flair unlike anyone else.
That’s why when he passed away last year it felt like the end of an era. But his family and friends are determined to carry on building Pegoretti bikes with the same attention to detail, performance, and design ideals that drove Dario. In contrast to Dario’s favored flamboyant paint and finishes, his frames were elegantly simple with clean lines and a minimalist’s focus on function.
This bike is a tribute to Dario that pays homage to his legacy by combining a straightforward, no frills lightweight steel frame with a bright impressionistic paint job and the wireless simplicity of SRAM RED eTap AXS components. Pietro Pietricola, Dario’s longtime assistant, is the man behind this machine that was built in Dario’s Verona, Italy workshop. The frame features a paintjob primarily consisting of the kind of rings left behind by red wine glasses on a table cloth after a spirited dinner conversation. Within the rings are written the names of wine making regions in Italy, making this bike a celebration of both Dario and his home.
The Squid Salariman ties together all of the elements that makes Squid… well, Squid. It’s a bike made for excelling on their favorite all-day Sierra Nevada road ride near their headquarters in Sacramento. It also incorporates an origin story that speaks to their beloved connection to the Japanese cycling community.
The steel frame was built by Manabu Takahashi at Above Bike Store in Kawasaki, Japan. And like all Squids, it’s hand painted. This one features vintage sign art-style graphics done by Swamp Aki, the artist featured in the portraits below. Squid co-owner, Chris Namba also added his signature style to the frame by drawing the bike’s distinctive cartoon squid head badge.
What’s the ultimate dropbar adventure bike? This Moots Baxter is a serious contender for the title. It was built for desert bike packing aficionado and pro photographer, John Watson, AKA: The Radavist.
True to his moniker, we can’t think of a better way to get both modernly rad and atavistic at the same time as riding this machine. RED eTap AXS hydraulic brakes and levers, paired with a complete SRAM Eagle AXS drivetrain with a 32-tooth chainring and 10-50t cassette on a Ti bike, make this one serious bike packing rig. Oh yeah, and just for fun and getting a little crazy on the descents, John installed a 100mm drop 30.9mm RockShox Reverb AXS dropper seatpost for good measure. It’s activated by the unused front shifting eTap AXS double-click to raise and lower the post. We smile just thinking about this deluxe bit of adventure kit on wheels.
Retired BMX Park pro, Brad Hodges, brings a straightforward no-nonsense approach to his bikes. But he also brings that fun loving let’s-go-for-it BMX attitude that makes this Sacramento, California craftsman an awesome choice for off the beaten path builds. Take this 1x road bike for example, the unpainted finish is simultaneously no-nonsense and devil-may-care raw.
But in case you think he’s simply cutting corners by deleting a traditional painted finish, look a little closer at that downtube. The WH Bradford graphic is precisely etched into the metal in his standard incredibly unforgiving script font. Just in case that detail was a little too hoity-toity, there’s an unfussy beautifully rustic handmade custom head badge designed for the Sacramento-based chef that commissioned the build. For Brad, it’s about balancing details like this that make a bike special without making it too precious. We dig it.