NAHBS 2010 day 1: Cielo, Vanilla, Pegoretti

Sixth North American Handmade Bicycle Show kicks off in Virginia

Unexpected success for Chris King's return to framebuilding

Headset icon Chris King returned to framebuilding after a long hiatus with his Cielo nameplate and things have gone better than anticipated.  What was once a two-model collection with just two colour options has already grown to three models and six colours after barely a year on the market. The brand has also been picked up by high-profile outlets such as Mellow Johnny's in Austin, Texas and River City Bicycles in Portland, Oregon with another well-known retailer in California nearly locked in.

The newest member of the Cielo family is a 29" hardtail mountain bike, added to the range after two prototypes on a worldwide tour with employees Chris DiStefano and Jeff Menand received an overwhelmingly positive response.  The TIG-welded frame is built with True Temper OX Platinum tubing and features stainless steel head tube reinforcement rings to help support the Chris King internal-cup Inset headset, machined stainless steel seat stay caps and Paragon Machine Works sliding dropouts with built-in tensioners for easy singlespeed or geared options.  

DiStefano says that while only 29"-wheeled versions are currently available, smaller wheel sizes may be coming in the future. 

One of the most interesting bikes in the Chris King/Cielo booth, however, was the company's entry in the Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge – and it definitely wasn't available for sale.  Designed and built by recent hire Jay Sycip, the one-off prototype featured the usual stainless steel head tube rings, front and rear dropouts, and seat stay plugs plus a polished Chris King stainless steel NoThreadset, custom front and rear racks, a cheeky placard mounted on the rear fender and a built-in cable lock.

Cielo Cycles entered this fantastic machine into this year's Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge

Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles collaborates with Dario Pegoretti on track collection

Handbuilt trendsetter Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles is continuing with his subset of Speedvagen limited edition racing rigs for 2011. This iteration's genre of choice is track following successful runs with road and 'cross.  After two years of working with fellow framebuilder Mike DeSalvo, though, White is now shifting gears a bit and will collaborate with Italian icon Dario Pegoretti.

"Dario's going to be coming out in May and we're going to build 25 of these track racing machines," said White.  "But we're actually going into a deeper collaboration than we've ever done with Speedvagen before.  Because of his deep experience with racing I've asked him to work with me on developing the tubing and work with me on geometry and then he'll come out and we'll build the bicycles."

Sacha White will collaborate with legendary framebuilder Dario Pegoretti on the upcoming range of Speedvagen track bikes

Speedvagen and Vanilla Bicycles frontman Sacha White built this 'cross frameset with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group

Historically, White's Speedvagen machines have been offered in a limited range of straightforward colours plus a more unpredictable option simply dubbed 'Surprise Me' – which he says is now chosen by most Speedvagen customers.  In addition to the tubing and geometry, Pegoretti will provide input on the next version of special paint, too.

"Dario's so well known for his paint schemes and I feel like I am, too, but we really come from opposite ends of the spectrum.  He's very much the rocker and the artist and does abstract and that's one of the things I love about him.   He has such history and such pedigree for building winning racing bicycles and so he can paint a bike the way that he paints a bike and you can't just pigeonhole them as art bikes."

Pegoretti now cancer-free, carrying on with business

Even without a big logo on the down tube, this TIG-welded steel frame is unmistakably Pegoretti

Meanwhile, Dario Pegoretti has been busy on his own long-standing collection after successfully battling lymphoma.  

New at NAHBS this year is a burly rear dropout design featuring scalloped joints where they meet with the stays plus brazed-in cylinders fully piercing the tubes for a distinct appearance.  

Paint schemes have continued to evolve as well.  On display at NAHBS was a 'Venetian stucco' panel treatment and a superb 'mica' tactile finish with a not only an obvious sparkle but also a novel texture. 

This striking lugged steel Pegoretti features his 'Venetian stucco' panel design

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