Rocky Mountain Show: Magnesium, aluminium, track bikes and more

Handbuilt coverage from Colorado

We wrap up our coverage here with the remainder of companies that were on hand but don’t worry; there will be plenty of handbuilt coverage on the way from other events in the months ahead. Next stop: Indianapolis!

René Herse lights the way

Recently reinvigorated René Herse Bicycles aims to blend the soul of 1930s-era French bicycles and modern methods and materials with a particular focus on randonneur/brevet-type machines – all from a humble location on the north side of Boulder, Colorado.

Highlighting that philosophy (quite literally, in fact) was its intriguing ‘Lighting Project’ covered from head to toe in gleaming chrome and polished aluminium. The decidedly classic lines included small-diameter steel tubing, full fenders front and rear (with a leather flap up front, no less), plus integrated front and rear lights built into custom housings mounted on the tiny front rack and seat tube.

Those small-diameter tubes used modern-day alloys, though, and were joined with handcrafted fully custom lugs made by renowned builder Mark Nobilette, who also coincidentally brazed everything together. Moreover, the custom light housings were filled with bright LED emitters powered by a cutting-edge Schmidt dynamo front hub, and mixed in with the Campagnolo Record carbon fibre componentry was a Brooks leather saddle, genuine vintage Mafac cantilevers and a classic-looking alloy stem of Herse’s own design.

René herse aims to blend 1930s french bicycle style with modern materials and construction methods. : rené herse aims to blend 1930s french bicycle style with modern materials and construction methods.

René Herse aims to blend 1930s French bicycle style with modern materials and construction methods.

Old but new? We’d say so

Paketa sings the praises of magnesium

Magnesium is one of the rarest materials used in bicycle frame manufacture but Boulder, Colorado-based Paketa Bicycles uses the stuff exclusively, citing the material’s low density (one-third less than aluminium), good fatigue life, and unique damping characteristics which purportedly yield an ultra-smooth ride.

Paketa’s range includes road, hardtail mountain, ‘cross, time trial/triathlon and even tandem frames, all made from magnesium. The lightest road frame, the Rocket, uses a bi-ovalised and double-butted down tube, a plate-reinforced bottom bracket area plus replaceable dropouts.

Paketa's frame repertoire also includes mountain, time trial/triathlon, and even tandem styles. : paketa's frame repertoire also includes mountain, time trial/triathlon, and even tandem styles.

Paketa's frame repertoire also includes mountain,time trial/triathlon, and even tandem styles.

Frame weights fall in the 1300g range depending on size and retail price for the frame and Easton EC90 fork is an equally reasonable US$1950.

On the track with Groundupdesigns

Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Groundupdesigns is a stone’s throw away from the United States Olympic Training Centre and its outdoor velodrome so it should perhaps come as no surprise that track bikes dominated its booth at the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show.

The pierced top tube is apparently a trademark feature of groundupdesigns builder eric baar. : the pierced top tube is apparently a trademark feature of groundupdesigns builder eric baar.

The pierced top tube is apparently a trademark feature of Groundupdesigns builder Eric Baar.

One in particular sported builder Eric Baar’s signature pierced top tube, one of the most unique dropout treatments we’ve seen in some time, plus a wild checkered finish that was brushed right into the steel tubing.

Even more unique, though, was the 120mm OLD hub spacing used both front and rear which allowed for easier gear ratio swapping. With the installed flip-flip hubs on the display bike, users would have their choice of two fixed cogs and two freewheels.

Saving marriages with daVinci’s tandem drivetrain

Tandem cyclists typically have to pedal at a single cadence since both cranksets are locked together with a single chain. daVinci’s unique Independent Coasting System (ICS) drivetrain, however, allows captain and stoker to pedal at independent speeds – or even coast while the other is pedalling.

daVinci also offers complete tandems with its ics drivetrain built right in. : davinci also offers complete tandems with its ics drivetrain built right in.

daVinci offers complete tandems with its ICS drivetrain built right in

ICS’ key is an additional driveshaft positioned just ahead of the stoker crankset fitted with two freewheels that allow each rider to input torque as they see fit.

The built-in 2:1 drive ratio thus also allows for half-sized chainrings (or freewheel cogs as is the case here) with smaller steps that reportedly produce faster and smoother shifting and an extraordinarily wide 18-140 gear-inch range if four chainrings are fitted.

ICS requires dedicated fittings but daVinci naturally also offers complete road and mountain (even full-suspension) tandem frames made from steel, aluminium, titanium or even carbon fibre. S&S couplers are also an option to ease transport.

Civilian quietly steals the show with striking townie

Civilian Bicycle Company builder Tyson Hart made the trip from Boise, Idaho with a beautiful baby blue-and-black townie that arguably stole the show. The double top tube arguably provides no real functional purpose but adds notable visual flare in conjunction with their kinked rear ends, a theme also carried through to the seat stays.

Civilian bicycle company arguably stole the show with this beautiful townie. : civilian bicycle company arguably stole the show with this beautiful townie.

Civilian Bicycle Company arguably stole the show with this beautiful townie

The cork grips, wooden fenders, Brooks leather saddle, and cream-colored Schwalbe tyres also added to the overall package but it was the paint job that had onlookers buzzing. Hart built this particular machine for his own personal use but we’d venture to guess that someone else out there might just want one for themselves.

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
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