Another Project Complete!

 Steve send us pictures of his completed bike with the Gates/Rohloff and Gebla Rohbox shifter.  Looking good!  Best part about custom builds is the whole process from beginning to end and finally the pictures.  Because each project is so unique to the owner, each one is never the same and the time and effort really makes all the difference in the end.

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Independent Fabrications SSR Rohloff

very once in awhile, when we finish a build, we don't want to give the build back.  This is one of those projects.  We've always been a big fan of Independent Fabrications and have always respected their work.  Now we've become die hard fanboys!  Stainless Steel Road (SSR) (yes, that's right) Rohloff belt compatible frame.  Talk about custom one off.

And something unique about this build is the use of Gebla shifter box that allows SRAM road Rival 22 dropbar brifters, the first of its kind!  We have these in stock right now.

SRAM BB7 road disc brakes 160mm rotors

Easton EC70SL carbon stem, EC70 seatpost

Raceface Turbine cranks with Cinch BB

Hope Pro2 front disc hub

Gates front / rear sprocket with red belt

Cane Creek 110 headset

FSA Gossamer Compact bars

Ryde Andra 210 disc rims (recommended for Rohloff hubs) build with Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples




Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff

Seems like we're not the only ones fascinated with Titanium!  Mark custom build this Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff starting with just the bare frame and putting it all together with his son.  Rohloff with Gates drive, Enve fork, stem and bars, Cinq drop bar shifters, Race Face Cinch cranks and the list goes on!



It's one sweet looking bike!

That's something we're lacking in North America.  Rohloff belt ready frames that are either off the shelf or semi-custom ready to build.  Europe has lots of choices but not so much here.  We're working hard at offering something similar to the Amazon Rohloff, touring light bike that is relatively easy to put together without too much headache but still have the element of customization that you wouldn't normally get from some of the larger bike manufacturers. 



True North Fat

est we be accused of being stuck in the past, here is something that brings us right back to 2015!  This as far as I know is the only one in existence (Hugh has steel fatbikes of course) but this one is unique because it's designed with a Rohloff XL / Gates drive in mind.  I think the bike looks absolutely stunning.  The cable routing is Rohloff friendly, the frame comes apart to allow the belt to be installed, the workmanship is beautiful and I know because I can compare with the Seven frame right next to it.  It's got classic written all over it but if you look at the drivetrain, it's all 2015! 











I initiated this project with Hugh late last year with the idea of building a fatbike with the XL hub and at the time Hugh said he didn't have a frame yet that has been stiffness tested for Gates drive but he was about to get one ready to be certified.  He has other fatbikes of course using Gates drive but they are built with the standard Rohloff hub and so with the introduction of the XL hub from Rohloff, he had to prepare another frame to be sent for testing. 

In the meantime, it was getting all the bits and pieces together and that included the Light Bicycle carbon fatbike rims, Hope Fatsno 150mm front hub, Avid BB7 brakes, Avid Ultimate Levers, Surly Nate tires, Race Face stem\fat cranks, and FSA SLK carbon bars.  The beltline for Rohloff's XL hub is 72.25mm and 71.5mm for chain so it's important to get the right crank/sprocket combination right from the start. 

The geometry was custom and designed with the local geography in mind.  Hugh's fatbikes are literally everywhere!  So he definitely has some experience with what works around the local trails and what people like and don't like.  We tweaked it a bit to raise the BB height from the initial drawings but otherwise left it untouched.  The fork is a steel fork and the geometry is such that if in the future a Bluto fork is used, it won't totally mess up the geometry so it's future proof.  The rest was then just a matter of time.   When I went to pick it up a few weeks ago at Hugh's workshop, it was a sight to behold.  There is a reason why True North is so well regarded in these parts and everyone around here knows about Hugh and the work he does.  Something about custom Ti frames really speak to me.  I picked this up from a customer and friend of mine years ago and I've been afflicted with Ti disease ever since.  Part of it is Titanium's uniqueness, it doesn't rust, light yet strong, beautiful unpainted, the simplicity that can be had with titanium makes it unique I think compared to other frame materials.  

Part of any custom project for me is to come with something different to make it uniquely yours.  It could be a colour combination or a favourite saddle, a custom frame, a Rohloff XL hub ;)  The point is to always put your finger print on it so at the end of day, the whole is more than a sum of its parts.  It certainly takes more time and sometimes things don't fit or go as planned but that's part of the challenge and fun of it.  Often times you have to make changes along the way and timelines can go sideways.  So my advice is to always plan early and don't assume things will just bolt together.  Plan for mistakes because we're all human, parts not arriving and or sometimes missing.  Custom projects are fun for me and while it takes more time and effort, it's well worth it in the end.   Come check the bike out at the Toronto Bike Show this weekend and if all goes well (fingers crossed), it'll be rideable!


Back To The Future(?)

This the project we've hinted at before and if you drop by the Toronto Bike Show next weekend, you'll be able to see up close and give it a try. 


Is it new or old?  It certainly looks new but some of parts certainly aren't but maybe used in a new way?  The build isn't complete yet, still missing brakes but I thought the build was close enough to warrant showing it.  Let's start with the frame and fork.  The frame is a Seven Sola SL custom Ti frame.  If there was ever such a thing a timeless bicycle, I think you will not find a better example then a titanium hardtail.  Geometry for hardtails hasn't really changed much since the use of front suspension and no one would really put on a 120mm front fork on a hardtail.   This frame was designed around 80mm front suspension and for the most part that's probably all it'll ever need. 


That of course brings me to the fork.  It's an Amp Research F4 BLT 80mm cross country linkage fork although at the time, this was considered a DH fork but today it's perfect travel for XC.  It's stiff, works well and I think gives the bike that "not like every other bike at the Trail Head" quality that would be impossible with the latest Fox or Rock Shox XC fork.  Does it perform as well as a modern day XC fork?  In some ways it does and in some ways it doesn't.  It's light, it's stiff like modern day forks, the quality of suspension may not rival 2015 technology but it's only 80mm of travel.  We're not talking 120mm/5 inches of travel here.   The other option I would use is a suspension corrected steel or carbon fork with disc tabs. 

Bar / Stem / Headset / Seatpost - Moots / Chris King Ti headset with Ti headset spacers.  Not sure there is really anything else to add there.  The stem/bar is not the modern 31.8mm but again remember this is not a DH bike and isn't going to become one anytime soon.  The stem is longish by today's 60-90mm standards at 110mm but not crazy long like 130mm or anything. 


Cranks - XTR M970.  Does anyone still make a high quality 3 ring crankset anymore?  I'm only using the outer ring and using a Race Face Narrow Wide ring and that's all I need because of course I'm using a Rohloff disc hub in the back.  The outer ring gives me the perfect 53mm chainline that I need to use with the Rohloff that modern day 2 ring or 1 ring cranks do not.  And the XTR cranks are so well made that you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer set of cranks.  Cheaper yes, better no.  Other option here would be Race Face's Cinch SixC or if you really want to go high zoot the NEXT SL, cranks that can be used with their 3 ring setup and use only the outer ring and uses the latest 30mm BB standard. 


Hubs - Which of course brings me to the wheelset.  The front wheel is a Mavic 217 SUP rim laced to a Chris King non disc hub.  You'll likely need Google to tell you what a Mavic 217 SUP rim is but there was a time that it was THE rim for XC before tubeless and carbon 40mm wide rims.  The only thing better would have been the Ceramic version!  The rear is a Mavic XM 819 UST disc rim.  UST hasn't really caught on like Mavic had hoped for but I like the rim and I needed a good disc rim to use the Rohloff hub.  The rear hub is a Rohloff and I know it may sound a bit biased but while it's not XC light like a CK hub it fits this whole project perfectly.  Gives me the modern 1 ring look but still has 14 gears and range that a proper XC bike needs.  I'll have another write up on the gearing on this bike and why I choose it.   A cassette and rear derailleur would ruin the look of the bike I think but the bike does need a chain tensioner as it has vertical dropouts so that's a small price to pay for the overall benefit of the Rohloff in terms of look and performance.  It is of course a disc hub and the front is not disc so I'll be using an Avid BB7 disc brake in the rear, Avid Supreme V-brakes in the front and Avid Ultimate levers.  Probably the best V-brake and cable disc brake ever made.  Avid has stopped producing the Ultimate levers and Supreme brakes all together.  If you saw how much machining is in those parts, you'd understand why they were so expensive and why it doesn't make sense to make them anymore.  I choose cable disc instead of hydraulic disc brakes because I wanted the brakes to have the same feel plus it'd be odd to have 2 different levers in the front. 

Grips - I have to mention grips because ESI silicon grips are the BEST THING EVER.  These are the Chunky model.  They are light, comfortable, feels great and I can cut them to use with Rohloff shifters.  Highly recommended.  And they are easy to install.  Modern day materials and technology at its best.  I'll be carrying and using these grips for all future Rohloff builds. 

Saddle - Selle Italia Flight saddle.  The red matched the hubs :) 





Picture of front end with shifter and Avid Ultimate Levers / Supreme brakes


Final Price?  Priceless because you can't get Mavic 217 rims anymore ;)  Bonus points if you can identify the pedals. 

So if there was one bike that I had to choose to take with me to a deserted island.  I think this would be it.  There are other XC bikes out there and definitely longer travel bikes but as a pure XC bike that will be as comfortable on fireroads as it is around town, there's nothing quite like it. 

What would you take to a deserted island? 


Rohloff Ellsworth

PB230034I've seen quite a few bikes in my time and I've seen some custom builds but I have to say Dave's Ellsworth Evolution with a Rohloff just about takes the top prize for attention to detail and parts spec. 

Carbon rims laced with Sapim bladed(!) spokes, XTR front hub with 15mm angular contact bearing, nokon cable housing, Middleburn cranks, Magura fork, Crank Bros Mallet pedals with Ti spindles(!), Race Face ring, Cane Creek 110 headset and the list goes on and on.  This is by far the most thought out bike I've seen this season if not ever. 

Everything in its place and a place for everything.  I don't think my pictures does the bike any justice.   This bike is really an example how to build a custom bike.


Complete bike built up.


I love Dave's use of V-brake noodles as cable guides for both the shifters and at the external shifter box.  The Nokon like cable housing is definitely a nice touch but watch out they don't touch the frame(!).  That would be my only concern with aluminum cable housing but otherwise they are pretty sweet.  See how nicely the cable guides go above and below the Hope levers?    Also the noodles are black rather the the ubiquitous silver you see everywhere.  Nothing is by accident here. 


Rohloff DH chain tensioner.  Necessary for full suspension bikes to keep the chain tensioned during the bike's travel.  Definitely a bit more tricky with a full suspension bike but Rohloff has 2 different tensioners to suit the application.  Dave has it setup so that everything is perfectly in line and the gap between the sprocket and tensioner wheel is just enough. 



Middleburn cranks with its Rohloff specific spider gives the optimal 54mm chainline.  What isn't shown is the Enduro XD-15 BB holding the cranks in place.  Google search Enduro XD-15 BB and you'll find that is is not your run of the mill BB.  Crank Bros Mallet pedals with Ti spindles.  Did I mention that this bike blew me away?  And I haven't even begun to talk about the carbon wheels laced with Sapim CX-Ray bladded spokes, XTR front hub with its ingenious hidden tool.   This build list is simply too much to go write about in one short article.  There is a small story for each part that it's rather quite amazing when Dave talks about it.  Parts coming from all corners of the planet. 


Dave promises to give me a rider's review after he's had some more time on the Ellsworth so I'm definitely looking forward to that.