If we had budget for a spokesperson, my vote is for Richard!
So here it is: my girlfriend’s Kappa. It started out as a retro-style BMX frame with modern geometry and tubing diameters, and then with Jeremy Sycip’s help I devolved the bike back into BMX’s genesis, the Schwinn Stingray. Everyone who sees knows it’s something cool, but they don’t know what it is exactly.
I stripped the best components off of my discarded BMX bike and put them on her bike. Now it has Shimano DXR hubs and brake lever, XTR M952 v-brake, and a Dura-Ace bottom bracket. The crank is actually the Tiagra triple road crank that I used on my travel bike when I toured Japan last summer. I put an old school Shimano BMX 44-tooth chainring on, the only real vintage part on the bike. Rather than being four decades old, the Apple Krate saddle is actually a Schwinn factory repro, but it really makes the bike visually pop. Now that the bike has braze-ons for the sissy bar, the seat is secured a bit better.
The last touch is the Dimension “star” grips and a chainring guard that I made by griding off the teeth from a 53 tooth Vuelta road ring.
I’m not entirely happy with the fork. Someday I might send it to Sycip to have brake bosses brazed on to it and then powdercoated to match the frame, but that’ll have to wait. I told my girlfriend she needs to ride it a lot first, then we can talk about more mods. So far, she’s been riding everyday to work with it.
We’ve posted previously on the Hotspur – a handbuilt, oversized, Titanium-tube frame with a carbon seatstay – and I raced it this weekend on a rolling course in Ravensdale Washington. The bike performed as expected with a solid ride that was very similar to the Modal, but weighing less, and riding like a straight-up racing bike. Bill Davidson and Mark’s design achieved a lighter, stiffer Ti bike with that distinctive “springy-road” feel that Ti aficionados love. The bike climbed, accelerated, and descended, like I’d expect and excelled at rolling.
Most remarkable about racing the Hotspur was it reminded me of my old 853 frame – a ride that set a benchmark for my future reviews. I could subtly feel the road and the frame reacting to it. By all accounts (including our own) the new Madones, Tarmacs, et al, are all excellent racing bikes, and the intent of the Hotspur was to demonstrate that Ti can compete with carbon.
Reacting to the popularity of carbon, Ti tube manufactures and builders are continuing to innovate, especially with mixed-frame materials. I understood the benefit of ti/carbon mix firsthand when 3 of us hit a large pothole during the race. The 2 racers ahead of me, slammed into the hole at about 28 mph (curses to the racers ahead of us that didn’t call the hole out), and I rolled over it, feeling the carbon seat stays take the hit. For a bespoke bike, tuned to a rider, with lots of thinking going into the design, the Hotspur proved that Ti is back or moreso that it never left. It also stands out as a unique bike in an industry fixated on carbon. The handbuilt industry is flourishing with bikes like this from Davidson and other skilled builders.
Summary is that the Hotspur project produced an OS Ti frame that rides like you’d expect a custom Ti frame to do, but stiffer and lighter than traditional 3.25 tubes. The Hotspur is a kermesse-style racing bike, built for crits, circuits, and the roleur-type of rider. Light, strong, fast, and built to last.
Note that we didn’t weight-weenie out on the Hotspur: lighter components and smaller tube diameters would reduce the weight further.
The Hotspur is built with Feathertech custom-profiled, oversized, titanium tubing; Reynolds UL fork and seatstay; Dedacciai titanium chainstay, Paragon titanium derailleur hanger, and fittings; the components include
and it weighs in right at 17 pounds with the Jet 60s and under with the Ardennes.
I wasn’t having that much stem stub and requested an urgent removal. Later, an informal study at the race on Sunday found many varying degrees of stem stubs. How much stem stub do you tolerate? Mark noted that there were anti-anxiety medications for worrying about stem stubs.
Also, green bar tape, while the subject of ridicule from your racing bros, does work well on St. Pat’s day.
We just got my gf’s Kappa BMX frame(seen above before work was done) back from Sycip Designs. Jeremy Sycip fixed the headtube problem, added some braze-ons to steady the sissy bar, and then powdercoated the bike. Soon after opening the shipping box, I had the bike reassembled, but this time with all the best parts from my previous BMX bike. She rode the bike to work today, and I’ll post the pix tomorrow. The bike was cool before, but now it’s awe-inspiring!