Beer, Back Aches and a Hand Made Bike

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Photo: Todd Hofert

Photo: Todd Hofert
Article by Todd Hofert


As the 2014 North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) rapidly approaches, I find myself nearing the one-year anniversary of the birth of a dream bike.

I began cycling nearly thirty years ago, introduced to the sport of “speed cycling”, as they called it, in the Netherlands in 1986. I spent the summer there that year, a summer that changed me forever. My hosts invited me along on their group rides which of course included the mid-ride stop at the cafe for espresso and the post-ride ‘pils’. It was a culture I embraced and fell in love with almost immediately.

We watched the Tour together. They explained to me the ins and outs of the race, of the sport, its strategies, and its traditions. I was the dumb American kid who, regardless of the number of times they told me, could not understand why an American could never win the Tour de France.

Upon returning home to the States my highest priority was to buy a real speed cycle. The process was quick, it was cheap and in my unbridled exuberance and relative ignorance, I paid little attention to fit. If it had wheels and I could reach the pedals it fit the bill.

As the years have passed, so have numerous bikes, each retired every five years or so always giving way to the next great thing and the inevitable increase in budget. Still, the only attention ever given to fit was the care I took to ensure I could transfer my ‘fit’ from the old bike to new.

Handmade-bike-03Last winter I decided I needed a new road bike. I found myself in one of the many local bike shops in Boulder looking at the selection of ‘off the shelf’ bikes. As the owner and I talked he kept pointing me toward custom bikes. I had previously never considered custom and may have even had a bit of a prejudice against them. I left the shop having not made a decision. I would later discover that one of the custom bike brands being recommended, Mosaic, was handmade right here in Boulder. This piqued my interest enough to waltz into their factory one afternoon. The rest is history.

At the core of a custom bike is a proper fit. Who would know this better than me right? The guy who knew nothing about fit and had never had one. I spent a couple hours or so with the fit guy being enlightened on how poorly my current bike fit me. The classic old-school Euro position with massive drop and saddle slammed back as far as it would go. My back aches just writing about it. We discussed what I was looking for in a bike, what ailed me when in the saddle and what we would do to address them.

Handmade-bike-manufacturer-Mosiac-Bespoke-Bicycles-03With a proper fit that would accomplish what I was looking for we met with the frame builder, Aaron Barcheck, owner of and head frame builder for Mosaic, and he designed the bike accordingly. Literally, every detail on this bike, from top to bottom was considered for its purpose and how it related to me and my riding, something very difficult to achieve with a standard frame. It was a bit unnerving to place total trust in the process without having an opportunity to ‘test drive’ a bike before buying it. The expertise of those involved however closed the trust gap fairly early on. We reviewed the drawings and Aaron began work on the build.

Handmade-bike-manufacturer-Mosiac-Bespoke-Bicycles-02The highlight for me (maybe not for Aaron) was that the shop where my bike was being built was literally less than a mile from my home. I was allowed to drop in to check on progress and Kevin, Mosaic’s Head of Business Development would text me updates and pics along the way. I equated this phase of the project with seeing the ultrasounds of my unborn children back in the day.

The finished bike has met and exceeded all expectations. A titanium frame, full Campy Record components, Shamal 2-way fit wheelset, Enve fork and custom finish, truly worthy of the moniker ‘dream bike’.

The ride is equally impressive. I now appreciate the importance of a proper fit. The comfort, the responsiveness, the handling all blended to absolute satisfaction. The process of arriving at the finished product was extraordinary as well. If I had anything to do over again I would have been properly fit and placed on the appropriate bike 28 years ago.

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Photo: Todd Hofert

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