Arbisi Porteur

Arbisi Porteur

It’s encouraging to witness the growing interest in the handmade bicycle. Especially when you come across a first-time builder, someone like you or me, picking up a torch and creating a perfectly functioning bike. Tom Arbisi is a Californian industrial designer who, although he has access to a well-equipped machine shop, possesses a great deal of the most essential ingredient: passion.

Technical knowledge is important too, but with forums like Velocipede Salon, that’s always accessible. Tom assembled his porteur frame from True Temper tubes, joined with cast Henry James lugs. Utilizing his experience, Tom designed his own dropouts and bridges and manufactured them himself. Transmission is via an Alfine 11-speed rear hub, turned by Sugino cranks.

“Using cues from classic road bikes for the frame geometry,” Tom tells us, “I built the bike as a speedy round-towner, for picking-up groceries, commuting, and just zipping around for the sheer pleasure of it.” The frame and forks are finished with gun bluing, allowing Tom’s craftsmanship to show through. I’ll wager there’s few pleasures greater than zipping around on a bike you’ve built yourself.

Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur
Arbisi Porteur

  • Holly

    Where can I find the pedal cages?

    • yikesbikes

      The cages are made by a company called King Cage.

      • Tom

        Yes, the “Foot Cage”, made by King Cage. Comes in four sizes (I used the Large size), hand made from brazed stainless. They cost at least twice as much as your run-of-the-mill clips, but are ten times as cool.

  • Matt Surch

    Was the 700c format chosen for ease of rim and tire access, or another reason? After years of riding 700s, even with big tires, I would go to 650B in a heartbeat for a Porteur or any other city bike format.

    • Tom

      Matt -I thought the larger wheels look better proportionally, and wasn’t really aware of a downside to the 700s. I’m always interested to know more -why would you prefer 650s?

      • Matt Surch

        Tom, this certainly isn’t a case where there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ approach. Building a bike you think is RAD is RAD, no matter what anyone else thinks. That said, I like it, just wondered about your thought process.

        700s are great for a range of tire widths, from 19mm to about 38mm. If you are ‘lucky’ like me, and you ride roads that are ravaged by salt and time, potholes and large cracks are very common day to day. When I ride my city bike with a front basket, I like the contents to stay in, not get launched. I use tires from 32mm up on the bike. 32 is a rougher rides than I’d like; more volume would be good. The thing is, as you go up in volume on a 700 rim, with a front load, the wheel flop gets bad, and handling suffers. So, if you want to have volume, and good handling with a load, 650B is the answer. This is why Porteurs have traditionally run 650B wheels. They’d carry 50lbs of newspaper on the front, and RACE! Granted, some moved to 700s, probably around the time roads were new and shiny (and they were riding fast, so flop was less of an issue). Anyhow, for general riding with front load, all indications point me toward 650B 42mm tires, which can be run around 30lbs pressure. If I could, I’d switch my city bike over to 650B in a second, but it isn’t quite that easy…

        • Tom

          Thanks, Matt! Very good to know!

  • madtho

    Great job.
    Nice bridge, and I just love the look of those half-link chains.
    Wald basket with custom legs and stem clamp?
    No Fenders or chainguard?

    @Holly Looks like the clips are custom, too.

    • Tom

      You have a good eye. Yes, it’s a Wald basket with scratch-built mounting hardware.

      No fenders or chainguard because I was going for a stripped-down, hot rod kind of look.

      As for the clips, as stated above, they are Foot Cages by King Cage, but I shortened them by 18mm, and brazed on mounting plates made to match the pedals.

  • Onelesspedestrian

    check out the rear brake setup, esp. the cable routing. That’s my favourite part of this whole thing.

    Matt – says he was pulling influence from traditional road racing bikes, so the 700’s make sense…

  • otter22

    Of all of the beautiful bicycles I have seen on this site, this is the one I would most like to own. Unbelievable combination of elegance and function.

    • Tom

      Thank you for your kind words!

  • Danny

    First off great bike, Tom. What pedals and straps are these? I’m looking for something similar on my next bike.

    • Tom

      Danny, I bought the pedals and straps (as well as the handlebars, stem, and seat post) from Velo Orange. Nice, classic looking parts, good prices.