My first bike was equipped with a coaster brake, and I’ve never forgotten the sensation of locking it up and getting sideways around the gravel paths in our local park. It’s always been a query of mine as to why there isn’t an updated version of the coaster brake by master machinists like Phil Wood or Chris King. It’s a perfect way of maintaining the clean, uninterrupted lines of a fixed gear without actually having a fixed gear.
The relative fragility of the standard coaster brake lends itself perfectly to this assembly by Bertelli of New York. Perfect for morning rambles through the boroughs to the deli on a weekend morning; maybe not so much for hill bombing. This style of riding, however, is what the Italians are more comfortable with and why Francesco Bertelli has cornered a niche in the NY bicycle trade.
This frame on this Bertelli, called the Domenica, is made by Viking Cycles, a Norwegian workshop who specializes in traditional style lugged steel track frames and ‘classic track aesthetics’, of course. Bertelli places an emphasis on individual builds — compiled with parts from around the world and his trusted suppliers. Combined with his Italian sense of style, each of his bikes come with that pre-loved patina, like a grandfather’s watch or hand-tailored suit from an opportunity shop. So the Gipiemme crankset, Titan stem, hand crafted wooden handlebars (made by designer Adam Brackney), vintage Brooks B15 and vintage white Michelins, come together with an understated grace and warmth.