Most custom frame builders in the US these days are creating bikes that cater for current tastes. But if you’re after something that hearkens back to the Golden Age of Cycling, Brian Chapman is your man.
Having said that, the latest bike to come out of the Rhode Island workshop of Chapman Cycles is a contemporary take on the traditionally-styled tourers Brian is known for; harmonising classic flourishes with contemporary sensibilities.
Brian built this machine for his friend Varun, who he met while hanging out at Bicycle Revolutions in Philadelphia during the Philly Bike Expo a few years ago. Conversations were had, and Varun got himself on the waiting list for his own Chapman Cycle.
Varun was after an all-rounder: a bike that he could take touring, but one that he could also commute on. Whilst fully aware of the style of bikes in Brian’s portfolio, there were a few mechanical updates that were requested.
Brian doesn’t build a lot of bikes with disc brakes, but they were on Varun’s checklist, as was the latest Ultegra groupset. Nevertheless, Brian incorporated those choices into the tubing choice and frame design.
The tubing choice is a combination of Columbus, Reynolds, True Temper, and Dedacciai, a blend which Brian referred to as Jambalaya — a Cajun concoction of rice of shrimps, chicken, and vegetables — but it mixed together seamlessly.
‘Seamless’ is an apt description: the fillet brazing around the tubes is smooth as silk, with a tasteful whale-tail interruption introduced at the head tube rings, which Brian replicated at the top of the seat tube.
The Pacenti Paris-Brest-Paris fork crown was also modified to match. The left fork leg is the only location where Reynolds tubing was used: Brian doesn’t think highly of the stresses that a disc brake places on a fork leg, so he used a tandem blade.
The right fork leg is a Dedacciai Zero Due. Brian’s viewpoint on the stresses caused by disc brakes influenced the choice of True Temper tandem chain stays, to combat those wrought by the rear disc brake.
Verun’s tourer has a solid front and rear end, then. Brian explains; “The frameset was lightened up in other areas using a True Temper lightweight steerer and a combination of Columbus Zona and Spirit.”
The finishing kit also reduced the weight somewhat — the wheels, Zipp components, and black Ti hardware subtracted a few grams where needed. The SON taillight mounting on the Brooks Cambium was inspired by Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles.
The paint is seen as lighter in Brian’s photos than what it actually is. Verun chose the colour, which is called Bahama Yellow and can be more honestly admired on the 1969 Porsche 911E Coupe upon which it was originally specified.