Sydney is currently in the grip of a major storm; the wind has been blowing the rain horizontally for the past three days, whipping the sea into a frenzy and strewing half the beach across the carpark. The ocean’s power and mystique was the theme behind one of the most eye catching bikes of the 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, Groovy Cycleworks‘ Kauai 6-5-0.
Rody Walter of Louisville’s Groovy Cycleworks is an all-encompassing frame builder, who takes care of every single step of the custom bike process, from fabrication to paint to assembly. Not only does he build the bikes, he has also designed the AccuSet frame jig, one of the most comprehensive fixtures available to the modern builder.
He’s also a handy wordsmith. Here’s how he describes the Kauai 6-5-0: “This bike was a commissioned project for a cyclist who is also an avid surfer. Discontent with driving to the beach to pursue his passion, he desired a bike that expanded his experience.
“The project began to form as his requests and our shared vision of the final project was solidified; a retro cruiser styling that spoke to the history of surfing… woody inspired accents, smooth curves, and an ocean motif.
“Built of titanium to resist corrosion in the salt water environment, the frame/fork/seatpost/bar stem combo/ cranks all are fabricated in house. We chose a Rohloff/Gates drive train for a fairly maintenance free drivetrain that would stand up to the rigors of the abrasive sand commonly found in seaside adventures.
“Custom touches speak to the customer and create a personalised product that can only truly be appreciated in full by the owner; a hand carved Brooks saddle with a photo realistic picture of the customer surfing, airbrushed octopus tentacles that match the customers tatoos which wrap from his ankle to hips are but two examples.
“Two elements of the fabrication stand out: the custom wood rims and the ti/oak truss rod fork. The customer desired an old 40s style truss rod fork, but the vertical height of the typical truss fork configuration did not fit our sizing needs.
“I choose to directly tie the truss rods into the bar, rather than having a superior clamp, allowing a direct design that improved the aesthetic and kept the cockpit at the correct height.
“The solid oak rods fit into titanium cups on the distal end, cushioned by elastomers for vibration dampening. The wood rims had to be made, as no 650b rims were available with the design criteria necessary. I partnered with an Amish fabricator of Model A fork wheels who had experience in steaming and bending wood, but little bicycle knowledge.
“Together we created a wooden clincher designed to accommodate expansion/contraction cycles in the humid coastal environment that would fit mountain bike tires. The bike at NAHBS did not have the surf board rack, which is a titanium rack that fits into the two horizontal female receivers of the rear rack and carries the board lateral to the rider… just not enough room in the car to bring it all!”
Among the slew of road, CX, mountain and fat bikes at this year’s NAHBS, the Kauai 6-5-0 was not your usual offering. But that’s Groovy Cycleworks for you: pure custom, pure soul. See more of Rody’s work on his website and Facebook page.