El Dorado is translated from the Spanish as The Golden One and describes the chief of the Muisca native people of Colombia, who was gilded with gold as part of his initiatory rite before flinging himself into a lake. A legend grew around him until El Dorado came to refer to the empire that inspired the Spanish conquistadors to first traverse the entire length of the Amazon River.
Gold is the most inspiring colour, both financially and romantically, and which most appropriately adorns this frame by Mark Nobilette. It is an intriguing build, assembled by Andrew Dalton of Winnipeg’s Natural Cycleworks — one of the most authentic-looking bike shops we’ve seen. Andrew was kind enough to share his insight into the process.
“First — my customer is not just an aficionado of fine steel bicycles, he also commutes by bike year-round in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the coldest major city in the world. In the summer he uses the tan Nobilette featured here in May, and in the winter he has a single speed mountain bike I refitted for him.
“This frame was one of Mark Nobilette’s entries into the 2009 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, the same year he won in the fillet brazed category. I suspect that is the reason for the Reynolds 853 sticker, since Nobilette usually eschews steel labels on his frames.
“My customer purchased it from Nobilette this past summer and brought it to me for building. The component spec was very much a collaboration between he and I. He had a few wishes — to use some NOS parts he had, for sentimental and aesthetic reasons, and to keep the drivetrain traditional.
“In his younger days, he’d ridden top components from Shimano, Suntour, and Campy, and we had no qualms about mixing them. Functionally it was trouble free and kept the project very personal to my customer. He’s told me “If I wanted an 11 speed group slapped on it, I’d tell you so. But I don’t.”
“As such, we used a Dura Ace 7400 crank he provided, along with an older Campagnolo derailleur on the rear, mated to some Rivendell downtube shifters. Suntour GPX levers and Athena brakes provide the stopping. King hubs laced with Comp spokes to TB14s provided a classic, functional wheel set.
“A King headset was an obvious choice. The Nitto fillet brazed stem I chose to help accentuate the lugs, with a seat post and handlebar to match. I wanted all the parts to be worthy of the frame, but not to detract from it.
“Overall this bike perfectly reflects my customers personality and cycling interests — lugged hand built steel paired with top parts from today and yesterday.
I reckon it’s a bike worthy of a golden king. What do you think? Big thanks to Andrew Dalton of Natural Cycleworks for the words and Mark Reimer for the awesome photos. Contact Mark Nobilette through his Facebook page.