Vancouver-based photographer Hung Mai is a recent convert to the advantages of riding a well-made steel bicycle, having spent the majority of his two-wheeled miles aboard aluminium Cannondales. He turned to another Canadian, Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles, to create a highly personalised ride.
Sam Whittingham is an extraordinary individual. His palmares include several world speed records on human-powered vehicles, and being the first unpaced cyclist ever to break the deci-mach mark — 1/10 the speed of sound. Sam since established the Naked Bicycles workshop on Quadra Island, just off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.
Apart from wanting to stand out from “sea of matte black wünder-bikes at the weekly crit or Saturday club ride”, Hung wanted a bike with the quality of ride that only modern steel can provide. It’s not just the all-day riding comfort, but also the craft and precision of a frame made by a builder of Sam’s calibre.
Hung isn’t a stranger to technology or weight-weenie gram-watching, but he was specific about wanting a ‘traditional’ road bike, eschewing disc brakes, mid-reach brakes and big tyres. The descents on Cypress or Seymour didn’t warrant discs, Hung felt. Nor did the first couple of switchbacks on Mount Baker in Washington.
After making the trip to Quadra Island and spending the afternoon being fitted with Sam, Hung finally decided on a tubing combination: a True Temper S3 main triangle with a KVA MS3 stainless rear triangle, which was a good combination of both his wish for a raw stainless finish and a paint job based on a limited palette selection.
The photo that inspired the paintwork is that of a flash-lit wave crashing on the shore at night and an electrical storm illuminating the horizon. The distant storm is a maelstrom of indigos and Russian Navy blue, while the foreground is a flurry of teal and turquoise. These were combined in a modern graphic scheme and the rear was left, well… naked.
Hung has been riding everything from 25 minute criterium races to eight-hour treks over Vancouver’s multitude of peaks, and he’s more than happy with the performance of his new Blue Steel machine. Sam’s own racing experience is intrinsically infused within the frame, which will carry Hung over many more rides and experiences.