You can be forgiven for not having heard of a German frame builder by the name of Rudolf Pallesen. There’s not a lot of information on him online, at least in English. His workshop is called Norwid, from Nordwind — German for North Wind — and his skill far exceeds his online presence.
Rudolf builds all kinds of bikes, as long as they’re made of steel. He does have a website, listing all of the models, which are named after Finnish, Danish and Swedish locales. The fillet brazed Skagen is named after Denmark’s northernmost town, a randonneur is called Limfjord after a Danish waterway, and this lugged Vättern is named for the second largest lake in Sweden.
Today’s Vättern was built for Jens Auer, a long-time reader of Cycle EXIF, which inspired him to seek out a modern steel road bike. Jens had been a fan of vintage steel road bikes until he decided to upgrade via a custom frame, and nominated a local builder to do the job.
“Norwid is located in an old farm in the ‘middle of nowhere’ north of Hamburg,” Jens tells us. Because there was so little information to be found online, Jens did some detective work. “The owner Rudolf Pallesen started training as a bicycle frame builder with the German steel frame builder Hans Mittendorf right after he finished school.”
“In 1988 he joined Hans Lutz, the Olympic track gold medallist from 1976 in his frame building workshop. In 1992 he bought the workshop from Hans Lutz and moved it from southern Germany to the farm near his hometown, Elmshorn. He first continued to build steel frames under the ‘Hans Lutz’ label, but later renamed the company to ‘Norwid’.”
“I had a hard time choosing where to have my frame built, but was convinced when I visited Pallesen’s workshop.” After a long conversation about the use of the frame, different materials and their properties, Columbus Xcr was chosen for the tubes of the Vättern. It’s a fine piece, with some of very clean shorelines and finishing.
“The frame was fully custom-built for me, and as I like the traditional look I chose a lugged stainless frame. The wheels are a Pacenti/Chris King build by Lightwolf, while the saddle and handlebar tape are from GB Leather, who I discovered on Cycle EXIF.”
“I went for a no-nonsense build with Campagnolo Chorus, Thomson and Chris King parts, Enve Road 2.0 fork and a WR Composite custom made seatpost, to fit the 30.6mm seat tube. The skewers are a little vintage touch from an old Campagnolo Gruppo.”
It’s always surprising to discover an unheard-of builder, but a real joy when their prowess is as excellent as Rudolf Pallesen. You can view more on his website, and Peter Eich has documented the building of his own Norwid frame here. Special thanks to Jens for the photos and the sleuthing.