Winter Bicycles Discoteca

Winter Bicycles Randonneur

The Lee Valley VeloPark was the venue for the London Olympic track events in 2012. In April, it will play host to a somewhat more boutique bicycle event: Bespoked, the UK Handmade Bicycle Show. Eric Estlund will travel all the way from Eugene, Oregon, to present his custom Winter Bicycles to the English show-goers.

The name ‘Winter Bicycles’ is somewhat deceiving, because Eric builds bikes designed to be ridden in any season. He has been working on a series of randonneur frames lately, like this one, titled Discoteca, because it’s going to get ridden all day and all night. Discoteca has classic fast touring geometry, but there’s no French constructeur nostalgia here.

Built from modern steel tubes and joined with both lugs and S&S couplers, it’s both an easy traveller and reliable racer. The frame is dressed with Ultegra components, rolling on White Industries and Schmidt hubs. Eric fabricated the racks to carry the Arkel and Acorn bags, whose brushed steel contrast with the two-blue paint — applied by one of the best painters in the US: Keith Anderson.

See more on the Winter Bicycles website. Special thanks to Anthony Bareno for the photography.

Winter Bicycles Randonneur
Winter Bicycles Randonneur
Winter Bicycles Randonneur
Winter Bicycles Randonneur
Winter Bicycles Randonneur

  • Snazz.

    Would be even better with a Campy or SRAM group. Those Shimano cranks are just an awful aesthetic mismatch to the rest of the bike.

  • itsmefool

    Love it…just a question; are curved forks passé? I’ve always heard they provide a little cushion, if you will, from the front wheel, but from what I’m seeing, few builders these days are putting curves into their creations. To me, they soften a bike’s otherwise inorganic lines a bit…this machine would look great with such a fork, but what do I know?

    • Michal Young

      It’s not that curved forks are passé — the fork was chosen to go with the disc brake. It’s primarily a functional design choice rather than an aesthetic one (although I also like the aesthetics in this case).

      • itsmefool

        Well, there ya go…I suspected there was a logical reason! Thanks for the explanation!

      • James Moore

        but a curved fork can certainly have a disc brake mounted to it? a custom fabricator like winter could certainly do such, i would think. and curved forks would much better suit a tourer. personally, this is the first winter bike i really do not like. the group choice makes no sense, and the use of semi slick road tires on a rando/touring bike makes even less sense imo. this seems to be a bike that would be awful at being a tourer and a racer. a racing saddle on a tourer, and a saddle to handlebar height ratio, clearly meant for a hunched over racing position? but maybe this is what a customer wanted? personally i don’t get this bike. i do like the s&s couplers though, id really like to have a frame with those.

        • Michal Young

          Let me be clear that this is explicitly *not* a touring bike. Eric gave me the option of making it capable of touring as well as randonneuring. My aim from the beginning was a bicycle completely focused on one task, randonneuring, with a sporty feel but comfortable enough to get through 1200km in 90 hours. For example, the racks will not accommodate bags for touring — I turned down the option of being able to accommodate panniers. The semi-slick tires are suited to randonees. That’s not a racing saddle, btw, but a Selle Anatomica Titanico X, designed for very long days in the saddle. I don’t know if you fit a disk brake on a curved fork, but I would be concerned about the forces on a narrower tube near the drop-out.

          • itsmefool

            Man, what did I stir up? Well, after MY’s original reply, I did a bit o’ research (some might call it Googling) and found there are threads upon threads about equipping curved or raked forks with disc brake calipers, as well as side discussions about whether or not it’s best to mount them above or below the dropouts…whew, what a head-spinning topic!

            Regardless, it’s always cool to see a builder logically defend his creations to those of us in the peanut gallery. Ultimately, as I’ve said before, the customer’s happiness is the only thing that matters.

          • Hi Michael,

            You clearly thought through the spec of this bike carefully. Could you comment on a couple of the design decisions?

            1. Why relatively narrow 700C tires versus 32-42mm 650B?

            2. Why disc versus rim brakes for this application — especially on an S&S bike, where discs are harder to pack and more likely to get damaged?

            3. That looks like a pretty conventional steering geometry. Overall the frame design is extremely similar to a travel bike that I recently had built. I also went with conventional sporty geometry but I did not set the bike up for a front bag, and don’t intend to ride it more than ~250 km at a stretch. Did you consider low-trail geometry since you have a front bag and rack?

            Anyway, as I said above, snazz! I think this thing is going to purr like a kitten and eat up the road like spaghetti.

          • Michal Young

            I’ll try, although I am definitely not an expert in bicycle design. I was ambivalent between 700C and 650B. I have been riding 700×25 on my prior bike. I wanted to ride at 28 regularly and have the option of 32 for gravel. At those widths, either 700C or 650B would work, and (still, so far) there are more tire options at 700C. (That might be changing with the popularity of fat tires.) 28 feels pretty cushy to me.

            Disc is because I ride in all weather, and I really hate not being able to trust my brakes. Also, I tend to wear out rims. The rotors will come off and be packed separately when I travel (which is not very often), and I’ll carry a spare rotor in case. (The S&S couplers were probably the most extravagant decision — I don’t fly with the bike often enough to really justify them, but having them makes me more likely to choose to take the bike along when I do go somewhere with nice riding.)

            I’m not an expert on geometry, but I believe this is relatively low trail. I chose to divide load between front and back, rather than putting it all on the front as some randonneurs do. The geometry was designed to work well with light to medium load in front. It was also important to me that the bike feel sporty.

            I’m glad you like the look. I’m aesthetically challenged, so on many design details I worked with Eric to set broad parameters but entrusted the details to him. For example, although I asked for blues, and sorted through possibilities with him, I left the final choice of main and accent color to him, because he has a much better eye for color than I do.

          • This makes total sense. I think that on a bigger frame like yours 700C can make a lot of sense. I ride a 53 or 54 and that’s where I think 650B really starts to make more sense. I also like carrying a daytrip/rando load divided between the front and back (I use a saddlebag).

            I will say that rim brakes are not unreliable if you choose good brakes and — especially — the right pads (Yokozuna salmon-color are unbeatable). And the right pads also dramatically reduce rim wear.

            I prefer saving a pound or more on my brakes and wheels. Hence, no discs on the road bikes. But each to his own.

            Happy trails!

  • Virgil Q Staphbeard

    Very cool and looks very capable!