Inspired by the announcement of the location for this year’s show and his preferred medium, Chris Connor approached Louisville Slugger for a collaborative project that will surely “knock it out of the park” this NAHBS. Connor’s show piece utilizes actual raw bat billets, baseball mitt leather, and bat grip tape for an impressive thematic complete build that definitely won’t strike out. Catch this pop fly after the jump…
BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?
Chris: My main building materials are wood and the amazing assortment of adhesives that it takes to make wood behave the way it needs to when being used in as demanding an application as a bicycle. Wood isn’t replacing titanium or carbon-fiber, but if done correctly, works wonderfully and provides a ride like no other material out there.
BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?
Chris: Connor Wood Bicycles has been evolving constantly. New in the lineup are a few geeky things. I’ve added a computer-controlled routing system to my production lineup, I’ve started doing tapered-headtubes and running 31.6mm seatposts on my sport bikes aloing with dropouts from Paragon Machine Works.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?
Chris: Two killer builds coming up for NAHBS:
1. Louisville Slugger Bike. I’ve teamed up with one of the show’s home-town icons – Louisville Slugger and done a bike made from baseball bat billets. The bike will unveil at NAHBS and then will be installed as an interactive display at the Louisvills Slugger Museum & Factory immediately after.
Customization of this bike starts with the frame, which is made entirely from baseball bat billets. Connor received raw billets from the Slugger factory and machined them into a fully wood bicycle frame. The frame is just back from the Louisville Slugger factory where it was branded with the signature Louisville Slugger logo and had the same durable finish that is applied to its bats put on the bike. The bike build will showcases a Gates belt drive, wood handlebars wrapped with Slugger’s bat tape, and a customized leather saddle made from Slugger’s baseball mitt leather. Completing the build are 29′ custom wheels with a drum brake hub and carbon fiber forks.
2. Cross/Gravel bike. This bike is just stunning to look at and will be equally amazing to ride. It uses all urban-reclaimed lumber and is built primarily in black walnut. It’s reinforced with Kevlar and carbon fiber and built up with though axle front and rear.
This bike has Rolf Prima Ares carbon wheels running tubeless WTB Nano 40mm tires, a Lynskey though-axle CX fork, with a modified SRAM CX1 drive train. A Fizzik cockpit and TRP hybrid hydraulic brakes for control and Paragon Machine Works dropouts enable running a 142mm though-axle in the rear.
BIKERUMOR: What were some of your newer inspirations for recent bikes?
Chris: The slugger bike was a flash of inspiration at the end of last year’s NAHBS when they announced that this year’s show would be in Louisville. I’ve always referenced the strength of my bikes with the analogy of “think of the strength of a Louisville Slugger baseball bat and its amazing striking capability. The same qualities directly translate into beauty and a silky smooth riding experience when used in a bicycle.” These bats are made from the same wood I typically use in my bikes, so the instant the location was announced I was inspired to make this bike happen. I contacted Louisville Slugger and the were just as excited about the project as me.
BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?
Chris: See above. I’m bringing my latest, greatest bikes to the show.
BIKERUMOR: If you had to build a bike for a Kentucky Derby style race (think short, all out effort on deep, loose dirt), what would you build and why?
Chris: The natural choice is to bring the Fatness. Big 4.8 tires with lots of mud clearance, but I’m not sure that a nice 29+ wouldn’t work nicely too. It really depends on just how much of a “mudder” you need for the conditions. In either case I need to build one of these two types of bikes soon so I will likely be bringing something like this to the show next year.
BIKERUMOR: Bourbon or beer?
Chris: Seriously? It’s Louisville, Bourbon! Hey, I need to do a Bourbon Barrel bike next.