Contrary to many of the other categories, every frame submitted for the Construction division had to be presented as a naked frame. That makes sense considering everything that is being judged would get hidden behind a layer of paint. This category is all about the perfect weld, the perfect fillet, or the perfect layup. Just like every year, the competition was stiff, but three builders walked away with the titles for some incredible work.
Best Fillet Frame ended up going to David Kirk (who also took the award for Best Road Bike), for his unique vertical fillet shaping. With a lot of practice so that the “brass didn’t all end up on his shoes,” David perfected his technique and blew a lot of minds in the process…
From a distance, the fillets have this impossible form that seems to spring up from no where. It isn’t until you look closely and notice the silver ridge between layers of brass that it starts to make sense. David said he did a test joint years ago and it turned out well, so this year he decided to do a whole frame. He explained the process by saying that while it was in the tinning phase, he brazed a super thin steel sheet to the joint in the shape of the finished fillet. Then he built up the brass to meet the top of that piece of steel on both sides.
The results are a number of shapely brazed joints and a matching stem that were good enough to take home the prize.
Moving to a completely different type of metal joinery, Eriksen Cycles‘ welder extraordinaire (and new Eriksen owner) Brad Bingham took home the prize for Best TIG Frame for the fourth year in a row. Brad will still be behind the welding torch in his new role, and Kent Eriksen will also still be a big part of the brand, but now Brad will be the one in charge to allow Kent more freedom.
Ironically, Bingham mentioned this wasn’t even a special build for the competition – it was just the last frame he welded up. He also included one of their new stems for good measure.
Everything about the stem is done in Colorado from the machining in Fort Collins, to the welding done in house in Steamboat Springs. The stem features a 31.8mm clamp, 1 1/8″ steerer, and runs $375 for a standard length or $425 for custom and can be had with Eriksen or Bingham Built logos.
Eriksen was also showing their custom Easton Crank Spider ($125) which allows use of a standard 110 BCD double on the crank – but most importantly is available now. It also has the tabs needed to run the Praxis Sub Compact chainrings and offers a 3.5mm wider chainline for better tire clearance – up to a 40mm tread.
Finally, the Best Carbon Layup ended up going to the crew from Alchemy Bicycle CO. Argonaut put up a good fight with a frame cut in half and a complete layup spread of a bottom bracket lug, but that wasn’t enough to beat the meticulous work of Alchemy.
The raw frame looks beautiful with each exterior piece of carbon visible in the right light. It was also one of the frames on display equipped with Mavic Speed Release front and rear.