Following up in yesterday’s round-up on a few bits on new road tech that we found at the Berlin Bike Show last month, we have a few more today that venture a bit off the beaten track. We’ve come across great looking, functional touring bikes from Fern with custom bags by Gramm a number of times, most recently in Vienna, but this one has a few new tricks up its sleeve. We’ve also seen a number of variations on the alloy city bikes from Schindelhauer, but now their Wilhelm adds Pinion gearboxes to the mix. And lastly, we haven’t yet had much coverage of the unique Italian titanium bikes from Nevi, so where better to start that their wild investment cast & vacuum-welded ti forks for either road or trail…
Fern is a Berlin custom bike builder specializing in crafting proper extended touring rigs. Bike touring is what inspired them to make a go at building bikes, and from those first frames back around 2011, two partners Florian Haeussler and Phillip Zwanzig have been continually refining their bikes for adventure touring, evolving the long French randonneur traditions with more modern adaptations. While loaded touring is clearly their thing (it doesn’t hurt to have bag maker Gramm share the shop with them), this bike named Chuck was meant to take the tour a bit more off-road.
Starting with classic 26″ wheels, Chuck gets fat 54mm Compass Rat Trap Pass tires for comfort and grip on all surfaces with their subtle chevrons & sipes. That also means there’s plenty of room for knobbies up to 2.3″ wide if you are going to stay off-road. The bike designed for desert crossings gets a fillet brazed Columbus steel frame, fork, and custom stem – each painted in a sand khaki & hunter orange combo that transitions to the custom Gramm Tourpacking bags as well. Fern built the frame with super clean internal cable routing on the non-driveside for the rear v-brake & 1x drivetrain’s rear derailleur. A dynamo hub at the front powers built-in front & rear LED lighting that also gets clean internal routing. The bike still gets some custom-built racks, but also is fitted with lighter weight bikepacking-style bags to extends its off-road touring range. Fern claims that the complete bike weighs just 10.5kg/ including racks and lights ready for adventure.
From German bike maker Schindelhauer, they’ve taken their gearbox-equipped Wilhelm (based on the similar internal gear hub Ludwig city commuter) and given it disc brakes as well. The Wilhelm is their top of the line of classic city bikes and shares the same triple butted aero 6061 aluminum tubing, integrated seatpost clamp, forged dropouts, and unique belt-tensioning setup as the rest of their bikes.
Now that there are more versions of Pinion gearboxes, buyers get more choices as to how much gearing spread they need. The Wilhelm IX, XII & XVIII get 9, 12, or 18 speed Pinions and premium prices to boot – 5000€, 5300€ & 5300€, respectively. The alloy bikes are available in 5 stock sizes, but still made to order for each customer so you can completely customize your build. They even now get the option for a custom fit set of fenders and rear rack to complete an all-season commuter.
Nevi ti forks
Nevi has been building titanium bikes in Italy since the early 1990s and continues to innovate in what they build. Their line-up includes a wide range of bikes from classic road to modern road or gravel, to this 29er K2 XC race hardtail mountain bike, even with an eMTB and a couple of 20″ wheeled road bikes thrown into the mix. But what probably stands out most to us is their all-titanium forks.
Not satisfied to work with stock tubing or even standard shapes, Nevi created their own unique fork design from the ground up, needing some construction methods not often seen in bike production. The 6Al-4V fork is built with two distinctly different methods. The crown is investment cast, leaving a slightly rough or mottled surface, while the ovalized legs are drawn, tapered and shaped that get the smooth finish we are used to from tubing. Then, to put it all together (including the CNC machined dropouts and tapered steerer) Nevi throws everything into a large vacuum chamber where their craftsmen weld it through sealed gloves looking through the window into the complete argon gas environment to ensure weld quality. The result is a precise handling fork that claims to weigh around 850g for a 29er or 550g for a road disc version. All that ti tech doesn’t come cheap though, with forks selling for over 1500€.