This year British premium clothing maker Vulpine is celebrating 5 years of crafting kit to wear on and off the bike for the urban cyclist. And much like when founder Nick Hussey had a custom steel bike from Feather Cycles made to mark the launch of his brand, he decided to do the same thing again to mark their 5 year anniversary. When they launched a Made in Britain line of kit last year he was introduced to the bikes of August Bicycles and the framebuilder behind them Gavin Buxton, as Vulpine used them in a photoshoot. Nick immediately was entranced by the crazy attention to detail on those bikes, and almost immediately knew that Gavin would be the one to craft the anniversary bike.
When they started to work out the Vulpine x August collaboration, Nick quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be for one bike. His wife Emmalou, who behind the scenes had helped get Vulpine off the ground, is now managing the company full-time so building a pair of bikes would fit the growth of the clothing brand. What came out of the collaboration are two very different steel urban bikes built for the very different riding styles of the Vulpine founders – one with a focus on enjoying her time on the bike in style, and the other who just wants to get a bike dirty whether in the city streets or over a dirt road mountain pass. What unites the two disparate bikes together is a sense of classic styling, fine & hidden detailing, and the navy blue & red color palette of Vulpine’s Made in Britain line. Plus the fact that you can get one just like them, in a very limited edition through the framebuilder.
Get a look at the fine details and some unparalleled finishing after the break…
The Beyond Urban
Both bikes get a name. Nick’s gravel road slaying commuter is called The Beyond Urban. It is the more straight forward of the two and designed to be a fast do it all gravel road bike, but still with a relatively upright fit for long ride comfort. It’s also the more tech focused bike as Nick is a more of a gear snob that his (more rational?) wife. He also comes to the road by way of mountain biking, so hydraulic disc brakes and fat tires were a must.
The frame itself is fillet brazed from a mix of butted Columbus Spirit & Life tubing, with August’s own tapered headtube for an external Hope headset. Fizik takes care of cockpit and contact points with seatpost, bar, custom painted stem, saddle and bar tape. The fork is a TRP full carbon cyclocross fork with a thru-axle, vs. the QR they opted for in the rear for Nick’s bike. Gavin had fun painting the bike searching for places to add bits of color, from the plastic cover on the top of the Shimano levers to the tiny V in the brazed headtube badge.
Drivetrain is a no-nonsense Ultegra Di2 double with closely spaced CX gearing and hydro disc brakes with 160mm/140mm mix of Freeza rotors. The bike gets internal wire & hose routing with a tidy Di2 routing from front to back.
The bike gets a unique laser perforated seatstay bridge that was created clearly for looks to show the red detail behind, as surely isn’t practical for riding in wet and dirty English roads. Gonna give something for Nick to keep clean.
The bike gets custom machined disc dropouts with the rear post mount tab of the rear brake actually threading into the underside end of the non-driveside seatstay. Under the bottom bracket is the stainless serial number plate – this one’s serial# is MR, the mixte is MRS – plus the stainless August a-hole logo drain.
Red ano Hope bottom bracket and hubs match the detailing (and headset), and get built into a set of 40mm deep carbon wheels branded as August together with Sapim CX Ray spokes and brass nipples. Tires are Rivendell’s 33 1/3mm Jack Browns with their lovely checkerboard tread.
The Beyond Urban has a retail price now of £3850, down from £5500, and you can really fall down the rabbit hole of customization as far as you want to go. Trust us, Gavin knows the way.
The Handsome Mixte
As Nick put it Emmalou is certainly the more stylish of the two, and so her bike gets a more classic look as well. Her bike – The Handsome Mixte – is all about enjoying life while riding. She doesn’t want to mix fitness and cycling. If she want to exercise, she’ll do that, but when she hops on the mixte it’s about having a practical bike to get around town, to run errands, and explore the occasional gravel road that pops up.
The Handsome Mixte is no slouch for sure, it just wants to look good and keep you comfortable, clean & dry as you pedal the back roads (that’s what color matched Gil Berthoud fenders are for.) The bike is built from a mix of fillet brazed and bi-laminate construction with butted Columbus Zona, XCR stainless, and straight gauge aircraft 4130 tubing to get the unique shaping that Gavin had in mind. He crafted the fork as well starting with a Pacenti Paris Brest fork crown that went under the file fork quite some time. The bike also gets some custom August dropouts, as well as all manner of handcrafted details and small brazed-on logos.
For a classic groupset on the classy bike, they went with the polished silver Campagnolo Potenza 2×11 gruppo.
That got paired with a set of silver Paul Comp racer brakes (and a hard to find) N.O.S. silver Campagnolo Record headset. Paul also supplied the brake levers and mounts that got heavily modified to turn a set of Record TT shifters into one-of-a-kind thumbies to work with the modern 11 speed drivetrain. These are both still in their black anodized state, but rest assured that Gavin isn’t done yet, and won’t rest until the bike is all polished silver.
How is that going to happen? Well take a look at those modern polished Record hubs. That isn’t something you can buy. Campy only makes them in black (gasp!) these days. So Gavin stripped them down as much as he could, packed & sealed up everything that didn’t make sense to take apart, and broke out the chemical bath. By de-anodizing them, he brought out the shiny silver aluminum underneath and as luck would have it the process that Campagnolo uses to laser etch the logos on their black hubs meant that the acid bath revealed the inverse – black logos already on the de-anoed hubs, with no extra work, bonus!
Wheels were built by August of course as well with Sapim Race spokes, brass nipples, and Pacenti Brevet silver rims. They then get wrapped in Compass Grand Bois 650b x 42c tires. Nitto Jitensha silver bars, a customized Crane bell on the custom stem (with no external hardware!), a Brooks cambium saddle and matching tape, plus a custom-made stainless steel rack that is still in the works round out Emmalou’s Handsome Mixte.
The Handsome Mixte is all about the small details, like the tiny red stripes and insets hidden across the bike. The there’s that third toptube in the middle of the mixte frame. Gavin essentially put it there just so he could have perfect clean internal routing for the rear brake that would neatly pop out and go around the seattube. Of course the 3rd tube had to go around the raw silver seattube as well, so it gets its own little blue ring before meeting its seatstay brake arch. The result of the 3rd tube on the other end meant some of the most difficult tube mitering and fillet brazing Gavin had ever done. Oh, and don’t miss the little red Vulpine V in that brazed-on down tube logo.
So you made it this far and want to buy one? The mixte has an estimated price of £3220 as it sits here, down from £4600. But everything is custom, so you can probably get whatever you want, just be careful as you customize that price back up.
5 years. 5 bikes. The Beyond Urban & The Handsome Mixte will be available to consumers in a max total of 5 bikes each. August will make a custom, color-matched bike stand to store/display each of the limited edition bikes with a stainless August logo. If you want to buy one, you can find them in the Vulpine online shop here: The Beyond Urban & The Handsome Mixte, or you can reach out directly to Gavin at August Bicycles. You can read more about their creation on Vulpine’s blog.
We can’t forget of course that the Vulpine x August bikes come as part of the new line of Spring/Summer Vulpine clothing for their 5 anniversary. The highlight of that line is probably the navy blues of the Made in Britain line or this new mid-weight ripstop cotton French Workers Jacket that we kept seeing around. We have to thank Nick for being a good sport as we chased him and his team around, and then out of the way while we took photos of his and his wife’s bikes and geeked out of Campagnolo anodizing with his framebuilding collaborator.