One of the most interesting elements of the North American Handmade Bike Show is easily New Builder Row. On the final day of our Road to NAHBS series, we are highlighting two of the fresh faces you’ll see making their debut.
The first of the two is Pete Olivetti (yes, that Olivetti) hailing from the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado. The fresh faced builder is already showing range. For the two bikes he’s bringing to NABHS, you’ll see a straight tubed brazed creation with a bilaminate 44mm head tube in a Nervex style. There will also be something he’s calling the Thunder Pig, a tig welded swoopy frame, complete with swoopy Porceline Rocket bag, and a segmented fork.
BIKERUMOR: What are you bringing to NAHBS this year that you’re excited about?
PETE: I am in the NFG booths, so I am pretty excited to bring me as an exhibitor, finally. That said, I can only bring 1 frame and 1 complete so here’s a quick peek and ref to both.
The frame only (pictured as a complete) is #7 or #8 I think without checking my serial sheet and is the 1st version of a “Dirt Kan” model. It was my first lugged frame, and just to make it hard I did a double OS bi-lam with a 44 head tube. I used a combination of modified SAXMAX lugs and a from scratch so to speak set of head lugs. They were all created to have a Nervex feel to them. A lot of it came from spending a lot of time with Mark Nobilette, who really taught me how to appreciate the past designs of cycling and the process of making shit yourself. The paint was dialed by Ollie at Dark Matter to “tie it all together.”
Thunder Pig is a reference to the nickname a friend and I give any bikes we’ve had that are super fun, but probably overbuilt to a slightly stupid level. It’s a 29+/29 design but optimized for 29 normal/big ish. Definitely influenced by Curtis Inglis, James Bleakley and Burnsey and their FOCO crew and Adam Sklar’s designs.
Walt, Whit Johnson and Cam Faulkner have also been really influential and helpful in working out design processes for me, and I am grateful that there are such rad folks in this tiny business. In any case, really I just wanted to try what the cool “bendy” kids are doing. All those guys build stuff that just looks like fun personified or “bike-onified” as it may be. I wanted to build a bike that had that feeling, and you could go out and get lost on. Both projects were HUGE learning experiences with a ton of fabricating things in house. Thunder Pig also gave me a chance to work with a lot of US small businesses to trick it out, which is one of my main goals in getting bikes out there.
BIKERUMOR: What are your current challenges in adopting and implementing new standards?
PETE: For me, it’s mostly having to tool things and work out the math. There is a lot of just staring at stuff. But yeah it’s having the simple things like a new dummy axle or whatever. I have a good amount of Sputnik fixtures, which are some of the best tools, but Jeff isn’t the quickest on adopting things coming down the line. In reality though, being a small builder does give you the flexibility to move pretty quickly to new standards when they come out, so I am pretty happy to try something out if it looks like it’s gonna be around for a while.
BIKERUMOR: What new or upcoming standards are you excited about?
PETE: Are there more new ones coming? Gimme a heads up so I can get Buckholtz on making the axle for me.
BIKERUMOR: What type of bike have your customers requested most in the past 12 months?
PETE: Gravel bikes. I haven’t built a ton of bikes yet, but that is definitely the most often inquired about and/or committed too.
BIKERUMOR: What is the next bike you’re building for yourself?
PETE: Thunder Pig! I will be a good test to see if there is a place or demand for a completely straight gauge 4130 bendy adventure haus.
BIKERUMOR: …and if someone else were building your next bike for you, which builder (of all time) would you choose and why? What would it be?
PETE: Oh man, that is kind of a crazy question. It would be super cool to have one of the great cycle touring builders like Singer or Herse build something with modern standards. Those guys build every piece and part of the bike, the base materials now are not that much different, but if they had access to processes available now and I was like, “hey check out this rim (like a 35mm internal width 29er rim), build me a geared bike around this set up.” I would love to see what they would come up with.
BIKERUMOR: What is your “blank check” bike?
PETE: I’m for my personal bikes not a blank check type bike guy, I generally go with whats good and will last, so I generally don’t build stratospheric priced bikes for myself. (Thunder Pig will be pretty spendy, but it’s a bit of a show pony, right.?) Anyway, do I get kicked out of NAHBS for saying a fairly clean HDJ81?
BIKERUMOR: If you could exist in another period of framebuilding, what would it be and why?
PETE: Another hard one. My great grand father Camillo, prior to starting the Olivetti Typewriter Company, was the importer for Victor Bicycles for Italy with 2 other buddies. It would have been pretty cool to build around the turn of the 20th century when manufacturing techniques, materials, and systems were being developed in that kind of post industrial revolution era. Plus it was kind of the birth time of the production bicycle (if I have my timing right), so there was all sorts of things being tried out. Everything was kind of a “new standard” back then. Internal 3 spd hub? Boom! Brain exploding right!
BIKERUMOR: If you had to stop building in your current material, what new material would you choose and why?
PETE: I built my first bike in Ti, but currently everything is in steel. I’d love to get going in Ti as my primary material. It has, in my opinion, the best ride quality. Carbon is light and can be engineered to do all sorts of stuff, and steel is really great for most things one might want and has some good ride qualities you can manipulate to some extent, but Ti… When you’ve ridden it, like really got on it, you can tell it’s a different material. It has a sort of personality, and it looks amazing too. It think it really is one of the best “bike for life” materials.
BIKERUMOR: If your shop was burning down, what one or two tools would you grab to save? Why would you save them?
PETE: Probably the Captain and Tennille. They are my two Nichols mills. They are not tool room versions, just the lever action ones, but of all my tools, even the ones I’ve made myself, they are probably the hardest to replace and have the most history.
I know one was built for General Gauge Co., I haven’t researched the other one, but based on serial numbers they were both from 1952. I picked up one from a guy whose biggest client was Circe Du Soleil making trapeze parts, and the other came from a medical device prototyping place.
In any case, they are super cool simple mills that really work great for frame building. Additionally they are really really hard to come by west of Chicago. So, in simple math terms, if the shit hit the fan it would be a long search to find 1 let alone 2 new ones.
On the flip side, I had to rewire one of them from 440 to 240 so my phase converter would work with it. The wires were so old and crispy that it would probably be what causes the fire in the first place.
The North American Handmade Bike Show will take place from February 16th to 18th in Hartford, CT. For more information, visit the NAHBS website.