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NAHBS 2017 Construction Division Winners: Kirk, Eriksen, and Alchemy

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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…

All portraits c. NAHBS

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.

 

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Heffe
Heffe
6 years ago

Eriksen showed a sweet crank spider last year as well. Neither that nor this one has ever made an actual appearance on their website, however.

fred
fred
6 years ago

Love that brazed frame!

Dave Barnes
Dave Barnes
6 years ago

All 3 are gorgeous. Drool.

Seraph
Seraph
6 years ago

Why do you need a 110-adapter when you can get 34/50 chain rings from Easton?

Duster13
Duster13
6 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

The Praxis rings they are running are sub compact 48/36. You could run Easton rings in 50/34 on it if you wanted to. The spider adjusts the chainline so you can run a road crank, but have proper MTB chainline. If you simply ran an easton crank or any other road crank than your chainline is not ideal on a 142×12 rear dropout set up, which is the issue solved by the Eriksen custom spider.

Duster13
Duster13
6 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

The Praxis rings they are running are sub compact 48/32. You could run Easton rings in 50/34 on it if you wanted to. The spider adjusts the chainline so you can run a road crank, but have proper MTB chainline. If you simply ran an Easton compact crank or any other standard road crank then your chainline is not ideal on a 142×12 rear dropout set up, which is the issue solved by the Eriksen custom spider.

jason hamlin
6 years ago

probably to run 48-32 or less with more tire clearance? That adapter and the easton crank looks interesting. The frames are SICK!

STS
STS
6 years ago

In order to increase the chain line and thus increase tire clearance. Also on disc brake bikes the road bike chain line of 43.5 mm is not really perfectly matched to the axial position of the cassette.

Andy
Andy
6 years ago

Wait so Brad Bingham is both the owner and master frame builder for Erikson, that leaves Kent doing what exactly?…

JNH
JNH
6 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Well in the past Kent was in charge of measuring, cutting, mitering, alignment etc. I imagine he still is.

Will
Will
6 years ago

Question for bike builders: brazing in brass is beautiful, but isn’t it a lot weaker than welding in titanium or using lugs?

Drew
Drew
6 years ago
Reply to  Will

Even small brass fillets properly done will not fail. There is no difference in joint integrity, brass fillet vs weld vs lug.

Will
Will
6 years ago
Reply to  Drew

Thanks

Eric
Eric
6 years ago

Is this “best layup” category a little silly? One can’t really examine the frame’s layup.

fred
fred
6 years ago
Reply to  Eric

you can’t exactly see inside of a braze or weld to inspect it either. the external appearance is a decent indicator of craftsmanship and build quality for all 3 types of builds.

Georg
Georg
6 years ago

Every frame a painting!
Just like here: https://www.youtube.com/user/everyframeapainting

mac
mac
6 years ago

Alchemy should offer the raw option for customers if they don’t already. That frame is fascinating.

Mike Newberry
6 years ago
Reply to  mac

I was lucky enough to have run into those Alchemy guys when they stopped by Competitive Cyclist last week and got to look at that frame up close and personal…really nice work.

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