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NAHBS 2017: Tim O’Donnell’s Shamrock Cycles exhausts show media with details, execution, too tired to think of witty Irish pun for title

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Like every year for NAHBS, Tim O’Donnell’s booth was overwhelming. Each bike was a stand-out on its own, beautifully executed with great lines and impeccable, obsessive finish. I’ve watched him struggle to pick bikes for categories because, really, each could be an award winner. This year, Tim walked away, handily, with best city bike for his camo commuter. Designed and built for a repeat customer, this bike was designed for slow rolling around town and is outfitted to help the rider bring the party with them and then to get home safely afterwards.

Also in his booth were several gravel, adventure cross, and road bikes, with the same, meticulous detail. I’ll be honest, Tim exhausted me this year with the shear scale of work he showed. It was wonderful. So let’s start at the beginning…

For the city bike, the customer requested a bike that could take him around his neighborhood and allow him to haul two bottles of wine and a six pack, and it needed to have a cup-holder. The rider lives in Orlando, Florida, where according to Tim, “hills are illegal.” He was apparently tired of riding to his friends’ houses “one-handed” with a six pack or a bottle of wine to contribute.

The wine rack up front has slots for two bottles, each with a hand-cut and finished wood retaining ring, secured by a leather cinch to keep them in place. The rack also has a deck for holding a cup, so the bike can come party with you.


The drivetrain is a standard Alfine Di2 belt drivetrain, accommodated by a raised stay so the user can easily service his own bike. The nice detail here is the subtle belt guard- present but understated.

The overall construction of the frame is a mixte style, perfect for the application described by the consumer. With a customer that wanted something a bit more “butch,” the overall finish is more of a camouflage style.

This camouflage has an interesting effect of hiding many of the things that make this bike stand out. Tim’s special features, such as a very cleverly placed Silca pump integrated into the double top tube are hidden away. As is the rear bridge designed to mimic the custom handlebars.

The paint also helps to hide the seat stay allowances given to the sliding brake assembly on the non-drive side. Clearly something that took a lot of thought and finish work to accomplish, but ultimately hidden by the paint. If you know Tim, you know he does this all the time. You’ll follow a bike on Instagram for weeks, and go to a show expecting to see the full hand-polished to a mirror finish head tube you’ve seen on social media… only to find it mostly painted. Then why polish at all? It’s what is under the paint that counts for Tim (which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t take home best finish from time to time).

Here is where things get complicated, and where Tim’s background in vintage motorcycles kick in. The shifting is controlled by a hacked set of motorcycle switches on the right hand side. There is a Schmidt front hub that powers the head and tail lights, controlled by a switch on the left.

The bike also, under the front deck, has a Sinewave Revolution converter tucked away, allowing you to charge the Shimano battery as well as the 12v rear power pack that powers the lights, front and rear.

If you aren’t exhausted yet, know that every one of these wires has been shrink-wrapped like crazy and that the entire bike has strategic connectors allowing it to be taken apart. Plus, all of these wires are, for the most part, completely hidden. You only see them when they peek out between junctions.

The rear rack, designed for that seat pack, is designed so that the rails can be removed to carry larger gear. Underneath, there is a slot and locking mechanism for a u-lock as well as  a rear light. And, as on every Shamrock project, there are a few extra shamrock details- here they are on the finger knobs for the rack rails.

“This is the most complicated bike I’ve ever built,” notes Tim. We’re a little overwhelmed thinking about it too.

After talking about that bike, it was honestly challenging to move on. But we did, bravely, to this blue gravel machine. Made for an extremely rad woman named Cooper who was at the booth, enjoying the attention her show bike was getting. It isn’t uncommon to see the riders of the Shamrock show bikes at NAHBS as they are always invited to see the bikes debut as the public does.

This bike, as many other Shamrocks you see at NAHBS, was deceptively complicated in a way that makes it totally unique. So let’s dig in.

Firstly, the head tube joint was created by hacking apart two Nuvo Ritchey lugs, brazing their down tube and seat tube interfaces onto the ends of those respective tubes, and then brazing them onto a pre-made bilaminate head tube with a mirror polished window. Same thing for the seat cluster joint.

If you’ve ever attempted something like this, you’re probably wincing right now. But wait, there is more.


The top tube and seat tube were completely finished with the stainless shamrocks and Nuvo Ritchey lug segments before they were built into the final product.

Tim O’Donnell is completely fearless in his dedication and approach to detail.

The bottom bracket is similarly hacked, with a lugged rear and a fillet brazed joint. For the rear non-drive dropout, Tim hacked a relatively common Ceeway dropout so that the post mounts would interface perfectly for a small rear triangle. The front threaded post mount is actually buried into the middle of the short taper of the chainstay.

But we’re not even close to being done yet. This shiny machine was made for a gentleman named Greg. “He wanted that old world feel and look.” So Tim went for a lugged frame with all the standards. All of the tubes except the chainstays are Reynolds 953 stainless- and polished to death. “So much polishing.”

But other than that, the frame is extremely modern in terms of geometry and component interfaces. It features Paragon thru-axle front and rear interfaces, is designed for flat mount brakes, and sports a “stage race” geometry with relatively steep angles and a horizontal top tube. The bike will eventually built with Sram eTap Hydro.

Otherwise, the bike feels like a jewel. It was shown with polished brass fenders. The seat stay caps, a technical accomplishment in their own right, were polished with the rest of the bike.

And, of course, the detailing. The Velo Orange drillium crank had arm windows painted to match the frame. And, as a surprise to the customer, Tim had a set of custom stainless bottles etched with the Shamrock logo.

By this point in the booth, I was personally out of steam (I am now, actually, just typing this). I’m tossing this one in, however, because it’s still absolutely lovely on its own.

This road bike was designed for the customer to be an ultimate travel bike. It is set up with eTap. The frame is matte stainless with Kate Oberreich painted airplanes (like the ones on his extremely sentimental airplane bike for Louisville NAHBS in 2015). The whole bike is cleared so you can appreciate the fillets.

And, oh Tim, those fillets!

(Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Tim!)

Shamrock Cycles

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7 years ago

Lovely work!

7 years ago

I’ve never been so wowed by a flat bar mixte.
Amazing stuff

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