Praise for The Elite Bicycle

The Elite Bicycle is one of the finer coffee table books we’ve seen in years. The book profiles some of the world’s greatest (and disappearing) bike artisans with shart portraits, incisive photojournalism, and keen essays.” — Outside magazine

“This beautiful book is all about the bike — in exquisite, intimate, celebratory detail. This beautiful book is all about the bike — in exquisite, intimate, celebratory detail.” — Experience Life magazine

“While the only way to truly experience the quality and craftsmanship of these components is to ride them, the book gives an effective introduction to many of the brands we often hear about without ever fully appreciating why. After spending a few hours with The Elite Bicycle, you’ll no longer be a just a name-dropper.” — Bicycling magazine

Seven Cycles“What makes The Elite Bicycle so fantastic is not so much what is said about the people and companies themselves, but the insightful, lesser-known tidbits that provide a greater depth of understanding…It’s little gems that are peppered throughout the already rich descriptions of people and place that make the profiles spring to life.” — RoadBikeReview.com

“An eccentric and entertaining book, beautifully produced with top-quality photos and amusing but informative text and a foreword by cycling-mad British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, The Elite Bicycle deserves to find a place on many a cyclist’s bookshelf this holiday season.” — PezCyclingNews.com

Richard SachsThe Elite Bicycle delivers something quite different…it’s the sense that you’ve spent an afternoon at the builder or company’s work space, that you’ve seen the work being done and then been left to wander on your own. You could unleash a dozen cycling photographers on the same set of subjects and very few would come up with anything so evocative.” — Red Kite Prayer

The Elite Bicycle is the kind of glossy hardback you need to chain to the coffee table to avoid it being smuggled out of the house and into someone’s pannier.” — Total Women’s Cycling

“Photographs anchor any coffee table book worth its weight, and Gerard Brown’s images are nothing short of amazing. The reader sees not only the detail work of a bicycle, but also the soul behind it.” — RoadBikeReview.com

DiNucci Cycles“Cycling photographer Gerard Brown has taken superb photographs in the workshops of framebuilders and component makers that capture the essence of their craft and, surprisingly, show the tools and methods used to make frames and components. Looking through the chapters, one can only be amazed that each framebuilder allowed such access to their operations. I know of no other collection of photos anywhere that shows in such detail the manufacturing processes, tools and techniques as The Elite Bicycle.” — US Cycling Report

“With such a roll-call of names, the authors were certainly off to a good start…and they have managed a hugely rewarding and useful guide for any bike enthusiast. One which not only covers some of the technical aspects of production in engaging depth, but also gives great insights into both the personalities and, dare we say it, philosophies behind the storied names we see etched, stickered and pressed onto the various pieces of our machines each time we throw a leg over the bar.” — Brooks England Blog

About the Elite BicycleA new book The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.

The Elite Bicycle: Portraits of Great Marques, Makers, and Designers 
Hardcover with jacket.
Full-color interior with 250 photographs
Foreword by Sir Paul Smith
11″ x 11″, 224 pp., $39.95, 9781937715083

Please order your copy of The Elite Bicycle, which is now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Vive la Difference with TIME

TIME carbon tubing and framesLyon, the third largest city in France, occupies a strategic position dominating the valleys of the Rhône and Saône. It therefore acts as a gateway to the mountains which form one of the most important battlefields of the Tour de France.

And just outside this battlefield, in Vaulx-Milieu, lies one artisanal bicycle manufacturer, dedicated to high-tech, luxury procedures, helping a number of riders in their pursuit of victory. It’s TIME (Time Sport International), maker of carbon tubing frames, pedals, handlebars, bar stems, and bottle cages. TIME is just one of the 29 bicycle makers and designers featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

France is of course known for many luxury goods, as is Lyon, whose principal industry is the manufacture of silk. Although it’s not a textile company, TIME is celebrated for a fiber some consider as fine as silk: carbon. And their process of weaving this lightweight, durable material, is what sets them apart from others.

TIME carbon loomTIME’s extremely high production values and constant refinement of everything they make, through incessant, tireless research and development, is reflected in their unique process of Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) of carbon fiber. Like spiders’ silk, carbon is known for its lightness and strength; as a result, TIME frames are renowned as probably the lightest bikes on the market but endowed with a resistant strength seemingly at odds with the airy thinness of their structure.

Although the process of weaving might seem homespun and outdated, when it involves carbon fiber, it’s anything but. The extremely high-tech process begins with a monstrous loom equipped with dozens of bobbins of carbon, Vectran, polyamide, and Kevlar. It spins together “stocks” of these fibers, adding more or less of each to enhance such qualities as stiffness, vibration damping, and compliance. The end product is flattened by a roller,  then cut to size and layered onto wax tube formers and steel mandrels to give it it’s basic shape. Strands of fiber are used to tie stocks of carbon onto the mandrels, and with that, the frame begins to take form.

TIME carbon layeringExtra carbon is applied to high stress areas. A hot air gun aids the process of fitting the fibers more closely together. After excess carbon is trimmed, the mould containing the carbon goes through the RTM process, which simply put, involves placing the carbon in two halves of a mould which is then closed up and injected with resin.

The RTM process is carefully controlled. It’s a precise operation that takes time. But TIME believes in high quality and in luxury. It’s no wonder that high-end car companies like Lamborghini and Ferrari also believe that this unique carbon-weaving process is well worth the effort.

This brief portrait of TIME was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle

The Spirit of Columbus

Columbus tubingThe name Hephaestus is unfamiliar to most outside of the study of Greek mythology. He was the god of fire, chiefly the blacksmith’s fire. As a result, he was the patron of all craftsmen, especially those working with metals.

According to myths of Hephaestus, early blacksmiths of the Olympian gods were ritually lamed so that they could not run away in order to hire out their unique and magical skills to the highest bidder. For they alone could take the lumps of glinting meteorite dug out of the earth and fashion of it swords, spear heads, braziers, and cauldrons.  One could even say that they transformed raw materials into living things. This is what goes on at Columbus, the Italian manufacturer of tubing and one of the 29 bicycle artisans featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle

The transformation of steel into tubing happens on a vast shop floor. It’s as cavernous as any subterranean goblins’ hall, full of machines, dull grayness, wooden racks, greasy with use and age, home to lines of mandrels, dyes, and formers. The machines found here are of an elderly breed. That’s because the company dates back almost one hundred years, to the year 1919.

Columbus TubingAngelo Luigi Colombo founded the company the year the Great War ended, making tubes of all kinds. About fifty years later, his son, Antonio, a lover of  art, became involved. But he had his own agenda. Having studied architecture, design, and fine art, he wanted more for the company than just producing metal tubing. He found that the only way for him to survive was “…to give some soul to the metal…” To this day, Columbus products remain a testimony to Antonio Colombo’s first love: art.

Columbus tubingUnlike other companies in the ’70s and ’80s who were mass producing their products with the touch of a button, Columbus maintained its old ways of production: by hand. Maybe Colombo thought that it gave their products that extra bit of vitality and artistry, and that’s why he kept the old plant with the older generation of machines.  Those machines depend on the feel, the hands, of those who operate them. With the help of a small work force, Columbus products are given soul, and for them, as a result, cycling is given soul.

This brief portrait of Columbus was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle

The Good Will of Chris King

Chris King HubsIt’s the pivot, the holding pin, the axis round which it all turns. It’s the hub. And who’s making these tough, light, finely manufactured hubs in colors for every taste? It’s Chris King, one of the 29 bicycle artisans featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

Of his own components, King writes:

“Inside the hubshells, the business transactions of putting your power to work, is where you’ll find what matters most…it’s our bearings, axels, and engagement system that have earned the trust of discerning cyclists. We make our own bearings in-house, each hand-checked for precision and built with a robust sealing system. Best of all? [You can] service them yourself. Our strong, constant diameter axels run through the bearings to the frame and fork dropouts for precise handling and stiffness under power.”

And Chris King isn’t just another Portland-based bicycle component maker churning out reliable, hand-crafted goods. They’re also a company that’s community oriented and philanthropic.

Chris King Precision ComponentsEver seen a bright pink Chris King hub and asked, why pink? Here’s the answer: Pretty and Strong. In 2004, the company launched a limited edition series of pink headsets and hubs to help raise awareness for breast cancer research, to which a portion of the proceeds are donated. They even encourage their customers to replace a ride with time out to take themselves or a woman they love in for a mammogram or clinical exam during the month of October.

Reasons to put them on the “nice list” don’t stop there. Chris King also makes limited edition headsets and other products for Wheels4Life, a charity founded by former Mountain Bike World Champion Hans Rey, providing bikes for people in developing countries in need of transportation to get to work or to school, including health care workers.

Chris King Precision ComponentsIn addition to their sustainable manufacturing and to encouraging their employees to bike to work, Chris King organizes the Gourmet Century, a 100 kilometer, non-competitive bicycle ride through pastoral, northwest Oregon. Through farms and barns, vineyards and fields, across a single track wooden railway bridge, throughout tree-shaded stretches of loose-stoned bridle-path winding across the arable land, participants ride by colonial-style clapperboard houses and churches, soaking in the scenery. Besides scenic views, this event serves up three strategically spaced epicurean rest points to keep “the appetite piqued and the legs energized.”

The next time someone looks at Chris King hubs, invokes the spirit of Gertrude Stein, and says, a hub is a hub is a hub, you can smile knowingly. Because there’s more to a Chris King hub than meets the eye.

This brief portrait of Chris King was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle

Red Kite Prayer Offers This Book Review of The Elite Bicycle

“Ultimately, what you come away with is something different; it’s the sense that you’ve spent an afternoon at the builder or company’s work space, that you’ve seen the work being done and then been left to wander on your own. You could unleash a dozen cycling photographers on the same set of subjects and very few would come up with anything so evocative.” — Red Kite Prayer

The Elite Bicycle Red Kite Prayer

 

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle

PezCycling News reviews The Elite Bicycle

“An eccentric and entertaining book, beautifully produced with top-quality photos and amusing but informative text and a foreword by cycling-mad British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, “The Elite Bicycle” deserves to find a place on many a cyclist’s bookshelf this holiday season.” — PezCyclingNews.com

The Elite Bicycle on Pezcyclingnews

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle

Mavic: The Rims of Champions

MavicIt is for wheels that Mavic is, and was from the start, best known. Mavic is one example of the 29 handmade bicycle manufacturers featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle

1889 marked the centennial of the French Revolution. Three legendary things were born in France that year. The Eiffel Tower (as part of the World’s Fair a.k.a. Exposition Universelle), the Moulin Rouge (the famous cabaret), and Mavic (the French bicycle parts manufacturer).

Mavic started with two friends, Charles Idoux and Lucien Chanel, who began a different kind of revolution that year. First, two brothers, Léon and Laurent Vielle, set up a nickel-plating business in Lyon, France with Henry Gormand as president. Shortly afterwards, Idoux and Chanel, also sponsored by Gormand, launched another enterprise for “the fabrication and sake of spare parts for bicycles.” They called their business Manufacture d’Articles Vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel. Thus, Mavic was born.

Around the time of World War I, a huge cycling craze swept over France. To accommodate the ill-surfaced roads of the early years, the basic components of any bicycle, wheels and frame, needed to be robust and, to a degree, flexible, sturdy enough to endure the shocking onslaught of man and bike imposed by (for example) the Tour de France, but resilient, too, to absorb the rough nature of the roads.

Mavic

Bearing this in mind, the Vielle and Mavic operations combined under the Mavic name, and, in 1925, they relocated to Lyon, adding mudguards and steel rims to their manufacturing line. (Today, Mavic, is located in Annecy, France).

With Mavic’s innovation and top-quality materials, their link to professional riders and champions nearly began from the start. For example, Antonin Magne, winner of the 1931 Tour de France, secretly used Dura rims from Mavic in the 1934 Tour, which were painted to look like wood (rules stipulated the use of wooden rims). And with them, Magne rode to a second victory. The connection with top cyclists continued years later with Eddy Merckx, arguably the greatest cyclist of all time; he insisted on using Mavic rims. The list goes on and on.

MavicMavic has also become famous for their bright yellow neutral assistance cars that have supported most professional races. Not just anyone can be a support car mechanic. From the time a mechanic jumps out of the car to the launching of the cyclists back on the road, it takes an astonishing 30 seconds. That’s the kind of efficiency and perfection that goes on at Mavic because their ethos is forever rooted in their love of cycling. It’s no wonder that “a better bike begins here.”

This brief portrait of Mavic was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme FifeThe Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers:

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble - The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear - The Elite Bicycle