About three months ago I started building up a bike for and with my girlfriend. We sold a unique camera lens for a pile of cash and decided to put the money towards a sweet looking ride for her. Instead of going to the nearest bike shop and buying one off the showroom floor, we wanted to build it and taylor it to her preferences and needs. It took a little while but we bought a frame started on our bike building adventure.
By “pile of cash” i really mean about $1000, making our build slightly low budgeted, but doable. We knew right off the bat that we would be building her get-around bike for work and weekend adventures, something slow and pretty. With these things in mind we set off to find some frames. I knew Citizen Chain in North Beach is always selling beautiful old frames that we might like, so we rolled down there for a quick look. After about twenty minutes in the shop the guys had pulled every 58-61cm frame they had and spread them cross the floor. We all waited while my girlfriend took her sweet time analyzing the tiny nuances of each, and weighed the compromises of price to appearance. We narrowed the field down, ousting the Italian collector items, and swaying away from the heavily used Trek tourers, leaving a selection of never used steel frames still in their wrappings. The frame she chose is an old 80s steel Centurion Super Le Mans, a pretty standard road bike. We liked the frame but there was some serious issues with the paint job, bad enough for shitbike to suggest a new paint job.
Looking around for painters was pretty easy. I had a couple people suggested a guy named Ube, of Ube’s Icecream Shop and he was the perfect amount of bang for the buck we wanted to spend. I contacted Ube and he was quick to set up a meeting. Lark (the girlfriend) and I searched for the perfect color and eventually landed on something in between a Vanilla Bicycles custom color and Bianchi’s celeste, making for a nice minty soft green. Ube custom mixed the color and did a beautiful job making this bike look hundreds of dollars more valuable. He even liked the finished product so much he considered painting his car the same way. The day I went to pick up the frame, I couldn’t believe it was the same Centurion. With a custom color, masked fork, personal pin striping and original head badge, this bike was easily the best looking in our house from that day forward.
As the bike began taking shape, we started to get a bit impatient and wanted nothing more than to finish it and ride. We purchased waited for the right parts, and all the while stayed within our budget. Handlebars, saddle, wheels, tires, everything started coming together. Lark decided on the Sturmey Archer internal hub and a lot of great looking Velo Orange components, Pan Racer Pasela gum wall tires, with a Brooks Cambium Saddle on top; all which we ordered through the good guys at Huckleberry Bicycles. We started visualizing the routing on the frame and color preferences for cable housing. Our last finishing touch was the clear cable housing which we could only find through one supplier and with help from the guys at Fresh Air Bikes we got all the necessary pieces to finish the bike. One full day of building and Lark was on her Birdy that evening.
Sorry for all of the really bad process photos. Here are the nice pretty ones.
This bike is an object of my envy, I see it everyday and couldn’t be happier with how it came together. I learned a lot through building it, and had fun working with Lark throughout the process. Together we created a bike that she can ride and love for… a little while until we decide to build another! N+1!!!