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Bike Of The Week: 2013 NAHBS-Winning Bishop

The bike of the week, Michael’s custom (2013 NAHBS-winning) Bishop, in the owner’s words:


“Chris Bishop’s work first came to my attention at the 2011 NAHBS (North American Handmade Bike Show) event in Austin, Texas. I found myself continually drawn to his booth progressively more so throughout the three-day weekend. I was enthralled with his attention to detail, near perfect finishing, and elegant simplicity. These qualities were typified most dramatically that year by his award-winning Columbus MS track bike. The somewhat rare Columbus Multi-Shape used for the build was brought to a whole new level by the bi-laminate head legs, polished chrome and exemplary paint that have all become hallmarks of the Bishop name. 


I saw Chris at the Philadelphia Bike Expo that same year, and again in Sacramento at the 2012 NAHBS event. The idea of owning a Bishop had been percolating that entire year, and the trio of award-winning bikes in California further strengthened my resolve to have my dream bike built by Chris; not because of the blue ribbons, but for the stunning style and technique on display throughout his show entries. I had previously hinted at the possibility of building a bike, and I walked up to Chris with great resolve at the end of the weekend and we shook hands, agreeing to build a show bike for the 2013 NAHBS in Denver.

The year leading up to Denver gave me ample time to ponder the build. I knew I wanted an out-and-out road bike, and like every hand-built client, I wanted to it to be unique to my vision of a perfect bike, but with a generous amount of input from Chris; something he was both passionate about and a build that represented his personal aesthetic and ideas about ride characteristics. 

I met with Chris in Baltimore with his good friend Tommy Barse, a mechanic, wheel builder and painting apprentice under Brian Myers at Fresh Frame. Over a long afternoon fitting, a couple good meals and a few Natty Bo’s we all hashed out the details of the build. I fell in love with cycling from a predominantly vintage perspective and I wanted my road bike to represent that classic steel silhouette, while still capturing an undeniably modern feel. I wanted it to look as if it had been built in 2013. 

I was inspired not only by Bishop’s bi-laminate work, but also by a reverse bi-laminate frame built by Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames, now out of Austin, Texas.

I liked the idea of asymmetry as a keyword in the project, and I wanted to push Chris towards some details and techniques which he had never done before. The shapes he used for the bi-laminate head lugs, the particular internal routing in the chainstay, and the two-piece sleeved seat stays were all new and different from his past builds. Chris used an incredible mix of tubing on this build, as is his wont, to give this bicycle a very personal ride quality suited to my build. The seat tube and down tube are custom Reynolds tubes drawn for Chris, swaged from 27.2 to 31.8 at the bottom bracket. Paired with KVA Stainless chainstays, the frame is incredibly stiff and responsive around the drive-train, while maintaing a suppleness where it matter most. The aforementioned seat stays are sleeved using Reynolds and Dedacciai, the top tube and head tube are OX Platinum from True Temper, and the fork crown and fork blades are proprietary 3Rensho. I’m incredibly proud to be riding an American made bicycle with such a custom, international mix of modern tube sets. The build is complemented by a mix of great components from around the world including Enve, Sapim, Chris King, Thompson, Nitto, Brooks, Fizik and Continental. 

Chris also built a custom one-off quill stem to pair with the frame; I struggled with current production stem choices, and in the end only a Bishop would do. 

I’m extremely grateful to Chris Bishop for his hard work on this frame, fork and stem. The life of a custom builder is by no means an easy one, particularly given the time, care, and attention Chris puts into every build. The long hours and dedication were certainly worth it, as this bike won Best Road Bike in the 2013 NAHBS in Denver. However, that accolade pales in comparison to the thing that matters most: the ride. There is no greater motivation in the world to ride than knowing I get to take my Bishop out. This bike is a weapon, straight up. It always has more to give, well beyond what I’m capable of putting into it. The fit and handling are superb, beyond what I thought was possible of a bicycle. There are many who say form follows function, but I’ve found a perfect balance of the two.”