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Winning Ways

Though he’s only been a full time builder since 2007, Chris Bishop gets his inspiration from the great custom frame-builders of the 1970s, and that is evident in each of the four bikes he brought to Denver. It the bikes of Eisentraut, DiNucci, and Strawberry where Bishop finds inspiration for his ultra-thinly filed and filleted lug work.

Bishop won three awards at NAHBS in 2012, and he returns this year with four bicycles to show: two track bikes, a vintage style road bike with only 5 gears, and this year’s winner for Best Road Bike.

A metallic blue track bike caught this blogger’s eye, with its customized lugs and fork crown, fastback seat stays, and plenty of drilled out touches on the components. Decorative drilling adorns the track dropouts, the stem, the chainring, and even the Campagnolo crank arms have been trimmed back for a truly custom look. This classic looking machine gets its super-clean look from bronze fillets on the lugs themselves. “I fillet the lugs to smooth the transitions between tubes,” says Bishop. He uses this technique across each of the bikes on display.

The second track bike is a stainless model for a customer in, get this, China. “Actually, this is the second bike I’ve built that’s going to China. I love the fact that I’m exporting to them for a change,” he says. The Chinese customer collected a number of highly prized vintage Campagnolo components, polished them, and sent them over just for this bike.

Photo: Matt Shields

Photo: Matt Shields

Our focus turned to a dark blue five speed road bike. While I was drooling over Bishop’s trademark lug work, he pulled out a set of the original lugs for comparison and held them up against the final, finished product. It immediately revealed the immense amount of work, craftsmanship and creativity that went into the bike. This bike is also unique in that it’s adorned with a new old stock Campagnolo Nuovo Record groupset. “There’s a really long story of how I pulled that together. Fortunately, Wayne Bingham at Velo Classique helped me find some key pieces to complete the group.”

This year’s Best Road Bike continues with the traditional steel frame building techniques, but Bishop kits it out with the latest Shimano components and Enve carbon hoops. The frame is constructed with a mix of Reynolds and True Temper steel tubes along with KVA stainless chain stays creating a very modern, lightweight race bike, and it is painted in a unique three color, blue-blue-silver metallic paint scheme. Interestingly, Bishop employs a mind-bending half-lug / half-fillet look. The visual result is stunning and the resulting award of Best Road Bike is an obvious choice.