This beautiful Independent Fabrication touring bike went to a customer in Toronto, Canada. The rider had a solid vision for his bike, and came to us with very specific requests for the frame, custom paint, and components. Rohloff's SPEEDHUB 500/14 internal gear hub was the starting point for the build. As a previous SPEEDHUB owner who'd completed an extended tour with the hub, the rider was familiar with Rohloff's unparalleled reliability and wide gear range.
The rider's fondness for Independent Fabrication made them the obvious choice for the frame. Looking for a utilitarian and comfortable setup, he requested a dynamo front hub (which contains a small generator that powers the bike's lights and an on-board USB charger), upright seating position, and striking silver components to complement frame's unique paint job, which features sun-kissed orange crystallance with cream highlights. Cycle Monkey coordinated with IF to get the details worked out, and we couldn't wait to assemble the bike once the frame and fork arrived.
Independent Fabrication builds a variety of frames (steel, titanium, carbon, and titanium mixed with carbon) and forks (steel only) in-house at their facility in Newmarket, New Hampshire. They have built a reputation for both top quality frames and the extraordinary abilities of their in-house paint shop. IF builds frames on an exclusively custom basis, and they are no strangers to building bikes around the Rohloff SPEEDHUB. We have showcased several on our blog over the years, and have worked with shops and IF directly on many more.
IF's extensive custom frame program made it easy to accommodate the rider's requests and ensure compatibility with the SPEEDHUB and Schmidt SON SL dynamo hub. The fork required a special conducting plate inside the dropout to enable the use of the SL (connector-less) version of Schmidt's hub, which passes the current generated by the hub through the dropout up to the headlight and USB charger through wires hidden in the fork leg. The electrical connection between the fork and hub is automatic, eliminating the need for the manually-connected wires typically required with dynamo hubs. The fork also received mounts for a Pass and Stow front rack (not shown in photos) for future installation.
|No wires needed here.|
Cycle Monkey generally completes builds around custom frames that employ adjustable dropouts or an eccentric bottom bracket to tension the chain or belt. In this case, the rider was more comfortable with a chain and opted to keep the frame as simple as possible by using a Rohloff chain tensioner. While we generally prefers the use of adjustable frames with the Rohloff hub, the tensioner option does offer two distinct advantages when running a chain on long-distance self-supported adventures:
1) The spring loaded jockey wheels automatically adjust for wear in the chain and maintain consistent tension.
2) The tensioner holds the chain in place when the wheel is removed, just like with a rear derailleur, instead of having it fall to the ground.
Without a rear disc brake mount or a dedicated Rohloff dropout, this bike required an alternate method to secure the hub axle to the frame. One option would have been to to use the Rohloff torque arm, but that was not the preferred method. Adding an eyelet to the left dropout to accept a bolt compatible with the Rohloff OEM2 axle plate was a cleaner solution that was fitting for a custom frame.
|This customer opted for the use of a chain tensioner for this particular build to keep the frame as simple as possible|
Cable routing was set up to run the Rohloff shift cables along the down tube and left chainstay to feed into the cable box of the external shift mech on the SPEEDHUB. Taillight wires run piggybacked onto the shifter cables, then up the rear rack to the light. The rear brake cable runs under the top tube in a standard cantilever setup, and rack and fender mounts are included for additional utility.
The custom paint job was the finishing touch on this beauty. At a distance, it looks fairly straightforward, with just a bit of masking to create the panels and stripes. However, crystallance paint requires three layers, one of which includes glass flake that can be difficult to top with an additional layer. Naturally, the expert painter at IF worked enough magic to apply the cream color over the orange base layer and make everything come out looking top notch.
|This paint job shines nearly as bright as the dynamo headlight|
With the one-off frame shining in all its glory, our Wheel House got to work prepping a shiny silver set of wheels. Silver anodized Rohloff and Schmidt hubs were laced into polished Velocity Cliffhanger rims with Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples. The Cliffhanger is Velocity's burliest touring rim, making it well suited for this aggressive touring build. Cream-colored Schwalbe Big Apple tires wrapped around the hoops to complement the frame's unique colorway while adding comfort to the ride thanks to their large air volume.
|Cushy tires, sparklin' rims|
At Cycle Monkey, we constantly promote the durability of the Rohloff drivetrain for a variety builds, including touring setups like this rig. With a 526% gear range and long-term reliability that's been proven with over 20 years on the market, SPEEDHUB is the drivetrain of choice for long distance touring.
|Gebla's Rohbox is a ratcheting shift box that allows for the use of SRAM or Campagnolo shifters with the SPEEDHUB|
Despite the SPEEDHUB's many benefits, some riders don't mesh with the feel of Rohloff's twist shifter. Luckily, we have an alternate option for these riders. Gebla's Rohbox allows the use of SRAM MTB shifters (among other options) to shift the hub instead of the traditional grip shifter. The Rohbox was just one of many high end parts included on this build to provide ultimate comfort and durability.
This rider approached us with a very specific vision of his ideal bike, and we worked with him to source the components and build up the bike of his dreams. But you don't need to have it all figured out to get started on your dream build. Whether you have a detailed plan or a rough outline for your next bike, get in touch and we'll figure out the best way to make it happen.
• Frame: Independent Fabrication Independence custom steel
• Fork: Independent Fabrication custom steel with Schmidt SL dropout
• Headset: Chris King Steelset NoThreadset
• Stem: Velo Orange
• Handlebar: Nitto Bosco
• Shifter: SRAM X9 triggers, modified with Gebla Rohbox
• Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork
• Seat post: Kalloy Pillar
• Saddle: Brooks B66
• Front Hub: Schmidt SON28 SL
• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
• Spokes: Sapim Race
• Nipples: Sapim Brass
• Rims: Velocity Cliffhanger
• Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple
• Cranks: White Industries VBC
• Pedals: Velo Orange Sabot
• Bottom Bracket: SKS
• Chainring: White Industries Direct Mount
• Rear Sprocket: Rohloff
• Chain: Wippermann 8sX
• Chain Tensioner: Rohloff
• Brakes & Levers: Velo Orange Crand Cru
• Skewers: Pitlock anti-theft
• Headlight: Busch & Müller Lumotec Classic T Senso Plus
• Taillight: Busch & Müller Toplight Line Brake Plu
• USB Charger: Sinewave Reactor
• Fenders: Velo Orange stainless steel
• Rear Rack: Tubus Cosmo stainless steel