Matte black Independent Fabrication "Independence" framecustomized with S&S couplers and Rohloff-specific cable routing.Independent Fabrication is known for building beautiful, eye-catching bikes and this matte black touring frame, although understated, is no exception. We built this custom “Independence” model for a customer who lives in Thailand and has done plenty of off road touring throughout Southeast Asia on his trusty mountain bike. Although his old bike had served him admirably, he had been dreaming up the ultimate touring bike based around the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 for years. He wanted his new ride to last him for the rest of his life, so the SPEEDHUB was the perfect shifting system for his needs.Initially this customer had been interested in a Surly Troll frame, which is a very popular model for off road touring. However, he wanted S&S couplers to make the bike easier to travel with. That would have required us to send the frame to a frame builder for modifications and then to a powder coater to have it repainted. After considering his options, he decided to go with a custom frame to get all the features he wanted in one complete package.Sliding dropouts make for easy chain tensioning.Once we had determined exactly what our customer wanted, we called Independent Fabrication in Newport, New Hampshire to sketch out the frame. They based it on their Independence model, which is purpose-built for fully loaded touring with over sized steel tubing for strength and stability. As with all their bikes, the Independence is custom built to order, so they could easily accommodate the specific details our customer wanted in this frame. Aside from the standard rack and fender mounts that you would expect to find on a touring frame, the customer wanted some additional features.The frame has plenty of additional braze-ons for water bottle cages or securing cargo. Long tours often take you across vast expanses without access to water, so our customer asked for additional water bottle mounts on the underside of the down tube and fork legs, making sure to specify three-hole bottle mounts in some locations to use larger cages when needed. Additional bolt holes higher up the under side of the down tube allow him to install a "crud catcher" to reduce the amount of mud that gets thrown at him when pedaling through messy conditions. The frame features plenty of rack and water bottle mounts.Since our customer plans to fly around the islands of Southeast Asia to ride different touring routes, S&S couplers were added to make the frame more compact and avoid oversized baggage fees. The steel fork was built with a 100mm suspension correction, so he could swap in a suspension fork for better comfort on rougher off road tours.To optimize the frame for the SPEEDHUB, sliding dropouts were used to tension the chain and Rohloff-specific cable guides were positioned on the down tube and left chain stay. The frame also has both disc and V-brake mounts so that in the event of an emergency repair, he will have plenty of options for finding spare brake parts anywhere in the world.The geometry is meant to replicate the handling of the mountain bike he was used to, but with a little more upright seating position for additional comfort. Sturdy 26 inch wheels were chosen to ensure availability of replacement parts around the world, and tire clearance allows for wider mountain bike treads. A matte black paint job finishes it off with a muted look to draw less attention from bike thieves.The Phil Wood mountain hub was laced to a Velocity Cliffhanger rim.The wheel builds consisted of sturdy U.S.-made Velocity Cliffhanger rims and Phil Wood mountain disc front hub and the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 in the rear. The SPEEDHUB is well known among cycle tourists as being the optimal drive train in terms of durability and minimal maintenance. SPEEDHUBS have been ridden on many extended cross-country and cross-continent tours without having to be tuned up or maintained during the trip. The record for SPEEDHUB mileage is over 100,000 miles and still counting. Given the durability of the system, it is well suited for the heavy loads riders typically carry while touring and pairs well with the thick-walled Cliffhanger rims and stout Phil Wood hub.To accommodate long distance touring, a full set of racks and water bottle cages were installed to carry panniers, gear, and plenty of water. The customer chose Tubus’ Cosmo rear rack and Old Man Mountain’s Pioneer front rack, both of which are very strong and have plenty of load capacity. To keep the bike comfortable for long hauls, he wanted a leather Rivet saddle, and we chose a flat Race Face Turbine handlebar and Ergon’s GP1 Ergonomic grips.Our customer requested flat handlebars for anupright seating position so he could focus on seeing the sights.When our customer came to pick up his new bike at the Monkey Lab, he kept saying that it looked just how he had pictured it in his head when he had been dreaming up his ideal touring bike over the past few years. This is about the best compliment we could have hoped for. He had mapped out a small tour in Thailand around the holidays and was excited to take the bike home and head out on its maiden voyage. If you’re looking for a touring bike of your own to explore the world, contact us to see what we can put together for you!Build Details:• Frame: Independent Fabrication Independence custom steel• Fork: Independent Fabrication custom steel• Headset: Chris King• Stem: Thomson Elite X4• Handlebar: Race Face Turbine• Shifter: Rohloff• Grips: Ergon GP1• Seatpost: Nitto S83• Saddle: Rivet Cycle Works Independence• Seat Clamp: Independent Fabrication• Front Hub: Phil Wood Mountain Disc• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14• Spokes: Sapim Strong• Nipples: Sapim Brass• Rims: Velocity Cliffhanger• Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Mondial• Cranks: Race Face Turbine• Pedals: Shimano PD-780 XT• Bottom Bracket: Chris King• Chain ring: Race Face Single Ring• Rear Sprocket: Rohloff• Chain: Wipperman 808• Brakes & Levers: Avid BB 7• Rotors: Magura Storm• Extras: Old Man Mountain Pioneer front rack, Tubus Cosmo rear rack, five water bottle cages on fork, downtube, and seat tube.