NAHBS 2013: New builders Harvey Cycle Works and Littleford

By Karen Brooks,

New Builders’ Row along the wall of the NAHBS exhibition hall was home to some interesting work, from wacky to spectacular. Here are a couple bikes that did not look to be the work of beginners, from Harvey Cycle Works and Littleford Bicycles.

Littleford

At the beginning of the row was this sturdy and serious-looking touring bike build by Jon Littleford. 

It’s outfitted here with 26-inch wheels, the most convenient choice for international travel, but it can accept 700c wheels (and caliper brakes instead of the cantis shown here) as well.

The meticulous fillet brazing on the frame and matching racks showed through an interesting brown finish. It’s actually rust, says builder Jon Littleford, that’s been encouraged to form with a product called Rust Brown and a laborious-sounding process. The thin but pit-free layer of oxidation protects the metal from any further decay.

The shiny bits on the rack rails, and other wear areas, are stainless steel. The stainless logo on the top tube acts as a protector.

Because you can’t cross an ocean on the bike, the racks are easily removable and it has S&S couplers. No batteries needed, either, since it has Schmidt lighting. Littleford says he may take this Expedition Model prototype to Madagascar. It looks like it could take the abuse.

Littleford exhibited in the Austin NAHBS in 2011, but due to the somewhat arcane show regulations, he still only qualified for a “new builder” spot.

Harvey Cycle Works

Kevin Harvey’s screamin’ red beauty reminded me of a classic Ferrari. 

It’s a thoroughbred randonneuring bike, with 650b wheels (and Gran Bois tires), integrated racks and Schmidt lighting, and a comfortable but aggressive cockpit. But a few modern parts make it faster: disc brakes plus Campagnolo drivetrain and shift/brake levers. Those brakes are the new HyRd mechanical/hydraulic ones from TRP—cables actuate the hydraulics contained in the caliper.

Yeah, the brakes are cool, but I was more enamored of the disc tabs:

 

Note that loooong point at the top, machined to match the curve of the fork. At the bottom is a dropout that Kevin Harvey machines himself, with integrated washers to work with the Schmidt connector-less front hub, and a forward-facing opening so that the disc brake’s torque doesn’t cause an unplanned front wheel removal.

At this point I had to ask Harvey—you didn’t just start building bikes, did you? Turns out he did make a brief foray into bike building in the mid-‘90s, but more than that, he’s been a machinist and metal fabricator for 28 years, and the head of Andretti Motorsports’ machine shop for the last 12. Aha!

I mean, look at these lugs:

 

The bike is also fully outfitted for traveling, with S&S couplers and four separate wiring harnesses to allow the whole thing to break down easily.

One last detail — the headset spacer is machined down to form an elegantly curved neck, with an integrated bell. Audrey Hepburn would be jealous.

Harvey intends to do Paris-Brest-Paris on this bike in 2015, and all of the qualifying brevets beforehand. In case it’s not obvious, he is inspired by Rene Herse, and intends to get into making his own components, just like the master.

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