October 3rd, 2014

Among the awesome local builders you can catch a glimpse of Jay’s new 29er. Full write up and photo shoot next week!

photo 1

The Ball is tonight at the Botanical Garden at Roger Williams Park in Providence, 7-11 pm. Hopefully see you there!


Step-Through Belt Drive Internal!

June 24th, 2014

It’s a mouthful, but for another commuter/all-rounder, it just makes sense! Again we’re using the value-laden Sturmey-Archer 5 speed hub, this time laced to a 26″ wheel to keep the scale of this smallish bike appropriate. But the focus for Manya is on practicality, yes (note the fenders and kickstand) but also on style and elegance, so we did our first curved top tube step-through. All it needs is a baguette and a beret.


P1000362 P1000358

P1000349 P1000339 P1000330

P1000355 P1000354 P1000338

P1000337 P1000335 P1000334

P1000328 P1000330 P1000333

P1000326 P1000325 P1000365

As we didn’t have the requisite, or at least recommended, three-roller bender for the top tube, we sought help from Mike Flanigan at ANT:

IMG_9217 IMG_9220 IMG_9263

Other concerns included fashioning a gusset to reinforce the seat tube, that would match the lugged BB shell and the collar point:

IMG_9306 IMG_9307 IMG_9313

IMG_9314 IMG_9316 IMG_9317

IMG_9320 IMG_9325 IMG_9329

I also modified Bobby’s Ted Wojcik, as he wanted to run 650B x 2.4 wheels & tires in a frame intended for 26″. Previously I had installed the Black Cat Rocker dropouts; in this case I was able to retain the seat stays, replacing the chainstays and bridges to make more room. And I made a new fork that matches the build height of his old segmented 26″ fork but gives him some more room. Just the right amount, as he has promised to never try to use larger tires.


IMG_9335 IMG_9336 IMG_9337

IMG_9340 IMG_9341 IMG_9344

IMG_9345 IMG_9342 IMG_9338

And an unusual repair, I replaced the head tube on a vintage Raleigh. See if you can spot the crack:

IMG_9286 IMG_9288 IMG_9289

So this sort of repair involves cutting away as much of the existing headtube as you can, and then grinding out what’s left from inside the lugs. It does not. Go. Quickly. Note the sockets for the fork-crown steering lock.

IMG_9293 IMG_9290 IMG_9292

Then a new head tube slides in, gets brazed, cleaned up, and painted.

IMG_9291 IMG_9297 IMG_9299

Last but not least, I repainted a magnificent Nagasawa road/track bike for Marc:


Next: Henry’s MTB! Tom’s belt drive all-rounder! Irina’s do-it-all tourer! It must be summer!

This color is called Awesome

April 14th, 2014

This is Sabine’s lugged commuter/tourer. It’s one of my favorite bikes. Lovely long point lugs, exquisite candy, 11 speed Ultegra on King wheels… delicious.


P1000157 P1000159 P1000160

P1000163 P1000164 P1000165

P1000166 P1000167 P1000168

P1000169 P1000170 P1000172

P1000173 P1000177 P1000174

P1000161 P1000176 P1000171

And here are some shots of just the frame set:


IMG_8670 IMG_8672 IMG_8673

IMG_8676 IMG_8677 IMG_8671

IMG_8674 IMG_8678 IMG_8675

I also modified a Rivendell Atlantis for a Rohloff hub. David had been running the hub for years, but awkwardly; I cleaned up the install a bit, with long Campy dropouts to allow for chain tensioning, a tab on the chainstay for the Rohloff cable stop, new dropouts for the SON SL generator hub, and internal wiring. On a custom install we’d be able to avoid the torque arm with sliding dropouts, but we wanted to keep the Rivendell look so we compromised and moved the cable routing from the top tube/canti post to down tube/chainstay:


IMG_9089 IMG_9097 IMG_9098

IMG_9099 IMG_9100 IMG_9101

IMG_9102 IMG_9103 IMG_9104

IMG_9105 IMG_9107 IMG_9109

IMG_9110 IMG_9111 IMG_9112

I was also reminded why we love steel. You’d think it would be self evident – we spend lots of time restoring old bikes, from a 1895 Rudge to a 1950’s Thanet to any number of 70’s and 80’s Italian steeds – but riding at Battenkill last weekend, I got a stick in the derailleur:


Note the screen shots from my Gopro below; after wrestling the derailleur out of the wheel, you can see how the cage is nearly vertical, ABOVE the axle. Then, I muscled it considerably to make it more or less in plane with the cassette. The cage was so crushed that the idler pulleys were fouled, but it shifted a little in back and the front der shifted fine. I was most lucky in that the chain wasn’t compromised, and was able to make it the 4 miles back to our car. Even with a replaceable der hanger, on an AL or carbon bike I’d be walking.

But once back to the shop, a dummy axle and hanger alignment tool made it all better.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.38.15 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.45.06 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.43.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.44.33 PM IMG_9123 IMG_9121

A new derailleur and all is right with the world.

Superlight Club Racer with Stainless

April 2nd, 2014

Well this has been a fun one. We have a complicated relationship with stainless steel: we’ve always loved it for things like dropouts, where the paint is sure to get chipped anyway; and we love the all weather durability. But it’s expensive, and even from three suppliers there are a limited number of tube profiles available. Part of the benefit of a custom frame is that we have so many options to choose from in order to optimize performance and comfort.

So, for Myles’ club racer, we decided to use a mix of True Temper S3 and OX Platinum tubing, along with a KVA Stainless drive-side chainstay; and then we upped the ante by doing all the interfaces in stainless: rear dropouts, cable stops, H20 bosses, and brake bridge. A true all-weather steel bike, where it matters.


The frame comes in a tic over 3 lbs, and with some very nice components indeed (King/Enve wheels; Enve fork, cockpit, and seatpost; and Sram Red/Black group) the complete bikes is a svelte 15.75 lbs. Not bad for a durable and repairable heirloom!

I used the Enve 1.0 fork with a 50mm rake and a 72.5 HT angle – this setup is eerily comfortable over rough roads while still being whip-quick, and gives a little longer front center for a stable wheelbase with short chainstays – 41 cm with a 73.5 ST angle and 25c tires. ST center to center is 52.5 cm and effective TT length is 55, with a 10 degree slope.

But enough talk – first more pics of the complete bike, then some shots of the frame before building up.

P1000117 P1000122 P1000114

P1000128 P1000138 P1000107

P1000111 P1000131 P1000135

P1000125 P1000144 P1000120

P1000134 P1000137 P1000099

P1000059 P1000065 P1000064

P1000068 P1000069 P1000071

P1000073 P1000072 P1000075

P1000079 P1000080 P1000083

Jay also painted a 1895 Rudge Penny Farthing:


And I modified a Surly Ogre to accept belt drive with an 8 speed Alfine hub – they said it couldn’t be done, but after a little chainstay crimping and some fine tuning of the chain, er, belt-line, it’s an all-weather commuting monster:

IMG_8708 IMG_8709

And finally I repainted a very rusty old Serotta in the trademark fade:

IMG_8846 IMG_8849 IMG_8848

Next: Sabine’s lugged beauty!

Mark’s belt drive commuter with BLING

January 4th, 2014


Local hero Mark wanted an all-weather commuter that would keep him and his scrubs clean. So right off the bat we’re thinking belt drive, internal hub, full fenders, disc brakes… and he had his heart set on the Sturmey-Archer 5 speed, seen here in rare disc version. We decided on Paragon sliding dropouts to make belt tensioning easy – but then the question was how to set it apart from the typical tig welded commuter. The first thing we did was put together a unique tube set – a variety of shaped Columbus Zona tubes that had a sort of faux-aero “coffin” profile. This was a purely aesthetic decision, we liked the flat planes and wanted to come up with a paint scheme to play off that. And yes, they were fun to miter.

And about that paint. The orange is a candy flake that needed 6 coats (as opposed to a more typical 2 or 3) to cover properly, but in the sun it’s deep like the ocean. Lots of fun pinstriping along the creases of that crazy tubing.

IMG_8473 IMG_8478 IMG_8470

IMG_8477 IMG_8471 IMG_8484

IMG_8472 IMG_8489 IMG_8467

IMG_8469 IMG_8480 IMG_8487

IMG_8482 IMG_8481 IMG_8486

IMG_8468 IMG_8479 IMG_8485

And here are some shots of the mitered tubes:

DSCN7061 DSCN7054 DSCN7060

I also repainted a Gitane which had been languishing under a thick blanket of powder coat:

IMG_8663 IMG_8664 IMG_8665

The fork had a bent steerer so I was also charged with building a replacement. The great thing was that I could get a Newvex crown from Richard Sachs that would nicely compliment the frame’s Nervex lugs, and of course we’re all about the continental bend to the fork:

DSCN7246 DSCN7247 IMG_8643

Next: Sabine’s road beauty and some internal hub retrofits. And, more belt drive!

Lugs are just pretty

November 14th, 2013

Especially with some lovely silver Campy components. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I know you’ve seen other Circle A’s this color, but as always the devil is in the details, and Ron’s road bike is lousy with them. Details, that is.

Lots of parts courtesy of Richard Sachs, lots of stainless bits… lots of subtle awesome.


IMG_8216 IMG_8215 IMG_8214 IMG_8213 IMG_8211 IMG_8206 IMG_8205 IMG_8204 IMG_8203 IMG_8202 IMG_8200 IMG_8199 IMG_8197 IMG_8196 IMG_8192

Next: Mark’s belt drive Sturmey-Archer commuter will melt your brain. Count on it.

Goodbyes and Hellos

September 13th, 2013

Usually this space is devoted to whatever projects are rolling out the door,
but this spring brings some exciting changes to Circle A.

It’s with a bittersweet mix of pride and sadness that Brian rides away
from the Circle A nest and hangs up his own shingle under the banner of
Chapman Cycles. He started as a friend, became a customer, then an
apprentice, and leaves having served as a true partner who was
instrumental in moving Circle A Cycles both physically (to our current
location) and professionally, as we pushed each other in new directions
and to new levels of quality.

I look forward to seeing Brian on rides and over beers, and to casting an
approving eye over his work. Best of luck, Brian.

Meanwhile, Jay and Josie are in the process of setting up their studio next
door, and we’re excited to welcome them to the compound. Look for a spike
in outrageous lug- and box-lining and handpainted details!

As Circle A enters it’s 13th year I’m psyched to be surrounded by so many great and talented friends and comrades. Keep loving keep riding!

It’s HOT, so let’s paint!

July 26th, 2013

There’s no winning around here when it tops 90 for days in a row. The choice is Tyvec suit or torch. Choose your poison. While I finished the details on Mark and Ron’s frames, I painted a couple of Italian beauties for our friend Dave – a Colnago and a rare Masi.



Both were interesting restorations with various degrees of chrome degradation. If it’s really bad, we blast it off and paint over, like the Colnago’s chain stay. If it’s good, we hand-strip the paint around it, polish it, and make it pretty.

DSCN7170 IMG_8151DSCN7169 DSCN7171 IMG_8150 IMG_8152 DSCN7176 IMG_8154 IMG_8156 IMG_8153 IMG_8146 IMG_8148

Here are some details of Ron’s club racer. I’m painting next week, watch this space for the full build – and finally, Mark’s belt drive, 5 speed Sturmey/Archer super commuter!

IMG_8170 IMG_8169 IMG_8167 IMG_8166 DSCN7164

Rehabs & Repairs

May 8th, 2013

OK, so I’m happy to say this Waterford went out the door looking a bit better than when it came in:


Bob brought it in for a repaint, but upon inspection we found some… issues…

DSCN7040 DSCN7041

Bob decided the frame was worth saving, so I cut out the old stays and brazed in some new ones.

DSCN7078 DSCN7080DSCN7085

 DSCN7083 DSCN7088 DSCN7089

IMG_7773DSCN7090 DSCN7084

With that taken care of, I could proceed with paint:

IMG_0309 IMG_0310 IMG_0311

IMG_0313 IMG_0314 IMG_0315

I also did a frame repair on local legend Jack Madden’s Atlantis. He had an altercation with car that left the top tube bent and the head tube tweaked. Time for more surgery!


IMG_7784 IMG_7785 IMG_7786

And then with paint:

DSCN7101 DSCN7102 DSCN7103

I also repainted a Zancanato:

IMG_7781 IMG_7783

And replaced a dropout on a Gunnar:

DSCN7092 DSCN7098

Next: Mark’s aero-tubed, 5-speed Sturmey Archer commuter! Did I mention the disc brakes and belt drive? I KNOW!

Alfredo’s Coupled Club Racer

March 18th, 2013

Here’s Afredo’s smashing coupled club racer/light tourer/travel bike. His design for the paint, and I’m very happy with the final product. It’s a mix of True Temper, Dedacciai and Columbus tubing, and of course the always fabulous S&S couplers. There is a Ritchey Pro Carbon fork, painted to match; and that’s a 6 degree slope to the top tube, a gentle compact geometry that makes for easier packing (no need to remove the cranks).


IMG_7641 IMG_7653 IMG_7652 IMG_7655 IMG_7654 IMG_7650 IMG_7648 IMG_7647 IMG_7646 IMG_7645 IMG_7644 IMG_7643

And here are some shots in progress:

IMG_7600 IMG_7602 IMG_7608 IMG_7606 IMG_7605 IMG_7604 IMG_7603 IMG_7610 IMG_7611 IMG_7612 IMG_7616 IMG_7617 IMG_7618

Also, Alfredo is a journalist and photographer, and took these great shots of me working on the frame:

Small business bicycles Small business bicycles Small business bicycles Small business bicycles Small business bicycles Small business bicycles

And here are some of the built up bike, with stem, bars and seatpost painted to match:

chainstay full view coupler

I also painted a Raleigh, a Bottecchia, and a Rivendell, and made a touring fork for Cindy’s S3 cross bike.

IMG_7585DSCN7034 DSCN7035

Circle A Cycles   |   523 Charles Street   |   Providence, RI   |   401.831.5221
background: it might've been february but micah was ready to start riding his new single speed. (reveal)

circle a