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Bike Gallery

Comfort at length: A tall fellow’s Littleford

A convenient benefit of overlapping seatstays is that they effectively reduce the structural span of the top tube. For tall riders, this allows for more proportional frame sizing without the liability of excessive frame flex. With 38C tires on 700C wheels, this bike is perfectly proportioned and keeps its rider squarely centered in the frame rather than putting him awkwardly high above and behind the center of gravity, as most extra-large production frames do.  A slight 6 degree slope of the top tube further stiffens the frame while still preserving a classic aesthetic.

tall man's littleford

Built for fully loaded touring as well as city commuting, front and rear racks are bolted directly to the fork and frame. The comfortable symmetry of the frame belies its large stature. Effective seat tube length: 68cm, effective top tube length: 61cm. Cranks 175mm, wheels 700C x 38mm.

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The seat tube was long enough to provide a neat nesting place for the titanium bowlock. The naturally “sprung” lock clips inside two conical nubs on the insides of the seat stays and seats onto small bracket attached to the kickstand plate.

No infrastructure? No Problem. The Littleford Expedition Rig

There are two lenses through which one can view a bike tour; a relaxation, or an adventure lens. For a tourist seeking relaxation, logistical troubles and unexpected hard knocks just aren’t on the menu, at least not if he can help it. That’s not what he’s there for… he’s touring to decompress, stay reasonably comfortable, and to see some part of the world on his own terms. The adventurer, on the other hand, sees things differently. She takes her comfort and relaxation on the world’s terms- which could mean comfort when the long-lost sun dries clothes that have been wet for days, and relaxation when a scheduled ferry doesn’t arrive that day.  Terrible roads, inconsiderate drivers, hoards of dogs and/or sugar-crazed children in hot pursuit are all part of a greater experience, with the right mindset and a capable bike. Which is what we have here.

The expedition tourer is built to accept either 26 inch or 700C wheels, with clearance for 26 by 2″ tires plus plenty of room for mud. Natural rust (gun brown) and a low gloss clear coat finish help keep a low profile and avoid unwanted attention.

The front lowrider rack is joined at the headlight. This provides a convenient, theft resistant flush mount for the a valuable light and also makes packing the rack in the S & S case much easier. The top platform is another easily packable piece.

  • The stainless lettering is silver brazed onto the top tube. It provides a scrape-proof surface across the top tube for leaning the bike, and also protects the tube from errant bar ends, should the front wheel rotate far enough for them to hit the tube.

These letters serve as a head badge. Like the Littleford lettering, they are laser cut and hand formed from stainless steel sheet, then silver brazed to the head tube,

Because the seat stays overlap to the top tube, canti brakes are too low to be pulled from the usual hanger location in the seat tube clamp. I added a dedicated tab for perfect alignment.

Front and rear expedition racks feature stainless steel work surfaces silver brazed onto 3/8 inch chromoly tubing. This makes a rack that is structurally stronger than stainless steel without the liability of paint damage.

 

 

 

The Midnight Special: Town & country express

A good urban bike isn’t always fit for touring, but any good touring bike is a perfect fit for the city life. Groceries, laundry, even potting soil and chicken feed packs up and hauls just as easily as toiletries and camping gear. But there is one requirement in the city that isn’t so crucial on a rural tour; lighting. On tour, dedicated bike lights are rarely needed. The vast distances are typically covered by day, and that headlamp that lights up the tent at night can light up the road well enough when it’s needed. In town though, lights are a necessity. Batteries are expensive, and then once they’re dead they turn into toxic waste. What a pain! Generator lighting is a small and worthwhile investment for the urban  commuter… no batteries = no dead batteries = no toxic waste. Best of all, modern lights and generator systems are fully automatic. Not only does one not need to worry about batteries, he doesn’t need to worry about anything. The lights come on when the sun goes down, and five minutes after the bike stops, they go out- and that’s one less thing to think about.

This little 26 inch tourer is equipped with the Lumatec IQ Cyo headlamp and Schmidt SON hub- which combine to deliver a super bright beam from the energy it takes to climb ten feet over a mile’s distance.  What makes more sense than that? In addition to the usual Littleford features of integrated racks and overlapping seat stays, this bike also features extra low rear pannier rails for maximum stability and a deep, deep midnight blue paint job with a hand-painted moon.

26 inch wheels work much better than 700C on smaller frames. This not only keeps things proportionate but also provides the wheel clearances necessary for good front end touring geometry.

Going Dutch: The Littleford Mixte

Dutch bikes have charm. They’re comfortable. They tend to be heavy, but Holland is flat… so who minds? South Carolina isn’t quite so flat- so this mixte weighs in at a respectable 28 pounds, and is equipped with a Nuvinci Continuously Variable Transmission- which takes the individual gears out of the drive train and replaces them with a smooth and buttery continuum of ratios. The frame is equipped with removable front and rear racks and a similarly detachable front basket. Gearing and rear brake routing is fully internal.  Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, while not typical of a traditional design, were chosen for their combination of excellent stopping power, simplicity of design, and ease of maintenance.

The hub provides seamless and intuitive shifting without any skips or jumps, and is virtually maintenance free. The heft of the five pound hub is partly offset by the weight savings in not having chainrings, cassettes or derailleurs. The large Wald basket comes with a removable, insulated zip-up bag. All three are made in America. Hooray!

The lower rack rails allow panniers to sit low over the wheel, increasing stability without interfering with the disc brake caliper.

Overlapping seat stays increase rigidity, and provide a convenient route for the internal gear cables and rear brake cable- which travels inside the non-drive seat stay and exits just above the rear brake.

The Nuvinci uses two gear cables, one for each control direction. Brass cable housings run inside the top tube, into the seat stays, and all the way down to the exit ports just in front of the hub.

The minimalist rear rack uses the second set of seat stays as rack struts, which saves some weight. The fender attaches directly to the rear cross member of the rack platform.

Jon’s daily driver 3.0

My daily ride was due for revision. It was high time I brought it up to speed with some more current Littleford features. I rebuilt the rear rack, updated the horizontal rack struts to mount through the seat stays, and made all of the attachment points on the frame and racks stainless steel. I also built an integrated front low-rider rack (not shown) for heavy touring and installed eyelets on the outsides of the fork crown to accommodate a future randonneuring style platform rack. Later I added a detachable wooden trunk for around town use. This is my shop delivery vehicle and full-on touring bike as well as my daily driver. It receives no special treatment, and in fact probably takes a little extra abuse for being the boss’s kid, but even with the nicks, scrapes and scratches of a full time job it’s still a rugged good-looker today.

I chose a deep red color to highlight natural leather tone of the Brooks B-17 Select saddle.

The rear rack was rebuilt using the now standard integrated flush mount, along with a modified front rail to better accommodate and protect the centerpull cable stop.

The lugs feature a four toned color theme. This time fading the deep red fades to a bright flame before it meets a highlight of neutral tan. The combination gives the shorelines a warm glow.

The S&S couplings allow easy transport by suitcase when the bike is collapsed. The rear brake cable is pulled through the split housing inside the top tube, while the bare derailleur cables have their own couplers to disconnect just above the bottom bracket.

For around town I thought it would be nice to have a trunk, so I wouldn’t need to haul a pannier around to carry my tools, u-lock, tire pump, raingear and/or an occasional bottle of scotch.

Inspired by a teardrop trailer, the rounded-top box is constructed of corner molding and 1/8″ birch plywood. It features a removable tool shelf and weighs about two pounds.

The locking mechanism is a weatherproof push latch from a truck bed tool box, with fabricated actuation. Details of the construction process can be found here, in the shop journal.

Oregon Manifest 2011

In addition to the contest requirements (a security mechanism, fenders, front and rear lighting, reasonable cargo capacity, and the ability to free-stand under load) the Team Littleford entry also featured some proprietary touches. As on all Littlefords, both front and rear racks are detachable. The front rack sports a platform plus center-pivoting rails for custom Philosophy panniers. When unlatched the bags automatically swing outward for easy access. The wooden rack platforms were salvaged from a thrift store find; a 1970′s waterski board. A hidden latch (below the left rail of the rear rack) opens the hinged rear platform to access a discreet u-lock holster and glove box underneath.

Littleford bicycles teamed up with Philosophy Bags and customer/designer Aaron Kaffen for the ultimate utilitarian mission; Oregon Manifest . Other bike shows and events have traditional been all about visual appeal, often at the expense of utility. This bike was our collective take on what’s been missing from that paradigm.

The opened lid reveals a self-securing u-lock holder and a handy glove compartment.

  • The rear brake cable is routed internally through the top tube, seat stay, and brake bridge. A length of brass tubing ensures smooth brake cable movement.

The front rack features a matching platform that, along with the pannier rails, covers and protects the headlight

Wiring is routed through guides on the frame and fork, and inside the outer lip of the fenders.

The lugs are highlighted with a liner brush; Three subtle shades of brown and one blue.

We cut cut and planed the basic shapes of the boards at Troy’s workshop in Camas, WA.

Cheryll’s Custom De Luxe

While I’m happy to help develop even the foggiest vision of a customer’s dream bike, sometimes that vision arrives more or less intact. Cheryll knew just what she wanted. She mailed me the bright green and fuchsia color samples, and I determined her frame geometry from her measurements, insight and photos; two of her riding different bikes and one side view of a stationary bike that she had found particularly comfortable. (It allowed for a more upright posture than any road bike she could find.) The end result was just what she was looking for… crafted and delivered from 2000 miles away.

Equipped with a now standard detachable integrated rack, the frame utilizes a subtle combination of a sloping top tube, extended head tube and tall Nitto stem to bring the bars WAY UP without sacrificing any good looks.

The chainstay lettering and graphics are hand painted under a shimmery hotrod sparkle mid coat.

The bar covers are sewn elk hide. Also featured, Stainless Berhoud fenders & Lumotec headlight that turns itself on at dusk.

The Schmidt dyno-hub mounts in a specially built fork, so the electrical connection is automatically made with insertion of the front wheel.

Wiring is completely internal, except for a short length behind the fork crown, where quick disconnects allow for easy fork removal.

Matt’s Sleek & Seventies All-Arounder

Matt’s commuter is a mix of modern and classic. The fillet brazed frame and 3 x 8 speed drive train is more contemporary, while the center-pull brakes and burnt orange paint scheme give a 70′s feel. The sporty frame is built to tour should the need arise, with a 73 degree head tube, 45 mm chain stays, ample fender clearance, and rear and low rider rack eyelets.

Craig’s Classic Roadie

This is Craig’s light and snappy sport tourer. In order to complement his well-used vintage Campagnolo components, I went for a classic feel with old-fashioned steel road geometry and a pearly antique silver paint job. The lower bottom bracket, longer chain stays, and overlapping seat stays keep things comfortable and perfectly functional for long-hauling. This bike was the first Littleford to feature a completely integrated rear rack. The horizontal support struts mount flush to the seat stays, discretely fastened by allen bolts from the underside of the stays. When the rack is removed there are only two small tunnels remaining. (Coming soon; integrated deer whistles!)