Funny enough, we paired last year’s show coverage of Ellis’ booth with Gaulzetti’s in a roundup, but the brands couldn’t be more different. Ellis’ style is classical, with an eye for subtle flair and small steel tubing, making gravel/rando and road bikes that would have looked perfectly at home fifty years ago. Well, except for the 11-speed groups and modern tube sets! Here’s what builder David Wages has been up to…
Bikerumor: What materials do you build with? Which is your favorite and why?
Ellis: I build with steel and stainless steel, and it’s not because steel bikes are better than everything else on the market, it’s simply because steel fabrication is my area of expertise and because I feel like the huge variety of steel tubes that are currently available allow me to build a bike for pretty much anyone and any purpose. The beauty of what I do is that every frame is built for a specific customer, so I can choose each individual tube based on their size, weight, ride preference, and really “tune” the ride of the bike. One of the engineers that I worked with at Serotta had a great saying, “there are no bad materials, only bad applications”, so my goal is for my steel bikes not to fall into the “bad applications” category.
Bikerumor: What have you been working on since NAHBS last year?
Ellis: Not a ton of changes, I have been taking quite a few orders for bikes with polished stainless accents, or tubes, which are a specialty of mine. I’ve also been working on some prototype disc brake forks, trying to make sure everything is dialed in with them before I start offering them to my customers. That has entailed building a new bending ramp so the bend in the blade mates up better with the disc tab and then plenty of testing to make sure it’s up to snuff functionally and rides the way I want.
Bikerumor: Any killer custom bike builds?
Ellis: I built a Modern Classic, (the same model that won “Best Lugged Frame in 2009”) that really turned out stunning from the stainless rear triangle, polished head lugs and chrome fork to the stunning paint job that Jason Sanchez laid down to the top notch Campy Super Record 11 group that I hung on it, I think it’s a jaw dropper. That said, this kind of feels like choosing which of your kids you like best…
Bikerumor: Did you see anything at NAHBS last year that’s inspired you?
Ellis: Honestly, I barely get a chance to walk around at NAHBS, I spend almost every moment in my own booth because I simply don’t want to miss talking with folks who are interested in my bikes. By the time the doors close every day I’m exhausted, but while the show is going on, I barely notice the time because I really do get excited to show folks the bikes and get their ideas and feedback.
Bikerumor: What are you bringing to the show this year that’ll have every other builder standing slack jawed in awe?
Ellis: I guess I can’t comment on whether anyone will be slack jawed, but I’m excited about my Strada Fango monstercross bike, it’s a drop bar cross bike designed to allow wider (29 x 2.0″) tires, and it’ll feature my new disc brake fork and internally wired Di2 shifting. I’m not sure if I’m more excited to show this one or ride it! I’ll also have a super shiny rando/dirt road bike and a couple subtly beautiful (imo) road bikes…
Bikerumor: Scenario – A customer commissions you and one other builder to create the ultimate bicycle using the same parameters, same base material and same budget in an Iron Chef style competition. Who would you want to build against that would push you and elevate your game?
Ellis: Huh, that’s a good one. I guess without sounding like an arrogant prick, I think push myself as hard as any of my competitors to build better and better bikes every time I pick up the torch. I’m constantly searching for ways to make the bikes lighter, more comfortable, functional and in the end, enjoyable to ride.