NAHBS 2013: Littleford Bicycle’s Bombproof Touring Bike

Littleford Touring Bike Main
As a builder that tours on his bike for anywhere between three days and three months in places like the Mediterranean and eastern Europe, Jon Littleford understands quality and functionality.

With this year’s bike, Littleford crafted not only a beautiful design, but an extreme durable build. Having made frames for five years, this is what Littleford calls his “Prototype Expedition bike”. As his personal bike, it should see many miles. Stylish and fun, this build is packed with all the parts essential for a great tour, or a weekender.

Click through for details…

Littleford Touring Bike Head Badge

The frame is a fairly standard silver brazed chromoly. Coloring was achieved with rust browning finish. After that, a clear matte coat was applied to protect the frame.

Littleford Touring BIke Weld Details
The frame breaks apart with some S&S couplings on the top and down tube. Cable routing runs through the down tube, but the brake cable is routed straight through a brass tube in the frame. When the bike breaks apart, the cable is loosened and when put together again it’s tightened. Littleford always checks his brakes before riding, especially when hauling gear, so maintenance like this isn’t an issue.

Littleford Touring Bike Front Rack Littleford Touring BIke Dynamo Light

The custom front rack is a two piece rig. It bolts to the frame and bolts together in the center right through the dynamo light to prevent thieves from snatching the light. The top bars can be removed from the side racks too. Dynamo cables on both front and rear are run along the rack to keep things clean.
Currently the bike’s running 26 inch wheels, but it’s also compatible with 700c.

Littleford Touring Bike Son Delux Dynamo Hub

Dynamo power comes from a Son Delux hub. All bolts surfaces are a stainless steel including skewers.

Littleford Touring Bike Rear Rack
Fenders are Berthould Stainless steel and are bolted to the frame in many places for extra rigidity.

Littleford Touring Bike Bottle Mount SS CouplingLittleford used some stainless steel Bruce Gordon cable couplers for routing, pretty darn hard to find nowadays, and there are plenty of bottle racks to go around.

Littleford Touring BIke Downtube Compatible Shifting Littleford Touring Bike Head Badge

Bar end shifters can double as down tube shifters in case anything breaks. Littleford doesn’t want to be caught in the middle of nowhere without parts, and he finds that a system like this is much more reliable, and can be fixed on the go in even the most rural bike shops. A Brooks tape, Brooks saddle combo dries quickly for those spontaneous swims while touring.

Comments

Rubens - 02/26/13 - 10:57am

nice

Iowa Cyclist - 02/26/13 - 12:01pm

Nice build. It’s great for builders to showcase what they build for themselves, not for the masses. Need more like this in the world.

Frankie - 02/26/13 - 2:32pm

Very nice bike, but why do they always build touring bikes with drop bars?Most people spend all their time on top of the bars and only bend down to apply there brakes. I tour and find a flat type bar with my levers close
in case of an emergency stop.Is it just because drop bars are more fashionable?

ChrisW - 02/26/13 - 3:04pm

@Frankie. Many people find drop-bars better for touring because they give more of a variety of hand positions than flat bars. Add bar-ends to flat bars and you get about 3 distinct positions. With drop bars you get at least 5 distinct positions. I know many people who’ve complained of pinched nerves in the palms of their hands when touring with flat bars (even when wearing really good gloves), this is far less likely to occur with drop bars. Flat bars are also often too wide for comfortable, long distance riding. Drop bars are a whole lot easier to keep narrow.

It’s true that people don’t frequently use the drops on drop bars, but if the bar height and reach is set up right (i.e., not pretending to be a pro racer, so reasonably high) then it can be a very comfortable position even for long distances. If distance to the brake levers when riding on the top of drop bars is a problem then just add some bar-top / CX brake levers – they work great and add less than 100 grams.

Durrin - 02/27/13 - 1:44am

I tour with drop bars. It’s nice to be able to get out of the wind a bit with the drops. But primarily, I like the multitude of hand positions of drop bars.

Nice detail of (what I assume to be) stainless steel covering on the racks where the panniers would otherwise rub them.

gringo - 02/27/13 - 8:12am

Chris gets it.

jon littleford - 02/27/13 - 3:06pm

Yes, the wear surfaces on the racks and the lettering are brazed stainless steel. (The top tube letters double as a lean & bash guard.)

As for the handlebar choice, Chris is right on the money. I prefer drop bars for comfort and adaptability. For all day riding I particularly recommend Salsa’s Short & Shallow drops. The short reach and shallow drop means a smaller difference in posture between positions- and this is more sustainable over a long day of riding. I like to set bars high enough that the drops are the primary cruise position, while flats and hoods are reserved for rest periods and posture shifts. Also, the S&S bars have a pronounced “bump” in the bar, rather than just a flat spot. The bump distributes upper body weight throughout the palm and helps prevent numbness and those pesky “nerve shocks” that can creep up at the end of the day.

That being said- comfort is a personal experience. If someone knows they prefer flat bars, butterflies, or ape hangers then those are the bars I’ll design and build around.

Joe - 02/28/13 - 3:38pm

Any clues on how much a build like this would cost? Love it!

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