Calfee Factory Tour: Part Two – Bikes of Carbon, Bamboo & Other
While walking around Calfee’s factory, the lessons on how they make their bikes in Part One were interspersed with bikes they’ve built over the years. Everything from original Lemonds to modern day carbon racers to alcohol fueled wooden nightmares were on display.
Craig Calfee’s built his first carbon bike, above, in 1987. He worked at a boat manufacturer in Boston (sound familiar? Bob Parlee had a similar start!). He broke his bike and wanted to fix it himself. He was already rolling carbon tubes and such for sculls, and this was the result. Not only is it his first bike, but it’s decked out with what they think are the first ever carbon stem and fork! And oh boy do you have to see them…
Craig didn’t just make the frame, he built a fork and stem, too. Yes, he rode this.
It’s comforting knowing he’s progressed from this to the new Manta endurance bike.
I spent quite a few minutes just staring at this, slowly shaking my head in awe.
That is indeed a bolt going through the steerer tube to hold it on.
The carbon seat tube goes all the way through the metal lug, which is itself quite an interesting design.
Are you speechless yet?
In Lemond’s heyday, he was racing bikes built by Calfee.
It’s spec’d in era-appropriate Campy, too, including the seatpost.
More Lemond frames, this one for French National Champion Chris Capelle.
Modern Day Carbon Fiber Bikes
Fast forward to 2013 and you get this amazing Di2-equipped, lugged carbon road bike.
World Cup pinstripes follow the cables and wires throughout the frame, lending a subtle, classy bit of color to the matte-and-gloss black bike.
The Di2 control box is hidden inside the stem with two ports for pushing the button and seeing the light.
Even the chain and derailleur were customized to color match.
Calfee’s Adventure Road Bike is a popular seller. Notice anything different about this one?
It’s a standard 700c frame, but they used 650-sized wheels and fat 650×42 tires to get virtually the same outside tire diameter. So, you keep the larger rolling surface but add a lot of air volume. Win/win for an offroad gravel racer!
Wood & Bamboo Bikes
This one was shown at NAHBS and was a precursor to the Manta. They used the oversized bamboo tubes to hide the EPS battery and fit the Look ZED crankset, both of which are on the new carbon bike.
The charging port for the Campagnolo EPS battery is just above the crankset. Like the Manta, this one had a disassembled battery/circuit board to make it small enough to fit inside the frame.
While the bikes pictured here don’t represent it well, a LOT of the bicycles on hand were rolling on Lightweights. Michael Moore, Calfee’s Sales Manager, says they’re now the domestic service center for Lightweight Wheels thanks to a partnership with Lightweight USA. Now, wheels that need warranty work or other service will come here rather than have to go all the way back to Germany. Craig Calfee will be training at their factory to learn more about them.
This wood bike was made from a fallen tree branch marketing manager Steve Chang found nearby:
On the table were plenty of leftovers and other pieces of wood for future projects.
Bamboosero is their other brand, with frames built by folks in poor areas that Calfee trains. Some frames are kept local to help improve mobility and enhance the workforce, others are brought back to the states for sale. The Go Rider is an adaptable, do-anything bamboo bike that can be built to serve local conditions best. This fat tired cargo bike is just one example.
Prototypes and Other Things
This time trial bike was just laying against a pile of boxes, as if it had nowhere better to be.
Thanks to an external steerer tube, the entire front profile is wicked thin.
Tiny bearings make it all possible. Kinda reminds us of Rob English’s personal TT bike.
TT bikes aren’t known for being compliant, but this one had a soft tail.
This little guy was hanging out next to the mold library. It’s shown next to an iPhone 5 for scale.
And this grotesque conglomeration of driftwood and, well, I don’t really know what is simply called the Bachelor Party Bike.
Some employees who shall remain nameless *cough – Craig* ended up in the workshop during a bachelor party, and this happened. Moore says he came into the office in the morning after and there were sleeping bags, bottles, wood shavings and this bike.
It tied for the weirdest/coolest thing I saw with this:
Bullhorn bicycle handlebars and fork? Yes, please! And that frame next to them ain’t too shabby either!
Next up, Part Three – The Gyrocopters. Stay tuned!