NAHBS 2014: Modern Classics from Ellis Cycles & Rich Adams


Ellis Cycles’ Dave Wages continued his tradition of very traditional looking road bikes with all but invisible touches that make them thoroughly modern. This year, he also showed off a fat bike so pretty it’d almost be a shame to get it dirty. Almost. And it won for Best Fillet Brazed Bike. Click through and you’ll see why.

His road bikes received updates, particularly for the newer versions of Di2, and he’s offering some retro tubing options while supplies last. Roll on for pics and details, plus a look at Rich Adams’ collection…


Some of the smoothest joints we’ve seen. Apparently some of the best the judges had ever seen, too.


Mmmmm hmmmm.


The Strada is Ellis’ standard road frame design. This white one uses new old stock of Columbus SLX tubing. It’s a thinner diameter, standard gauge tube and is left over from Waterford. For those with a bit nostalgia for premium road bikes from the 80’s, he’s building with it until it runs out. He’s got enough to make only about 25 more bikes. Base price is $2,600 for a frame and fork, which is actually his least expensive bike.



This Strada’s highlight was the paint, which had subtle chainrings masked and painted into the shimmery white sections:


It was also a nice showcase for his dropout process. Stainless used for all bosses and mounts, anywhere metal will contact metal, like the dropouts.


The rear dropouts have an extended section of bare stainless steel where the axle is likely to make contact when inserting the wheel. This eliminates scratched paint anywhere, even if you will rarely ever see this part of your bike.


This Strada showed his updated Di2 routing.


Note the entry point under the top tube, directly below the brake entry point. This makes it all but invisible when the wire’s wrapped alongside the brake cable housing.


The new Di2 front derailleur puts the wire entry on the rear (first gen Ultegra Di2 is on the top front, facing forward). So he moved the wire port around toward the back so it’s all but hidden behind the derailleur.



Rich Adams graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in Materials Science, but eventually followed his passion and started his namesake frame building brand. He also owns a bike shop called Around Town Bicycles.


The Lehigh Bicycle celebrates his history and the proceeds from the $5,500 ride go back to the university. Frameset is $3,300. It’s made with True Temper OX Platinum tubing and painted by Todd Eroh. Each one will get the customers’ signature and graduation year on the top tube. He also builds complete custom bikes for everything from road to ‘cross to mountain bikes and more. He even lists one as simply “Hipster”. And it’s available with disc brakes. Nice.


His 650B hardtail mountain bike uses double butted chromoly tubing with plenty of Paragon parts.


The direct mount front derailleur attachment option is rather nice and improves tire clearance for up to 2.4 rubber.


His “Shop Bike Cycle Truck” runs the secondary top tubes straight under the front rack, supporting the load and keeping it separate from the steering.


That massive front basket comes from Baskets by Emily, and the wood chain guard is by Cody Davis’ Woody’s Fenders in Bend, OR.


Dan - 04/03/14 - 11:11am

Dave’s craftsmanship with his Ellis frames is unreal; I couldn’t believe the attention to detail. He is definitely one of the best builders in the marketplace.

Mike - 04/03/14 - 4:53pm

That blue Ellis is almost too nice to ride.

If you like fillet brazing, you should check out Shand.

David Ellis Wages - 04/03/14 - 5:39pm

Thanks for the article and the love for my Ellis bikes, I just wanted to make one quick correction. The white bike shown above is my Modern Classic, which has oversize tubing and pretty much every bell and whistle that I offer, it’s priced at $6500 for the frame and fork. That said, the green Strada will ride every bit as good as the Modern Classic, the “bling” is pretty much all aesthetic touches. The blue bike in the article is my Strada SLX, which uses NOS Columbus SLX tubing and it starts at $2600 for a single color frame and fork, although the pictured bike has a pretty amazing paint job that adds significantly to the final price. Thanks to everyone who stopped by at NAHBS and checked out the Ellis’!

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