Since 2012, our Bikes of the Bunch series has covered a staggering number of unique and stunning examples of craftsmanship, careful thought and personal details. The bikes covered must be something special — whether that’s due to a personal connection, or simply because they stand out within the local bunch.
But which one is best?
That’s highly subjective, of course. So we decided we should put it to you. CyclingTips editors whittled the long list down to eight of our favourite bikes, and now it’s up to you to decide the best Bike of the Bunch.
How it Works
Through a college basketball, bracket-like showdown, the eight bikes will be matched up against each other and you can vote on the match-ups over on the CyclingTips Instagram story. We will have one match-up each day, and the bikes with the most votes will move on to the next round until we have found the best bike of the bunch.
Check out the line up below and cast your votes on the CyclingTips Instagram stories starting today.
Without further ado, here are the contenders:
2016 Colnago Arabesque
This bike is gold.
Yep, that’s real 24K gold plating covering many of the components, including the rims and cassette. And no, it’s not really rideable in its pictured state.
However, this isn’t simply a story of a showy gold bike destined as a living-room talking piece, even though its owner has three dozen other beautiful Italian steeds with only this one earning a place within the house instead of the garage.
No, the real story here is that this bike-turned-artwork was actually put together with a bunch of truly trashed components. Restored, brought back to better than new, and turned into something even more timeless. More importantly, with a swap of the wheels, it can be ridden. Certainly this 2016 Colnago Arabesque is one of a kind, built for a purveyor of Colnagos, and yet another stunning example of the work Chris Howard of CycloRetro is capable of.
Zullo ’91 and Shimano’s Dura-Ace 25th Anniversary groupset
Stefan from Vive le Vélo! shared another bike with us from his collection. It’s a classic steel bike made by Zullo with a unique (and quite stunning) edition of Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset.
Shimano released the first Dura-Ace groupset in 1973 with the lofty goal of challenging the supremacy of European component manufacturers, especially Campagnolo. At that stage, Shimano had been operating for over 50 years, but it had never taken serious aim at road racers. We now know there was plenty more innovation and refinement ahead for Dura-Ace, but in 1998, Shimano took a moment to celebrate an important milestone for the groupset — the 25th anniversary of its inception — by creating a special edition of 7700.
Stefan discovered Zullo some years ago, and with a pair of Tiziano’s contemporary creations in his collection (a Vergine, which is made from Columbus XCr and a Pantarei), it’s clear that he admires the Italian’s work. On this occasion, it was the lugged Tour ’91 that caught his attention, and upon reflection, it seemed the perfect platform for putting the Dura-Ace anniversary groupset on display.
Firefly Titanium Disc Road
It’s a bike so nice, it doesn’t want to be ridden …
It was some 16 months ago that Sydneysider Joel Lidden placed the order on what was to be his new ride-all-day road bike. It would be an impatient wait as the raw titanium tubes-turned-one-off machine made their way from Firefly’s Boston-based workshop to Lidden’s hands in Sydney. This bike of dreams was finally ready for its maiden voyage, or so Lidden thought.
The day before first riding the Firefly Lidden was met with an overwhelming pain in his knee. Six years of cycling and many years before that of competitive soccer had never resulted in an injury. But just as the new bike arrived so did the pain. So, for now, Lidden can give no early ride impression and he can’t tell us what he’d like to change about the bike, if anything. He just wants to ride the thing. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the mastery that was born from nearly two years of planning.
Engin Cycles ultimate titanium road bike
Drew Guldalian officially started Engin Cycles in 2005, in a small stone-walled space that his grandfather had built decades earlier, right behind the bike shop. Initially, Engin exclusively offered steel frames, but gradually transitioned to titanium. And along the way, that obsessive personality drove Guldalian to bring more and more of the manufacturing process in-house. Much of the design work on those components was done in collaboration with freelance engineer and machinist Peter Verdone (his day job is at San Francisco State University).
“I try to make a bike that has absolutely zero compromise,” he said. “I admit it; I’m ridiculously obsessive about what it is that I’m putting out there, but this has to be done the way I want it to be done.”
Legor Cicli Nuiorksiti+
The life of a pro cyclist. Train and race your heart out. Show promise. Train your heart out even more. Get some results. And then, if it all works out, leave everything you know to go live in a foreign place like Andorra, Lugano, or Girona, simply to focus, repeat and better the cycle.
But what if there is no promise of a pro contract, and rather, the allure of the lifestyle is simply too much to ignore? Professional photographer and former Sydney-sider, Tristan Cardew, did just this. He left his thriving wedding photography business and life behind in Sydney and settled in Girona, riding every day and finding local work along the way.
We take a look at Tristan’s Legor Cicli steel ride, a bike that has seen in excess of 16,000km of use in its first seven months of existence.
Parlee Z-Zero Disc
As an owner of many nice bikes, Sydney-based rider Peter Howie is insistent on one selection criteria: each new bike has to be noticeably different than the last. Coming back from a separated clavicle, Howie’s custom Mosaic just didn’t fit him the same anymore, and so, the quest for the next perfect bike restarted. There was already a very light Cannondale CAAD12 Disc, a Spooky, and the Mosaic in the fleet, so why not try a carbon bike again?
Dave Rome caught up with Howie and the bike’s builder, Zak Smiley of Skunkworks, at the Makers Show in Sydney, this past weekend. Shot in a gloomy inner-city alleyway, the custom Parlee is a contrast to the beat-up commuters, rubbish bins, and old cars that fill the gutters.
Darren Baum’s Orbis Titanium Road Disc
It’s quite unusual for a rider to have the skills to build their own frame let alone make a successful business out of it. Yet that’s what Darren Baum has been doing for the last 20 years. We take a look at Darren’s new road bike and get his thoughts on disc brakes for the road.
The Orbis, a titanium road disc frame that wass the newest addition to Baum’s catalogue. At face value, it may be just another in a long line of new releases built to satisfy the growing road disc market, however it was a bike that Darren had been waiting to build for quite some time. Indeed, he describes the drive behind the Orbis as very personal.
Bianchi Oltre XR2 Reincarnated
We take a look at a well-loved, and well-used Bianchi Oltre XR2 that was recently given a new lease of life. The bike’s owner Adam Marshall hails from the UK and is the owner of boutique clothing brand We Can Be.
“It was mid-2018 when I finally understood the situation. I got an Instagram message from Tom at Kustomflow and we got talking about kit, bikes, customisation etc (I own We Can Be, an independent cycling clothing brand also based in the UK). It was at that point that I realised I didn’t need a new bike, I needed to give my old bike a new lease of life.”
Head over to the CyclingTips Instagram to vote on each day’s matchup.
About Bikes of the Bunch: In this long-running series of features, we highlight a variety of beautiful bikes and tell the stories behind them. While there are a lot of exotic (and expensive) examples in this collection (see below), there are some stirring stories from their owners that prove that there is more to a great bike than the amount of money spent on it. See more Bikes of the Bunch here.