When it comes to custom touring bikes, Joseph Ahearne really knows how build something that piques my interest. A strong attention to detail seems to be the key, and that’s essentially what the Ahearne reputation is built on.
The perfect example of Joseph’s attention to detail is the stainless steel touring bike that he built for the North American Handmade Bike Show a few years back. He spent six weeks designing and fabricating, working 12 hours each day to put together that exquisite custom bike.
A few other things that happen to turn me on: the colour orange, horizontal top tubes, colour matched fenders/racks/stem, fillet brazing, bicycle headbadges, Rohloff internally geared hubs and Gates Carbon drivetrains. This bike ticks all the boxes.
This “Eddy Merckx” orange touring bike with navy blue details is constructed using steel tubing. Rather than welding the frame together, Joseph has fillet-brazed it together, a process that connects the tubing together using a bronze rod. As the bronze is soft when heated, the frame junctions can all be sculpted smooth, resulting in a gorgeous finish.
The frame features extensive internal cable routing, including modified fenders to help conceal the dynamo light cables.
A centre-mount kickstand adds a level of practicality to this bike because sometimes you just want to park your touring bike where it is. Three bidon mounts plus a colour-matched pump behind the seat tube add even more touring functionality.
The Gates Carbon drivetrain is a bit of a winner, or so I’ve found. I completed over 30,000km of silent riding before snapping my first belt – hopefully the lucky owner of this bike gets similar longevity. Couple this drivetrain with the 14 speed Rohloff hub and you’re in for an almost maintenance-free touring bike. Stainless steel pitlocks have been added to the front and rear wheels to ensure that the wheels cannot go missing. To remove the wheels a thief would need 1 of 256 different keys!
Joseph Ahearne constructed the front and rear racks for this touring bike too. As they are entirely custom, there’s nothing to adjust, they just bolt perfectly in place to provide a really clean look. The orange powdercoat won’t last long, but there’s no reason why they can’t get a paint refresh after a few tours.
A Schmidt dynamo hub and Busch & Muller IQ2 light are used up front which offer enough light to see, as well as USB charging under the stem. The owner of this touring bike could technically head out for a few days at a time and generate enough power to keep a range of devices charged. Dynamo hubs are great, aren’t they?
The twin plate fork crown harks back to the first bicycles of the late-1800s. This simple design is rarely used today, but always looks both classic and elegant. I can’t help but think a lick of blue paint between the plates would better highlight this feature. Although the pictures don’t show it well, the Ahearne headbadge is stunning.
The bike squeezes in 27 x 2.2″ rubber in the form of the off-road Vittoria AKA tyres which are slow moving, but as grippy as it gets on dirt roads. The fenders sit close rather close to the tyres, but shouldn’t be a problem provided the owner steers clear of mud.
On the handlebar you’ll notice a Co-Motion Rohloff Twist Shifter, a neat solution for Rohloff bikes with road handlebars.
The finished bike is complete with Paul Clamper brakes, a Gilles Berthoud saddle, Sugino cranks and Shimano touring pedals.