Travel Gifford

On my last blog post I mentioned a secret project.  I built an adventure touring bike (basically the same geometry as Gifford) that uses S&S couplers to make travel easier while waiting for the dropouts to arrive for my other frame project.  I’m really happy with how this one came out, especially since I started it only 4 weeks ago.  This also makes it the first complete bicycle to come off of my new frame fixture.

As I mentioned it is very similar to Gifford.  The head tube angle is 73 degrees and the seat tube angle is 72.5 degrees.  It is built for 26″ (559mm) wheels because they pack a bit more easily into S&S cases and it will be easier to find replacement tires in foreign countries.  There is tons of tire clearance, the photos here show it with 50mm knobby tires and fenders will fit above those.  I’ll probably run it with 45mm or so slicks most of the time.  The 60mm knobby tires from my mountain bike even fit.

The frame is a bit larger than the other Gifford to make it on the slightly large size for me and to make it fit many of my taller friends who might use this as a loaner bike.  Sizing is about the same as a 60cm Long Haul Trucker.  This one is also built with derailleurs instead of a Rohloff hub to keep costs down.  Tubing is similar to the first Gifford, Columbus SL (standard diameter 9/6/9) front triangle, the same Nova single bend chainstays, and some True Temper oversized seatstays that looked good to my eye.

It will eventually get a coupled porteur rack to go along with it.  It is shown here only partially assembled because my friend Andre is going to do the rest of the assembly and give it a test ride.  He is interested in this style of bike and is waiting for the next batch of Rawlands rSogn frames to be made.  In the meantime he’ll get to use this one for a few months.

Lots of tire clearance up front under the Pacenti Biplane crown

Lots of tire clearance in back too. The oversized double taper seatstays will make the braking firm.

The seatstay cluster is fairly plain, but gets the job done. This is the trickiest part of the bike for me to get right.

Single bend chainstays clear 48/38/24 chainrings (barely) and provide good tire clearance.

There are more photos on my smugmug site.

I’m going to be asked how I got the S&S couplers.  These were removed from a damaged frame  but where the couplers were intact.  I cleaned them up carefully and reused them.  It would be nice if S&S sold them to hobbyists, but I understand why they don’t.  I really enjoyed working with the couplers, they must be the most precise lugs ever made.  The fit was perfect and they have very nicely tapered edges.  I inserted the couplers into my downtube and toptube before they were brazed into the frame, but after the tubes were mitered and fit to my jig.  That method seemed to work nicely for me, and the couplers have perfect alignment.

I’m really excited to get this one on the road.  I have a bit of travel coming up soon and may bring the bike with me, even though I hadn’t really planned on bringing a bike.  In the meantime I look forward to hearing what Andre has to say about the ride.


  1. James Black says:

    Fantastic! Another successful execution of a clear design concept.

  2. David G in Madison WI says:

    Super awesome bike. Reading about your projects is great fun.

  3. DA in CA says:

    Alex, what a great bike! Your work always impresses me. My dream custom is quite similar to this. Will you be trying the Compass 26″ tire on it

  4. [...] a filet brazed frame with S&S couplers and a killer fork crown. More images can be seen on his blog and his smugmug. This post is deep into the Want category. Advertisement [...]

  5. Alex says:

    great looking and useful bike! I”m reminded of Velotraum here in Germany: Stefan Stiener has been pushing 559 for years now, and although the frame aesthetic is more European and functional than is usually the case in N America, Velotraum products show how incredibly versatile tire size 559 can be.

  6. Jim G says:

    WOW. WANT. This is what the 559 Kogswell P/R should”ve been!

  7. Christian "bergersworth" Berger says:

    Nice work. Thanks for posting – keep it up. That fork looks like it has a lot of bend in it.

  8. David says:

    The fork bend is wonderful. That’’s my favorite part of a bike and you pulled it perfectly!

  9. Daus says:

    Yeah, that’’s pretty much all sorts of awesome all packaged into one steel frame. Nice score on the S&S couplers!


  10. Garrett Belmont says:

    Wow, beautiful! I want!

  11. Rick Moffat says:

    I”ve read and followed your writings for some time and I feel that you know your stuff, but can you discuss the saddle position on this bike as it’’s shown? It looks a bit unusual to have the saddle slammed back so far. Is this the typical setup that you employ with the particular saddle/seatpost that you like? Is the ST angle on this bike steeper then what you normally use? Just wondering. BTW..a very handsome and practical frame.


    Rick Moffat

  12. Justin says:

    Alex, this is really nice. One question: Have you given any thought to incorporating some sort of integrated saddlebag support on your frames? This could be a nice feature on a bike conceived for this sort of riding. Justin

  13. Alex Wetmore says:


    The bike wasn”t assembled for riding (note that there aren”t any brakes yet either). The saddle was just pulled off of my tandem after a very tall stoker had ridden it, and he had the saddle slammed that far back. I moved it up about 4cm when I rode it.


  14. Alex Wetmore says:


    I don”t use saddle bags very often, so I haven”t considered it. This bike also miles of space in between the saddle and tire, so a support wouldn”t be necessary. If I did make such a rack it would need to pack flat so that it could easily go into the travel case. I will make a flat pack small porteur rack for the bike when I get back into the workshop.


  15. Rob Harrison says:

    Hi Alex,

    Beautiful! Really nice proportions. I”m waiting for my XL rSogn too. In the meantime I”ve been fooling around a bit with a nice old Bridgestone MB-3, riding it back to back with my 650b Saluki. Once your friend’’s rSogn arrives it”ll be interesting to hear how your new bike compares with the rSogn. I wonder how much difference the 26″ vs 650b wheels will make.


  16. Andrew says:

    Alex, I just steered Scott G in the direction of the shop that Scott S (from Melbourne, who visited Seattle not that long ago and met you) works at.

    We weren”t able to meet in Seattle when I was there in 2009, but I”m looking forward to checking this bike out in the steel in a couple of days!

  17. Alex Wetmore says:

    Small world! I hope you get to see the bike later on this week.

  18. Gifford H says:

    Alex, why did you choose the name Gifford? Curious since that’’s my first name. Is it named after Gifford Pinchot?

  19. Alex Wetmore says:

    Yup. has the tiny little mention of it.

  20. Andrew says:

    We have hung out a number of times. The bike is very rad.

    Scott took it out for 80km of hilly gravel riding yesterday with us: