This was the first bit of commentary slung my way when I posted a photo on June 18th of a big brown shipping box, and announced that “my travel companion to Italia has arrived.” I could back this story up to another time marked by giddy excitement when exactly six months earlier to the day, my first big brown shipping box arrived from Allied Cycle Works.

And while to some these two big brown boxes may seem the same, like any siblings of the human variety born into this world, in my eyes these ‘siblings’ couldn’t be more different.

Open box. Insert seat post. Add pedals. Install front wheel. Ready to ride.

From personality to looks to build, what went into each is unique. I shared my inspiration with the team at Allied and they worked with me to bring my vision(s) to life.

This is the story of my Alfa Disc. The latest arrival, and my first new pure road bike in eight years. My travel companion to ride the roads of Italy, Slovenia, and Austria this summer — and to tackle thousands of miles who knows where when I return.

There is something special knowing that a small, well-regarded team in Little Rock, Arkansas built it by hand. They build every Allied frame and fork by hand right here in the USA. I followed the build of my bike from start to finish, and I get to share a few images here of the process.

Just how is a handmade carbon fiber bicycle born? Here goes.

First composite layer on the mold and main bladder installation / Preforms that will make the frame, and air chucks installation. (Bottom bracket, top tube, seat tube and down tube installation in the mold) / Final quality assurance before the mold is closed
The mold is closed and ready to be heat pressed / The frame being molded/cured/cooked in the heat press. It’s pressed to 25 tons and cooked to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees for approximately 1 hour / The frame mold is removed from the heat press and is ready to be opened

Just like a perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, the frame is now fully cooked and cured, and can be removed from the mold. Quality assurance happens for the frame at this stage, which probably isn’t nearly as fun (or tasty) as a warm cookie out of the oven. Cue glass of milk.

Opening the frame mold / Quality assurance. Mmmm. Tasty. / At this stage, the frame is completely removed from the mold
The frame is then cleaned, de-flashed, and the internal bladder is removed. This is considered to be the true “birth” of the Alfa frame. Hallelujah!

The next few photos really started to drive my vision for what the finished bike was going to look like. I was intrigued by its sheer nakedness. By the craftsmanship that had gone into it. By the visible seams, joints, and textures.

And by the ‘rawness’ of the frame in this state.

The frame has been sanded, prepped, and it’s on the jig ready for bonding. The chain stays and seat stays will then be bonded to the frame. / The frame jig holds the geometry of the specific frame size (in my case a 52+), so the epoxy dries in the correct angles/shape of the triangles.

When it came time to hit paint booth, I had a big decision to make. Allied has so many extraordinary paint colors to choose from, and plenty that would knock my socks off, but in talking to Tony (co-founder of Allied), he told me about a prototype finish they were working on to release later this year.

Some stunning colorways coming down the pike where the new finish will be applied, but I pitched an idea back to Tony. Combine what I was ultimately envisioning, yet still integrate their new prototype finish = one-of-a-kind.

It wouldn’t be all about a hot new, flashy color. Nor about an intricate design. It would be about the simple beauty of the bike. The innocence of the hand-built, carbon fiber, made in America frame. It would say fast, sexy, stealth, sophisticated, and timeless. And it would have just a slight edge.

The devil is in the details. How could I shine a subtle light on what I had come to love about the simple, raw, carbon fiber artistry of the Alfa frameset, while introducing my favorite color and giving this pure road machine a unique twist?

I wanted to marry the class of Audrey Hepburn with the high-performance of a race car. I landed on applying Allied’s yet-to-be-released prototype ‘fade’ finish to bright silver through onyx — leaving the majority of the bike in its naked carbon state but for a silver pearl top coat, chrome branding, and just a hint of orange (excuse me, mango…) courtesy of Chris King Precision Components.

“Go Mango. We haven’t done one of those before and it would be awesome.” — Tony Karklins, Co-Founder, & Managing Director, Allied Cycle Works

And just like that — out of that big brown box came the first Allied Alfa in Idaho. It’s only logged about 50 miles in its first couple of days on the roads around Boise, but it’s ready to tackle anything thrown its way.

Here’s to the thousands of miles ahead out there on the road with the buzz of the Chris King hub in my wheel. And to knowing every time I look down and see those seams, joints, and texture under the shiny pearl coat; that my Allied Alfa was hand-built by a small team here in the U.S.A. who are as passionate about cycling as I am. Thank you, Allied.

T-minus 19 days to Valbruna, Italy.

2018 Road Bike Editors’ Choice Winner
“This American-made masterpiece evokes the handling and feel of an old-school steel racer in a carbon frame with the weight, stiffness, and performance of a fully modern machine. The ride is crisp and energetic, but without the sometimes raw feel of pure race bikes. It’s stiff and damped, with a connected-but-insulated ride character that evokes a fine grand-touring car. In fit, feel, and function, this Arkansas-born bike finds a near-perfect balance between race and endurance.”Joe Lindsey, Bicycling Magazine

#allied #alliedalfa #madehere #builthere #chriskingbuzz #ridemore #yearofhellyes

A life lived all-in.

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