Handmade Spotlight: Craig Calfee – The Carbon Maestro

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Sure the North American Handmade Bicycle Show is still a few months away, but you know how life is, time can speed by like the peloton on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and the next thing you know the show is over and you missed out. For that reason it’s worth your time to mark February 16-18 on the calendar as the days you should try your best to be in Hartford, CT for the 14th annual running of what is undoubtedly the most mesmerizing bike show on the planet.

In the run-up to the show, we’ll be posting an ongoing gallery of some of the beautiful bikes we’ve seen over the year…starting with one of our all-time faves – Craig Calfee.

Calfee is as well known as a pioneer carbon frame builder as his is a pioneer in new genres. This is an early RBA gravel project bike (as evidenced by the Avid cable-pull disc brakes) that he built for us four years ago.

Since the late 80’s, Calfee and his Calfee Designs factory has been churning out ingeniously designed and beautifully crafted carbon road bikes – none which received as much acclaim as the pioneering carbon bikes he made for Greg LeMond and Team Z for the 1991 Tour de France.

This Luna Pro was one of the most beautiful bikes we tested in 2017. With it’s webbed lugs – all handmade- the Luna as a unique look with a ride best described as sublime.

 

The always crafty Calfee turned heads when he brought a modern version of the bike he built for Greg LeMond in 1991 to NAHBS to remind everyone that despite his pioneer status as a carbon builder, the tradition carries on today with a variety of  bikes to suit every taste and need; touring, tandems, gravel and road racing.

 

This was the first version of the Manta Pro that used a simple rear suspension design to bring the rider added compliance. Note the tension bars under the chainstay that helped the system deliver the smooth ride.
Like both the Trek Domane and Cannondale Synapse, the added rear-end compliance of the Calfee helped soak-up road imperfections and provide both added traction and compliance.

 

Always with an eye towards evolving the design and ride quality of his bikes, Craig sent us this updated version of the Manta Pro, this one with a definite slant for gravel riding that used an improved spring design for the rear shock and it was a definite improvement.

 

Close-up photos are the best way to point out the level of detailed craftsmanship that goes into building each bike at Calfee’s NorCal factory. Simply stunning!

 

 

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