Photography: Gabe Fox
Here at Stinner, we know that the perception of steel bikes is of luxury and opulence, non-performance oriented and old-fashioned. But we're here to tell you that's just not the case. And to prove it, we've partnered with Black Sheep Cycling to put these bikes under racers on the Australian elite racing circuit. Yes, there will be an Australian elite team racing on our steel bikes, the men of steel, Black Sheep | Stinner Racing.
With the help of some of the top U.S. based companies in the cycling industry, these bikes received the exact same custom treatment as any other customer bike. Below, we discuss the technical specification, the builds, the state-of-the-art tubing, and the very special, highly intricate, paint process.
For the Black Sheep | Stinner Racing Team, the bikes had to meet the expectations of some of the most particular cyclists out there: elite level bike racers. We turned to True Temper’s S3 steel tubing to create a high quality, light, and responsive ride. Each bike went through the same considered build process, we wanted to make sure the riders had full trust in their equipment.
Fabrication: This is the first part of the build, and it starts with Stinner Fabricator Devin Jones. The bikes were built with True Temper’s high quality S3 Steel Tubing, meaning the bikes will be light and responsive. Using the information from rider fit data provided by Operations Lead Jeremy Platt, Devin cuts each tube to the specific lengths and miters them to fit and join at requested angles. Good miters ensure tube junctions are tight and precise. The angles and tubing specifications for each tube and junction have a massive influence on the ride quality. Any additional modifications to the tubing happens here as well. Each tube type, material, and thickness requires special treatment and an extreme level of precision.
Weld: Structure and strength come from the welds. Astute readers will see that welds rely on good miters. We use Tig welding because it is extremely strong as well as very clean looking. Stinner welder Carlos Velazquez comes from the aerospace industry, where his welds were holding airplanes together. Like Devin, Carlos is a true craftsmen. From fabrication, the bike starts looking like something of a bike. It goes into a jig that is set precisely to the desired angles. The mitered tubes are welded together (and adjusted as needed). Good fabrication, means better welds, and the weld process requires the utmost precision. Thus, the fabricator and welder really lean on each other to do their jobs. For those that have not seen tig welding before, it requires three limbs at any given time. It’s not easy. Each step in the process is QCed, and will not be deemed “done” until all aspects of the weld are guaranteed.
Paint: This is where a bit of creativity comes into play. Stinner painterJames Bellerue went to school for graphic design and has spent a lot of time in the bike industry, particularly at shops as a mechanic. James uses wet paint (as opposed to powder coating) and a three-stage paint process:
- Base Coat (colors, symbols, patterns)
- Clear Coat
The anthracite and pink Stinner|Black Sheep bikes’ topographic schemes were particularly intricate. We don’t use stickers, so everything must be masked by hand before another color can be laid down.
The bikes were painted entirely in anthracite, before being masked in order to apply the pink paint. The black topographic lines were one of the most intricate paint jobs we’ve done, and the masking for the artwork required a lot of care, skill, and patience. And some fortitude.The topography itself came from a vector pattern that was cut in masking vinyl to precisely match the digital artwork. Personalized paint jobs, designs, and symbols are never out of the question. As such, as a final touch, each bike has a logo that represents its riders (a hawk, a sloth, a peach, a kiwi, etc.)
Assembly: Operations Lead Jeremy Platt and Customer Experience Lead Mark Edwards will help with all componentry and bike specification questions. Both possess a deep knowledge of bike parts and compatibility issues from years of bike shop experience and hours of research. Once the bike is painted, it moves to assembly where Jeremy will complete the process.
The Stinner|Black Sheep bikes are equipped with SRAM’s wireless shifting group, SRAM Red eTap, as well as cockpits and rims from ENVE, and headsets, bottom brackets, and hubs from Chris King. Each brand is at the top of the bike industry, known for innovation, quality, and performance. The bike build can take a while—from considering ideal housing length and routing to working with tight clearances—but the bike won’t be shipped until everything is working perfectly and also looking good. The builds are test ridden and checked multiple times.
We'll be keeping you up to date on the team's progress throughout the year. Let us know if you have any questions about the bikes by contacting Mark: firstname.lastname@example.org