Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twenty years in the making...

The last Cunningham frames that rolled out of Charlie Cunningham's shop were the 'D' Series in about 1993.  It's 2013 and after getting some time in on a bigwheel bike of his design and Mike DeSalvo's making, Charlie fired up the welder and went to work.  The result is fantastic.  Three new Cunningham 29"ers ready for the trails.  

Charlie's bikes are very polarizing.  Some folks who are used to the look of "stack of dimes" welding are put off by the welding that looks like puddles.  To some bike people, components should be smooth and flawless in their appearance.  If that's you, stop right here.  Don't subject yourself to welding that looks smudged.  Parts that have visible file marks.  Parts that you won't find on any other bikes.

If you do proceed, you will find a bike(s) that excels at one thing.  Trail riding.  Plant your butt on the seat. Clip in to the pedals.  Grab on to the bars and start pedaling.  The entire geometry is designed for each rider.  There are modifications to just about every part except maybe the shifters.  The bikes are built to ride.  The size of the riders are at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet the quality of the ride will be the same for each rider.  Nimble, stable, very pedal-able, if that word makes sense.  

Well, Charlie, you have certainly outdone yourself.  I'd just like to say, if the big one every comes up for sale, I want to be first in line.  

Cunningham 'E' Series
The littler one.  Stem is adjustable to determine sizing for a custom stem.  The owner preferred the lighter, skinnier Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires.  

Cunningham 'E' Series
The big one.

Cunningham 'E' Series
Personalized serial number

Cunningham 'E' Series
Lever-link brake

Cunningham 'E' Series
This seals the rear derailleur housing.

Cunningham 'E' Series
Sculpted dropouts.  These are from the last production in the early '90s.

Cunningham 'E' Series
Front derailleur cable routing.

Cunningham 'E' Series
Steering limiter so the bars don't swing around during a crash and cause damage to the brake as it makes contact with the down tube.

Cunningham 'E' Series
Rear brake

Cunningham 'E' Series

Cunningham 'E' Series
Keeps the muck off the rear brake

Cunningham 'E' Series
Another angle

Cunningham 'E' Series
Seatpost QR

Cunningham 'E' Series
Rear derailleur cable routing

Cunningham 'E' Series
Extra-wide front hub

Cunningham 'E' Series
Front brake

(What's playing:  KWMR "Silver Dollar Jukebox" and Johnny Cash Wreck Of The Old 97)


arif_rahman said...

Add a dirt drop on that beauty, and it would be perfect.

tim said...

Thanks Mike. I haven't felt bike lust in twenty years. Yeah, thanks alot.

Unknown said...

Now we're cooking with gas. :)

Anonymous said...

Hell, I'd be happy if the just headsets were back on the market. Someone should license some of these patents. (Cough Chris King ... cough.)

reverend dick said...

All the ragged edged chamfers make me smile. That is a HANDbuilt matchine.

Bushpig.vrc said...

We decided to have the hand crafting prominent and asked that excess finishing work be kept to a minimum.

Phil B said...

I have always had a lusting for Charlie's bikes. These without a doubt could make me ride Alumn again. Not to be the poop in the punch bowl, but here in South Louisiana the bottom bracket brake set up never worked out so well. Too much mud and clay build up made them more like big spoons that brakes. Every other bit (of detail) is impressive. Beautiful execution!

Anonymous said...

The steering limiter is small bit of genius. Was this his idea, or some old school french constructeur type thing? Definitely going to mimic it on my tandem; handling a bike that large on one's own occasionally results in the handlebar/top tube whacking, which always makes me wince.

classen said...

Wow! Two beautiful machines… and two lucky new owners.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting! What about the fifth frame?
Are we ever going to see pictures?

blackmountaincycles said...

There were three 29" wheel bikes and two road bikes. Here's one of the road bikes. The other is Charlie's. http://whatsinthestand.tumblr.com/image/56285455410

Anonymous said...

always liked the look of the frame build
tried to buy one in the early middle 80's, they were about $1600 frame. . could not get that much together

Michael J Combest said...

My God. It's full of stars.

Anonymous said...

I meant the "other" road bike :)

Halaburt said...

#E4CC in the Falconer Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/WaV1oYKmto/

Mark Inglis Taylor said...

What a radical bike!

MG said...

Those are fantastic... Thanks for sharing, Mike!

Jon Sonneborn said...

Sweeet! Why not go disc brakes though? There is no arguing they are superior on the trail. These bikes are truly stunning just as the Hams 20+ yrs ago are.

blackmountaincycles said...

I would argue that these brakes are superior to discs in modulation and power. And these bikes are what they are as a sum of their parts. Set it up with disc brakes and it might as well be any aluminum 29er.

Anonymous said...

Adding/Subtracting disc brakes can't be the only significant differentiator, because if it was true..then the other stuff becomes gimmickry or quirkiness-for-quirkiness' sake. I was always interested in what CC designed, but perhaps these bikes now exist as a competent curiosity - like a Morgan car - and are not really moving any balls forward...which is not a Bad Thing...but there are lots of nice, competent bikes and technologies out there.


Rick M.

tim said...

Some of you might have these brakes and should be careful!


Probably some low temp o-ring problem, it brought down the spaceshuttle too.

Ren said...

What a stunning machine.

There is a lot going with that steering limiter. It looks like it's designed to bend (rather than break) during an off.

Have Charlie's U-brake mounts always been riveted on? I thought they were welded on back in the day.

Thanks for sharing Mike.