—By Willy Nevin—
About two years before PBP I realized I had a bit of extra space in my garage so I decided I needed to fill it with a bike built just for PBP. You need a special bike for a special ride, right? Most of the other bikes in my garage were built to be the "Last" bike I would ever need. That is quite different from the "Last" bike I will ever want. I decided this would be the ultimate Brevet/Commuter bike.
• Frame. I had always lusted over the Vanillas so decided with his 18-month wait I would send in my deposit and wait until my name was called. In the meantime I was able to scour e-Bay and Velo Swaps to come up with most of the parts I wanted. Again, being the Ultimate bike for me, I was trying to keep with the "money is no object" mentality. I knew I wanted the bike to be tough-looking but beautiful as well. Kind of a Mean Elegance. The way I described it to the builder, Sacha White, was that I was looking for the Bentley to the Rolls Royce, the AMG to the Mercedes, the Shelby to the Mustang. I wanted as many of the parts as possible to be black and I wanted the bike to be very clean-looking. I also discussed with Sacha a cool way to attach the lights and route the wiring for the two E6 lights. I wanted to have the lights and wiring all as one unit that was easy to mount and remove. The "Light Rack" is one unit that attaches to the fork with three screws. On in the winter and on long brevets and off in summer. I have a second set of Chris King Mango disc wheels when I'm not using the black Schmidt/King set. Sacha built a custom stem that is threadless but looks like it is old-school threaded and a disc fork with the front disc brake cable going through the fork leg rather than along the outside. Also, no Vanilla brevet bike would be complete without the painted-to-match Honjo fenders and his polished stainless steel "V" dropouts. Being the Ultimate frame, at the last minute I gave the go ahead to add the welded on stainless steel "Vanilla" logo on the down tube instead of a decal. Sacha and I discussed colors with me telling him which bikes on his web site I liked the looks of and which I did not. Then I left it up to him. I did not know what color the bike would be until the first time I laid eyes on it. When I finally saw it I had a grin from ear to ear. The best way to describe the color is avocado green with a dark green panel with barely noticeable gold highlights in the lug cutouts. Again, this keeps with the "clean" look Sacha and I were shooting for.
• Parts. I ride to work two to three times a week and the ride is 45 miles round trip. I commute year-round so in the winter it is dark both ways. So a black disc Schmidt Dynohub was definitely on the list of must-haves. If this was going to be the "Ultimate" then it would have to be steel and lugged. Over the last couple of years I have been caught on a few very wet rides. I promised myself if I ever had a bike built for me it would have disc brakes. Not only would this work great in the rain but the rim sidewalls would remain black and clean-looking.
• Other details. Campy Carbon Record 10-speed shifters/brake levers to allow for clean looks and a front Berthoud bag; FSA carbon triple cranks—52/42/32; Chris King Black & Mango disc wheelsets laced to Velocity Aerohead 32 rims;
Chris King 1" Mango headset; Dura Ace braze-on front der. (again for clean look);
XTR rear der. (mostly black);
Ultegra 12-25 9 speed cassette (eventually black); Sella An-Atomica Watershed saddle (black); Ritchey WCS seatpost (black); Ritchey WCS 42cm ergo bars (black);
Michelin Pro Race 25mm tires (black); Velo Orange brass bell mounted on top of the stem thanks its own braze-on by Sacha; Specialized mango bottle cages.
Oh, and Mango-anodized valve stem caps. Yes, I actually found some.