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The Finer Things

If you have champagne wishes and caviar dreams--and the scratch to match--we have the bike for you.

By Matt Phillips

©Mitch Mandel

How much would you customize a bicycle? Would you match your bar tape to your saddle? Choose hand-built wheels? Custom paint? Geometry? Pedals with hand-laid copper gilding, aluminum-titanium-nitride-coated ti axles and ceramic bearings? There's custom, and then there's the bike you see here. This bike, a 20-week project, is made to order right down to the stem cap; it weighs 13.5 pounds, and would sell for $23,225. Its builder, Groupe de Tete (, is one of an emerging group of very high-end companies that make bespoke bicycles. Given plenty of time and money, these builders expand the limits of style and performance. The best of these makers have impressive portfolios, and jump at the challenge to try something new. The limits on a bicycle like this are the boundaries of imagination.

1. Frame The Temple Limited frame is custom built for the buyer to suit his or her fit and handling desires. There are three materials in the frame: The down tube, head tube and seatstays are 3/2.5 titanium for a smooth ride; the top tube and seat tube sleeves, and the chainstays are 6/4 titanium for stiffness; and the top and seat tubes are high-modulus carbon. The top and seat tubes are custom rolled for the buyer, not off-the-shelf dimensions. The seat tube extends almost to the saddle to reduce post bounce and improve rider feedback. A Bold Precision titanium mini post allows 30mm of fine-tuning.

Inside the frame, Temple shaved precious grams by maximizing the size of the vent holes. The paint is Standox Aston Martin Blue Sapphire set off with gilded copper decals and a water-jet-cut copper head badge. Applying the gilding alone took more than 24 hours.

2. The Builders Groupe de Tete will work with nearly any frame. If the buyer is starting from scratch, Temple Cycles (, Groupe de Tete's sister company, can build the frame, allowing one-stop shopping for the entire fit and styling process.

3. Saddle The cover of the customized Selle Italia saddle is embroidered, garment-quality, top-grain leather, also used on the bar.

4. Handlebar and Stem Nick Crumpton, of Crumpton Cycles, took a Syntace Racelite carbon bar and carbon-wrapped it to a machined-alloy extension to form a stiff, beautiful, one-piece combo. Buyers can specify a preferred bar and its length and rotation, and the bar tape may be custom tinted.

5. Details, Details Hundreds of small touches make this bike what it is. Splashes of copper gilding are added to the brake levers, pedals, Zipp cranks and derailleurs to match the frame logos. The rear derailleur knuckles, front derailleur clamp and chainring bolts are painted to match the frame and cages, while the titanium bolts in the derailleurs, the steerer clamp bolts and the seatpost clamps are anodized blue. Small steel or aluminum parts sparkle with copper plating, even the derailleur limit screws and bottle cage bolts.
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