Individual Robert Beckman Hybrid Performance Bicycle Models

The Eclipse model is a bicycle that draws upon a long tradition of lugged-frame, hand-built construction and the highest levels of execution, with superb craftsmanship and creativity being defining elements in its overall design.   It is a Hybrid Performance bicycle that has been developed to combine comfort, ride-ability and speed in a sensible design.  The Eclipse reflects a racing heritage and tradition but lacks the drawbacks of a competition design.  It is thoughtfully and carefully executed to be as lightweight as is practical without sacrificing durability or essential riding and handling qualities.  It also reflects my own personal feelings about frame design in that I have always felt, going back to the early 1980s when over-sized tubing began to be widely used bicycle frames, that frames that are not built for touring certainly do not need to be designed with greater frame stiffness that can undermine ride-ability. 

I'm currently waiting for an Eclipse frame that I really like to come up in the paint schedule. It has asymmetrical lugs with turquoise and black agate accents. It's a Signature-Level frame that I'm anxious to see painted and finished as it is fairly typical of the Signature frames that I'm building these days. As always, it's the details that make the difference.
The Eclipse 700 features an exquisitely crafted lugged frame with a parallel top tube that is built without over-sized tubing.  Each Eclipse frame is designed utilizing hardened tubing in weights and wall thicknesses minimized as much as possible for each individual customer relative to their body weight and the overall use of the bicycle.  Such an approach, coupled with a frame configuration falling between pure racing designs and lightweight touring bicycles, provides excellent riding qualities.  This is a bicycle design that revolves around speed and fun for non-competitive cyclists, so riders using this model are always encouraged to have its custom wheels built as light and efficiently as possible, and to entertain the idea of having a set of wheels built-up for sew-up tires.  And as in each of my bicycles, components for the Eclipse are not standardized, but may be chosen individually by each customer when they purchase this model.

Elegant aesthetics and flexibility play an extremely important role in the Eclipse as it does in each of my designs.  It is available with nearly endless possibilities in lug designs, executed at the Standard, Ultra or Signature level.  There are also many options available in seat cluster designs, and numerous choices among fork crowns and in their customization.  Many custom options are available in bottom bracket shell designs as well as in the execution of fork and stay ends.  Even though this is a performance bicycle I will set it up with fender eyelets, with appropriate brazed-on fittings to accommodate lighting systems and with fittings for an ultra-lightweight rack and panniers.  The Eclipse 700 has a highly flexible design that can be set up in either a touring/commuting or a randonneur design.  It is my goal to make the speedy Eclipse as versatile as possible.

Base price of the Eclipse 700 with a Standard-Level frame: $6666
Base price with an Ultra-Level frame or Signature-Level frame: $7777 and $8888, respectively

The Transition is a Hybrid Performance bicycle that is a unique blend of elegant form and diversified function.  It reflects a solid design tradition but one that also represents a future of performance and execution in bicycles with steel frames.  This model expresses the pinnacle of refined craftsmanship that is matched with the latest in steel tubing technology.  In terms of its frame the Transition has the attributes of traditional silver-brazed lugged-frame construction that is combined with very lightweight, hardened-steel tubing.  Its very lightweight frame has a sloping top tube design (either a three- or seven-degree slope) with oversized top and down tubes, so that this model is grounded in tradition but also reflects some current design trends.  It is a bicycle that is in transition, design-wise, thus it's name.

I build the Transition frame with an extraordinary range of custom details and options. When I design the seat cluster of the frames I use either an integrated fastback design or a side-mounted stay design. Unlike other builders who generally use one design of side-mounted stay ends, I've designed more than a dozen types to create a wide choice of options. Included above are long, refined designs I've created in contrast to the stubby commercially made stay end at the top.
I designed the Transition for cyclists that prefer the look of a bicycle frame with a moderately sloping top tube and oversized tubes, and that desire a bit more frame rigidity than that of the Eclipse (but I will also build it with a parallel top tube when requested).  The frame of the Transition also has larger-diameter seat stays (.625” vs. .562”) than the Eclipse, although .562 is available upon request.  For individuals that want a bicycle that is very fast and nimble with quick steering, but also request that it be set up for multiple-use, the frame design of the Transition translates well into a bicycle for ultra-light touring and commuting when I build the frame with the required fittings for the various types of ultra-light racks and panniers that I create.  When I do add fittings, I use ones that I design which are very small and unobtrusive so as not to betray the clean aesthetics of the bike.

In the broadest tradition of true custom building, I create the Transition with a much wider set of options in frame details, paint selection and in the choice of components than any other builder.  As with all of my bicycle models, each is available in Standard-, Ultra- and Signature-Level frame design and detailing.

Base price of the Transition: $6666

I've always seen randonneur bicycles as very personal ones drawing on a long tradition that has produced a number of different frame designs through the years.  My own personal choice in a randonneur-style bicycle is one that is conservative in its overall design, with a frame having a relatively long wheel base and a very relaxed head tube angle (70 or 71 degrees).  And I prefer a frame, probably because I always look toward versatility in any bike, with a seven-degree sloping top tube and oversized tubing and a more modern and complimentary (and very non-French), sense of aesthetics.  If the rims and tires were available, I'd build my own randonneur bike with 650c wheels, and since the are not, I prefer 700c wheels.  As always, I steer away from bloated, heavy tires and gravitate to the most efficient wheels possible with tires in the 25mm to 32mm range.  But some people don't see it that way.

To put it mildly, I dislike showing photographs of complete bicycles, as if a photo of a bicycle will somehow reveal its true performance. It can't. The photo above reveals my entire work in an Event Randonneur bicycle that I built fairly recently. It shows little as it reflects almost no details beyond the design of the racks. There are a multitude of unique refined details in the bike frame, but even from a few feet away it's just another completely ordinary frame . Always, it is the details of design that develop performance and craftsmanship. I should also add that as the details of the design of this bike evolved from the time that it was ordered, to the time that it was finished, it had metamorphosed into a full-on Randonneur Lite 700 touring bicycle. Such is the versatility of the Hybrid-Performance models. They can be much more than a very high-performance road design.

Because randonneur bicycles are personal, and because there are a lot of different ideas and opinions regarding their design, I offer the Event Randonneur in many different forms to accommodate each individual customer.  The frame may be built, in oversize tubing, with a parallel top tube, or with a sloping top tube at three or seven degrees, and if pressed, I'd build a frame without oversized tubing.  Basically, I build this model in a highly customized manner to accommodate personal preferences, and thus I offer it with a variety of potential head tube angles from 70 to 73 degrees, with varying lengths of chain stays and with a variety of tubing types to produce very specific riding qualities.  I also offer this model with clearances for a wide range of tires utilizing a broad array of fork crowns, and if necessary, bending chain stays to accommodate wider tires.  And, of course, I will build it for a 650b wheel size or a 650c/26” standard when asked

One very important detail of the frame of the Event Randonneur is the initial drawing of the lug design (which was given an approval from my customer). From that point I made a lug sample. I sent a photo of the lug after its design was roughed out, like the one above. This process is the starting phase of building an Ultra-Level or Signature-Level frame.
This particular frame has a very unique dropout and fork tip design. The design of tips vary, from frame to frame, in every upper-level frame that I build.

In setting up the Event Randonneur I leave the components of the bicycle to the choices of each individual customer.  As in all of my bicycles, a broad range of handlebars may be used as well as drive-train components, saddles, wheel components and all other types of parts that make up a true custom bicycle.

The few items that may be carried on a randonneur bicycle may also be carried or oriented in a very individual and personal manner.  To meet the subtle demands of carrying small amounts of gear on a randonneur bicycle, the wide range of very lightweight handlebar packs and rack-top packs that I design and build for my touring bicycles, as well as a highly specialized rack and pannier system, are all uniquely modified for the Event Randonneur.  They are built in forms that are dramatically more lightweight, more aerodynamic and more stable than any products offered within the bicycle industry, and to a quality standard that is much higher.  Like my bicycle touring racks and panniers, the randonneur ultra-lightweight rack and pack designs I produce are worlds apart from the uninspired offerings of the bicycle industry.  And, as with my other Hybrid Performance bicycle models, I build a wide range of extremely lightweight racks and panniers for the Event Randonneur so that it may perform as a lightweight touring or commuting bicycle at a level that is much higher, and much more efficient, than any other commuting or touring bicycle that is on the market.  Like any other type of bicycle I build, The Event Randonneur model can easily be set up to be a superb multi-purpose bicycle.

Base price of the Event Randonneur Hybrid Performance bicycle: $6666  

As I've been writing the final parts of the copy for this website (2013) I've also just started working on a bicycle frame for a customer in New England that is to be his celebration of a half-century of an inspired interest in lugged bicycle frames.  In a way it is sort of a dream bike.  It's his dream bike, and a bicycle more of his design, or of his sense of aesthetics, than my own.  But I like the design because he has good taste and an uncommon knowledge of bicycle frame design.  In essence, I'm building his bicycle on commission, with a frame design that is in part his inspiration and ideas, but within my own composition, and which includes a lot of improvisation in details on my part.  It's a bicycle that will go well beyond my normal performance, consequently the name, Encore.

This is the photo of the sample lug that I sent off to the person for whom I am building the Encore. Normally I dislike lugs that have windows that are within the castings, and I fill them up with brass before I braze the lugs into a frame. But, in this case I had to come up with a design, upon request, that I liked and this is what I came up with in this long-point lug design. I should also make note of the fact that I think that lugs are normally much too small and that they get swallowed up in a bike frame. This lug may look quite large (partly due to the short lens of my cheap camera) but in a 56cm frame it will seem quite balanced in size.
The Encore is not exactly a model, but more of a process, and it's something that I offer as part of being a custom bicycle builder.  The frame model for this particular customer is very close to the Eclipse model, but it's not an Eclipse.  The basic design of the Eclipse is all there, but many of the details in the execution of the frame are inspired by the customer's ideas and sensibilities and it's my job to physically articulate those ideas in a pleasing manner.  In many ways this Encore represents a very wide departure from my own approach to nuances in building an Eclipse 700, or any other model of frame for that matter.

The fork crown of this particular frameset is one that I would not otherwise use.  The fork blades are of a different design from which I have ever used, as is the shape of the bend in the blades.  The unique bend requires that I design and fabricate a one-of-a-kind fork bender for the project.  Each of the lugs in the frame is quite different, stylistically, from any that I've ever created and necessitates that I design new tooling to hand-shape the lug patterns that utilize very long lug add-ons.  The bottom bracket shell follows the intricacies of the three main lugs and must be executed in a manner that is not likely to ever be repeated.  The fork and stay ends that I was asked to create for the frame require that I develop a new, and somewhat complicated, machining and brazing method.  The approach that I've taken in designing the dropouts is not only unique in my experience, I've never seen such a method used among any other builders.

Before this frame I'd never built a frame with a semi wrap-around seat stay design, which I don't particularly care for generally.  So the challenge for me in designing the upper seat stay ends was to come up with a semi-wrap design that I find very pleasing and that my customer really likes as well.  Upon seeing my first sample, which is a long, fluted wrap-around with very sharp ends, his response was what I was hoping for: “It's absolutely perfect.”  And before I started building this frame I had never built a frame outfitted with center-pull brakes, but center-pull brakes, that are uniquely set up in conjunction with their specialized mounts, are what I'm fitting to the frame.  Even the geometry of the frame is unique unto itself.  In many ways the frame varies quite widely in technique and detail from what I, or any other frame builders, generally fabricate. 

The Encore is a true one-of-a-kind bicycle that resonates what I consider to be the essence of custom frame building: it's individually inspired, it's imaginative and improvisational in it's design and it reflects a rare dimension of craftsmanship.  It's creative expression is nuanced in each of its details as it exhibits passion and flair within an uncompromising blend of form and function.  It's something special that I'm happy to offer.  (And yes, I will post pictures of this frame on this website when it's finished sometime in 2014).

Base price of the Encore: $7777