Here’s a special report about a special bike. It was built in Barcelona for a Spanish customer who desired a tough, versatile bike for traversing long distance on- and off-road riding, and it ended up involving a few dedicated partners.
THE OWNER: SAUL
I’m Saul Maret and I’ve been riding any type of bicycle, from MTB Cross Country and Downhill competitions to road cycling, for the last two years, focusing on long distance on-and-off road. I started gravel riding a year ago and fell in love with this discipline, as it’s a kind of mix of everything.
Unfortunately, being a mix of everything means you may get an average bike and I had a clear idea of what I wanted: A fast but comfy steel bike where I could swap wheels from MTB wide tires to thinner slick road wheels.
I dreamed of a bike that I could use for brevet rides around Catalonia, Spain, and France, but also on some of the beautiful gravel paths in the Collserola hills behind Barcelona and the French Pyrénées.
A bike is a tool for me, and I wanted one that could be like a Swiss Army Knife, but with my special measurements: long arms, short torso, and very long legs. Living in Barcelona means that I have the chance of being surrounded by a very dynamic cycling community.
Visiting a few builders, I was amazed by Enrico Bellé’s mindset of delivering high-quality products with tasteful finishes and open to a new way of thinking about cycling.
THE ARTIST AND BUILDER: BELLE CYCLES
My name is Enrico Maria Bellé and I’m the soul behind Belle Cycles. I have a lifelong experience as a precision metalworker and as a cyclist. Six years ago I was lucky enough to be able to transform one of my dreams into something real: to be a framebuilder.
I started building for other brands, having the chance to accumulate countless hours of experience. I consider myself a self-taught framebuilder, inspired by my past eclectic work experience. I consider a perfectly executed metal frame as an almost perfect structure that amazes me every time for how simple and strong it is.
One and a half years ago I started my own brand of Belle Cycles. I consider my base solid and ready to be supported by a simple and timeless image. My philosophy is simple: the aesthetic had to follow the function. I want my bikes to be ridden everywhere, in every condition and for a long time.
The human factor between my customers and I is important to me for better understanding their needs, and to be able to create something special. Whenever it’s possible I try to keep in touch with all of them; in the end they all ride a part of myself.
When Saul approached me, after few chats it was clear that his expectation was high and so was mine. We choose the 3T Luteus II carbon fork, a very clever design with real all-road specs. I find that the length and rake, together with tire clearance, thru-axle and post mount disc tab are spot-on for this kind of build.
The tubing of choice is a selected mix of Columbus Spirit and Life; I want my bicycles to be snappy and lively — as a rider myself I look for a machine that pushes me to ride further in all conditions.
Paragon Machine Works X12 dropouts for the Syntace through axle system are always my choice: light, stiff and precise. I always want the same disc mount in frame and fork, so the frame has the post mount tabs positioned between the stays in order to distribute the braking force, the seat stays are asymmetric, the non-drive side has three bends for brake caliper clearance.
The frame has triple internal cable routing, with stainless steel tubes guiding each cable housing in the down tube, and are internally reinforced, keeping the tubes sealed to water and dirt.
Manufacture Trema was looking for a way to fix a custom bag to the frame without using straps, so I added 5x M5 bolts between the top and down tubes. The result is a rock-solid interface between frame and bag.
In Barcelona, I work closely with two of the best custom painters in the peninsula and in Europe. For this project, we contracted Kilian Ramirez of the PIC_A Studio, following the very precise indication of the customer, to develop an ultra-deep candy blue with the logo in glossy black: this kind of finish plays with the sunlight for an elegant and lively effect.
To conclude: the simple aesthetic of this build comes with a very deep research on every detail. This is what custom means to me.
THE TROUBLE MAKERS AND PROBLEM SOLVERS: MANUFACTURE TREMA
The bike itself is part of a bigger idea that we wanted to bring to life. We, Manufacture Trema, are a small bag maker based in Barcelona that has just developed some versatile carrying solutions on the Bellé Frame.
Riding for more than five hours, or in remote areas, means bringing supplies. The owner wasn’t keen on buying ready-made bikepacking bags because of the fact that the shape won’t closely follow the frame; the straps will rub the paint and break the clean look of the bike.
Working with Enrico, Manufacture Trema found a way of creating a line of bolt-on bags that will suit Saul’s needs. The first iteration is what we call ’10H’ for ten hours, for one-day riding. We calculated the size based on his requirements. We are also preparing the ’48H’ for weekend or overnight rides.
The bags are using only super-durable and nice looking fabrics like the X-Pac Expedition Series laminated 500D Cordura Black Camo with our stainless steel badge.
That might have been a lot to take in, but Saul is extremely happy with the final product. The frame is a Spanish gun, the paint will be a cool contrast to the hot colors and climate of Barcelona, and the bag by Manufacture Trema is a perfect complement. Rastros felices.
Big thanks to Gabriel Rodrigues for the fine photography.