Every year at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, there seems to be one bike that particularly attracts the photo-takers and question-askers. At this year's show, held in Hartford, Connecticut, that bike would probably be Helio Ascari's exquisite King Plus.
Born in Brazil, Ascari has been building bicycles in his Brooklyn workshop since 2011 – he's even made one for Ralph Lauren. In previous careers, he's restored antiques; made furniture, steel goods and leather shoes; and worked in the fashion industry. Much of that background shows in his 1930s-inspired bespoke bikes, and the 3-speed King Plus is the top of the line.
Hand-brazed from Columbus cro-moly tubing, some of the King Plus' fancier features include brazed-on handmade copper and brass accents, carbon fiber-reinforced Ghisallo 700c beech wood rims, a leather Brooks B-17 saddle with copper rivets, a hub-dynamo-powered headlight, custom brake levers made from gold and ebony, and the option of 13 rubies applied throughout the frame, fork, stem, brake levers and included hand-built air pump.
Perhaps the most prominent feature, however, is the leather string that has been wrapped around various parts of the bike, including all of the cable housings. "My grandfather used to make baskets to collect grapes from the vineyards, and after he weaved the baskets he wrapped the handles with leather, and I applied that to my design," Ascari told us.
Needless to say, a bike along the lines of the King Plus doesn't come cheap – with all the rubies, it'll cost you US$38,000. But hey, if you're in the market for something like it in the first place, you're likely looking for more than just a way of getting around.
Product page: Ascari Bicycles
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