I recently bought this bike from a non bike person who didn't know anything about it. I've looked at thousands of pictures and hundreds of websites and I cannot find this frame. So, that means it is either rare, or junk. There are no markings anywhere. No serial number. There is a "1" and "B" stamped/cut on the drop outs. I don't know if this is some kind of logo. Pretty sure the frame is aluminum. Bike is very light. Most of the components are Gran Compe (crankset, seat, seat post, brakes, etc.) Any help would be appreciated. Hate it when I can't solve a mystery. Strange design without a seat tube. Three paralled tubes welded together forms the frame.
2That is a very unique looking bike. It looks like a custom type build from a small scale kind of frame builder, including the very tall steerer clamp on the stem - a fashionable kind of touch with builders. V cool, would make it easy to be sure when you find out but hard to track down the maker. It seems surprising that the person didn't know anything about it, more I see it the more surprised I'd be if it wasn't stolen.– SwiftyApr 11, 2020 at 16:38
Also interesting rear drop-out if it can be called like that. This combination between quick release and closed slot.– CarelApr 11, 2020 at 17:34
I suspect that it's not a "real" bike but was put together as a sort of a joke. There is very little chance that the frame would stand up to any sort of real riding, since there is no stiffness in the frame. At best it might work as a track bike (or maybe a clown bike).– Daniel R HicksApr 11, 2020 at 17:36
A final year project for a design/engineering student ? . The dropout welds are kind of skanky. Very pretty design.– Warren BurtonApr 11, 2020 at 19:33
1Fancy "Fulcrum" race wheels with bladed spokes, combined with a super-short stem and short flat handlebar and a leather saddle ? This is some combination of an art project, and a cafe cruiser. I'd love to try riding it, knowing that it will feel like riding a wet noodle with pedals. While it looks striking, it'll never be a great riding bike. Expect to hang it on the wall and admire, rather than riding a lot. I'd move the wheels to a useful bike. That frame won't be aluminium, it doesn't take bends like that.– Criggie ♦Apr 13, 2020 at 0:06
Since you guys have all been so helpful, I thought you'd like to hear the answer to this mystery.
The bike was indeed stolen. I was able to find the rightful owner.
The frame was custom made of stainless steel in Capetown South Africa by BouwerWorks. (So, the 'B' did mean something). This builder has apparently stopped making frames, or else, has stopped any kind of marketing. His website is down. But, I found his Pinterest Board (look at the profile pic) and also found an article on a design site with info.
Most of all, I'm happy that the owner is getting his bike back. Thanks again.
Adding a bit more info. SO, I found the owner first and that is how I got revelation on the frame. I have a friend that runs a local charity. Village Wrench - They go into neighborhoods on weekends and do free bike repair for those who might have no other options - they do a mentorship program to teach people (mostly kids/teens) how to work on bikes, learn leadership, learn job skills, earn their own bike, etc. -- I sent him a message with photos. He suggested a few other people. One of them knew the owner (who moved here after spending time in Capetown) and was aware the bike had been stolen. After we connected, he told me the story of the bike and how it was made. With that info, I was able to find the BouwerWorks info online. A bike is only worth what someone will pay for it. But Bouwer regularly sold his frames $3,000 and up. So this owner was happy to reimburse me the $175 I spent. That low price is the main reason I suspected it was stolen. I provided the name of the person who stole the bike. A police report was filed a month ago. But I don't think the owner is going to bother with pressing charges at this point.
2We do like to hear answers to mysteries! It's awesome that you have been able to find the owner of the bike, I'm rather impressed. Sorry that you are probably out of pocket if you bought the bike from someone but are giving it back to the rightful owner, but I guess that can't be helped sadly.– SwiftyApr 24, 2020 at 7:16
2Is there any more you can share about a) how you did find out what kind of bike it was and b) how you then found the owner? They could be interesting tips for anyone else trying the same thing. I imagine a small custom builder made some aspects harder and some aspects easier? If you'd like to you can edit info into the answer– SwiftyApr 24, 2020 at 7:18
1Nice work! Thanks for posting the info, too. Someday someone else might come across a BouwerWorks. Apr 24, 2020 at 20:37
1Awesome work! The only sad point is that the miscreant/s got away with it.– Criggie ♦Apr 24, 2020 at 22:54
Related question - did you try riding this bike? If so, how did it handle with no seat tube?– Criggie ♦Apr 25, 2020 at 7:22
This is almost certainly a custom-made frame, and one that should be regarded as more of an artistic work than a practical device. The layout of the frame means that it will flex considerably as it's ridden (or even just when you sit on it), and likely the flex will be enough to lead to fairly early frame failure.
The first thing you need to do is to take a magnet and see if it sticks to the metal. If it does, the frame is steel (probably chrome plated), and that is good.
If the magnet does not stick then most likely it's aluminum, and aluminum has very poor "fatigue life", meaning that the frame will fail very quickly.
(There is a vague possibility that the metal is titanium, if the magnet doesn't stick. I've never worked with titanium, but you can likely differentiate it from aluminum by using a common pocket knife to try to carve off a small bit on some exposed edge -- aluminum will let you do this easily, but titanium is much harder. If it is titanium the metal alone could be worth a few hundred dollars, and the frame might be able to withstand more use than aluminum or even steel.)
I would suggest that you limit the use of the bike. No one weighing more than 200 pounds should ride it, and riding should be limited to relatively smooth surfaces. There is at least enough redundancy built into the frame design that it's not likely to fail catastrophically, but check it regular for cracks, particularly along the bends and at the joints.
And regard it as a work of art. (You may even consider checking whether a nearby art gallery is interested in it, or some other museum.)
1Don't forget about stainless steel, which is not magnetic. The welds on that frame don't suggest aluminum. I also would not be concerned about the strength. That tubing looks pretty robust. Apr 12, 2020 at 20:11
The chrome plating makes it hard to tell what the metal is. I may take my dremmel to the bottom of the bike to see if I get sparks. I suppose it could be stainless instead of aluminum. I did check and none of the frame attracts the magnet. Apr 12, 2020 at 20:19
@Andrew - Yep, might be stainless. IIRC, a magnet won't "stick" to stainless but will demonstrate some attraction to it (depending to a degree on the precise stainless "blend"). Apr 13, 2020 at 0:06
3I got a stronger magnet from my garage and can confirm that the frame does pull on the magnet - more in spots with weld beads. Less in other spots. So the bike is stainless. The forks are aluminum. So at least that mystery is solved. Apr 13, 2020 at 20:07
2If it is stainless that is about your best scenario. The frame is liable to fatigue at a relatively early age, but should be pretty good so long as you avoid rough roads or heavy riders. Apr 13, 2020 at 20:13
As Bryce Covington says in his amazing solution to the mystery bike the Bouwer Works website is down.
But, the Wayback Machine managed to capture a bit of it for us to see.
It looks like there was more than one frame made like the one Bryce found. The bike pictured on the Bouwer Works website has very different components and the head tube looks shorter.
From the Bouwer Works website as captured by the Wayback Machine on October 29 2017:
Deluxe Coffee Bike
The Deluxe Coffee Bike was a custom project undertaken for Deluxe Coffee Works. This is a true custom handmade bicycle for the guys at Deluxe who don’t follow many rules when it comes to their coffee and life. In fact, there aren’t a lot rules that they follow in general.
A disc brake single speed bike with smoke chrome finish. 29er mountain bike wheels were fitted with thorn and glass resistant metro tyres and slime inner tubes to make sure that this machine never stops.
A s-ram carbon crank to crank some speed.
The handlebars was custom bend from a single piece of tubing. The left and right side is joined via a triple clamp system to form handlebars and fork.
These unique handlebars is finished with custom handmade leather grips to match saddle and inverted brake levers.
A Fizzik saddle was re-upholstered and hand stitched to perfection.
From the "Creed" page on the website:
I liberate myself from the vortex of commercialisation that has influence the spirit of cycling. The soulless drive and following for “how light”, “how stiff”, “how expensive” has left the proverbial cabinet maker without wood and the leather tanner without leather. Remember why you city commute, why you cycle and what you like. Few experiences are as pure as riding a bicycle. Bouwer Works’ bicycles seek to give timeless form and feel, simplicity and self-expression to its owner. Oh, and the rules, few are followed so that we can dream, feel and create out of the ordinary masterpieces.
Although it's not a match, the frame concept resembles the "Viks" bike made by Velonia bikes in Estonia:
Obviously, the front end and down tube of yours are more traditional, as are the seat stays, but it's possible this company made more traditional shapes in the past or that others pioneered the parallel-tube design in the past. I just wanted to bring this to your attention to indicate that the design concept is out there, so it's not necessarily a one-off project build.
Unlike other commenters, I'm not too concerned about the strength of the frame. It's likely that the bottom bracket area will flex under load more than a traditional double triangle frame, but if it's made of steel, that's not going to lead to failure. The triple tubing on the down tube and top tube also potentially combine for much greater strength than the single thin tube of a standard frame.
Yes, That is one of the bikes I found searching for info. Pretty cool. I have a road bike (and I'm 175#) so if I ride this one, it will just be casual, paved paths, etc. Should hold my weight fairly well. I'm asking around locally to see if the bike might have been stolen. No info yet. Apr 12, 2020 at 20:32
It's not the bottom bracket that's apt to flex, it's the entire frame, since it's basically a rectangle rather than two triangles. And the frame in your picture appears to have tubes about twice the diameter of the OP's frame. It's the tube diameter that is most critical in frame stiffness. Apr 12, 2020 at 20:46
@DanielRHicks I agree the whole frame will flex in the vertical plane due to the rider's weight, but I don't think that's much of a concern. Chain and seatstays on regular frames also flex. If anything, it's a nice suspension, much like the softtail bikes that have compressible seatstays that allow the rigid chainstays to flex. Bottom bracket flex is much more annoying when trying to ride hard. Apr 12, 2020 at 21:02
The hazard is metal fatigue at the corners. Especially with aluminum. Apr 13, 2020 at 0:08