Beautiful Bicycle: Ian Laing Made in USA Steel

Words & Pictures by Chief Cyclery

Years ago my wife and I decided to downsize, simplify, and centralize, This meant moving into a smaller house that could hold less stuff and living more centrally. In theory it was a fantastic idea; save money, focus less on stuff, while valuing what's important: people & family.

The only problem was the plan was with odds with reality; our family was growing larger and more complex while we were trying to shrink and minimize. We grew from a new born and toddler quickly to two active tweens and a terror toddler. It would have been a great strategy if we were the "let's not have kids couple", but with kids popping out left and right our walls were closing in on us. Plus living centrally meant dealing with crime. You couldn't leave your bike even in your backyard or on the porch or it would get swiped in seconds (Story on that to come).

My fascination with the one bike that could do it all: see my Surly Cross Check Review; was overcome as I began to ride more with my friends on fast road rides. The seed was planted to build a "dream" road bike.

I've always been somewhat different. Swimming upstream, if you will. While most of my peers were buying mcmansions in the suburbs, going on lavish vacations and buying new cars, we were downsizing and moving to a one car family. The same mentality followed into how I would build my "Dream" bike. I wanted something different. I happened on a swap meet during this phase of life and laid eyes on a vintage handmade steel lugged road frame. Trying to save money at the time I didn't commit, which ended up costing when later that week I decided I had to have that frame. I tracked down the owner and acquired the Ian Laing frame (a former local bike builder here in Arizona, Hopefully more on him to come) to start piecing together the bike. The beautiful lug/window work and exotic details like the rear brake bridge, English internal brake routing, and seat post collar clamp were a few of the specifics that screamed UNIQUE!

A few acquaintances were providing opinions on how I should build the bike "Keep it vintage and build it with Suntour or Campagnolo" but I wanted to do what was best for me. I wanted at Vintage-Modern look that would still ride smooth and quick. This meant re-spacing the frame from 126mm rear spacing to 130mm rear spacing to accept modern wheels. You can cold-set and re-space steel frames, so I gave it a shot and it was pretty straight forward. I thought about re-painting it and tracked down Ian Laing to see if he had any old decals. I found him online and he was super courteous He offered to send me some decals he had stored away. I decided I loved the fade too much to repaint and decided to just keep it with original paint, chips and all.

I first started collecting Dura Ace 7700 9 Speed Parts and quickly changed my mind to go all out with SRAM Red, when some parts appeared for a Craigsllist for a reasonable pricet. I am very budget conscious and wanted to keep the overall price down so I went with a Sram Force rear derailleur, while keeping the Dura Ace Front Derailleur I already had. I ended up piecing the bike together for just under $1000. Coming in at $999. Not bad for a bike I was thrilled with! Plus I wanted to prove you could build a dream bike without braking the bank. I hope one to be able to afford a custom road bike but I felt this was a great compromise of custom without having to swallow the price tag.

The Laing remained pretty constant over the years with a few changes here and there: I originally had the steel fork, Dura Ace 7400 threaded headset with a specialized quill stem installed. I wanted oversized bars so swapped out a threaded to threadless adapter and installed a Thomson stem as the F5 Titan Stem wasn't available at the time. 

After my crash last summer l decided to change some things up. I had shredded my left shifter, bent my derailleur hanger, cracked my helmet, snapped my cycling shoes and ripped off a piece of my pedals in the crash. Bending my derailleur hanger caused me to damage the body of my SRAM Force rear derailleur. Trying to get the bike back up and running on the cheap, I took a SRAM Apex rear derailleur I had hanging out and swapped the pulley to have the look of the force without having to splurge on a new one. I also decided to swap to an Easton Carbon Fork and installed a Chris King no-thread headset to get the look I have in the photo gallery.

I have loved this bike! And with over 3,500 miles logged it has proven a great ride to keep pace with my friends in fast road rides with a super comfortable steel frame. Although not new and not Carbon or Aluminum it shows a quirkiness that I identify well with. 

Fork: Easton Full Carbon EC70 1" threadless

Headset: Chris King No-Thread 1"

Shifters: SRAM RED 10 Speed

Stem: Thomson X2 

Handlebars: 3T Ergosum Aluminum

Seatpost: Thomson Elite 27.0

Saddle: Fizik Arione

Crankset: SRAM Red 53/39

Pedals: Look KEO Max 2 Carbon

Front Derailleur: SRAM Force

Rear Derailleur: SRAM APEX w Force Derailleur Hanger

Wheelset: Mavic Ksyrium SL

Cassette: SRAM PG-1050 11-28

Water Bottle Cages: Blackburn USA

Which look do you like better? Steel Fork or Carbon. Leave your opinion in the comments

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