03 August, 2012

Leatherwork at On The Rivet

By Igor

Last year, while doing a weekend tour of Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore, I stumbled across a small shop in Cambridge, MD, On the Rivet Cycle & Sport.  I stopped in for a bit and chatted. Not only did they have unique bikes from almost every era, but they also had a few custom leather wraps.  When you think of leather wraps, you think of handlebars, right? Yea, those were wrapped, along with the frame, saddle, stem, fork, and in some cases fenders. Definitely not something you see on a grocery getter!  So fast forward a year, I stopped back in to the shop and had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Beletsky about the work his father Bob Beletsky does with leather wrapping. 

Bob has been the leather industry for more than 35 years and even opened up his own leather business, Chesapeake Leather Works, but his real passion is tinkering with classic/vintage bikes. Naturally, his bike hobby and leather talent came together to create some bikes that are completely unique.  Matt showed me a 1983 Pinarello with one of Bob’s signature wrappings.  Made out of custom dyed Ostrich leg, Bob cuts the leather into strips and then uses leather glue to adhere the leather to the frame, all the while cutting very precisely around the lugs. The painstaking work continues for the rest of the tubes and fork blades.  The handlebar features a more traditional wrap with custom stitch work. To cover the fenders, Bob uses an antique turn of the 20th century sewing machine with an integrated auger to get through the hard metal and then pass thread.  The end result is a 100% unique, fully functional frame that can be ridden everyday with very little maintenance (just apply some saddle care). 

Photo Courtesy of ontherivet.com

Photo Courtesy of ontherivet.com

In addition to the leather wrapped bikes, the vintage and high-end bikes, the shop had a Houdaille bike that features a pre-Biopace crankset of sorts. 

Using a cam/bottom bracket combo, it eliminated the dead spots on the 60/45 tooth chain rings.  Sounds like a good idea... maybe we should get Casey on that?


fredspace said...

I have never understood some cyclists' fetish for leather do-dads on their bikes. Could someone please explain this to me?

Anonymous said...


Justine Valinotti said...

About fifteen to twenty years ago, I saw a few Land Sharks that had paint jobs similar to the pattern on the leather-covered Pinarello.

Patrick Murphy said...

I like leather accesories, especially the brown and honey colors. It gives bikes sort of a sophisticated "gentlemen-ly" look to them.

I don't know what to make of an ostrich leather-wrapped frame. Interesting concept, however.

Anonymous said...

Bas-ass would be black or brown leather-cladding... or maybe beige or white. Might lendthe the same effect as well finished wood on a classic car or truck.

Never been a fan of bright, multi-coloured leather, but the concept and craft deserves big praise.

That leather bound poteur fixed gear bike that's all over the 'net is really cool.

-- Rolly

Tim Joe said...

That saddlebag looked handcrafted, beautiful and costly. I assume they must have a line of luggage?

Anonymous said...

Sorry -- hideous paint/leather work on those frames. Please do not put anything like that in the Velo ORANGE catalog, which is classy to the last detail.

On the crank, it's a "Power Cam," apparently from the same company that made the frame, Houdaille. Not from France, despite the name, but Texas. Here's Classic Rendezvous on the company/crank.

Anonymous said...

Rotor made a mtb crank with a deadspot eliminating feature. Heavy and it worked.

Anonymous said...

Does Velo Orange sell a bag like ones of those in picture 5 here? I actually found one similar to this at Walmart, Bell made but just as quick as it was there and relatively inexpensive, they took if off the market. But I did get one. sort of for show and not eloquent with straps but I painted it black with shoe polish myself. If VO does not carry those barrel shaped bags, it could be considered. TC

VeloOrange said...

The bag in question is a custom made one by Bob.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Rolly, on the concept and craft

he should be getting orders from the Gulf countries.. No pun intended.. they love leather crafts over there

(as for myself I couldn't help but thinking about those ostrich legs..)

Eric said...

Ohhh please dont mess with those cranks. There is a reason that company went out of buisness. Its called a Powercam. They have unnatural feel. I couldnt get them off the Fuji Opus III I bought that had them on it. The unfortunate part is once you get the cam indexed you have to drill into the BB shell and pin it. God forbid you ever want to go back to a standard cranks set. My Opus is a mess from that thing. You want it to play with it you can have it. :(