MSRP: $1,675 (Frame Only), $5,275 (As tested)
By Jordon Carr
Building custom bicycles is an artistic passion few can actually call their day job. After nine years in the profession, Santa Cruz, Calif.-based John Caletti knows just how fortunate he is. “I love welding and machining; this is a great job for me,” he says. “I’m really happy to be able to be a craftsman, producing a quality, durable product here in the United States and doing it in the most responsible way I can.” Caletti has been building bicycles since 2003, and with the help of the thriving Santa Cruz framebuilding community, he continues to refine his art while crafting clean, functional bikes.
Creating a fast, comfortable, everyday bike was Caletti’s goal when he designed this handsome, steel, adventure bike. “For the Adventure Road I wanted it to shine when the surfaces get rough and the day long,” explains Caletti. “As you get off smooth pavement, the bigger rubber and slightly greater stability will help the rider cover dirt and choppy roads, while still being nimble enough to carve up a smooth, twisty paved descent with your buddies.” For the rider who knows the adventure begins where the pavé ends, this versatile bike has appeal.
Caletti’s building philosophy, like that of most custom builders, stems from a customer’s specific wants and needs for a particular type of bike. “I fine tune each bike per the customer; for what and how they ride,” Caletti says. “The Adventure Road is a distinction I’d like to build more of, as I love the mixed-route riding and find that I get a lot of customers who appreciate that type of riding and want this type of bike without necessarily knowing it. They come in familiar with ‘road’ and ‘cross.’ And they leave with the right bike.”
We strategically picked lines down rutted forest service roads, and the Adventure was right at home providing stable, comfortable human-powered exploration. Constructed utilizing a combination of Columbus Life and OX platinum steel tubing, the Adventure features a geometry that combines a traditional road bike and a cyclocross bike. A 73-degree seat tube angle paired with a 72.5-degree head angle make the Adventure agile through rough terrain, while a 99.7-cm wheelbase creates an extremely stable feel. Caletti also uses larger than average tubing for most of his frame construction, creating a punchy, lively feel that still offers the trademark forgiveness of steel.
Though the Caletti doubles as a work of art when hung in the garage (or your living room), once aboard and pedaling the two-tone blue beauty down a country road, it’s easy to forget about protecting the custom paint job and simply be delighted by the ride. Every ride on the Adventure was pure joy, whether it was a 20-minute spin around town or a six-hour slog through Colorado’s backroads. It was absolutely amazing how comfortable and refined the bike felt time and time again.
This is a piece of rideable art I’d have no problem opening my wallet for.
Handbuilt 36-spoke wheels laced to Chris King hubs finishes off the versatile Adventure Road bike, and a pair of 28c Gran Bois tires create the perfect meeting point for an array of terrain options. For control, Velo-Orange Grand Cru long reach brakes provide ample stopping power and a touch of class while allowing generous clearance for 28c tires and fenders.
Pairing his utilitarian steel frame with a modern groupset and cockpit allows the rider to use the Adventure for more than just exploration. Taking pulls in the local group ride, the Caletti felt fast and punchy without being harsh and uncomfortable. “I tend to like to use slightly larger diameter tubes as I think the benefits are very apparent to most riders,” explains Caletti. “Many riders are used to stiff carbon bikes and have come to enjoy the feel of the bike wanting to jump when you stomp on it. A bit larger tubing diameters give the bike a lot of pop.”
One ride on the Adventure makes Caletti’s building principles very apparent. “I think about balance a lot—how weight gets distributed—front to back, the balance of comfort and performance, stability vs. nimbleness, etc.,” he says. “At the end of the day, I want the rider smiling, riding longer or riding new terrain, maybe riding faster, but mainly having a great time on their bike—that’s when my job is done.”
Turning the pedals on the Caletti Adventure Road bike renewed my love for road riding. Spontaneously cruising out of town, each ride was a new journey toward the road less traveled. John Caletti’s knack for creativity, precision and inspiration elevates adventure to the forefront of every ride, giving the confidence and comfort to push further than before. Every ride made me smile.