DiNucci: The Portland Pioneer of Frame Builders

West of the Blue Mountains, the last formidable obstacle which the American pioneers tackled on the Oregon Trail (the historic route linking the Missouri River to the Oregon valleys and the Pacific coast) sits a large house on a hill, in the middle of nowhere. The house is surrounded by pine trees, which play home to the only neighbors around: birds and squirrels.

At the end of a rugged road facing Mount Washington, the house is so remote, it might be at one of the imagined “corners” of the round earth. The man who lives there prefers it that way. It provides him with the right kind of atmosphere to do what he does best: build bicycle frames. In this forested oasis, Mark DiNucci produces award-winning, hand-crafted bicycles; his work is  just one example of the 29 bicycle builders featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle. 

One could call DiNucci the Portland Pioneer of bicycle frame-builders. The first modern bike frame built in Portland was built by him, but not in his secluded mountain home. This was back in 1971, around the time when he was a young bike racer. In his first ever race, a rider forced him off a bend in the road, leaving him with a broken collar bone. DiNucci used his time off the bike to evaluate why his machine didn’t take the corners as well as others. The rest, they say, is history.

DiNucci Cycles The Elite Bicycle TEB

With no formal training, DiNucci operated on instinct. It took time to get things right, of course, but with desire and native intelligence, he has built some very special machines indeed.

It’s about the feel of the bike, DiNucci says. And while this technique may not impress techno geeks, it’s certainly worked for him. In the 2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, he took the prize for Best Lugged Frame: a cherry-red lip-gloss glistening steel frame, olive green mudguards, stitched leather-bound handlebars with matching brake hood, large flange hubs, and a single speed for fast coursing.

In 2011, DiNucci’s building intuition paid off again at NAHBS with his Best of Show townie. For just a one-man operation, where every lug is shaped, brazed, and filed by him, where dropouts and fork crowns are cast by his own two hands, the recognition he has received for his craft is rather impressive, and it is a testament to this man’s calling: bicycle building.

This brief portrait of DiNucci Cycles was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle TEB_96dpi_400pw_strThe Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.