Creating Rideable Art by Breathing New Life into Vintage Bikes

One look at a Sterik’s refurbished bicycle will tell you this: Stefen Mortveit is passionate about bicycles. That passion began as a kid, where the old story of breaking bicycles then fixing them got him to tinkering. A stint at the University of Waterloo led him to the legendary Backpeddling Bike Shop in nearby Guelph: a treasure trove of all things bicycle from the 1850s to today.

 

This refurbished 1960s Worthy Path track bicycle features wooden Cerchio Ghisallo rims and handlebars.

Words and photo: Colin Field

“The shop owner entertained my excitement and would give me milk crates to collect my parts in,” says Mortveit. “I’d spend hour upon hour sitting on the shop floor testing out options to use toward restoring my vintage rides. The joy I experienced finally completing these creations for the first time was immeasurable, and sparked a deep passion for the process.”

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Today, Mortveit hand builds custom bicycle wheels and restores, refurbishes or custom builds antique bicycles.

“I’ve always been fascinated with antique stuff,” he says. “Anything pre-1960s, that craftsmanship just doesn’t exist anymore. My passion truly lies in finding a random frame and learning about its history; figuring out who made it, how it was made and where it came from. I let the frame decide the direction of where the piece is headed in terms of finish. I can express myself artistically by pushing the parameters of the frame’s original purpose, and giving it a higher purpose in style, fashion, and capability. It’s definitely a labour of love.”

His current fleet of bicycles includes a 1950s Englebert track bike, a 1960s Road King cruiser, a 1960s Worthy Path track bike and a 1970s Peugeot tenspeed that formerly belonged to his father.

 

“I am on a mission to reproduce the elegance of historical bicycle manufacturing, and resurrect a unique cycling experience lost in the modern production era.” – Stefen Mortveit

 

“Usually people bring their own bikes,” he says, “or you can bring your dad’s old bike in, we’ll give it a second life. Or if there’s an idea, we can build a one-of-a-kind.”

From sandblasting the frame, to the meticulous attention to detail when it comes to part selection, finishes and overall style, Mortveit agonizes over every decision. And as a dealer for premium hand-made brands like Italy’s Ghisallo Wooden Rims and Challenge Handmade Tires, as well as White Industries and Novatec, Mortveit makes every refurb into a rideable work of art.

The next step in Mortveit’s mind is to begin building frames. “Moving forward my focus is to become a bicycle frame builder and produce handcrafted frames of vintage design right here in Collingwood,” he says. “I am on a mission to reproduce the elegance of historical bicycle manufacturing, and resurrect a unique cycling experience lost in the modern production era.”

And after drooling over the beautiful bikes Mortveit has created, we wish him all the luck in the world in this endeavor. If you have an old bike, or want to buy one of Mortveit’s fleet, check out his work at steriks.ca.

 

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