I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go over to the North American Handmade Bike Show this year. The decision was made quite late but I wanted to make something nice to ride over there on. I really like the look of old steel track bikes so wanted make something reminiscent of those and then make a few concessions to see how well it can do the touring thing. Touring accessories included raise handlebars, 5 speed Sturmey Archer hub, front rack, dynamo hub lighting and a bunch of bike packing bags. Overall it rode really well, was perfectly comfortable and didn’t get too battered by the journey.
Having got heavily into riding fixed geared bikes over the last year my son wanted the chance to have a go on the track. After a thoroughly good initial outing with Sutton cycling club at Lee Valley we got down to design his own bike. We used Columbus Max and Spirit tubing, some specially made aero tubing for the seat tube and a whopping tapered head tube. Topped off with some Cinelli components and carbon wheels.
This took some time to get to fruition but finished at last and speedily built up by brother. Columbus Zona tubing with enough room for 2.1s and compact chainset. We used thinner curved rear seatstays for a bit more long distance comfort.
Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances we were pretty late pulling the Tomobikes together for Milan. We ended up having two ready but only completed in the week of the race; a fully bespoke Columbus steel fixie and a custom designed titanium one. The selection of Columbus tubes were specifically to make it stiff and give good power transfer with a selection of Max, Spirit and Zona tubing where as the Ti one was a bit more traditional with only round tubes and built for a bit more long distance comfort. It was interesting the feel the difference in the rides. They obviously have different components and I think those Spin On These wheels help but the steel bike certainly had some get up and go. We’ll be doing some back to back tests including a carbon frame and component swapping in the near future.
As well as the race in Milan, it was a pretty busy weekend. The drive down through France and Switzerland, track day at the fabulous Vigorelli Velodrome, riding the city, bike cafes and our fair amount of pizza. It was nice to be able to ride Milan with my son and for him to see all the excitement. We had a great visit to our friends at Cicli Drali, had posh coffee at the Bianchi Cafe and hung out in a bunch of local bike shops like the great Velociclista. Roll on next year.
About 6 months ago we got together with a couple of riders who had never raced before and set the objective to help them start racing with the lofty aim of entering the Red Hook Crit in Milan in October. Well it’s been a journey but we made it and what an experience it has been. It’s been great to help some dreams come true, progress our own and make some friends along the way. Milan was a blast. We were down to one rider for the race but Jamal Benmoussa did himself proud. Thanks to everyone who helped and encouraged us along the way. Now to the excitement of what comes next…
Running a bit late but trying to get this bike together to take to Milan Red Hook Crit. High bottom bracket, Columbus Max, Spirit and Zona tubing. Bentley Components dropouts. The first full frame build on my new Bicycle Academy jig. Seems to be working out alright. Definitely quicker to setup than my home made version. Can’t wait to ride this thing.
Earlier in the year we started a fixed gear crit race team to help a couple of guys go racing with the ultimate aim to get to the Red Hook Crit in Milan in October. It’s been a bit of a journey but the guys have done really well in the Thundercrit, Nocturne and Minet crit races. It’s been a joy to help them through the races so far and we’ve just got an entry into the Red Hook crit race in Milan. Looks like a cool skunk works roadtrip to Italy coming up.
It was some considerable time in the making but finally finished Jenny’s bespoke town bike. Columbus Chromor tubing, a few bends, hub gear, custom stainless basket rack and lovely Velo Orange mudguards.
This had been delivered to The Netherlands some time back but I had forgotten to post the final picture. Here’s the lovely Eske with her birthday Tomo Balance Bike:-)
What an awesome time we had at MinetCrit3 yesterday. Sun was out and the racing was hot. We welcomed Arthur to the team as our 3rd rider, they all did well in the races and it was a pleasure to take the next step on our journey.
Just an amazing day at the Nocturne in the centre of London. Drama from off when our man Jamal was hit by a taxi on the way to the start. Frankly we were just happy he was ok and able to start although pretty sore. Pretty daunting circuit not to mention the pace at the front. Jamal did himself proud and it was a great day. Next stop the Minet crit at Hillingdon.
Second race for our Fixed Gear Crit team today at the Mr Porter Nocturne race in London. We only managed to get one entry unless we find some last minute luck Jamal will be out on his own.
This seems to have happened a bit quickly but due to a few quirks of fate, meeting a few people and a desire to take another step into the unknown we seem to have ended up with a fledgling Fixed Gear Race Team! This road may have already had a few twists and turns in it but we’ve been able to help two brilliant guys get to their first Fixed Gear Crit Race at the Thundercrit3 race at the Olympic Park in London. Fantastic event it was too. Not sure where this journey goes next other than Mr Port Nocturne next weekend:-)
When prepping for our tall bike ride to Bristol, having built the later two out of full cromo donor frames I realised I might be slightly under gunned with my old Raleigh and Viner mix. The excuse of someone expressing an interest in buying it was all I needed to convince me to build another. It also gave me the opportunity to test out building some long forks in preparation for another up coming project. So on the Saturday before the Bespoked show the hammer (angle grinder) dropped and my old On-One Inbred frame went to a higher place. Just about finished in time as the last parts only arrived on the Thursday before we left on the Friday. We did manage to give it a 400 yard test ride Thursday night just as it got dark and packed it for the first time as we left on Friday and it worked out great. I will probably fit a stabiliser bar to the front fork which I ran out of time to complete before the off. Will probably reduce the load on the fork crown as there’s quite a moment on those forks and help once I get the front disc mount sorted too.
For a bit of fun we wanted to ride down to Bespoked 18 on tallbikes. Having built the first one my brother, Pete, and friend Scott ended up with number 2 and 3. To ensure I could keep up number 4 was built in the week before the show. Awesome weather had dried the trail. Bikepacking gear came into it’s own. Started at 7am to make the first 50 miles to meet up with Scott for lunch as he was coming up from deepest Hampshire. Going along the Sustrans route 4 which was just beautiful. 100 miles on the first day put us in Devizes for the night. We then polished off the last 40 into Bristol on Saturday morning whilst picking my son up in Bradford Upon Avon after a stonking breakfast in the Lock Inn Cafe. 4 test rides given on route, one BMX track ridden and a lot of smiles raised. Raising funds for the Mind mental health charity and having a blast along the way. (http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mindthebikebespoked2018)
In one of our less sane moments we thought what better idea than to ride down to the Bespoked bike show this year. To make it slightly more entertaining we thought this was a good opportunity to test out the tall bikes which also meant finishing 3 of them and having them in a fit state to do about 260 miles over the weekend for the return trip from London to Bristol. Seemed like a good idea at the time but as it gets a little closer, well it seems like a long way. To ensure we didn’t think about changing our mind we added the prospect of supporting a good cause into the bargain so will be raising funds for the mental health charity, Mind, through the justgiving link below. Any support anyone wants to offer up will be gratefully received to help such a worthy cause.
When I first built my fat bike, it was an experiment to try one out. I had collected a few bits and picked up a pair of relatively cheap wheel to suit. They happened to have 100mm rims. I ended up fitting 4.0 tyres as that’s what I had.
Although it was great fun, it always had slightly peculiar handling – tram lined like a bugger and was super sensitive to camber on the road and trail. I experimented with a 80mm front (as I picked one up). It seemed a bit better but the back didn’t want lean over. Finally splashed out on some Halo Tundra 80mm rims and fitted to the back to match the width of the front. What a revelation. Handles properly, turns well and dropped about 150 grams. All round an interesting learning process.
It also proved that you could just about fit a 190mm axle in a park tools wheel jig which was a relief!
Got a new build on the jig. Classic style roadster with Alfine hub gear, disc brakes, porteur bars, Columbus frame tubing with Reynolds 631 forks. Plenty of coffee required to keep temperature up in the workshop.
I’ve made a few custom racks and realised I hadn’t got one on my Brompton. I wanted to create one that would help with wheeling it around as well being able to carry some stuff. Pretty happy with how this turned out.
In preparation for a #TallBikeTour next year we are expanding the flock. We created this double Marin framed mountain tall bike. With half Bear Valley and half Pine Mountain it feels pretty light with all that double butted cromoly loveliness. Managed to add in the beer bottle opener, just in case:-)
Enjoying some nice autumn weather riding before on my copper singlespeed. Fitted some Cinelli bars for the retro look. Really comfortable and look the business.
A chap contacted me for a possible interesting project based on a Dahon De Bike. Make a non folding lightweight mini velo with similarities to the Dahon. Knowing not too much about them I laid my hands on this little beauty for a test ride. Really good nick for a bike of that age. I’d have to say it’s somewhat flexible(!) and pretty intricate to fold. Even has a jocky wheel come out when it’s folded. Hope the project comes off as it looks pretty good fun and i’m sure would ride a lot better than the original.
For a planned tallbike camping trip I wanted to add some luggage capacity so added front and rear stainless racks and some additions to the rear frame to add some extra stuff is needed and add to the patchwork paint job.
Having done about 10 Mountain Mayhem 24 hour MTB races, when we heard this years 20th edition was going to be the last we thought we’d see if we could get some of the old team together. We got a team of 5 so after an absence of quite a few years and the first chance to ride one of one of my own bikes we were on for the race. The 29er did the business. Added some suspension forks a but kept the 1*10 gearing, which in honesty wasn’t quite enough, with a 34 front and 36 rear (and old legs) I could have done with a lower first gear. Great weekend had by all.
Roasting hot day but very cool dawn breakfast.
Summer was starting to heat up so I wanted to stop commuting with a rucksack. I only ever need one pannier so made this stainless single sided rack for my commuter.
More progress on the latest truss forks i’m trying out. Next on to the frame to go with them:-)
I ended up with a free Sunday afternoon and having watched the TED talk about tall bike bobby I couldn’t resist turning some of the scrap in the shed into something more fun. They seemed to get a mixed reception but it’s got two wheels, looks like a pile of fun and actually rides pretty well.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sjoerd from Velowland in the Netherlands recently and we doodled a type of truss fork. Started experimenting with a trial build of those last week. Hopefully get them finished this weekend.
One of the nice things about making bespoke bikes is can choose the geometry. I decided to go fairly aggressive head angle (for a fat bike) as the last thing I wanted was a barge. It’s steeper than anything else I saw in the market so although it keeps your attention on the descents it’s pretty awesome fun on twisty single track. Trying out a shorter stem, in spite of my natural xc tendencies also seems to help the fun!