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Tech Monthly: WHEEL LIVES: Top custom bikes: Dream specs that get you noticed: Kit Buchan looks at the designs that are bringing artistic and technical innovation to the road

June 22, 2014

Kit Buchan


Location Southampton

Type of bike Signature 853 Road Frame

Approx cost pounds 2,150 frameset, copper plating around pounds 350 extra

Tom Warmerdam takes great pride in his lugs. These are traditional metal sleeves that join the tubes of the frame together, considered by many experts to be the touchstone of skill in framebuilding. Warmerdam's lugs are artistic enough for even the most discerning rider and this particular frame, with its copper-plated finish, is likely to provoke bitter envy at the lights.


Location Hackney, east London

Type of bike Alanna's Town Bike

Approx cost pounds 3,750

According to Thomas Donhou, this bike's vintage design was inspired by an antique bracelet belonging to the customer in Berlin. Bi-laminate joints hold the frame together and the structural solidity lost by dropping the top tube is compensated for by the double seat-stays, which 'take inspiration from the art deco period'. The brake cables are hidden within the frame and the chain guard and gear shifter were hand-made by Donhou, whose name is visible in the artistic metalwork.


Location Livingston, West Lothian

Type of bike Stoater FT

Approx cost From pounds 2,400; pounds 3,500 with Rohloff hub

Describing themselves as 'more North Face than Lycra or tweed', Shand builds bikes for the more rugged, experienced cyclist. The Stoater FT, with its big wheels and hearty frame, is designed for longdistance off-roading and built to the individual's needs. Though built for fun in the woods, Shand also fits its Stoaters with very hi-tech gear. This one carries a low-maintenance Rohloff gear hub and can be fitted with a carbon drive belt system.


Location York

Type of bike Brandon's 29+ Trail Bike

Approx cost Titanium frames from pounds 3,500

Dan Titchmarsh, who learned his trade making motorcycle frames, built this bike to highly specific requirements. It is designed for use year-round as a single-speed commuter bike. The rear dropouts and tyre clearance are shaped to accommodate an internal hub and larger 'fatbike' wheels, to allow it to blaze down Swedish trails in winter. The exposed metal is stainless steel: 'They use a lot of salt on the roads in Sweden,' says Titchmarsh, 'I didn't want any rusting.'


Location Croydon

Type of bike Roughstuff Esquire

Approx cost From pounds 2,800

The basic structure of the Roughstuff was developed in the 80s as a clever solution to the 'just one bike for everything' conundrum. A long, low-slung, steel randonneur, it is designed for absolute versatility in all weathers, on- or off-road. 'Each bike reflects the owner's personality,' says Roberts, offering various shapes and fittings to suit the individual rider. On this model, the silver strips on the top and down tubes mark the points at which the frame can be taken apart for easier transportation.


Location: Yorkshire

Type of bike: Feather Team Bike

Approx cost Price on application

Ricky Feather worked in factories for many years making small parts for machines, before he struck out on his own building custom steel frames. His bikes are prized for the meticulous care taken in their welding, fillet brazing and overall finish and Feather has become one of the most respected names in the arena of new framebuilders. This bike was developed for Feather's own co-operative cycling team, founded this year.


Location Co Tipperary

Type of bike Special Branch

Approx cost pounds 1,770, frame only

'I select each plank very carefully with grain alignment being of the utmost importance,' says Liam Murray of Woodelo, who builds custom bikes from shock-absorbent ash wood. This natural material, he believes, makes for a smooth and speedy bike, superior to 'cookie cutter' metal or carbon bikes. 'Some people just don't fit the mould of off-the-shelf, mass-produced bicycles,' says Murray. 'We couldn't make two identical bikes even if we wanted to.'

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Observer (UK)

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