So the time has come to reveal my choice of frame for my Bike for Life. Cue drum roll!
First, I want to say there are some great frames out there. My personal choice is not going to be right for everyone (or maybe even anyone), in explaining why I have made this choice I am not intending to attack the frames made by anyone else. Nor am I claiming to have made an exhaustive or even 100% logical decision.
So the criteria that helped me narrow down my choice were.
- Frame to be made in Britain rather than simply the product of a British company that is made abroad: for environmental reasons, to support our own economy, to support small companies, greater chance of the person who builds it being treated well by the company (in fact in many cases in Britain they probably own the company as most are very small)
- Made of Steel: reasonably low environmental impact, comfortable, easy to customise, easy to repair, wide choice of frames made in Britain
- The builder to have experience of and like Gates Carbon Belt Drive
- Support for Rohloff Hub gears with dropouts that support the OEM large slot for anti-rotation and also the EX box for cable connections.
- Disk brakes only
- Support for braze on fittings for low riders and other front racks
- Clearance for at least 40mm tyres with mudguards
- Separate mountings for racks and mudguards
- Willingness to add a plate for a kickstand to be fitted
Some of the bikes that I have mentioned in the past that came close included:
- On-One Pompetamine (at the moment the 2012 frames are selling for £99 no belt drive, not UK production, Alfine instead of Rohloff but very tasty.
- Milk Bikes RDA The Commuter. Gates Carbon Belt Drive, dynamo lights but not UK production and not Rohloff, limited options to front braze on changes
- A custom bike by any of the builders at the UK Handmade Bike Show: Wow, breathtaking.
In the end the company I chose did exhibit at the 2012 UK Handmade Bike Show and had just launched a “production” range of frames.
So I have ordered a “Stoater: AllRoad” frame from Shand Cycles. We managed to fit in a factory visit and a test ride on our way home from John O’Groats. In fact it is going to be more than just a frame because Steven (Shand) is going to be doing a lot of the assembly. So he will be able to make sure things like the front rack braze-ons are in the right place and ensure that the alignment for the Gates Carbon Belt Drive is spot on.
Small companies can vary widely in their attitudes to potential customers. With some you wonder how they sell anything! My experience so far with Steve and Russell is great, very responsive, very interested in my needs and genuinely interested in building the bike I want. Just as examples Steve has gone out of his way to source one of the very rare Jones H-bar handlebars and well as finding out the situation with the Civia Marketplace Porteur rack.
The Series so far:
- A bike for life
- A Bike for life: Dependability
- A Bike for life: Beyond the bike
- A bike for life: Cascading decisions
- A Bike for Life: Carrying stuff
- A Bike for Life: The Frame
- A Bike for Life: Tyres
- A Bike for Life: The British bits
- A Bike for Life: A suitable challenge?