The Walker Hour Bike

Support Your Local Framebuilder

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I won’t hold liking cats against you, but if you don’t like dogs, you’re dead to me. Some things aren’t left to opinions, like whether Star Wars is good or not. You’re free to be an outlier – and I loves me some outliers and I loves me a rebel – but in some cases, being an outlier doesn’t make you clever. It just makes you wrong. Also, the Laws of Physics show that the more lightsabers you have in a movie, the better the movie. Except for Episode I and The Matrix, two anomalies which balance each other out.

Similarly, loving carbon bikes is no crime. They are light, they are stiff, and many (most) are beautiful. My stable is filled with them. But a bike handbuilt by an artisan in a small workshop is something different altogether, and each one’s singular beauty is not a matter of opinion, unless you’re comfortable being wrong. I only have one so far, and it’s the custom steel I had made by NAHBS founder, Don Walker for my failed Hour ride last summer. (I’m planning a rematch with Weather this coming June.)

At this point every bike I own is custom, if only the paintwork. But even then, having a hand in how the bike is finished bonds you to the machine in a way that off-the-peg bikes simply can’t. And my Walker, even though I don’t ride it as much as a practical bike (you know, one with gears and brakes) every time I climb on it, I can feel its magic. There is something about custom in general and steel in particular that feels uniquely magnificent.

We’re in a crisis, my fellow Velominati. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is only a few weeks away and I just heard from Don that many of the builders who have been stalwarts of the event are struggling to the point that they can’t afford to attend, much less keep a booth there. People aren’t buying bikes as much as they were, apparently, and the bikes that are being bought aren’t custom, handmade ones. We’re buying kittens, not dogs. Cyclists are watching Star Trek, not Star Wars. It’s a fucking disaster.

This isn’t a call to go buy a custom frame, we aren’t made of money. But it is a reminder that there are giant corporations behind some bikes, and there are individuals behind others. And if you’re in the market for a bike, I’m asking you to remember that. And if you aren’t in the market for a bike but love looking at them, I’ll be at NAHBS this year (in godforsaken Salt Lake fucking City no less) and I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @asyax

    @fignons barber

    25mm Vittoria G+ on std HED Belgiums (not Plus), with latex tubes – they sound fantastic!

    I have a pair of 28’s I will try and fit once this set wear out – I am hoping they will fit but will be tight.

    Whilst the frame wasn’t exactly “local”, the wheelset was – Melody Wheels in Fremantle – White Ind T11’s on HED Belgiums 32R/28F.

    I love the damping effect the steel has on the road surface, as opposed to my carbon bike, plus the thing corners scarily well – I’m very happy with it.

    Apparently the G+ 25mm measure up closer to 27mm. I run them too and really like them.

  2. I really agree we buy far too much from global companies and by that loose contact to the the products we buy. They don`t have a story to tell. Currently I own a Specialized Diverge. My first and last carbon bike. I just bought a steel frame not from a local frame builder, we have none near by from which I could afford to buy a frame right now ( I have 3 kids and a dog ). But it is not off the peg, I am completing it, it will definitely be no mass product.

    Support your local bike shop, frame builder before it is gone.

    In my business many small shop were shut down because bigger companies made lower prices. Don´t let that happen in the bike business !!!!

  3. @Teocalli

    Apparently the G+ 25mm measure up closer to 27mm. I run them too and really like them.

    Yes, I’ve been using the 25mm G+ with shamal C17 wheels (which aren’t even as wide as the Belgiums), and mine measure 27mm. My guess is that those on the Belgiums are probably 28mm. They offer a nice comfy ride, but for racing I think I prefer a mounted tire to be 26mm max. I may try the 23mm Vittorias.

  4. @Teocalli

    @chris

    @ChrisO

    I agree simplicity and reliability is your better option, although TBF that is one of the advantages of steel over carbon.

    Having just watched the Pedaled film of last years race I’d be inclined to agree about steel. I’d want something a Romanian farmer could weld well enough to carry on with.

    Probably not 753 then.

    Ha! Brilliant! Made my day right there!

  5. @the Engine

    Re discussiona about dyno hubs acceptable in this context?

    Please rephrase your question?

  6. @Buck Rogers

    I want, and will have, a custom steel made out of 753 Reynolds because that is my dream bike, an ACTUALLY built out of the real early 1980’s 753 Reynolds steel bike with all original bits from the early ’80’s for my Eroica La Vie Claire Hinault Eroica bike.

    I know that I can get “better” steel but I cannot get “better” steel for the job that I will be using it for; i.e. riding a 1985 LVC Hinault bike at Eroica for the pure blissful feeling of knowing what it felt like to ride a 1985 LVC bike.

    So thanks, but there really is NOT any better steel for the job that I want.

    What’s more important: waiting another couple of years until you finally have your bike and get the paint chipped off from riding your first Eroica (and hurt/cringe) or take the short cut, which is just get a cheap steel bike that you can use for this year’s Eroica (or borrow one from @Teocalli).

    Someone who posts a lot on this website, wrote “I ride as much as I can but when I ride, I ride for the open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at my wrist, and the wind in my hair. Not to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and to hear the lamentation of the women!” Now that’s an example to follow…

  7. @KogaLover

    @the Engine

    Re discussiona about dyno hubs acceptable in this context?

    Please rephrase your question?

    Are discussions about dyno hubs acceptable in this context?

    (Sticky keyboard)

  8. @KogaLover

    @Buck Rogers

    I want, and will have, a custom steel made out of 753 Reynolds because that is my dream bike, an ACTUALLY built out of the real early 1980’s 753 Reynolds steel bike with all original bits from the early ’80’s for my Eroica La Vie Claire Hinault Eroica bike.

    I know that I can get “better” steel but I cannot get “better” steel for the job that I will be using it for; i.e. riding a 1985 LVC Hinault bike at Eroica for the pure blissful feeling of knowing what it felt like to ride a 1985 LVC bike.

    So thanks, but there really is NOT any better steel for the job that I want.

    What’s more important: waiting another couple of years until you finally have your bike and get the paint chipped off from riding your first Eroica (and hurt/cringe) or take the short cut, which is just get a cheap steel bike that you can use for this year’s Eroica (or borrow one from @Teocalli).

    Someone who posts a lot on this website, wrote “I ride as much as I can but when I ride, I ride for the open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at my wrist, and the wind in my hair. Not to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and to hear the lamentation of the women!” Now that’s an example to follow…

    Coffe/Keyboard interface issue………….

  9. Good lord, who in the hell told everyone to show off such goddamn nice bikes!! I don’t need this right now. My 8 month old is a money drain, nothin’ left in the Budgetatus. Then again, no time for bike riding, much less planning.

    Buck – I have dragged out my rollers for the first time since I left the Empire State. They’re so much less fun than riding outdoors, but damn, I’d rather ride in my bike room in the dark in the morning for however much time I get before the little man wakes up than not ride at all.

    I was about to ask, “Where is the NAHBS this year?” and then I read Frank’s very, very unsettling sentence. Salt Lake. Don’t forget to pack your flasks. I’ve been to two, one in VA, one in NC and met that Casati family at the second one.

    Oh, and Frank. Superb new bike! I’ve been riding my track bike on my rollers, more fun than geared bikes, at least for me.

  10. @Teocalli

    @chris

    @ChrisO

    I agree simplicity and reliability is your better option, although TBF that is one of the advantages of steel over carbon.

    Having just watched the Pedaled film of last years race I’d be inclined to agree about steel. I’d want something a Romanian farmer could weld well enough to carry on with.

    Probably not 753 then.

    Probably not.

    Speaking of custome frames, Angus was racing at the CX Nationals in Bradford on Saturday. Isla Rowntree was there racing in one of the Earlier races. She had a gorgeous custom singlespeed in unpainted 853. Wish I’d got some photos now.

  11. @fignons barber

    @Teocalli

    Apparently the G+ 25mm measure up closer to 27mm. I run them too and really like them.

    Yes, I’ve been using the 25mm G+ with shamal C17 wheels (which aren’t even as wide as the Belgiums), and mine measure 27mm. My guess is that those on the Belgiums are probably 28mm. They offer a nice comfy ride, but for racing I think I prefer a mounted tire to be 26mm max. I may try the 23mm Vittorias.

    I have the non-newest version of the Evo Corsas on my Ambrosio non-fattie rims. If a piece of gravel gets stuck to the tire it’ll rub against the fork. Clearance on my Casati Laser is soooo small. But the ride quality if awesome! The Vittorias are so much wider than 25 mm Veloflex tires. It’s pretty crazy.

  12. Frank – just mentioning this. Wippermann makes a black chain with gold pins. Might look hot as on your mostly black drivetrain and with those deep black rims.

  13. @Teocalli

    @KogaLover

    @Buck Rogers

    I want, and will have, a custom steel made out of 753 Reynolds because that is my dream bike, an ACTUALLY built out of the real early 1980’s 753 Reynolds steel bike with all original bits from the early ’80’s for my Eroica La Vie Claire Hinault Eroica bike.

    I know that I can get “better” steel but I cannot get “better” steel for the job that I will be using it for; i.e. riding a 1985 LVC Hinault bike at Eroica for the pure blissful feeling of knowing what it felt like to ride a 1985 LVC bike.

    So thanks, but there really is NOT any better steel for the job that I want.

    What’s more important: waiting another couple of years until you finally have your bike and get the paint chipped off from riding your first Eroica (and hurt/cringe) or take the short cut, which is just get a cheap steel bike that you can use for this year’s Eroica (or borrow one from @Teocalli).

    Someone who posts a lot on this website, wrote “I ride as much as I can but when I ride, I ride for the open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at my wrist, and the wind in my hair. Not to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and to hear the lamentation of the women!” Now that’s an example to follow…

    Coffe/Keyboard interface issue………….

    Wait, Conan the Barbarian posts on here?

  14. Oh, and almost forgot – my riding buddy just had a Capricorn cx bike built by Bradley Wilson, a fella of Waterford roots. It’s AVVesome and he went with a lilac purple color. Damn, I LOVE purple, it’s a stunner.

  15. @Buck Rogers

    @nathaniel spencer mork

    @Buck Rogers

    @ChrisO

    Most shops will not do it because it requires a builder who has taken the Reynolds 753 building course and also it needs chroming and a lot of shops will not do that, either. A few builders I spoke to said that they had never taken the course and would not try it without having done the course and that I should not trust any builder who would do it that had not taken the course.

    Bit of a fix!

    Buck there are more modern better alloys out there than 753.

    Right! I COMPLETELY get this as I have said two or three times already in this thread (but I really cannot blame you for not noticing as I post about 20 times a day, eh?)

    I want, and will have, a custom steel made out of 753 Reynolds because that is my fucking dream bike, an ACTUALLY built out of the real early 1980’s 753 Reynolds steel bike with all original bits from the early ’80’s for my Eroica La Vie Claire Hinault Eroica bike.

    I know that I can get “better” steel but I cannot get “better” steel for the job that I will be using it for; i.e. riding a 1985 LVC Hinault bike at Eroica for the pure blissful feeling of knowing what it felt like to ride a 1985 LVC bike.

    I have a lovely steel 2006 Lemond bike, I have a really awesome Merckx Scandium bike, I have a fucking amazing mind-blowing Hampsten/Eriksen Ti road bike (hell, I even have an original 1993 Team Motorola Merckx) but now I will have the dream bike of my youth.

    So thanks, but there really is NOT any better steel for the job that I want.

    A man has to have a plan ! And cheers to this one. Love it.

  16. @KogaLover

    @Buck Rogers

    I want, and will have, a custom steel made out of 753 Reynolds because that is my dream bike, an ACTUALLY built out of the real early 1980’s 753 Reynolds steel bike with all original bits from the early ’80’s for my Eroica La Vie Claire Hinault Eroica bike.

    I know that I can get “better” steel but I cannot get “better” steel for the job that I will be using it for; i.e. riding a 1985 LVC Hinault bike at Eroica for the pure blissful feeling of knowing what it felt like to ride a 1985 LVC bike.

    So thanks, but there really is NOT any better steel for the job that I want.

    What’s more important: waiting another couple of years until you finally have your bike and get the paint chipped off from riding your first Eroica (and hurt/cringe) or take the short cut, which is just get a cheap steel bike that you can use for this year’s Eroica (or borrow one from @Teocalli).

    Someone who posts a lot on this website, wrote “I ride as much as I can but when I ride, I ride for the open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at my wrist, and the wind in my hair. Not to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and to hear the lamentation of the women!” Now that’s an example to follow…

    Right! But the one factor not taken into consideration here is not the Eroica bike (I could probably get it built up in time) but the VMH and kiddos! I’m already doing the RVV full cyclo–no way of getting off to more events this year, I’m afraid.

    But I’ll be there next year with my 1985 Hinault LVC bike and I will ride that fucker into the ground. She will not be a museum piece but a workhorse that is ridden and loved!

  17. Then again, Christoph Aglert rides a pretty much standard Jaeger to race on…

  18. @wiscot

    Wait, Conan the Barbarian posts on here?

    No, it’s worse…

  19. @Cycle72

    I really agree we buy far too much from global companies and by that loose contact to the the products we buy. They don`t have a story to tell. Currently I own a Specialized Diverge. My first and last carbon bike.

    Off topic, but I’m thinking of getting a Diverge for a #9 bike – do the carbon versions come with mudguard/fender eyelets?

  20. @LeoTea

    Hi LeoTea,

    You can mount the plug and play fenders from Specialized or buy seperate eyelets for the fork otherwise you could Mount the rails of the front fender to the midblade eyelets of the fork. The chainstays have eyelets.

    I am really satisfied with my Diverge even though my bottom bracket makes some noise. Think I am going to bring it to my bike shop when I have finished my next bike.

    cheers Andy

  21. @Cycle72

    I really agree we buy far too much from global companies and by that loose contact to the the products we buy. They don`t have a story to tell. Currently I own a Specialized Diverge. My first and last carbon bike. I just bought a steel frame not from a local frame builder, we have none near by from which I could afford to buy a frame right now ( I have 3 kids and a dog ). But it is not off the peg, I am completing it, it will definitely be no mass product.

    Support your local bike shop, frame builder before it is gone.

    In my business many small shop were shut down because bigger companies made lower prices. Don´t let that happen in the bike business !!!!

    The bike business is changing … for better or worse … whether we like it or not. There will be more and more direct-to-consumer bike sales. Not just Canyon, but Specialized, Trek, Giant, and Cannondale. Price and convenience will be more and more important to a lot more consumers. Many bike shops will have to figure out a new business model to stay in business.We may not always like the results, but consumer demand and market forces will determine what happens next in the bike biz.

    Custom frame building always has been and always will be a niche market. Yes, I ride a “mass produced” carbon fiber bike (Felt FC). But I also own a custom (or bespoke for my friends across the pond) Reynolds 653 bike (circa 1990). My “local” framebuilder has long since retired.

  22. @Cycle72

    What kind of bottom bracket with what crankset? I didn’t have a noise problem using adaptors when I first built my Felt FC (Ultegra crankset with FSA BB30 bottom bracket). But I ended up replacing the FSA bottom bracket with a Wheels Manufacturing outboard bearing bottom bracket.

  23. For Specialist builders of 753 have you tried Ellis Briggs? They built me a great race bike in the early 80’s (branded a Favori from memory). Their website states they have 753 accreditation.

  24. @chuckp

    Hi Chuckp

    I still have the Praxis Zayante cranks and the original Praxis BB30 my Specialized was equiped with. I still have warranty on it so my bike shop has to deal with that problem. Maybe the BBcups are loose.

  25. @Stuart Fairhurst

    @DVMR

    Good luck in your racing – Elinor Barker won the Amsterdam 6 days on a steel bike only last month, but as you say it’s enjoying the ride that counts more than frame material.

    Cheers, thanks, but I’d be reluctant even to call it racing. I hopefully won’t be taking it too seriously. But if I manage to not lose a couple of races, I’ll be pleased!

    On the whole support your local frame builder subject; absolutely, wholeheartedly agree with the principle, and I could only wish for a made-to-measure machine that is practically hewn from my own DNA, but then there’s the small matter of parting with substantial sums of legal tender. Not all of us have that kind of coin to part with at any one time.

  26. @asyax

    @the Engine

    Transcontinental Race – bloody hell! (Quite envious really!). Well I have the bike for it now…

    Note to self for this weekend, try to peel eyes away from this gorgeous bike long enough to guide its owner around the Adelaide Hills…

  27. @Mikael Liddy

    @asyax

    @the Engine

    Transcontinental Race – bloody hell! (Quite envious really!). Well I have the bike for it now…

    Note to self for this weekend, try to peel eyes away from this gorgeous bike long enough to guide its owner around the Adelaide Hills…

    Whhhhhaaaattt

  28. @Stuart Fairhurst

    Can’t beat seeing this:-


    Super sharp. That seat stay to seatpost wrap is always stunning.

  29. @DVMR

    I wouldn’t have been able to order a custom myself, it was a bittersweet experience because my mum died last year and although not a wealthy woman she left me enough to get a little ‘treat’. A custom steel bike seemed like the perfect thing (carbon just doesn’t fit the bill of a forever bike).

    The whole process of picking every detail was a welcome distraction at the time (only someone who reads this website will understand the length of time I spent agonising over QR skewers!)

    Best of all I got to put my Mum’s own Rule #5 on the top tube and I get a smile on my face every time I go out for a ride.

  30. @Stuart F

    Nice touch, and a stunner of a bike! Also, my condolences. By the way, I wasn’t directing the second paragraph of my comment to you specifically, but to the article itself. I would most probably do the exact same thing in your situation, and bizarrely, Rourke would likely be top of my list too. Guy Martin put him on my radar, and I have been very impressed by what I’ve seen of his work. Is it 853?

  31. @DVMR

    Thanks – power of the bike to help us through hard times is amazing!

    I can’t recommend the experience at Rourke’s highly enough – great group of lads and Brian is still running about chatting to the customers and offering advice – well worth a visit to ‘Kelly’s bar’ upstairs which is stacked with memorabilia.

    Glad you like it – 953 with enve 2 forks – all comes in at under 18lbs – could have gone lower by spending many more £$£$ but when you weigh 15st on a good day…..

  32. @Stuart F

    That’s really a cool story behind the gorgeous bike. And gotta believe Mum would dig it too. Cheers

  33. @Stuart F

    Very well done. So much more to a person (or a bike) than meets the eye on first blush.

    Thanks for sharing and sorry for your loss.

    It must be very nice to ride that gorgeous bike and know that a part of your mum is with you every time.

  34. @Stuart F

    That’s the most heart felt frame on the planet! Can feel the joy and sorrow on every ride.

  35. @Stuart F

    @DVMR

    I wouldn’t have been able to order a custom myself, it was a bittersweet experience because my mum died last year and although not a wealthy woman she left me enough to get a little ‘treat’. A custom steel bike seemed like the perfect thing (carbon just doesn’t fit the bill of a forever bike).

    The whole process of picking every detail was a welcome distraction at the time (only someone who reads this website will understand the length of time I spent agonising over QR skewers!)

    Best of all I got to put my Mum’s own Rule #5 on the top tube and I get a smile on my face every time I go out for a ride.

    Wow, Stuart. I came into my Tommasini via some money left to me by my paternal grandfather. My parents told me to spend it on something cool, not something I needed. It’s a Guest Article in the archives here.

    Sorry for your loss. Great bike! And what a good way to remember your mum…spinning around on that lovely bike. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Oh, and Stuart…I think your Mum laid down the groundwork for Rule V right there…

  37. Thanks to everyone for the kind words – just goes to confirm – nice people ride bikes!

  38. Hi Stuart,

    a really beautiful bike. Great way to remember your mum. Hope you have great rides on it

  39. @asyax

    @the Engine

    Transcontinental Race – bloody hell! (Quite envious really!). Well I have the bike for it now…

    Crikey. That’s a beautiful bike, Scott! So you couldn’t resist, huh?

    @the Engine So why not a Jaegher? It worked for Kristof.

  40. Interesting article…..

    Steel returns to professional cycling

  41. @sthilzy

    Interesting article…..

    Steel returns to professional cycling

    That’s pretty cool. Love that kinda thing. I love steel. But seriously… Think maybe steel returning to TdF has as much chance as Ferrari getting back to making cars outa steel?

    Really is a good point on the recycling. Steel counts for sustainability that’s for sure.

    Cheers

  42. @Bianchi Denti

    @asyax

    @the Engine

    Transcontinental Race – bloody hell! (Quite envious really!). Well I have the bike for it now…

    Crikey. That’s a beautiful bike, Scott! So you couldn’t resist, huh?

    @the Engine So why not a Jaegher? It worked for Kristof.

    I’ll be passing the shop in early April. Heresy alert – I’m of the opinion that I need disc brakes…

  43. @the Engine

    Need ? I can believe want that’s for sure. Jaegher is making such very cool bikes that’s for sure too. Cheers

  44. @Shandawg

    In the spirit of Rule #3: I made the mistake once to put a meme up here; one that I even created myself, so it was unique and not just plucked from the interwebs. Was not well received.

    Signed, your cycling sensei

  45. @Randy C

    @the Engine

    Need ? I can believe want that’s for sure. Jaegher is making such very cool bikes that’s for sure too. Cheers

    There’s a mountain of painful practicality to look forward to in 2017.

    My road bikes have a tendency to eat rim brake pads and the TCR on conventional rims would see me have to change out blocks whereas disc pads should last the distance. Also from the point of view of practicality, in case of disaster, through axle disc braked wheels are available across a wide area because montianbikes.

    I’ll also go Group-San so that I can acquire spares in case of malfunction.

    I believe the Masturbation Principle may apply…

  46. @the Engine

    @Randy C

    I’ll also go Group-San so that I can acquire spares in case of malfunction.

    I believe the Masturbation Principle may apply…

    No Rule against Shimano!

  47. @RobSandy

    @the Engine

    @Randy C

    I’ll also go Group-San so that I can acquire spares in case of malfunction.

    I believe the Masturbation Principle may apply…

    No Rule against Shimano!

    More Guidelines – I’m a Gruppo man for the road and Bro-Set for CX/Gravel so Group-San on the TCR steed will at least give me the full set.

  48. @the Engine

    2017-enve-road-bike-fork-12mm-TA-jaegher01

    I’m sure the Jaegher boys can sort you out with a disc set-up (even a Bro-set – sacrilege)

  49. Someone supported a local framebuilder a while ago… This might be something for @Frank: for sale on Dutch-ebay-like-site:

    Description: Bike will be sold as is, fresh barnfind, has only seen soap since found
    67Cm
    Ex pro bike and an extremely rare size
    Reynolds 531 tubing (probably with a mix on other tubes to improve stifness)
    Clement tubes (completely fucked up)

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