Greatest ever uk frame builder?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
cooper_coleraine
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby cooper_coleraine » 29 Aug 2016, 8:58pm

Over a long cycling life I have had a number of different cycles; the best touring ride has been on a 1987 Raleigh Randonneur
built in their Specials division. They named each bike's builder, but I cannot put my hand on the documentation at the moment.

mercalia
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby mercalia » 29 Aug 2016, 9:18pm

apart from the frilly bits is there much difference between these bepoke frames and one that fits you and made of good quality tubes but off the shelf? seems to be boutique by another name.

SpannerGeek
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby SpannerGeek » 29 Aug 2016, 9:44pm

mercalia wrote:apart from the frilly bits is there much difference between these bepoke frames and one that fits you and made of good quality tubes but off the shelf? seems to be boutique by another name.


It's a bit like the Japanese Samurai tradition after a bit. Some frame builders are just better craftsmen than others, and that, in the end is what you're paying for. Essentially these are works of art in metal, so as with a good painting, what you're getting is the creative end result of thousands of man hours of experience, probably gained from a time served artisan before them.

Off the shelf usually means 'in a hurry', ie they're just banged out as many and as quick as possible. Quality of course will suffer. Fortunately with tube sets like Reynolds 531 which were so robust it really didn't matter. But Reynolds 753 and 853 builders had to do extensive training and testing and they could only be built by 'approved' craftsmen. I've never had an off the shelf frame which was other than 'ordinary' to ride. My Bob Jackson 853 on the other hand... It's beautiful, to ride and to look at!

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speedsixdave
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby speedsixdave » 29 Aug 2016, 9:45pm

TrevA wrote:Pongo Braithwaite!


Another vote for Aende here! Although I have a certain amount of consumer's bias, as I suspect TrevA does.

Pongo was a proper artisan builder who would have a crack at anything - tourer, tt bike, tandem, even repairs and adaptations to one of my Moultons - and did all the work himself in that front room on Castle Boulevard. Some framebuilders (such as Mercian) are of course teams of builders and a slightly different proposition.
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TrevA
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby TrevA » 29 Aug 2016, 9:57pm

I'd also like to vote for Brian "Pinky" Green, the founder of Langdale Lightweights in Nottingham.

Had several bikes/ frames from him over the years. sadly, no longer with us, but the business is run by his son, Mick.

Brucey
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby Brucey » 29 Aug 2016, 11:03pm

mercalia wrote:apart from the frilly bits is there much difference between these bepoke frames and one that fits you and made of good quality tubes but off the shelf? seems to be boutique by another name.


unfortunately 'yes'. Slapdash is a harsh word to use but that is the one that springs to mind when you look at some OTP frames that were made back in the day. Faults such as

- overheated joints
- inadequate braze metal fill
- poorly fitting parts
- badly mitred tubes
- badly toleranced BB shells
- inadequate press-fit tolerances on the headset
- wonky dropouts
- poor alignment
- no reaming in the seat tube

are not at all uncommon in mass-produced steel frames, and hardly did justice to the '531' sticker on them. In fairness some makers were better than others; eg a Raleigh frame built in the lightweight division was likely to be a quality piece of kit by most people's standards.

cheers
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fastpedaller
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby fastpedaller » 29 Aug 2016, 11:36pm

I remember in the late 70's when Holdsworth were bought by a larger manufacturer that (it seemed) every frame out of their works had mis-matched brake spacing, so they needed a very long reach front brake and a very short reach rear brake. The one I had was utterly horrible (compared to a mass-produced Carlton), and (thankfully I spotted it due to it's yellow colour) cracked on the down tube at the end of the head lug! Now Planet X have taken over the Holdsworth 'badge' it looks like at least some manufacture may return to the UK. If the Quality of their Taiwan frames is anything to go by, then all will be good - My Pompino frame from Planet X is a nice product.

mercalia
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby mercalia » 30 Aug 2016, 12:00am

Brucey wrote:
mercalia wrote:apart from the frilly bits is there much difference between these bepoke frames and one that fits you and made of good quality tubes but off the shelf? seems to be boutique by another name.


unfortunately 'yes'. Slapdash is a harsh word to use but that is the one that springs to mind when you look at some OTP frames that were made back in the day. Faults such as

- overheated joints
- inadequate braze metal fill
- poorly fitting parts
- badly mitred tubes
- badly toleranced BB shells
- inadequate press-fit tolerances on the headset
- wonky dropouts
- poor alignment
- no reaming in the seat tube

are not at all uncommon in mass-produced steel frames, and hardly did justice to the '531' sticker on them. In fairness some makers were better than others; eg a Raleigh frame built in the lightweight division was likely to be a quality piece of kit by most people's standards.

cheers


well its only a few bits of tube not 1000's to get right into a finished product. Are frames any where made by machine or are they still hand made? if machines can build cars they should be able to make frames and put the boutiques out of business?

pete75
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby pete75 » 30 Aug 2016, 7:46am

mercalia wrote:apart from the frilly bits is there much difference between these bepoke frames and one that fits you and made of good quality tubes but off the shelf? seems to be boutique by another name.



Why should there be? For example Bob Jackson sell made to measure and off the shelf frames. Both are made on the same premises by the same people. It's unlikely there'll be any quality difference between the two.

No idea what connection a boutique has with bike frames though.

SpannerGeek
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby SpannerGeek » 30 Aug 2016, 4:01pm

Simple economics. When making ofts frames, they'll be knocked out in batches, maybe as much as a dozen at a time. A hand made bespoke frame might take 30+ hrs to braze and hand finish. They'll be essentially perfect when completed. An oftp frame, maybe only 4hrs... You can't expect the same detail or care and attention.

You pays your money!

tatanab
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby tatanab » 30 Aug 2016, 4:47pm

SpannerGeek wrote:A hand made bespoke frame might take 30+ hrs to braze and hand finish. They'll be essentially perfect when completed. An oftp frame, maybe only 4hrs... You can't expect the same detail or care and attention!
Not necessarily. It used to be said that a good frame builder could build a good frame in a good day's work. Probably 10 hours.

Also, very respected builders would build "trade" frames. e.g Witcomb certainly built some in 1970s, and before that other builders would build frames under orders from a respected builder who might be busy or needed some frames quickly. It is certain that George Longstaff built frames to hang up "in stock" when he was quiet or on a whim. This was the case in 1994 when I was able to phone him about a stock frame, have a few braze ons fitted to suit me, and then painted to suit m.

reohn2
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby reohn2 » 30 Aug 2016, 6:18pm

tatanab wrote: ......It used to be said that a good frame builder could build a good frame in a good day's work. Probably 10 hours......


I'd agree with that,good professional who knows his stuff in any trade can be an education to watch and be quick with it,it's knowing the wrinkles of it that speeds up the job.
People for the most part only see the paint finish.

SpannerGeek wrote:You can't expect the same detail or care and attention.from an OTP frame

Why not?
I have five OTP Tig welded frames and one recently sold that great,with extremely neat welds and all dimensions spot on,all but one are Tiawan built.
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pete75
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby pete75 » 30 Aug 2016, 7:16pm

reohn2 wrote:
tatanab wrote: ......It used to be said that a good frame builder could build a good frame in a good day's work. Probably 10 hours......


I'd agree with that,good professional who knows his stuff in any trade can be an education to watch and be quick with it,it's knowing the wrinkles of it that speeds up the job.


Speed is the great difference between a skilled tradesman and someone who just knows how to do the job.
Last edited by pete75 on 30 Aug 2016, 7:20pm, edited 1 time in total.

Brucey
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby Brucey » 30 Aug 2016, 7:17pm

tatanab wrote:
SpannerGeek wrote:A hand made bespoke frame might take 30+ hrs to braze and hand finish. They'll be essentially perfect when completed. An oftp frame, maybe only 4hrs... You can't expect the same detail or care and attention!
Not necessarily. It used to be said that a good frame builder could build a good frame in a good day's work. Probably 10 hours.

Also, very respected builders would build "trade" frames. e.g Witcomb certainly built some in 1970s, and before that other builders would build frames under orders from a respected builder who might be busy or needed some frames quickly. It is certain that George Longstaff built frames to hang up "in stock" when he was quiet or on a whim. This was the case in 1994 when I was able to phone him about a stock frame, have a few braze ons fitted to suit me, and then painted to suit m.


it is all true, including what spannergeek said; there can be many tens of hours in preparation and hand finishing of lugs. A frame that is merely 'good' won't have that amount of work in it. I am lucky enough to own a Witcomb frameset that was sold with the man's name on it and it is way beyond just 'good' in terms of the work that has been put into it, and no way did it take just ten hours.

cheers
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drossall
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Re: Greatest ever uk frame builder?

Postby drossall » 30 Aug 2016, 7:34pm

speedsixdave wrote:
TrevA wrote:Pongo Braithwaite!


Another vote for Aende here! Although I have a certain amount of consumer's bias, as I suspect TrevA does.

Pongo was a proper artisan builder who would have a crack at anything - tourer, tt bike, tandem, even repairs and adaptations to one of my Moultons - and did all the work himself in that front room on Castle Boulevard. Some framebuilders (such as Mercian) are of course teams of builders and a slightly different proposition.

I too still have my Aende, on which I raced (without distinction of any kind) for many years. I raced in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area on quite a few occasions around 1980. (The attraction wasn't actually the cycling; I married her after she finished as a student.) It was curious that a large percentage of machines up there seemed to be Aendes; I never worked out why.

And I'm very happy with my Mercian tourer. Being originally a Cheshire rider, and so not too far from Derby, I found Mercian an object of desire for many years. The truth, I suspect, is that few of us have ridden enough of these "names" to have an unbiased opinion. And the cachet of a name will always have an influence. But a good, hand-built frame is a joy to own.