Classic Frame Builder Wanted

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby thirdcrank » 20 Apr 2018, 9:40am

jrsbike wrote:As the OP I wish to thank the contributors for their insightful comments. ....

In spite of some crossfire :wink: I think your query struck a chord with many on here. The "bike of your dreams" to mark a special occasion has been the subject of a few threads on here. My own special occasions were first, in 1980, when I had a pay rise beyond my wildest dreams and went to Jackson's and then in 1998 when I had just retired and went to Woodrupps for another. If I mention that I've also benefited from the expertise of Ellis Briggs, Chris Marshall and his former gaffer, Jonny Mapplebeck at Pennine Cycles, it only illustrates that this bit of the World - West Yorkshire - has been the home to a significant surviving chunk of the lightweight bike trade.

Having said that, the bike trade like the rest of the world has moved on. In 1980, I went for what then seemed to be the gold standard: Campag. I made the mistake of eschewing what seemed like the fads of 6 speed freewheels and 700C wheels. I spent a lot of time and money on subsequent modifications. By 1998 I'd learnt my lesson and was ready to embrace the latest thing. Now, it's back to double clangers, there seems to be no limit in sight to the eventual number of rear sprockets and carbon fibre seems to have heralded the arrival of the disposable bike. Brucey has put a lot more detail about these changes.

All the best with this and if you need more info about specific builders, there'll be somebody on here who's a local. I need binocculars to make out the detail but I can see Jackson's out of my back bedroom windows and Woodrupp's is only just out of sight in the valley beyond.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby scottg » 23 Apr 2018, 7:30pm

Samuel D wrote:At the hand-made bicycle shows, most of the builders from all countries are trying to get noticed with gimmicks. No thanks. To me the whole point of a classic British frame is its ancient, hallowed, essentially perfect design.

Bates, Baines Flying Gate, Thanet, Paris Gablier and Alf Hetchins all agree with you.

Not my Bates, mine is BRG with gold lining.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby willcee » 23 Apr 2018, 10:26pm

Interesting stuff as always.. the OP has a hankering for a works Raleigh..and i agree that many are still trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak, in the last contri he has mentioned all those marques which had something different and radical back in the day.. I restored quite a few of those many years ago, a friend ,very experienced framebuilder and knowledgable CTC member pointed me to Rotrax and i built a couple and they were the plain jane lugged clubman 531 Shirley models .i .m .o. they would ride the ass of any of that fancy stuff that i had experience of ..absolutely sublime.. those 2 together with a Dawes double blue[ Accles &Pollock steel] were my old school favourites.. not forgetting a Columbus sl early 90's de Rosa another classic and great machine, race , or ride all day.. whichever you chose..lent it to a local very successful clubman, nearly a vet at that stage and he blew everyone off his wheels on Sunday training run, including all the fancy carbon kit at thousands of ££'s.. none of them thought a steel could ever do that...good luck with your project.. will

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby Jezrant » 23 Apr 2018, 10:45pm

jrsbike wrote:As the OP I wish to thank the contributors for their insightful comments. These have been very thought provoking as I began to consider other possibilities and got off track from my original intent. I thank Brucey for throwing the hook out and reeling me back in to my plan. There are so many talented builders in the UK, USA and Italy who are keeping the fire going and I thank them for their commitment. As it happens there is an interesting '73 Raleigh MK IV that has come up locally that I will investigate as well as an early '80s Gios Torino but I shall hold fast and look away from the Italian temptress. If this does not work out then I have excellent resources to draw upon from this post.

Closer to home, I would have thought Waterford could build you a lovely replica of a Paramount with old school tubing and 1" steerer and get you measured up properly as well: ... nd=showall

Vintage Gios in the States can be a little tricky. There were real ones and copies. However, they still make replicas:

In the UK, I can heartily recommend Woodrup. They built a frame for me some years ago to my specs that they jokingly referred to as "retro". They are still hand-building custom frames today in their own premises. I would have thought they too can source the correct tubing etc, but the finished frame should really have Woodrup transfers or Sayles if the frame is built by Kevin.

If you do go down the custom replica route, make triple sure you and the frame-builder are in complete agreement about all the details. All too easy to make pricey mistakes.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby patthebike » 29 Apr 2018, 11:14am

I've only just seen this post, a couple of frame builders that I've not seen mentioned yet are:

Geoff Roberts

Winston Vaz, who worked for Chas Roberts (Geoffs brother) for many years

Chas Roberts himself has now stopped otherwise I'd recommend him. (I have 2 of his bikes, am guessing they were actually built by Winston or Geoff)

I saw someone mentioned Dave Yates, he is also an excellent frame builder

No idea if they ship to the states, that's for you to determine!

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby Paulatic » 24 Aug 2018, 12:02pm

slowster wrote:Dario Pegoretti is considered by many much more knowledgeable than me to be the greatest steel framebuilder, and I am not aware of any other builders with his pedigree, e.g. builder of the frames for the likes of Indurain and other top riders in the 1980s and 1990s, when almost all frames were steel, and one of the pioneers of using TIG welding for steel frames.

To dismiss him simply because of his artistic leanings or a commercial relationship with Rapha, is shallow, foolish and disrespectful of his experience, knowledge and skill acquired over decades. His bikes attract a premium price precisely because he is considered the best, and that status has also allowed him to indulge his artistic leanings. That inevitably annoys some who would like to knock him off that pedestal (tall poppy syndrome). Moreover, it is less likely that any new steel framebuilders will reach his level because the opportunity to develop the skill and experience by building lots of frames for top riders no longer exists as a result of steel being replaced by carbon as the standard frame material.

If I were seeking a touring or audax bike, I would choose one of the UK framebuilders who has similar levels of experience in building that type of frame, but for a classic steel road race frame if I had the money I would choose Pegoretti - probably the Luigino model which is a traditional style lugged and brazed frame with a 1" threaded steerer.

Luigino has died aged 62 ... um=twitter
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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby JohnW » 24 Aug 2018, 1:24pm

thirdcrank wrote:

I'd recommend thinking about not only the building of the frame - which is the obvious priority - but thinking of the arrangements for delivering it to you in a timely manner. We've had a couple of concerned threads from people, including one American poster, who have experienced problems in this connection with excellent builders but slow delivery. It can be awkward trying to sort out something like that if you live locally but a nightmare long-distance.

I've no recent experience of either company but both Jacksons and Woodrups used to export a lot of their frames to the US when handmade lightweight bikes were more popular so they were geared up for the business.

I'd endorse what Thirdcrank says. There has been a thread from a resident of Alaska which has been a horror story - not relating to quality of frame. If I was having a new frame built I'd be going to Chris Marshall, Mercian or Woodrup. Chris Marshall is one of the best, but he'd probably want to measure you and as he's only in business in a small way delivery period would be a problem - even if he wanted to supply to overseas. My most recent frame was a Mercian, and I'd return to them if not Chris. A friend of mine has a recent Woodrup and it really is good.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby geomannie » 24 Aug 2018, 1:43pm

Try Dave Yates I have just had this classic audax/tourer built and its the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. Dave know his stuff. I selected an 1/18" headset but maybe 1" would have been more classic but I thnk the look is still OK.
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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby David Cox » 24 Aug 2018, 6:59pm

Great thread really interesting and well informed as usual..Hope the OP gets what he wants. Agree about getting measured up to your current requirements. My bikes have changed a lot over the years partly to reflect aging not sure that a replica of my first good bike would fit me now.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby alexnharvey » 24 Aug 2018, 10:46pm

It may be with checking out the forum as well if searching for an original Raleigh.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby peetee » 24 Aug 2018, 11:10pm

If you want a Raleigh SPDU frameset but can't find one see if you can find a frame made by Rick Powell. He is a former SPDU craftsman and I have owned two of his frames. One was a 531Pro which was the most comfortable bike I have ever owned. The other which I still have is a 753 and it's my best bike (of too many!). I have owned a lot of Reynolds frames from various sources over the years and know that it's not enough just to have the right materials. You really do feel the difference when it's put together with skill and attention to detail and the satisfaction of owning a perfectly finished and detailed piece of craftsmaship cannot be overstated.
There were clearly other master builders at Raleigh and I don't know if they carried on working after their tenure at the Big R. Perhaps someone else is in the know?
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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby PH » 24 Aug 2018, 11:23pm

The question was posed four months ago and the poster hasn't been back since, they may or may not have found what they were looking for.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby JohnW » 25 Aug 2018, 11:54am

PH wrote:The question was posed four months ago and the poster hasn't been back since, they may or may not have found what they were looking for.

He's waiting for a Derby native to mention Mercian! :roll: :lol:

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby slowster » 25 Aug 2018, 4:51pm

I was saddened to read of Dario Pegoretti's passing. I commented previously that no one would be able to develop similar skills and experience because the route to acquiring them by building lots of steel frames for professional riders no longer exists. I suspect the same is true for the handful of top UK framebuilders who started in the 1970s and 1980s and are still building.

Raleigh SBDU probably had a huge advantage in that they specialised in building very high end frames, including for professional teams, with the best materials including 753, and their size (backed by the financial strength and buying power of Raleigh) and the relatively large volume of such frames that they built may have meant that they were able to fine tune their designs and specifications in a way that many other custom builders could not, i.e. knowing exactly how far they could get away with using the thinnest walled tubing etc. for a given type and weight of rider.

Which leads me to wonder how much trial and error is involved in building up (and maintaining) the skill/knowledge to select an optimum combination of very thin wall tubes and build a frame that exhibits the very best of steel's ride qualities. Such trial and error might be potentially very expensive, either for the builder or for the customer, if it results in a significant number of frame failures, and I could understand builders preferring to steer customers towards a tube specification that might not be superlative but would still be very good and might have a longer lifespan by virtue of its thicker tubes.

In the current market where high end steel has to compete with carbon and titanium, I suspect that another factor is that for Reynolds the biggest customers and revenue/profit for tubesets like 953 and 853 are those manufacturers of off the peg frames and bikes who are using the 953 and 853 labels to sell their bikes, but who have to use wider diameter and consequently stiffer tubes to accommodate the current standard of 1 and 1/8" headsets combined with carbon forks. If it were the case that 953 and 853 perform much better when used in narrow thin wall tubes with 1" steerers, i.e. like 753 BITD, that is probably not something which Reynolds would want to confirm or publicise, because it might undermine a lot of their sales.

Reynolds do offer 953 and 853 in some very thin walled narrow tubes, but there seems to be very little publicity of frames built with them. Even though I could understand frame builders recommending 631, 725 or 525 in preference to 853 and 953 for most of their customers, I would have thought that very thin wall narrow tubed 953 and 853 might often be the most appropriate choice for shorter lighter riders, especially petite women, and yet I cannot recall any articles or marketing by frame builders mentioning this and giving examples of any such frames that they have built.

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Re: Classic Frame Builder Wanted

Postby peetee » 25 Aug 2018, 8:10pm

Interesting discussion slowster. As to your last point I would suggest that the builders you speak of generally offer a bespoke service where 'tubesets' are irrelevant and every customer gets a suitable tube for every part of the frame. Lighter tubes for lighter riders is only part of the equation. Comfort, responsiveness, passive loads (luggage), stomper or spinner all contribute to the right tube choice.
Winter had arrived in the land of Kernow. Along with it came wet roads and cool winds.
“Oh, my wheels and coupling rods!” Peetee exclaimed.