deeper into the world of custom bikes
My cycling buddy Mark’s foray into the world of custom-build bikes has piqued my interest, and using the miracles of the Internet, I have been looking further into this strange, specialist world. Here are my travel notes.
Thorn, the makers of Mark’s lovely bike, are probably the best known of the UK’s crop of bike makers. Based in Bridgwater in Somerset, they make their own bikes, mainly tourers and tandems, on site. You don’t just go on their website and click ‘add to basket’ like you might at wiggle, however – the process, which Mark has explained to me, is rather like going to your tailor’s in Savile Row for a bespoke suit. Quality is the only criterion in such a company – thus they are not as accessible and mass-market oriented as other bike makers.
You are measured in ways you never thought possible, and this data is translated into tubing lengths and geometry commensurate with your exact stated requirements, and very likely a rohloff-equipped drive train. Looking at the bike Mark has ended up with, it looks like a fine way to go, if you’ve got the money. They even have a forum for customers, which is a great resource.
Koga Signature is another bespoke bike maker, a Dutch firm based in Heerenveen. The Dutch are one of the most innovative and dedicated cycling nations on earth, so the heritage is good. You can buy them in the UK, and you can also configure your own bike online using their very clever configurator.
Perhaps the most extensive directory of ‘specialist’ bikes available is the Kinetics web site, which deals with anything from a tourer to a tandem, via recumbents and folding bikes. Kinetics is a one-man-band, a guy from Glasgow called Ben Cooper who has one of the best websites I have seen in ages, absolutely full of info and well worth a visit.
That’s a small selection, I intend to extend this article and also look out for one about recumbents in the not too distant future.