The good lady and the new bike

The good lady had her birthday yesterday and it coincided that it was the first day since Saturday that has seen sun.

Saturday she picked up her new bike on cyclescheme – a genesis Tour de Fer touring bike – which has been delayed due to some issues with the fork.

Screenshot 2015-03-11 14.29.39

Was a peachy day – but don’t think I have ever cycled so slowly – she better speed up or she will be touring alone (or still cycling whilst i set up tent, cook dinner, watch a movie and have a wee nap)

But lovely to take in the views and enjoy the sun with a real feel of spring in the air.

M B day-2

The Genesis Tour de Fer is a thing of beauty

M B day-4 M B day-5

My mercian was being shunned by the camera on the Tour’s first run out – but that Reynolds 631 is a beauty too ……

M B day-3

Touring Bike Build #4: The Frame Arrives and Dynamo Light time

out the box - and slip the handlebars on
out the box – and slip the handlebars on

The frame has arrived and 2 forks although think I might stay colour matched for the moment … Here it is in splendour (though nice Fuji Xpro1 and a 1.4 lens and some LightRoom tweaking)

hand cut lugs
hand cut lugs
named lugs
named lugs

mercian frame details-3mercian frame details-6

Nitto Rando bars
Nitto Rando bars
flayed bars
flayed bars

mercian frame details-4

and then bought a dynamo and light for the tourist setup – will piggyback the tail light off the back. Best thing is it generates full power at lowish speed and once you stop it has a stand light which stays on for 10 minutes – enough time to get a tent up ….

hub and revo light
hub and revo light

BLURB The Revo is an all new concept for Exposure Lights. For the first time Exposure Lights is doing away with batteries and embracing the latest in dynamo developments. New super-efficient dynamo hubs enable the Revo to be used both on and off road.

800 Lumens
Ride duration
Dynamo Hub


Hewitt Cheviot SE review (

This review taster from looks good …

Back in December, I went up to Hewitt Cycles in Leyland for a bike fitting and I’ll be testing two bikes off the back of that. The first one, a Cheviot SE tourer, has arrived in Devon for extensive testing.

The Cheviot SE is a traditional steel-framed touring bike, albeit with some modern touches, like the sloping top-tube. It’s an off-the-peg frame but Hewitt also sell a fully custom version, the Grampian, should you wish. The standard build costs £1,599 but the version I’ll be testing has a few upgrades and comes in at £1,805.

The frame is made from Reynolds 725 tubing – no funny profiles here, all the tubes are pleasingly round. Hewitt have their off-the-peg frames made in Taiwan – hopefully we’re well past the days when people looked down their noses at Far Eastern craftsmanship as it’s beautifully finished, with very tidy TIG welded joints.

There are three sets of bottle bosses, pump pegs (on the off-side seatstay) and some really lovely polished stainless steel dropouts. There also are proper brazed-on cable guides to protect the head tube which are always nice to see.

The fork is steel, this time in 631, with a traditional curve, low-rider mounts and a dynamo mounting tab. The test bike has an upgraded paint job, with white panels on the seat tube and down tube – that’s an extra £80 but it does look very smart. It may be a small thing, but the colour is described as ‘Anquetil Blue’. I have no idea if dark blue was Maitre Jacques’ favourite colour, but it made me smile.

If I have a single criticism before the testing starts it’s that the short head tube inevitably means a rather inelegant stack of spacers. The extra long steerer tube does allow plenty of flexibility when setting up the bike, but it’s not pretty. It’s only an aesthetic consideration though and the inch of spacer sitting on top of the stem could easily be dispensed with if this was actually my bike (they all go back, you know). As it’s going to be sold as ‘ex-demonstrator’ it seems reasonable to leave some wiggle room to accommodate a prospective purchaser.

The 9-speed drivetrain is a tried and tested mix of Shimano Deore bits – a 22/32/44 chainset, Hollowtech bottom bracket, long-cage XT rear mech and an enormous 11-34 SLX cassette, which gives a bottom gear lower than an ant’s kneecaps – 17.5in to be precise (they must have some big ants in Devon – Ed). It’s a setup that well suits a bike which is designed for fully-loaded touring.

I’ve opted for Dura-Ace bar end shifters because there’s something immensely satisfying about clunking through the gears and it’s easy to change several in a single shift.

Braking is taken care of by Tektro 720 cantis working from Cane Creek levers. They’re wide and strong and so far I’ve been impressed by the performance they offer (okay, I’ve already taken it for a spin around the block a couple of times).

Hewitt are known for their wheels (if they’re good enough for Bradley….) and the Cheviot comes with a handbuilt pair – Ryde Sputnik rims laced to Deore XT hubs with DT spokes on the front, and a mixture of DT and Sapim spokes on the back. Tyres are Conti Touring Plus Reflex in a 32c flavour but the frame will accommodate fatter rubber if you wish.

The finishing kit can be mixed up to suit but I’ve gone with pretty much the stock set-up. Deda compact bars are wrapped in Cinelli Gel bar tape (my personal favourite) and attached to a Deda stem. The seatpost is an alloy System EX and the mudguards are SKS P45s. None of the kit is particularly exotic, but it’s all solid, reliable and well-proven stuff.

I’ve chosen a San Marco Rolls instead of my usual Brooks. It’s a tourists’ favourite but not a saddle I’ve tried before. The leather cover also looks like the crust on tiger bread and small things like that always please me.

As I said earlier, the test bike has a few upgrades over the standard kit. One is the paint job, the others are the rack and front carrier. The standard build comes with a Blackburn EX2 rack included but we’ve got a Tubus Logo, which adds another £56. The standard build doesn’t include a front carrier, but we’ve got a Tubus Ergo, which matches the rear rack and costs an additional £70.

Paul Hewitt was at pains to stress that this is a touring bike and should be reviewed as such. That’s fair enough (and I will be taking it on some fully-loaded adventures) but I’d bet that plenty of Cheviots also spend time commuting, shopping and hunting out cake shops, which is what this one will be doing a lot of the time. It’s a serious tourer, but it’s also one of those practical do-almost-anything kind of bikes. It might even be coming on an audax or two, where it can keep my mate Lizzy’s Cheviot company.

Although the Cheviot is an off-the-peg frame, I’ve been fully measured up by Paul and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t fit perfectly. So far I’ve been riding it with my own ‘feels about right’ set-up, which does feel very comfortable, but I’ll be breaking out the tape measure and setting it to Paul’s measurements for the bulk of the test.

Full report to follow, once I’ve given it a jolly good going over. If you’ve got any comments or questions, stick ’em below the line and I’ll try to find answers during the test period.

In the meantime, head over to for more details on the range.

The touring bike build #2 – steel frame

I have bought a secondhand mercian frame to be the base for my new touring build. Getting 2 forks with it – one in silver with higher rake to avoid toe overlap esp when using mudguards.

The frame is constructed from Reynolds 631 tubing because I think it’s great for the touring bike I will be building up, Reynolds have an excellent heritage and this combination of high tensile strength enabling thinner tubes and hence light weight seemed the optimum cost effective approach for me.

Mercian say ‘The actual process of frame building is carried out by a single craftsman.
The individual tubing and components for the frame are then set aside or ordered-in by a frame-builder and boxed ready for the build date. When the frame is ready for building, the frame-builder begins by filing the lugs; with skill and patience the lugs are cut and filed with hand-tools to create the cut-outs and intricate designs which make Mercian frames distinctive and beautiful. The Vincitore lugs are crafted from plain lugs with spearpoints welded to the plain lugs then drilled, cut out and filed by hand for many hours to create the intricate distinctive look that is unique to a Mercian Vincitore Special.
The Reynolds tubes are then carefully mitred and fitted into the lugs and placed against an alignment board where the builder can create the right angles for the frame. The lugs and tubes are fitted together and the frame is pinned to hold securely in position while the frame is brazed in the open hearth. This part of the build process takes years of experience to perfect and has been passed down from frame-builder to frame-builder. The open hearth method of joining the tubes and lugs with a combination of air and natural gas has been used since the 1940’s and reduces the possibility of overheating the tubing, this method is gentler and kinder to the tubes than the quicker frame-jig and oxy-acetylene method often used today, a much higher and direct heat which can be too harsh in the wrong hands.Once heated to correct temperature the brass or silver solder is carefully flowed into the lug/tube joint to secure the tubing in the correct position. Each frame-builder has their own preferred methods of manufacture, but Mercian believe their construction methods are the reasons why their frames have longevity. It also means that if a frame tube is damaged in riding, it is possible to undo the brazing and replace a single tube or tubes without problem, meaning the frame can be repaired rather than buying a new one, giving me many years of pleasure.’

Here is an example of someone’s frame in Reynolds 853

New Steel for your next bike

A new stainless steel tubeset has been launched by tubing specialists Reynolds, following testing in the UK with Ted James Design.

The new 921 tubeset complements the brand’s premium stainless steels – the flagship 953 and the heat-treated 931, and Reynolds are taking orders now with deliveries expected early next year.

Composed of 21 per cent chromium, six per cent nickel and nine per cent manganese – used more commonly in aviation as ‘21-6-9’, the 921 was used by Ted James to build the first UK-made road frame of its kind, which passed the EN14781 frame fatigue test.

click screen below to watch in new window

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 22.16.21

And James, in conversation with Phil Taylor, of Bespoked, believes the new material will become a hit with his fellow frame-builders.

“It’s very exciting to work on this new project and it’s a very exciting material to have worked with,” he said.

“This material would be suited for a range of different bikes but, for me, it seems especially sutiable for 29ers or BMX. It would be a great tubeset for touring bikes where you want durability. It’s lightweight but still reasonably strong, and it’s stainless.

“It seemed very interesting to work with. It’s an amazingly springy material. I’m quite excited to see how the bike rides with this tubing.”

Reynolds believe the 921 is the highest strength cold-worked tube set available in the bike industry, and is suitable for use in lugged and TIG-welded frames to create frames for road, BMX, ‘cross, hybrid and mountain bike design.

Great Scot(t) Bike maker of steel beauties in scotland

Following the launch of the Stooshie and Stoater frames at Bespoked Bristol earlier this year, Shand will be heading to Bike Blenheim Palace this weekend to launch the new Skinnymalinky road frame, but we can bring you a sneak peek today.

Fillet brazed from Reynolds 853 the frame is built for year-round and long distance riding. Basically, it’s built to be fast yet comfortable, the frame is versatile enough to be used in summer sportives yet in the winter can don mudguards.

Each frame will be hand built at Shand’s workshop in central Scotland and will cost £960 for the frame, and £140 for the fork. The complete bike shown with Campagnolo Athena will be around £2,800. Expect a delivery of around 6-8 weeks.

It’ll accept 28mm tyres with mudguards fitted and there’s some lovely details in evidence, just look at those polished stainless dropouts. Mudguard mounts and bottle bosses are standard but other braze-ons can be specified, along with hand-built forks.

As for the colour, well Shand haven’t made up their mind just yet. They do know that base colours will be more subtle than those used on the Stoater and Stooshie. Custom colours and graphics are also possible for a small extra charge.

Who are Shand?

Shand have been building frames in Scotland since 2003, the company gets its name from founder Steven Shand. Their speciality is hand-built steel production frames and completely custom frames built to order are available too.

Check out their website for more info

Dream bike: a classic steel FW Evans

One of the biggest names in the British cycle industry is developing a small range of high-end, steel frames to be handmade in the UK from Reynolds tubing, RoadCyclingUK can exclusively reveal.

James Olsen, who designed the Genesis range of bikes for Madison, is at the centre of Evans’ project to update three classic models from the FW Evans range: the Steelite, the Super Continental and the Ultra.Evans, best-known to thousands who have taken up cycling in recent years as a mass retailer of predominantly entry-level machines, is reviving the brand begun by its founder, Frederick W Evans, more than 90 years ago.

All take their names from classic FW Evans marques, but Olsen insists the new models will be evolutions of their predecessors, not reproductions.

“We’re definitely not making a ‘retro’ project,” Olsen told RCUK. “It’s what would have happened if the brand had never died away. If you look at the tube profiles, the patented drop outs, you realise FW Evans was quite an innovative guy and we wanted to keep that.

“FW Evans had some great bikes in the past. Most were custom to some extent. We have gone right back to the 1930s looking at the model, the style, and thinking about what we would see in the range now if the FW Evans brand had continued. The Ultra was the lightweight, fast, steel bike of the day. We have taken that name and updated it.”

He described the new Steelite, made from Reynolds 631 tubing, as a “lightweight, steel all-rounder”, the Ultra as “racy as a modern steel bike can be” with an oversized 631 head tube to accommodate the tapered steerer of a contemporary carbon fork, and the latest Super Continental as a “lightweight, long distance, audax or touring bike” whose prototype has been made with 853 tubing. Test results will dictate if the additional strength offered by 853 is required, he added.

Olsen has drawn on a close working relationship with Reynolds to develop an idea pioneered by FW Evans: ovalised tubing used by the Evans founder more than 80 years ago. “I was looking at FW Evans’ back catalogue and he had an ovalised tube profile to give what is now cherished as vertical compliance. Everyone else was using curly tube profiles for nominal improvements, where he used something quite different, which I think is impressive engineering,” said Olsen.

“We wanted to get the right level of stiffness in some places and compliance in others. This guy was doing the same in 1928.”

Testing has not been completed and Olsen stressed that the development phase is far from finished. The frames are being developed to an “open-ended” timescale and production will not follow the “model year” schedule typical of mass production frames. “I’m so used to Taiwanese time scales, but this is a very different project,” said Olsen, adding that he would be pleased if production began this summer.

“The aim is to get something with the comfort of a traditional steel tubed 531 frame but by having the tubes flat ovalised, something with a lot of side to side stiffness, without shimmy or flex. We didn’t want the trade off to be a lack of comfort,” he said. “We have done some comparative modeling. On paper, it looks like we have twice the vertical deflection than some of the bikes I know that we have used as a benchmark for comfort.”

Olsen was a visitor to Bespoked Bristol, the UK’s handmade bike show, and highlighted the TIG welded, 953 Brian Rourke frames and the creations of Ted James among the frames that had most impressed him. “It was great to see the revival in handmade British frames, but also to see the kind of things we are up against,” he said. “The quality of handmade bikes in the UK is fantastic. You could do a lot of that in Taiwan, but not in the same customised way. We’re trying to do something half-way between the two with small batch rather than mass production.”

Reviving a “connoisseur’s brand” was a dream project, Olsen admitted, but insisted that designing “second or third” bikes for newcomers to cycling for Evans’ Pinnacle range, was as satisfying as “preaching to the converted”.

“It’s a great project. Not only do we get to build some really lovely bikes in the UK, but we get to surprise a lot of people about what we can do,” he said.

“People won’t expect us to put time and resource into this. They are not going to be cheap bikes. On paper, this isn’t a commercial project, but at the same time, there are so many passionate cyclists in the company, there’s a thought that, ‘wouldn’t this be fun to do?’