Blimey, things have moved on rather quickly. Given the rather flippant tone of my comments last week, I’m actually pretty surprised to have the heart of a new bicycle sitting on my desk next to me already. But, that’s exactly what I do have, and now I have the pleasure of planning, and executing the build of my own fantasy bike. But, let’s go back a couple of days to where it all began…
I’d emailed Drew of the Spin Cycle works about the possibility of a test ride on one of his bikes, and he couldn’t have been more helpful really. So, on Wednesday of this week I drove down to Wimpstone (no, I’d never heard of it either) near Stratford-Upon-Avon to meet up and go for a ride together. We actually started off by talking through the design philosophy of the frame, and how come he’d started building them in the first place. And it’s a familiar story… Drew had owned all sorts of Ti frames over the years, from the earliest Lynskey built frames right up to the current benchmark – the Litespeed Icon. And none of them were *quite* perfect. So he set up his company to design and build his own fantasy bike. And looking at one of his frames next to a pair of Litespeeds, I had to concede that he’d done a better job of it in a lot of respects, notably the welding quality, the details like the bottle cage mounts, and the price.
But, gorgeous as the bike looked, there was only one way to find out how well it worked. So I got my shoes on, and while Drew got his own bike out of the garage, I spent a couple of minutes pedalling up and down the road to get used to the Sram groupset. It was immediately apparent that the bike was exceptionally light compared to my aluminium framed Giant, and seemed to revel in springing forward whenever I wanted it to. The groupset did take a bit of getting used to, and I spent the first couple of minutes either changing the wrong way or not changing gear at all. It eventually came to me though. As did the fact that the brakes are a lot more effective than the ones I’m used to. I don’t think I left too much of a skidmark. Drew then appeared, and off we tootled for a quiet ride in the country.
I can honestly say that the next hour or whatever was one of the most pleasant that I’ve had for a long time. Drew is a fascinating chap, and we reeled off the miles chatting about engineering, quantum mechanics, motorcycle racing, and bicycle design. Honestly, I could have just ridden for hours and carried on chatting as the miles rolled by. Although the route wasn’t hilly, it’s fair to say that it was undulating – so I decided to have a quick sprint up one of the larger undulations to see how the bike responded. And at that moment, I knew that I’d be handing over a pile of money to buy a new frame. It was so responsive compared to my normal bike. In fact, compared to anything I’ve ridden, including some £2K+ carbon race bikes. I stood on the pedals, and the bike shot forward, leaving me grabbing for longer gears as quickly as I could find them. I remember James riding my TZ250 at Snetterton, and bringing it back to the garage saying “I couldn’t change gears fast enough to get the best out of it” and I now know what he meant. And on the descents it was just as good – absorbing the worst of the ripples and bumps in the road and letting me get on with just guiding it between the hedgerows. Beautiful.
So, we agreed on a price, and I secured the last medium sized frame in the country at the moment. And it’s sitting next to me right now on my desk. And I’m very chuffed. It’s going to take several months of hard saving to build it up to the spec I want, but it’ll be worth it. Current plans are to fit an Sram Apex groupset, pair of Planet-X model B wheels, one of Drew’s carbon forks, a Giant bar and stem that I picked up on eBay last week for a song, and whatever seatpost I can get a good deal on. And when all that’s done I’ll have a very special bicycle indeed.
And all because of a wobbly wheel.