The long-awaited new frame!
Those of you who followed some of the thrills and spills of my Bespoke journey Down Under, may remember that the frame of my expedition bike broke just outside of Queenstown, on South Island of NZ. Delayed by only 24 hours, I had been able to find a local welder to patch up my frame, sufficient for it to see out the rest of the ride.
I brought the bike back home, despite the advice of some that I should ditch it somewhere in the middle of Melbourne, and it has now been relegated to an occasional-use-bike for off-roading, and local luggage carrying journeys. Of course, its absence as an expedition bike left a serious gap in my stable of bikes.
So, since getting back to the UK, much research has been done, inspired by a visit to the Bespoke Exhibition of frame builders in Bristol. I decided to pay a visit to Dave Yates in deepest Lincolnshire (though he is a Geordie, born and bred), not only a frame builder with some 40 years experience, but also a teacher of frame building to the aspiring new generation.
Just like being fitted for a new bespoke suit, I had to be measured up after detailed discussion of my requirements, and after two hours, before I left, he informed me I was in luck, I would only have to wait about three months! (And I was not to ring him to make enquiries about how things were progressing in the meantime. This man knows his business, and he doesn’t welcome interruptions……….)
That three month wait came to an end today, and I picked up the finished product with just a twinge of excitement. Long-distance purists will appreciate that a good solid expedition frame has simply got to be made of steel (in my case, Reynolds 525 chromoly), though many will argue about the benefits of lighter composite materials. Dave Yates is one of those stern-looking dinosaurs who relegates materials like alloy, carbon fibre and titanuim to the level of “recycled milk bottle tops” or even “plastic”. He doesn’t mince his words.
Being the first time I’ve had a bespoke frame built, never before did I have to make a decision about the colour. I have always bought my bikes on the strength of their value and functionality, never for their colour. So what colour does and ex-Spanish teacher, who habitually wears red lycra, choose? Yellow, of course…..and this will ensure a warmer-than-normal welcome when I next go touring in Spain!