The nine month pregnancy……..

Ah, the gestation period of the child in the womb….. nine months, give or take a week or two. Even the most impatient expectant parent would not dispute that those nine months are worth the wait.

In that period of time you could also grow 4.5 inches (120mm) of hair, watch the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy 532 times, or cycle the length of the equator doing 92 miles (148 kms) per day.

Now, did you know that the gestation period of a bespoke bicycle can also take nine months? Well, to be honest, many bespoke bicycles take much, much longer than that. I have heard of two and three year waiting lists.CIMG9696

The broken bicycle I nearly dumped in Melbourne, Australia, nine months ago, has finally found its replacement. The gestation period included my somewhat lengthy search for a frame-builder, the four months it took for my frame to enter Dave Yates’ “to do list” and be built, and the remaining months for the protracted delivery of the parts (from across the globe) and then the kitting out of the bike itself. Of course, I could easily have cut down drastically on the time required for each of these phases, either by simply buying a bike ‘off the peg’, or alternatively, buying a ready-made frame and having it kitted out with parts off the shelf.CIMG9699

Well, that had been the story of my cycling life to date. Every bike I had bought in the past had been ‘off the peg’: ridden and tested thoroughly, comparisons made with multiple other models, before the pin number released money from the plastic card. This time, every minute detail of the final product would be pored over and discussed, measurements would be taken (and then taken again), subtle braze-ons for the frame and colour scheme had to be decided. Would it have disc brakes or V-brakes? 26 inch wheels or 700c? What angle of rake for the forks? Would I be doing off-road as well as on-road? Two or three bottle holders? Front and rear panniers? What finish would I like on the paint?CIMG9703

Never before had I done so much decision-making in the production of a bike. Never before had I acquired a new bike without having test-ridden it several times beforehand, studied its finished profile from several angles, and been absolutely happy with the “feel” of the finished article. Making the commitment before seeing the finished product is, for me, a leap of faith into unchartered waters. But it couldn’t have been achieved without the expert input from professionals in the trade: both Dave Yates and Simon Nix of Grafham Cycling were the backbone to this process, and I owe them both a huge vote of thanks. I also owe a special vote of thanks to Ian Rushton of Cambio Ltd for his company’s generous financial support, both in donations to Save the Children’s Syrian Appeal, and for help in replacing the bicycle that came to grief in New Zealand.

For the cycling nerds among you, I will post the vital statistics on another post. But you have a few photos here to whet your appetites.CIMG9704


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 11, 2014, in Cycling UK and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Sounds like a happy new year. Now to start cycling the equator. Sound be a challenge, Frank.

  2. Oops, I mean ‘should’ be a challenge.

  3. Hello, Frank,
    The new year 2014 starts with you very well.
    Congratulations to the new bicycle.
    It is as important for you, as for me the walking shoes and the backpack.
    Constantly I wish you good journey and God’s blessing.
    Best regards from Germany

  4. Awesome! Looks sweet! Congratulations Frank

  5. Lovely ride. As a nerd, I will look forward to the vitals 🙂

  6. swessonswesson59

    Frank, I find it fascinating how each journey to build the ‘perfect’ bike ends somewhere totally different. No doubt you have read It’s All About The Bike by Robert Penn? My own journey took a different approach with a series of upgrades to an existing bike. The result is a bike that shares not a single nut or bolt with the original….a real ‘Trigger’s broom’ (or maybe Theseus’s paradox since you seem to be a well-read man). The yellow peril looks like it will serve you well, just watch out for rusting around that bottom bracket!

    • I have yet to read Penn’s book, but I look forward to it, Steve. Like you, I’ve done a lot of upgrading in the past, or simply renewing parts. This may be an example of actually starting off with the upgraded model…….

  7. swessonswesson59

    One question – did you consider a Rohloff or Alpine transmission? If so was it just the price that swayed the decision?

    • Yes, Steve, I considered both possibilities, and apart from the obvious weight penalty (which some would say is negligible), there was a certain practicality that guided me. Now I know that Rohloff fans will trumpet its reliability, but there are cases of spectacular failure, and even though Rohloff are famous for their back-up service, if it goes wrong in the back of beyond, you will have a wait on your hands….. days/weeks? Then you have to be competent enough, or find a competent mechanic, who can deal with it.
      My fundamental guiding principle, in the light of the spectacular failure of my own frame in NZ, has been ‘availability of parts’ and ‘repairability’. Mountain-bike dimensions, and Shimano parts, are available universally, and steel can be welded by any half-competent welder.

  8. swessonswesson59

    Makes sense! For my frame, instead of going for ‘easy to mend’ I went for ‘impossible to break’….so titanium. The ride is indistinguishable from steel (at least to me) with a substantial weight saving. For transmission you will be horrified to know that I went for Ultegra Di2 (with some mods to give a gear range equivalent to a triple). I have used Di2 on my Sunday best bike for 3 years and have been impressed with the reliability as well as the superb shifts it delivers. Of course in a small village in the 3rd world I might as well have a tardis for all the chances of getting it mended. I note that you got a Brookes saddle – I also went down this route and it is the best £70 I ever spent. I also would have liked a 3rd cage in the position that you have yours but my frame was ‘off the shelf’ so that wasn’t an option – I am still exploring various brackets that claim to do the job. I hope you took her out for a good test run in the glorious sunshine this morning?

    • Wow, at almost £1000 a pop, the Di2 is serious investment for a touring bike! Hope it never fails for you.
      As for saddles, I have only ever had/inherited pre-used Brooks before, so mine are the first buttocks to grace this untamed piece of leather. After 25 miles on it this morning, it had made its presence felt!

  9. Nice bike Frank and a reputable and long standing frame builder, looks just perfect for your riding and I look forward to many more interesting posts from you.. 🙂

  10. A thing of beauty, Frank. I love the yellow. Please consider a heavy duty lock and possibly a private security guard.

  11. Ana Cecilia says that – apart from the fact that it’s yellow and that the handlebars have been fitted on backwards – it’s very similar to hers.
    I said they’ll probably be able to do something about the handlebars …

  12. Ana Cecilia Staples

    Hola amigo tu esperaste nueve meses para poder obtener tu bici y yo espere dos anos para mi caballito de acero, pero al final me llego como regalo de navidad y que genial es estrenar nueva bici eh! Pues a disfrutarla amigo. Ana Cecilia

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