Bespoked - a celebration of handmade bicycles & those who make them
FRAMEBUILDER OF THE WEEK
Getting to know the people that make the bikes
This week we meet Liz Colebrook of Beaumont Bicycle. Liz set up Beaumont Bicycles in 2015 after many years in the industry. She welcomes customers needing or preferring a 'step-through' frame but not exclusively. She also owns TJ Cycles and the exclusive rights to build the iconic 'Flying Gate' frameset.
How long have you been framebuilding and how did you get into it?
I’ve always been interested in how things work. Not long after saving up for my first three-speed bike, I promptly disassembled it aged about 13. Ten years later, I started working at Bicycle Doctor (a workers’ coop) as a mechanic and dreamed of one day building a frame. Back then it was rare to be a women working in the bike trade and crucial to feel a sense of solidarity by knowing other women doing similar - one of whom was Isla Rowntree – my first role model in framebuilding. Thirty years later and after several intensive framebuilding courses with Bryan Jackson at Downlands, I established my own bespoke framebuilding business – Beaumont Bicycle.
How would you define your style of building?
Holistic. I.e. it’s not just about the bike tubing, it’s about the person, where they want to ride, their ability, why they ride and what I can do to bring all this together so it feels like the bike was made especially for them – which of course it is!
Who or what has inspired you?
Isla Rowntree and Andy Thompson, Georgina Terry (the founding mother of designing bicycles for women), Natalie Ramsland (a framebuilder in Portland), Julie and Bryan Jackson at Downlands and Trevor Jarvis (father of the Flying Gate). ‘What’ inspired me goes back to working at Islabikes in the fitting studio. Grandparents would come with their grandchildren and be so inspired to cycle, they’d ask me for advice. I could see a huge gap in the market for a quality step-through that came in all sizes with low and easy gearing and a decent set of wheels etc. Hooray for the new Islabikes ‘Icon’ range, but for those looking for the detail involved in a bespoke consultation – I’m your artisan.
How many frames have you built and which has been your favourite?
About 30 Beaumonts and about 15 Flying Gates. All favourites of course but the poet Bernie Cullen who wrote a poem about what cycling meant to her and had me scribe every line onto the different tubes of her bespoke Beaumont has to be the most memorable.
If someone wants a custom bike from you, what’s the ordering process and how long is your waiting list?
Send an email via my website and I’ll send an order form including a questionnaire which enquires about you in more detail and what’s behind your keenness to have a bespoke framebuild. This is where the holistic process starts. I’m quoting about 9-12 months at present but hoping to reduce this. The initial consultation involves a bike fit, which is a good time to solve the most pressing issues meanwhile.
Where is your favourite place to ride and why?
I love sharing a bike ride as it’s the unexpected songs and conversation that make the experience, eg the Shropshire Highlands Challenge. I like commuting by Brompton and not needing a bike pass for train journeys. Basically, there nothing like getting somewhere under your own steam wherever it may be.
What can we expect to see from you at Bespoked 2019?
I’ll be showing a Beaumont designed for woman not wanting a full step-through yet but wanting a particular look and feel. Also there’ll be a Campag equipped Flying Gate and I’ll be introducing Smithy Frameworks who builds mostly off-road machines. Chris and I will be collaborating on some builds this year as he’s based just over the border near me.
And finally, if you weren’t a framebuilder, what would you be?
I can see myself being involved with www.cyclingwithoutage.com - this looks like an amazing project. I also like what’s going on at the London Bike Kitchen, Broken Spoke, Look Mum No Hands and www.worldbicyclerelief.org . There’s still lots to be done making bike fitting more accessible to the average person. Get this right and more people would cycle. If you’re asking for something not related to cycling – I’d say plumber’s mate!
Elizabeth Beaumont Colebrook has over 30 years experience in the industry taking time out to study and work as an Occupational Therapist, returning to the trade in 2005 to work for Islabikes. In 2015, Liz established her own artisan framebuilding business, welcoming customers needing or preferring to ‘step-through’ the frame but not exclusively. Liz also owns TJ Cycles and the exclusive rights to build this world famous iconic British short-wheelbased framese and this year she introduces Blacksmith Chris Yeomans of ‘Smithy Frameworks’ as a collaborative framebuilding colleague. Chris builds exceptional off-road framesets with internal hydraulic cable routing and handmade disc-brake mounts.
Maker - Elizabeth Colebrook
Designer - Elizabeth Colebrook
Where - Shropshire
Colebatch Farm, Colebatch Nr Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5JY