Bespoked - a celebration of handmade bicycles & those who make them
Frame builder Sam and wheel builder Judith make up Stayer Cycles, we build custom bikes for on and off road adventures. This year at Bespoked we are showing our prototype N+1 cargo bike designed by Mads Hulsroy and a 29'er dirt drop adventure bike built for a cycling photographer.
Our workshops are based in Leytonstone, East London.
Where - London
13 & 14 Acacia Business Centre, Leytonstone, London , E11 3PJ
0203 581 3280
Photos by Ben Broomfield
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The BIke's Story - How this bike came into being!
How do you like to approach the blank piece of paper with a client? Any back story on this frame in particular?
At Stayer, custom frame building is all about the relationship with the client. There is never really a blank piece of paper as such. The client always comes with some thought or expectation and I have my work and my practice, which also develops from one job to the next. What you are getting with a fully custom build is a collaboration between us and the client. This particular bike, The Snot Rocket, was all about the front loaded fork to carry a big camera, but the look was very much informed by a love of off road, American bikes, Ritchey, clunkers, dirt drop and all of that stuff that is evocative of this type of machine. For me, when the brief is good I get excited about the build and that always comes through in our work. That kind of relationship generally makes for a great bike.
Any technical details you would like to highlight?
We did so much geeky stuff that I’m into with this bike. We made a single speed dropout with a gear hanger and stainless faces and had them cut with a waterjet cutter, which was a pretty cool thing. I had never done this before (as it is usually an expensive process) but a friend had access to the machine and said 'why don't we give it a try'. Practically it is very much like laser cutting but without the distortion to the metal, so it is good for thin materials or materials where heat is an issue. It is also cool for mass production and there was something of that spirit in this build as we thought about all the component parts from the ground up. I think, however, the fork is what I am into most. The challenge was to build something segmented - in this style - out of 1" cromo (all the same external diameter) that could be assembled simply and for the most part without a specific fork jig. Making the fork as I did, meant it could be assembled on a flat surface with tube blocks. Cutting the miters correctly - in this case on a milling machine with hole saws - and the fork could be made in batches and assembled to a point and then finished with rake and clearance at a later date. More of a process than a technical detail but it all goes towards making what we do a bit more straightforward - I am also pretty geeky about process and how can I be more efficient so I get a big kick out of a simple solution like this.
Any design challenges making this frame?
Custom machining- like with the dropouts - can be a long process especially if we need to do prototyping and testing, but this design wasn't too far out of the box so it went together well. The main challenge for me is always to try not to compromise what the client wants to do with the bike. If it sounds like a pain in the arse to have to put time into working out how to solve an issue it will more likely be pushing your practice and keeping you learning etc, either by working through the issue and deciding it is a bad idea or coming up with a solution. Design is always a challenge, balancing the build and thinking about the materials and outline as well as trying to be as simple as possible and not get hung up on something if it isn't going to work out. Building, if you get all the design and planning in place and have done a good job of it, is usually pretty straightforward.
Tubeset choice, any specifics for this frame?
I included the bent Zona seat tube to shorten the stays and give a bunch of room for a big tyre and mud etc. The rest of the build was Zona that I squashed or shaped up. The head tube was custom machined 1 1/8" and the wishbone is T45 heat treated plain gauge steel which I love using for that and sometimes in the main triangle of off road builds as it brazes and welds really well. The wall thickness is very consistent and it is super strong.
Paint/design/look, any thoughts on this generally and with this frame?
I am a fan of the simplicity and durability of powder coating. I think a great powder coat can be as good as a beautifully done wet paint finish. In my opinion, it really shows off the frame build underneath and makes one consider the whole build. I think that great paint can sometimes, with some bikes, be the end of the story - as if the bike finishes with the frame and the paint. I’m not criticising fancy paint - I just like to work with powder finishes which also has the advantage of giving us a little extra flexibility for timing and turnaround. I think combining the durability of powder with wet paint designs will be a way to go for us in the future. We also build wheels so the build is always much more than just the frame for us.
Where this frame will go?
This bike is made for single track and overnight camping, carrying that big landscape camera and generally enabling good fun riding. It was intended to be more of a short trip rather than a long journey bike, but I think it will be used for pretty much anything that doesn't warrant suspension and is mostly off road. Theoretically it could be going pretty much anywhere. Wherever it goes though, probably mostly in the UK, will feel like a North American range, somewhere in the Rockies or Death Valley, mixing with outdoors people with big hats permanent tans and ripped jeans shorts. YEAH!