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 Neil Manning the production manager of Condor Cycles, frame builder in the 1980s and 1990s for TJ Quick before joining Condor Cycles 20 years ago and has since been involved in the manufacture over 15,000 bikes. Established in 1948, Condor has been at the forefront of cycling in Britain for over 70 years, supporting riders including Tom Simpson, Sir Bradley Wiggins, and Ed Clancy, OBE. Their bicycles have been ridden to Olympic medals and many championship titles. Condor build and finish their frames by hand in Italy. Their frame builders are true craftsmen and have many years of experience in welding and constructing with absolute precision, as well as finishing to the highest levels.
How long have you been framebuilding and how did you get into it?
I was into bikes from 2yrs old, asked for a job at local shop/framebuilder as I knew his helper had left when I was 17 so started straight out of school. Learnt about all kinds of metal fabrication, making everything from light fittings to eventually frame repairs and frames. Did everything from filing, repairs, painting, bike assembly and face to face with customers.
How would you define your style of building?
Traditional using modern materials.
Who or what has inspired you?
Freedom that riding a bike gives you, Tommy Quick, Ron Cooper, Winning magazine (read stories about Monty wheel building and Herne Hill – started going there after reading about when I was 12).
How many frames have you built and which has been your favourite?
Personally have repaired and painted hundreds, fully built a dozen or so, but manufactured over 15,000 over past 20 years with our family of builders in Italy. Favourite was the last frame I built while working with Tom (Quick). It was a 731OS frame with straight bladed 753 forks, clearance for guards and rack mounts. Raced and trained on it when I sold everything and moved back to London and started at Condor. Really it was a precursor for the Fratello. I wish I still had it.
If someone wants a custom bike from you, what’s the ordering process and how long is your waiting list?
Approximately 10 weeks for custom painting, approximately 20 weeks for custom geometry depending on the day to day workload.
Where is your favourite place to ride and why?
Anywhere as long as it is with friends, though rarely get to ride these days.
What can we expect to see from you at Bespoked 2019?
And finally, if you weren’t a framebuilder, what would you be?
Just a Dad.
London based Condor Cycles with its store on the Gray’s Inn Road has been serving London’s cycling community since 1948. Each frame in the Condor range is now hand built at their factory in Italy. Despite Condor having strong ties with the racing scene, the range includes bicycle frames for commuting, touring and track made from steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon. Condor is a family run business and continues the ethos that there should be no compromise between performance, quality construction, beautiful ride and style.
Maker - Various
Designer - Ben Spurrier/Neil Manning/Grant Young
Where - Northern Italy
49-53 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8PP, UK
+44 (0)20 7269 6820