Tom Warmerdam's steel bikes have garnered him an international reputation. Under the name Demon Frameworks, the Southampton-based builder designs his own lugs (traditional joining units for steel frames) meaning his bikes look completely unlike any others on the market.
As a Dutchman, cycling has always been part of Warmerdam's life. He studied engineering at university although left as he wanted to spend more time making tangible items rather than sitting in an office.
It was only when his grandfather, who was a cabinet maker, sadly passed away that Warmerdam finally brought the two interests together. "I really wanted to follow in his footsteps and make something beautiful," he said. And in 2009 Demon Frameworks began.
Initially Warmerdam built custom frames using off-the-shelf lugs, but these didn't satisfy his creativity: "It felt like these were a carbon copy of bikes others were building, but with a different name."
Instead, he put himself in creative isolation, stopped looking at other bikes and designed his own.
In the early days of time trialling, Warmerdam explained, riders were not allowed sponsorship so bike manufacturers were unable to put their name on the frame and struggled to get their bikes recognised.
Instead, bike maker Hetchins designed ornate lugs so their frames were distinguishable, a trait Warmerdam said he's taken on. "I wanted my bikes to be instantly recognisable without branding and paint."
Currently he offers a signature series with two different signature lug options - the Manhattan and the Hermes. Each of these can be built into a road, track or dirt bike specific to the customer's needs. Architecture, custom motorcycles and Greek mythology all played a part in inspiring the designs.
Undoubtedly it is this attention to detail that has already won Demon Frameworks three awards - public vote at the 2011 Bristol Bespoke show; best track bike in 2012, and the one he's most proud of, best road bike at the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Although customer requests for designs are rare, by far Warmerdam's most exquisite has been from a customer who wanted their dragon tattoo replicated onto the lug. He sketched the dragon, refined it with the customer before cutting it into the steel including tiny triangular pockets even his smallest file would not fit into.
Demon Frameworks bikes are primarily made with Reynolds steel, a conscious decision Warmerdam makes.
"I know I'm not British but I would call myself an Anglophile," he said. "If you build bikes in the UK, you should use British materials if you can."
Typically, he makes around 25 to 30 frames a year, not moving on to the next until one is completely right. Prices start at £2,000 with a current wait time for the completed bike around 10 months.
Next up for Demon Frameworks is a third lug design, The Titan, described as "a little more aggressive, a little more brutal" than the others. There's even the possibility he may start customising motorcycles. But ultimately, Warmerdam just hopes to keep doing what he's doing now.
This article was first published in the July 4 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
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