Brian Rourke was so excited about the new 953 Reynolds tubing that he gave us his very own bike to test.

All Rourke frames are custom built by Jason, Brian?s son, and this was his second frame built using 953. When the father and son team first set eyes on the tubing they were a little apprehensive about working with it, not least because of the thickness of the tube walls; it?s just 0.3mm in the middle of the main tubes, thickening to 0.5-0.65mm at the ends where the TIG welding takes place.

Their fears were soon allayed as Jason says: ?The strength is off the chart. The dot punch [that puts a dent in the down and seat tubes to guide the drill for the bottle cage bolts] bounced off! It?s that tough.?

With such ultra-thin walls it?s not a surprise that the frame weight doesn?t lag far behind the current crop of carbon frames, yet the beauty of it is that you get the classic ride of a steel frame to go with it, plus of course, the enviable luxury of a custom build.

Brian?s bike was just a little too small for me, but since all I wanted to know was how it rode (so it was good enough for a First Ride), I wasn?t disappointed. Even allowing for a short reach and unsuitable handlebars, the bike gave an impressively supple ride, with performance equal to many of the top race bikes.

Even those of us who?ve grown up in the carbon-fibre generation can?t fail to
appreciate the characteristic feel of steel. Of course carbon still plays its part reducing road buzz at the front with the Easton forks, and also with the handlebars on this bike, but it wasn?t missed from the other areas.

Brian Rourke 953 steel
Distributor Brian Rourke 01782 835368,
Price £1,500 for custom-built frame and fork
Frame Reynolds 953
Fork Easton EC90 SLX
Size range Custom
Weight 17lb
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace
Alterations none
Gear ratios 53/39 with 12-25
Wheels Mavic Ksyrium ES
Tyres Michelin Pro Race
Bars Deda Alanera Italia integrated
Stem eda Alanera Italia integrated
Seatpost Ritchey Carbon WCS
Saddle Specialized Toupe
Size tested 52cm