Inside Tech: Hard craft

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Here’s a selection of our favourite handmade bikes from the Bespoked Bristol show at the end of March

Brian Rourke
The Stoke-based builder had a perfectly placed pitch right at the hotspot of the Passenger Shed, and literally the first bike show-goers saw when they walked through the door was this stunning-looking race bike made from stainless Reynolds 953 tubing, painted matt black with nude seat and chainstays.

Our Croydon neighbours had some interesting creations for all types of cycling at Bespoked. For us this elegant Eighties-style fixed lo-pro was a highlight.

Old school with a twist

It’s made from a mix of Columbus Max and Columbus Ego and is artfully fillet-brazed and sprayed pearl white with a cute little pantographed ‘R’ on the seatstay bridge. The decals are colour matched to the Chris King Mango headset.

Signature ‘R’

To fit the short head tube, the Columbus Max top tube has been turned on its side so that the ovalised section is horizontal rather than vertical where it meets the head tube and upright at the other end, giving a neat seat tube cluster where the top tube is mitred so that it almost wraps around the seat tube. The fork is made with Columbus Max blades. Chas Roberts told us this bike’s customer will be paying around the £1,300 mark for it.

He enjoys godfather-like status in custom bike circles, but Dario Pegoretti was yawning and gazing out of the window when we walked up. Maybe the Look Mum No Hands coffee wasn’t having quite the same effect as the thick, inky-black espresso he drinks all day at his workshop in Caldonazzo.

Pegoretti Marcelo with the new Falz fork

However, as ever Pegoretti has been busy innovating and collaborating with the makers of the most coveted bicycle parts such as Chris King, who has made a special NoThreadSet 1 1/8in headset with a longer cup skirt and modified cup shape that is only compatible with Pegoretti’s new, wider head tube. To bring out the best in his new standard, Pegoretti now has a carbon fork, called Falz (sickle in Italian).

Custom Chris King headset

After a fruitless search for a suitable one, he designed his own, which is supposed to mimic the feel of a flat-crown steel fork and so is the perfect match for his frames. The Falz has an aluminium cap on the crown to allow precise machining for the crown race.

Dario Pegoretti recently lost his right-hand man Daniel Merenyi, who has gone back to his native Hungary and set up as a frame-builder on his own. Pegoretti’s loss is our gain, however, because Merenyi’s first frames are exceptionally beautiful.

Merenyi: already creating classics

Slightly more traditional in construction than his former master’s frames, the lugged Bel Canto track frame on display has a striking paint scheme – Merenyi has a background in graphic design – and on the seatstay a saying in Veneto dialect that Dario Pegoretti is fond of, to do with opportunities and drinking (allegedly).

Exquisite cutting at the seat tube lug

It’s a mistake to think of steel bikes as old-fashioned and heavy – even builders with a reputation for traditionalism (and candy stripes) such as Derby’s Mercian are embracing the high-performance stainless steel tubing from Reynolds and Columbus.

Mercian mixes retro styling with performance

The US custom builders were showing off an R33 bike made from True Temper S3 tubing that weighed a claimed 15lb 6oz. It was a shame this detail had to conveyed via a felt-tip scrawl on a card, compromising the bike’s aura of high-tech sophistication somewhat, but at least it stopped the punters from lifting it themselves and covering the ‘TVR’ paintwork in greasy fingerprints.

Super-light race bike from Wisconsin

This article was first published in the April 12 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.