Over the past couple of years there has been a greater focus on locally handmade frames. Bike shows such as Spin London and The Bespoked Bike show are putting the focus on these builders and what they do, the market for a handmade custom frame is big and expanding. With the majority of frames currently being made in the Far East, people are now looking closer to home for something a little bit special. Historically, bicycles were both designed and made in the UK, however competition of cheap labour from the Far East drove assembly overseas causing the bicycles and frames alike to lose some of their heritage. Some frame builders are still active, companies including Mercian and Dave Yates still fabricating frames (If you can handle the 2 year waiting list).
On the upside, things have now turned around and people want a custom handmade product that will last. The concept of walking into a workshop and having a chat with a frame builder that can produce something specifically designed to fit you perfectly, made from tubing designed and produced in this country is something that excites people. I personally have just had a good friend of mine, Ryan, at Oak Cycles design and Build me a bike polo frame (pictures up soon), this will be one of the first 700c polo builds he has done. Built with Reynolds 631 BMX grade tubing, which is light and strong, its made to take a hit and come away unscathed!
Every city now seems to have a self start frame builder, making bikes in his garage or workshop. I recently read an article about a frame builder in Brooklyn, NY. Horse cycles is the brain child of Thomas Callahan – designed and made in the USA, Horse cycles makes around 40 bikes a year. He has developed his business around the need for custom urban bikes. Thomas designed a production frame made in his shop called the Urban Touring bicycle, the UTB is designed to be used as a single speed or geared road bike. Versatile enough to be used on a long tour or as an everyday run around bike. I like Horse cycles because it is run and owned by a guy that both enjoys cycling and wants to get more people riding, building solid classic looking bikes with traditional processes, made with materials all from the USA.
Generally as Thomas says when asked about the bikes he builds and materials he uses ‘a return to high quality over low prices”, that is why people come to their local frame builders when looking for a bike, it is why they are willing to spend more money and get a better product that lasts, a return to local frames by local builders will hopefully see a greater return of the local frame builder and the local bike shop to build it up. The real cost of getting a custom build is worth it in the long run.
On top of our existing Ronnie and Reggie frame sets, we also have the brand new Frankie, made with a unique super-stiff double-butted triangular tubing. Check out Macvillain.com or come into the Shop to check them out.