I first met Rob English at the NAHBS show in Sacramento back in 2012. At that time, this young Eugene, Oregon based craftsman was very new on the scene with several interesting bikes including his Project Right with a single sided fork and a single sided rear triangle. Now, after 4 years, Rob is still at it with his award winning designs, one of which won for Best Road Bike this year.
However, the bike that really caught my eye was stainless steel ultra light weight racer. I've been a sucker for the stainless finish since I first learned about it at the NAHBS show in Portland in 2008. Stunning to behold, it has a reputation for being hard to work with. But this is no ordinary custom bike for a client. This bike (titled Project: Stainless Superlight) is Rob's own personal racer. See, besides being a kick-ass builder, he is also a Cat 1 racer. The goal was to produce an ultra light, high performance hillclimb/road race bike. It is designed specifically for Rob's 140 lbs. weight and his style of riding. Rob's philosophy is that for every additional 25 lbs. of rider weight, he has to add an additional 100 grams to the frames weight (frame weight on this bike is 1100 grams).
The brazing on this frame were simply amazing and the amount of time and care evident at every tube junction (click to enlarge).
We got the lowdown from Rob's wife who was helping inform potential customers and the general public at large at their very busy NAHBS's booth. The tubing is Reynolds 953 stainless steel with silver braze and some custom formed T316 stainless. The polished finish is laser engraved with Rob's brand. Parts highlights include a Custom Dash saddle and seatpost, EE brakes, THM crank, AX-Lightness bar, Extralite stem, SRAM Red gruppo and M2 Racer pedals. The frame also has removable cable stops and is SRAM eTap ready.
This bike has an amazing weight of 9.9 lbs. Rob's wife was readily letting people lift it up, so they could understand just how light that really is.
Perhaps the single feature of this bike that stood out the most to me, the elegant and intricate super thin seatstays (now an English Cycles trademark).
Obviously, business is good for English Cycles since the current wait for a custom frame if an order is placed now is about 18 to 20 months (end of 2017). Of course, hand made custom frames take time and Rob is doing all of the work himself, no partners, no outsourcing. His current output is about 23 to 28 frames per year. For those who pay close attention to the details, the wait is worth it.
For more information visit www.englishcycles.com.