Exmouth Exodus : Race Against The Sun

The Exmouth Exodus has been on my to-do list for a little while, in a nutshell it’s a 100 mile night ride from Bath to Exmouth. I’ve been on good form lately, having comfortably polished off a 130 mile ride to Newport Velodrome to do my track accreditation, so decided I’d ride home from the Exodus. I was understandably nervous before the start, the weather forecast was less than favourable and I’d never ridden 200 miles before.

At 9:30pm I was one of the last to sign on and after a quick team photo I was on my way. I started off with a very excited group of friends from work which was nice, but we had different intentions for the ride and at the first climb I took my leave.

I bounced through the groups of riders to pick up Tony Corke (The Bicycle Academy’s resident bike fit guru) who had agreed to come on this crazy adventure with me. Tony lives near Cheddar so it made sense for him to start the ride from the first stop, we grabbed a coffee and a brownie or two before heading into the night. The miles ticked by as we chased down every rear light in sight and before we knew it we were at the second stop. This was a good opportunity to refill, it even stopped raining so we didn’t hang around.

It was at this point Tony decided it was time to practice his Peter Sagan aero tuck, which was clearly too awesome for his bike to handle as a spoke detached itself from his front wheel – No drama and it didn’t hold us up for long.

The next 40 miles were relatively dry and involved more coffee, riding by moonlight and some rather brave wildlife. We were the first to make it to the beach at 5:45am, beating the sun rise and just about dodging the biblical rain. It wasn’t long until many of the 200 other weary travellers started to arrive at the finish line (a seaside greasy spoon cafe), so we quickly filled our faces and tried to talk ourselves into getting back on our bikes.

I squeezed the last of the water out my socks and hopped back on the bike. However, my legs didn’t take this news at all well and it wasn’t long before I hit the (mental) wall spectacularly hard. It turned out Tony was struggling as much as I was, so we crawled into a petrol station to buy some energy and pull ourselves together. It was 20 miles to the closest train station, which meant it was time to get well acquainted with the pain cave. I jammed my headphones in, stuffed a gel down my neck and hauled us both to Yeovil where we called it a day. This tipped the Garmin over to 160 miles and 10:30hrs, not exactly what I had in mind but not bad going considering the atrocious conditions!

All in all it was a great ride with bucket loads of Type 2 Fun and plenty of character building. Thanks to everyone that made the Exodus happen, The Bicycle Academy for supporting me with my bike, jersey and bike fit and Tony for being super positive and great company.

P.S. Come and say hello on Twitter or Strava, i’d love to hear the tales of other Exodus riders!

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A helping hand…

The Bicycle Academy exists to stimulate and support the framebuilding community and to make framebuilding more accessible. We do that by providing courses, access to workshop hire and supply of equipment and consumables. I think we do a good job but sometimes it’s important to go a step further and really get behind an individual who shows promise.

A few months ago SaiTong Man attended one of our Classic Framebuilding Courses. He worked hard, was a great learner and had a great attitude. It was clear that he wanted to make a career from framebuilding and we felt that if he stuck at it SaiTong had a great chance of doing so. So together with our friends at Columbus, weldability-Sif , Saffron Frameworks and BikeCAD we decided to give SaiTong a bit of extra help by giving him enough kit and materials to get started…

We gave SaiTong a complete Oxy-Propane gas brazing setup courtesy of Weldability-Sif, a set of TBA Tube Blocks, a full set of hand files, a BikeCAD Pro licence from Brent Curry, a full set of Columbus Cromor tubing supplied from Columbus and all the other bits and pieces needed to make the frame from The Bicycle Academy and finally we also arranged for SaiTong to spend a week shadowing Matthew Sowter of Saffron Frameworks.

This isn’t a one off, it’s something we will do every year, when we feel that we can really make a difference.

Here’s what SaiTong had to say:

“In 2013 I did a U-turn on life and left my career in the video games industry to go back and follow my roots in engineering, my love of craftwork and my passion for bicycles.

I came to The Bicycle Academy with the idea to start my own framebuilding business and it was here at the Academy where I learnt the core process, skills and techniques to build bicycle frames and forks. 

Andrew even tailored the course to support me in my goals, ensuring I got as much relevant tuition as they could physically fit in during my time there, not only covering additional frame building skills but also jig design and advice on setting up my business.

We covered everything I’d hoped to, it was simply the best thing I could have ever done. To be awarded such a fantastic prize was just unbelievable, and  has really motivated me to get started and follow my dream

And here’s what SaiTong did with his new set-up and the tubes…

“The frame features two bi-laminate 4130 lugs, machined by hand, and brazed on to give the appearance that the rear end of the bicycle is holding onto the front end. The rear dropouts are also of a custom design, water jet cut from a sheet of 4130 steel. The bicycle is then finished off a Columbus Minimal 1” Carbon Fork with a blend of Campagnolo, Cinelli, HPlusSon, Nitto and Velo Orange components and topped off with a Brooks Limited Edition Cambium C15 Saddle.”

We’re super proud of SaiTong and will be right behind him as he continues to progress. Satoma Cycles will be exhibiting at the Yorkshire Bike Show this weekend, so go along and say hello.

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BTR Fabrications #pushforthepinner Kickstarter Campaign!

BTR Fabrications was just “two guys with a dream in a shed” working day jobs and building bikes in evenings and weekends. Since they started the feedback from their customers has been awesome and their frames have been featured in mountain bike magazines and selected as one of the best products of 2014 by the Dirt 100.

Almost a year ago Paul and Tam moved into a proper workshop and now spend almost all of their time working on BTR. Over the last few months they’ve been working on something really exciting; their first production full suspension frame. It’s a go anywhere trail destroyer with enduro style geometry, trail bike travel and DH bike strength. A bike to take on an uplift without worrying about it breaking, that you can fly around a trail centre on, or just ride for hours with a smile on your face. It’s the super fun full suspension bike they wished existed and daydream about riding, and it’s called the Pinner.

The Pinner is available to pre-order now through Kickstarter in either 26″ or 650b wheel sizes, and having ridden it we can say that it’s everything that they planned it to be and more, so much so that I’ve got one on order myself!

It’s great to see such brilliant work come out of a homegrown bike company so if you like what they’re doing then please get behind them and make a pledge!

Pinner 26"

Pinner 26″

Pinner 650b

Pinner 650b

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Academy Tools…

Over the past few months we’ve been working on a side project, Academy Tools.

We did a bit of a soft launch at Bespoked so that people could see what we’ve been up to, and we’re chuffed with the feedback.

We design every Academy Tools product in-house working closely with brilliant makers. We’ve worked with people from Turin, Dundee, Smethwick, Bristol and Frome and had a great time doing so.

We’ve designed workshop aprons, tube cutters, prints and tube blocks and a lot more. We’re not ready to launch yet, but we’re very proud of the results so far and look forward to Academy Tools opening for business very soon, so watch this space!

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Bespoked 2014

The UK Handmade Bicycle Show is the highlight of our year – we get to catch up with lots of friends and meet lots of fantastic new people and this year was no exception…

Our stand was flat out busy all weekend with loads of past students popping by to say hello and lots of new course bookings made. We also had great feedback from lots of the builders many of whom came over to pass on their admiration for the work that our students are doing, something that makes all of us here very proud.

We unveiled a small selection of our Academy Tools to a great reception and were thrilled that builders such as Chris Igleheart bought a set of our new tube blocks!

5 of the 10 ‘New Builders’ exhibiting this year were our students; Whiter Cycles, Seren Bicycles, Automatic Cycles and Bear Bikes and the winner of the Best New Builder Award Swarf Cycles who we taught on a Fillet Brazing Masterclass over a year ago…

… 2 of the other award winners were past students of ours also; Sven Cycles and Donhou Bicycles along with plenty of other exhibitors including Paulus Quiros, Grim Cycles, Toad Cycles, Tatts and Beards and 18 Bikes all of whom are TBA alumni.

Just a few days before the show we were asked to make two prototype BMX’s for old school BMX racing legend Tim March who also exhibited, relaunching his old brand MRD . It took an almighty effort but we managed to get them done in time…

… another of our students, Peter from Peter’s Bike, also pulled an all night effort to get ready for the show, he made a fantastic low rider inspired bicycle here at our workshop…

…and finally, it turned out that one of our new fans is Darren Baum who’d been following us on Instagram and wanted to exchange some of his TIG welding wisdom for some fillet brazing tips. It was great to chat with someone we admire so much!

We really did have a great time and can’t wait for bespoked 2015 which will back in Bristol the weekend of 17th -19th April.

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Meet Robin and Ted, our new Framebuilding teachers!

I posted details for a new frame building role on our website in early January resulting in a surge of interest and a temporary website crash! We had a lot of interest, of an impressive level, from across the world. It really affirmed what we’re doing and just how far we have come in 18 months. After lots of consideration I made my decision and I’m thrilled to announce the addition of builder of the 2012 Best in Show at the UK Hand Made Bicycle Show, Bespoked, Robin Mather and Ted James, winner of the show’s 2013 Peer Award to The Bicycle Academy.

I’ve looked up to Robin and Ted for a number of years so to be working with them is a dream come true. Their work speaks for itself but it’s the passion they have for
what they do that makes them the perfect fit here. We’re all really excited to be working together.

Robin and Ted will be splitting their time between their own projects and TBA. This will mean we can offer courses covering an even broader range of frame building techniques, using the layered teaching style on which we’ve built our reputation.

Robin says he has always felt it important for practising craftsmen to pass on and share their skills, to encourage the development of new ideas and improve standards. He says his career has benefitted from what he describes as a “culture of openness” in the bicycle building industry.

“ The opportunity to work with TBA is really exciting. I have been very impressed with how much it has achieved in a relatively short time and honoured that they want me to be a part of it. I strongly support Andrew’s approach, in providing students with a framework for meaningful practice and feel that this is more likely to produce a long term interest in the craft.”

Ted says that he had always hoped to join The Bicycle Academy, after deciding to move out of London and head west:

“I will now finally be joining the team and teaching frame building courses. Andrew and I have been discussing ideas for additional courses where I can share some of the different things I do on a daily basis. We have also been working on some similar projects involving frame building tools – something else that we will all be developing together.”

Robin has already started teaching and Ted will start straight after Bespoked. It’s brilliant to have more people in the workshop to join the already awesome team, we’re all super excited and we’re going to need a bigger biscuit barrel…

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Mike Pearson, one of our students and now also a close friend of The Bicycle Academy, recently launched his Munin Bikeworks brand, and has already made a beautiful bike to show off his skills.

Here’s what he had to say about the build, his ‘All Seasons Road Bike’…

The brief was to build a road bike that can handle the demands of the UK weather while remaining fun to ride.

Fillet-brazed Columbus Zona tubing provides a good balance, of strength, low weight, comfort and value. 420mm chainstays and a slightly raised rear brake bridge allowed full mudguards to be fitted without compromising the look or the characteristics of the bike.

Matched with a Columbus Hiver carbon fibre fork and 25mm tyres, the bike gives sure-footed handling and tames the vagaries of the UK’s tarmac. The SKS mudguards protect machine, rider and companions.

The paint job’s not fancy, but it’s appropriate for the intended use. The gloss lacquered grey powder coat is discrete and tough.

It’s a bike for winter that’s also perfectly happy to tackle the long, hot days of summer. And their inevitable thunder storms.

Mike will be at Bespoked this year, so make sure that you go and say hi.


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