Many artists achieve greatness after they die, but Barry Sheene was revered for his legend status well before he was taken, sadly, by cancer, in 2003. His antics on, and off, the track are still fondly thought of by those of us who remember them and if he were still alive, he’d definitely have a chuckle at a certain bike in the New Builder’s Room at the 2013 Bespoked Bristol show.
The UK Handmade Bicycle Show, Bespoked Bristol, profiled several new builders this year, one of them being Ped Baker, a writer for the UK publication and website, Motorcycle News. Ped is bike mad. We’ve seen another of his frames on The Spoken, built under the tutelage of Dave Bohm’s frame building school in Arizona. His latest project pays homage to Barry Sheene and his Suzuki RG500.
Ped fillet brazed the main triangle from Reynolds 853, then used Columbus Zona for the seat and chain stays. The custom fork, built from Reynolds chain stay tubes, is designed to mimic a motorcycle’s triple clamp fork and achieves similar geometry to a standard gravel grinder, despite the looks. Two brass rings on the top tube represent Barry’s world championship wins in ’76 and ’77.
The number 7, carved out of the bottom bracket shell, is synonymous with Barry, who raced with it over his whole career—even when he won the world champs (riders were expected to replace it with the number 1). His team, Heron Suzuki, along with the partners of Brut 33 (the smell of the seventies), Texaco, and Champion, inspired the paint, expertly applied by Hydrographics in York.
If you’re wondering about the duck on the stem, Barry wore it on his helmet for most of his career as a summary of his Cockney ambivalence, often quoted as saying, “I don’t give a Donald Duck…” Ped intends to build more ‘Pushbikes for Petrolheads’, so bookmark his website. I’m sure we’ll see more from him soon. Special thanks to Ian Jubb for the photos.