In a charity shop about 25 years ago, I picked up Robert Shea’s Shiké novels, one of the most epic samurai novels you could ever read. I’ve read them both many times over the years and have thus developed a deep interest in the culture of feudal Japan.
When Adelaide’s Rogers Bespoke released images of his Rōnin stock series of frames, it was no wonder that I was entranced — even more so as they are the product of an Aussie builder. They are the perfect embodiment of the spirit of the roaming warrior.
The hills around Adelaide are ideal terrain for Grand Touring, and it’s with good reason that the UCI hosts the first leg of the road circuit there — the Tour Down Under. In fact, that’s where I first met JR of Rogers Bespoke, back in 2014.
Out the front of Treadly, Adelaide’s best Local Bike Shop, I photographed one of JR’s first bikes, and we’ve been honoured to feature a few more since then. His new Rōnin has to be one of my favorites, however, for both looks and purpose.
Rogers Bespoke is, like many in the industry, a one-person shop, and the Rōnin came about in an effort to offer a handmade frame at a fraction of the time — and, therefore, money — that a full custom frame normally would.
“The Rōnin itself came about,” JR tells us, “as I was in the need of a new road frame. In considering what I wanted in a bike for myself I quickly realized that there were limited road frames for larger clearance tires.
“Plenty of fast handling road frames that would fit 25s and plenty of slow-handling gravel bikes that would fit 30s. What I was after was a frame that would handle well as a road frame, but would fit at least 28s. So the Rōnin was conceived.”
JR builds them from a mix of Columbus tubing: Life tubes are used for the main triangle and Zona tubes for the chainstays. A local turner is proudly contracted to produce the head tubes, while the dropouts are American-made by Paragon Machine Works.
The tubes are mitered and fillet brazed by hand, and are offered as a frameset with forks and a Chris King headset, as a rolling chassis with a Hunt Aero Race wheelset or as a complete bike spec’d with SRAM Force 22, Hunt wheels and a ZIPP Course SL cockpit.
Of course, custom geometry is available, above the standard angles, and there are seven seasonal colors available, applied with 2pak automotive paint. We’ve been looking for a bike made locally for Australian conditions and the Rōnin is it.