Weymouth is made out to be a seaside ‘town’, but it looks more like a city to me. It’s situated on an incredibly striking bit of the English coastline called the Jurassic Coast. I’ve been holed up here with Sven Cycles’ Darron and Mog for the past few days while we work on a new custom frame together.
Sydney was basking in temperatures around 27°C when I left, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so when I got off the plane into my first European winter the 9°C temperature came as a bit of shock. After a 22.5-hour flight and 5-hour train journey, I made it to Dorset where the company was warm enough to make up for the cold.
Sven Cycles and I have been discussing a custom frame for a few months now so when my wife Suze and I booked tickets to the UK for Christmas with her family, we decided that I would come over a bit earlier, spend some time with Darron and Mog, and make the new frame a reality. My first custom frame.
Not only will it be my first custom frame, but Darron will be teaching me how to lay down some fillets so I can join some of the tubes together myself. After writing The Spoken for the past six years and learning as much as I can about the builders, the industry, and the culture, it’s the culmination of a long-time dream.
For the past couple of days, I’ve been both acclimatising and finding my way around the torch, learning about heat control and melting brass rods onto steel plates. After creating blobs of brass that looked like angry caterpillars, I finally managed to get them to lay down, flatten out and run in straight, even lines. Time to apply it to two tubes.
Before we started on the frame, I spent some time absorbing the interior of the Sven Cycles workshop. There’s plenty to see, and each object, tool, and machine tells a story.
This is Andrew ‘Mog’ Mogford, who worked at the famous Brixton Cycles for 25 years. He’s now working with Darron at Sven Cycles as bike designer and knows a thing or two about it, after riding virtually every type of bike there is and developing the Bicycle Chain range of tourers, the Outsider MTB and the hub-geared Brixton Cycle townie.
The workshop of Sven Cycles is a temple to British cycling heritage, decorated with memorabilia from the Golden Age of English cyclo-tourism, and frames by long-lost but legendary frame builders like Chas Roberts and Claud Butler. Nottingham’s Raleigh is celebrated with an original enameled shop sign and completely original roadster.
Hanging in front of the disco ball is this Italian-made 54cm Serena road bike with an original Campagnolo 50th Anno gruppo. Between Darron and Mog’s combined history, the Raleigh and the Serena, you can start to get a picture of Sven Cycles’ focus on classic bikes made for the modern age.
I’ll be in Weymouth for a few more days before heading to Downland Cycles in Canterbury for their frame building course, so stay tuned for more updates from Dorset.
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