2014 has been an exciting year for Yorkshire, what with staging one of the grandest Grand Départs the Tour de France has ever seen. More importantly, the Northern county has again become a hotspot of English engineering, with numerous new custom frame builders breathing life into what was a great tradition. Dan Titchmarsh is one of those new builders.
Dan won the award for Best Off Road Bicycle at the 2014 Bespoked show with this 29er, and after reading his dissertation, you’ll see why: “Brandon came to me wanting a clean, curvy 29+ to blaze down the Swedish fire trails, and to commute all year round.
“He wanted his bike tailored to suit his particular shape. He also wanted to incorporate his chosen features: using internal gears and 3″ wide tires in the winter to get him through the ice and snow, and a single speed with narrow tires in the summer.
“Somewhere between a fat bike and a 29er, this is a versatile machine. Built from a variety of tubing with 853 main tubes and 4130 top tube, it has an 80mm suspension corrected rigid fork with tapered steerer in a 44mm head tube.
“The Paragon 3” chainstay yolk provides enough clearance for the 3” wide ground-pressure-lowering tyres, while still allowing a standard 73mm BB and short chainstays to be used.
“His enquiry coincided with the release of Paragon’s ‘Polydrop’ rear drop outs, so I thought of using them with an EBB in combination.
“This took care of his drive train requirements as the dropouts can be changed to give a few different options like a 135mm spacing Rohloff dropout or a 142 x 12mm through-axle single speed or even different diameter discs without the need for adaptors.
“The EBB shell was custom CNC machined from a billet so I could match the diameter of the Niner Biocentric 2 inserts exactly and get a nice radius up to the flange.
“They use a lot of salt on the roads in Sweden and I didn’t want any rusting, so I machined the front 15mm ‘Maxle’ dropouts myself as well. These were hewn from a 17/4 stainless billet with some CNC and some manual operations involved.
“The paint was carefully masked to leave the drop out faces bare, so it stays tidy looking and without rusting. The bottle bosses are 17/4 stainless with a blind hole and bare face, the front post mount frame inserts are also bespoke from 17/4 stainless with a blind hole and bare face: all this was done for corrosion resistance and so the paint stays perfect.
“I exhibited this bike at Bespoked 2014 where it won ‘Best Off Road Bicycle’. The cable routing ended up becoming the stand out feature of the bike. The design of the routing was done for a particular reason: The hydraulics were hard routed and the Rohloff cables were routed internally in order to give the bike a clean look, but at the same time reducing any stress concentrations.
“The routing allows the hoses to enter and leave the frame in relatively un-stressed locations, e.g. the front of the head tube and the end of the seat stay. This was achieved by using cupro-nickel car brake hose and silver soldering 17/4 stainless steel connections onto the ends. The hose and two cable guides pass the seat tube inside lapped seat stays.
“This was a lot of work: the three 17/4 stainless banjos are custom machined and alone took 2 days to make. So that gives an idea how long the rest took. This was always going to be a show pony for Bespoked though. The result is a bike that looks uncluttered, but then when you look more closely you see the detail.”
Metal work runs in Dan’s blood. His father is another champion of English engineering, building around 500 motorcycle road racing frame kits since 1985. Dan’s apprenticeship consisted of watching his dad in his workshop building engines, prepping bikes and frames. It seems the family practice is in good hands.
Get in touch with Dan through the Titchmarsh Cycles website.