Colchester, in Essex, is claimed to be the oldest town in Britain, having been mentioned by Pliny the Elder, who died in AD 79. Ironic, then, that it should also be home to one of the UK’s freshest and most colourful frame builders: Evanson Bike Works.
Richard Evans attended the 2016 Bespoked Bristol show as a new builder, and came home with the Brooks Choice Award for this do-it-all road bike, splattered with colour and made for Claire. From all reports, it was one of the most popular bikes at the show.
Richard is a qualified bike mechanic who had a less-than-satisfactory experience when buying a custom bike of his own, and came away dedicated to making sure that never happened to his own customers. He was taught how to braze frames by a local builder, Ken Baker, who made frames for the local club.
Another friend, Lee Carey, showed him the ropes in regards to tig welding and fabrication. Lee spends most of his time building and restoring old and classic motor bikes on the other side of his workshop — a great British pastime.
“The brief given to me by Claire Snow was for a bike that she could do almost anything,” Richard says, “from club runs to touring, with it being future proof and easy to change things if needed. For this we used a mixture of Columbus Spirit, HSS and XCr.
“The different tubing gives different strengths and allowed us to keep the weight of the frame down.” Claire was riding a carbon bike beforehand, and her Evanson actually weighs less than that bike.
Richard continues: “All the bikes I have built to date have had stainless rear triangles. I find that with using disks, it is far too easy to scratch the paint work on the rear triangle, especially if fully loaded and hard to get to. It also give it a classic look when the stainless is polished.”
One feature of Claire’s bike that may look familiar to old school MTB aficionados is the seat tube cluster. One of her first bikes was a GT mountain bike, which inspired Richard to recreate a similar rear end for her new road bike.
“Claire wanted it to be practical and future proof,” Richard tells us. “For this we ran all the cabling on the outside. The use of clamps means that if she wanted to change from a 2×11 setup to 1×11 further down the line all she would have to do was change the cabling and remove the front mech.
“Claire also wanted something colourful and that would stand out, but not scream ‘woman’s bike!’ Having known about the GT I showed her some images of Kleins, Konas and other MTBs.
“I had the idea in my head of the paint splatter. I do all the painting in-house and recently built up a full spray booth near the workshop. I have been painting and restoring bikes for years. So having the spray booth built was just an extension of what I wanted to create with Evanson Bike Works.”
“Claire will be touring on this bike over the summer, so the fact it can take full racks and mudguards was a must for her. This bike had to be capable of doing everything and so far it has done all that she has thrown at it with ease.
Richard says, “Evanson Bike Works is currently working on a prototype frame which should be finished early next week. One thing I like to do is try new things before I would let anyone else near them. That way I know that it works and that it can take the abuse some of our bikes have had.
“As I like to say these bikes are to be ridden, tested and loved.”
He goes on to say, “One thing that I like to do is try and spend a whole day with someone buying a custom bike from Evanson. This normally means a ride in the morning so I can see how they ride style, the way the sit etc. Followed by lunch and a good chat about what their needs are and what the bike needs to do. This is followed up by measuring them and filling in a questionnaire. Having had problems with a custom bike I do not want others to go through the same thing.”
It’s a convincing story, and it certainly won over the judges from Brooks. If you like the look of an Evanson, Richard and Columbus are offering a chance to win a custom all-road disc frame and forks. Every ten quid that you donate through this link gives you a chance to win, with all proceeds going towards cancer research. There’s just two days left, so hop to it.
Special thanks to Jim Holland for the photos.