Just shy of a hundred years since Harry Hetchins set up his London shop, selling handmade steel frames with the most elaborately carved lugs and curvy stays, a new British builder arrives. Richard Craddock is a world apart from those early days of the bicycle engineer, but his custom carbon fibre frames share a very similar DNA.
Just as Hetchins strove for engineering perfection and ingenuity in his time, Richard is seeking the same. As he has already stated, however, there are no black and white racing photos of himself on his walls. He’s not fussed about touting the craft of the custom framebuilder. To him, bicycles are sports goods which, he reinforces, he wants to build as best as he can.
For all his denying the near-alchemical art of the handmade steel bicycle, there’s something about the highbrow-yet-muscular, modular frame in blood orange. It looks harmless enough, but, in the glorious homegrown tradition of British racing innovation, it is designed and built for one thing only: riding hard and fast. Charles Cooper would be proud.
Britain actually has a thriving carbon fibre industry, so Richard can source all of his materials without him or his wallet venturing abroad. For all this wealth of resource, Craddock Cycles seems to be the only designer and builder of British made carbon frames — not counting Dimitris Katsanis and his UK Sports Institute bikes.
A custom carbon frame means the geometry can be tailored to your own without restrictions by lug angles or that which is designated by the factory-made, big-brand models found in your local shop. Even the direction of the fibres in the tubes can be modified to suit your riding style. The cable stops are ‘glued’ on to avoid drilling and, therefore, weakening the tubes.
Of course, a Craddock isn’t for everyone. At £3,100 for a naked frame, you won’t see too many of them in your local bunch ride. But the price does get you a completely bespoke race weapon that is built in Britain using British materials. It is possible to order your own designs and graphics, although I’d be just as happy with a small Union jack on there somewhere.
Head to Craddock Cycles for more information.