The 2016 North American Handmade Bicycle Show saw a strong presence from the Eugene, Oregon workshop of English Cycles. Rob English had a bike for nearly every category, including this Stainless Superlight road bike that he had made for himself.
Rob isn’t just a skilful and innovative frame builder, he’s also a Cat 1 racer, and his new roadie serves both of his passions. It’s an explorative foray into the nuances of working with stainless steel, and it’s also a high performance hill climber and race bike.
Stainless steel is difficult to work with: it needs to be brazed with a silver-based alloy, which has a lower melting temperature than brass, but it’s more fluid, so it’s harder to build up a fillet around the joins.
The tube walls can be thinner, but a lot harder, than regular steel, so mitering can be a pain. Rob went through a new set of cutters on these tubes, managing two cuts with each before they were spent.
Rob’s new road bike is designed for SRAM’s new wireless eTap group, but while he was waiting for it to arrive, he installed SRAM Red, and crafted a removable head tube sleeve with temporary cable stops.
When it comes to small frame parts like seat binders and direct mount brake bosses, the range is small, so Rob made his own. The rear triangle features the now signature pin-like seat stays which look fragile, but is designed with his specific weight in mind.
A boutique lightweight finishing kit was used: a Dash custom seat and mast (142g), THM Clavicula cranks (304g), an Extralite stem (88g) and AX Lightness handlebars (162g). The final weight — including the 98g M2 Racer Orb pedals? A svelte 9.94 pounds.
Very special thanks to Tina Buescher for the photography.