Human beings, and especially cyclists, are an adaptive bunch. It’s interesting to see Shimano’s electronic shifting systems, such as the Di2 group, being reworked by enthusiasts to suit bikes that won’t conform to the standard market genres. Here’s a good example, the sculptural time trial frame by English Cycles that won the 2013 NAHBS Best in Show award, no less.
Rob English, aptly, lists the United Kingdom as his country of origin, but has been happily ensconced in Eugene, Oregon, for the past few years building very individual racing frames. A highly experienced time trialist, he counts three individual and three team state championships on board the predecessor to his Mk2 frame, built in 2008.
The geometry is basically the same as Mk1, just with a slightly lower bottom bracket and a single chainring. Therefore, only one end of Shimano’s Di2 shifting system was required, which Rob “hacked”, actuated by two push buttons on the aero bar ends—one for up, the other for down. There’s a micro-USB port just under the saddle, invisibly wired to the rear mech through the seat stay.
You won’t recognize the front brake: Rob machined his own to nestle behind the ingenious ‘headset’ construction. There’s no actual headset as such, rather a set of bearings, bolts and races that allow the shifter and brake cables to pass through the front of the head tube. The highly aerodynamic profile is also achieved by incorporating USE TULA Aero Pods.
Rob fabricated the cranks himself: There’s two bearings on the drive side, one on the non and a 22mm axle, resulting in a reduced Q factor of 20mm from the usual. Mk2 is one tidy machine, which should win Rob even more titles—the first being a deserved Best in Show at the 2013 NAHBS. See more details on the English Cycles website. Big thanks to Tina Buescher for the exemplary photography.