This weekend, some of the UK’s newest and quirkiest custom bikes will participate in a top secret weekend event in Somerset. It’s called the Hack Bike Derby, and this axe-wielding klunker is Tim Rowan’s entry: The Woodsman.
The Derby is a completely clandestine event organised by The Bicycle Academy, one of the UK’s top frame building schools. It is not at all meant to be a demonstration of the students’ skills, nor that of the teachers, but it will show how much fun they can have.
The rules are strict: build a klunker-style mountain bike that does not use stock forks, no disc or v-brakes, even the dropouts must be fabricated, and they must use Bontrager’s 26″x2.35″ XR4 Team Issue tyres.
By the looks of the Instagram #hackbikederby feed, the builders aren’t restricted by the rules, but have found true metallurgic expression. Especially Tim Rowan, who won awards for both Best New Builder and Best in Show at last year’s Bespoked Bristol show.
It’s not a pretty build, but the Derby isn’t about looks. The double top tube Woodsman frame was thrown together from odds and ends: an old Brooks saddle, a Phil Wood bottom bracket, White Industries ENO cranks, and a pair of old motorbike brake levers.
The handlebars were inspired by those made by New York’s Fast Boy Cycles’ Ezra Caldwell, using solid brass handles, which were then wrapped in felted Iberian wool, bound with twine and set with steam from the Academy’s espresso machine…
The dropouts were carved with an angle grinder. The Mafac brakes were sent with four right-hand springs, so tension was added to the left-hand arms with elastic bands. A ‘sail’ is tied to the frame with twine, and stamped with the Rowan Frameworks shield.
The final accessory is a Gränsfors Bruk axe, strapped to the seat stay, presumably to hack down any saplings that stand in Tim’s path, as he barrels down the specially-built Somerset slalom course.