The Bicycle Academy is a frame building school in Somerset, England, that’s dedicated to teaching anyone wanting to learn how to make their own bike. They do a good job: Timmy Rowan of Rowan Frameworks is a recent graduate who won the awards for both Best New Builder and Best in Show at the recent 2015 Bespoked Bristol.
They’re two outstanding awards on their own, but to win both of them at the same show is a big pat on the back and an indication that your work is appreciated. Fair enough too. Timmy’s blue tourer is no show-stopping Hetchins; rather, it’s a homegrown adventurer that represents as much of the spirit of adventure as it does the ethos of British engineering.
The frame itself is a fine example of fillet brazed Reynolds 853, designed to be a comfortable all-day rider. Still, there was plenty of that on hand at the Bespoked show. Perhaps it was Timmy’s woodworking that captivated the judges.
There is plenty of that. Timmy eschewed a matching steel front basket to the rack for one hewn from wood, assembled with the same beaten copper rivets that hold together the Brooks saddle. The bar end plugs have been crafted in a similar fashion.
A matching custom stem was not forgone, however, and, like the front rack, the RF initials are found in discreet locations, like an artist’s signature. Perhaps unnecessarily, because that cast head badge stands proudly over the whole proceedings.
Timmy’s wife is a seamstress who owns an industrial sewing machine, so he made a canvas tool roll for the saddle, which fits in well with the overall theme. He’s been quoted as saying he “likes objects that get better with use, like a pair of raw denim jeans, an old leather wallet or a pair of boots.”
His preference at this stage, and it’s an early one, is to build what the customer wants or needs, first and foremost, but he’s currently working on “adventure bikes, bikes for expedition or a weekend camping — comfortable and still fast.”
There’s clearance for the 43mm Rock n’ Road All Terrain tyres by Bruce Gordon, including fenders, and other components include Phil Wood hubs, White Industries cranks and chainrings, Gevenalle shifters, Chris King bearings and a whole lotta fun.