Englishman Jake Rusby has, like Nao of Tomii Cycles and Eric Estlund of Winter Bicycles, re-directed his creative inspiration from fine art sculpture into sculptural custom bicycle frame building. Rusby Cycles officially opened for business at this year’s Bespoked Bristol show and this is his latest: an elegant and hardy road bike for Hampshire photographer, Guy Collier.
Guy kindly took some time to describe his journey of working with Rusby Cycles on a new frame. “I live in Hampshire, England,” Guy tells us, “I’ve been riding for 25 years, albeit with a couple of breaks for children and a broken neck, and wasn’t feeling much love for carbon.
“I went to the Bespoked show in Bristol in April with a view to looking at builders. It was there that I was put in touch with Jake, who’s just starting to make a name for himself over here. A big part of the process for me was clicking with the person who’d build the frame and I immediately liked Jake and his approach.”
“So we talked for a couple of weeks after the show and then started the process properly. We originally looked at a complete 953 build but I liked the idea of Columbus, so we decided to go with an XCR/Life/Spirit mix. XCR for the downtube. chainstays and BB shell for stiffness, Life and Spirit elsewhere. My main priorities were fit, comfort and keeping the build to a sensible cost.
“I absolutely didn’t want to replicate the ride of a carbon race bike like my Series 5 Madone. So, we based the build on a Retul fit that I’d had done and I elected to stick with Ultegra mechanical as it’s what I run on my other bikes. I did briefly look at Campag but that would have meant more cost due to freehubs etc on my wheels. Di2 was discounted due to me wanting a more traditional feel.
“The rest of the componets were 3T, Fizik, Look and Arundel. Nothing flash, but stuff I know well and trust. The wheels are a pair of Dura-Ace 50mm clinchers that I de-logo’d myself. Jake and I chose the colours together and I also wanted to give the bike a nod to the pink of the Giro and Rapha, whilst remaining subtle and the antithesis of shouty, logo-heavy designs.
“I had some specific requests, like the letter ‘J’ on the bike for my daughter, Jess, and a line that I’ve liked for a long time (and that Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer noted recently) – this is written on the inside of the rear chainstay in Jake’s handwriting – ‘There will be chaos, keep pedalling’. Jake added a few little touches of his own which I wanted him to do. Aesthetically he knows what works, and I couldn’t be happier.
“Jake kept me up to date via Instagram but stopped as the final build approached as he, quite rightly, wanted me to see the complete bike for the first time in person. I collected it on Monday and Jake and I spent the day fettling and finished a few little bits. Having that day together was great and again added to the feel of the whole thing being a genuine one-off.
“I rode it for the first time the next day. Cliches aside, it blew me away. It glides where my Madone stays hit. The isolation of road noise and imperfections is like nothing else I’ve ever ridden. Handling is perfect and so, so stable. Corner tracking is spot-on. It’s smooth where my Madone twitches (no doubt due to the 72/73 angles chosen).
“For the first time as long as I can remember I came home with no neck pain. Utterly silent. BB stiffness is excellent and the bike climbs as well as anything I’ve ridden. It weighs in at 18.1lbs including pedals. For a 58cm steel frame built up without an aim on lightweight components that’s pretty good.
“I cannot say enough good things about Jake. He’s been an absolute joy to work with. Suggesting but not dictating. I had absolute trust in him from the beginning and he delivered everything I could have wanted. He’s based in London.
“I’m a total convert to custom and to steel. I can’t see me buying another carbon frame, that’s how good this bike is and how well it rides. There’s nothing I’d change, aside from the potential arrival of some hand-built wheels with Royce hubs…”
The English frame building scene is in no danger of diminishing any time soon, with Jake Rusby and many other younger builders continuing the country’s handmade legacy. See more on the Rusby Cycles website. Massive thanks to Guy Collier for the superb photos and story. Check out his gallery of shots at Jake’s workshop). Thanks also to Rich Gearing for the tip.