Another entrant to the Hack Bike Derby, organised by The Bicycle Academy a few weeks ago, was one of the Academy’s instructors: Robin Mather. His interpretation of a klunker was inspired by a progenitor of modern mountain biking — Joe Breeze’s Series 2 Breezer.
Robin Mather has strong ties to the ‘old school’ of off-road cycling. His first ‘proper’ bike was an early 90s Kona Fire Mountain, whose rugged and reliable sensibility has influenced much of his current frame building.
In fact, the adventure-tourer Robin offers as a made-to-measure frame on his website shares much of its DNA with that early Kona: a fun trail bike that can easily have racks attached to it to chase the horizon.
For Robin’s Derby klunker project, Robin sought out Charlie Kelly’s Fat Tire Flyer book — the Genesis of mountain biking — and the spirit of the Series 2 Breezer resonated profoundly from within those pages.
Robin fills us in: “The thing that really struck me was that the klunkers that Fisher, Kelly and their group were riding did not seem ridiculous to them and were not a self-conscious joke but simply the only thing available that was even vaguely appropriate for the kind of riding they were exploring.
“They invested significant time and energy in optimising them,” Robin says, “and as soon as they persuaded Joe Breeze to make something better they were ready to put down serious money for a frame (the equivalent of nearly $3000 today). The bike I chose to make is based on a Series 2 Breezer.
Robin continues: “The other significant influence was the context of the Hack Bike Derby — to make something quickly; knowing that no-one was going to judge the quality of the finish or the choice of boutique components was liberating and a lot of fun, but I didn’t want to make something that was deliberately ‘hacked’.
“I used tubing and components that were lurking about the workshop, mostly Reynolds 725 with a Columbus Cromor seat and down tube. A trip to The Bristol Bike Project filled in a few component gaps. The only part purchased new was the headset. Down tube graphics were done by applying a mild acid through a vinyl mask to accelerate the rust.
The project came together well. Robin crafted the stem, complete with an integrated cable hanger, and hand-shaped the bars from plain gauge 4130 tubes that were in the workshop. Bontrager’s Team Issue tires were an entry pre-requisite.
And this isn’t the end of the trail for Robin’s klunker: “I wanted the bike to have a life after the event so fitted some discrete mudguard eyes and plan to switch the tyres and use it around town. It’s fun off-road though, so it might stay like this for a while…”
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