Bike Build: Classic Dawes

I’ve been building bicycles for friends, family, and clients for the past five years. The hard sell is always the price of building a bike that fits your needs over the price of buying a bike that doesn’t, and living with it. Stock bicycles generally tend to be geared for racing and rather uncomfortable for the casual rider. Up until this poin,t I’ve been stretching very small budgets, and doing what I could with scavenged used parts, and cheap new bits where practical. I’ve always known that I could do great work if people were aiming for a higher price point, but the trouble in getting there seemed to be no documented experience in building nice bikes. The Simoncini is one good example but is very much a stock race bike that has been faithfully sourced and assembled.

Enter the Dawes. It was a completely stripped down English “race” bike from the 1960s. It has beautiful nervex lugwork and very relaxed geometry with eyelets for fenders and racks. Let’s just say that the English idea of a race bike isn’t exactly on par with the Italians. To start off I put together a vision and ordered some fancy bits. I also have most of a group left over from odds and ends that didn’t work out to be period correct or compatible on the Simoncini. They need a good cleaning, but will work just fine. I’m still waiting for paint to get in. I’m trying out this military grade epoxy that is used on the decks of battleships. Repainted bikes are notorious for chipping every other time you look at them the wrong way. Hopefully, this will give this bike’s finish some staying power.

The direction of this build is a very comfortable bicycle that looks great and can handle a load of groceries. I’ve chosen 5 speed internally geared hub/ dyno hub with drum brakes to make for a very reliable machine that requires almost no regular maintenance. The bike will have fenders and a chain guard to protect the rider from the elements as well as a sizable front basket for transporting goods. The larger knobby tires should be comfortable on both paved and dirt roads making this a great country cruiser. The gearing will be geared to handle a good sized hill as well as brisk cycling on flat. I’m excited to get started.

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