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Thread: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

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    Default Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    By way of explanation, I thought that I would take the liberty to start a new thread on Woodrup Cycles with the rig they completed for me last year rather than sticking it in the "all other makers" thread. With due respect to all those represented in that thread, I felt that Woodrup are too accomplished not to have their own thread.

    Apologies for the long post. Given the lack of exposure in this neck of the woods, I felt that a bit of background info might be warranted.

    Woodrup are what is called a "heritage brand". The shop was founded by S. Maurice Woodrup in 1949. In their words:

    Initially founded by Stephen Maurice Woodrup and his wife, Jean, a 10-mile English national road champion, the company quickly gained a reputation for providing well-designed and meticulously appointed racing frames to the local cycling community. As the Woodrups often rode with the very people that used their cycles, they amassed years of invaluable feedback that allowed them to continuously modify and refine their construction techniques and designs.

    Stephen Woodrup, the couple's son, apprenticed with his father for many years before taking over the main frame building responsibilities in the mid 1970's. Now, after more than 25 years experience and thousands of beautifully crafted frames, Stephen still retains his joy for building and continues as the head of Woodrup Cycles. He is joined today by his children, Anthony and Sarah, who will carry on the Woodrup tradition, including frame-building, repair, restoration, and re-spray.


    Their first "proper" frame builder was Ian McClean. McClean taught Maurice's son Steve, who succeeded McClean as the principal builder.

    Paul Chapman (who eventually left for Bob Jackson) and Alan Sunley were past Woodrup frame builders.

    The current principal frame builder is Kevin Sayles. Kev built my frame, and perhaps more importantly, he is one of the few that deserves the label "master frame builder".

    Kevin entered the trade in 1971. On the day he turned 16, he started as an apprentice with Bob Jackson since Woodrup did not have an opening at the time. 6 years later, he joined Woodrup and stayed until 1999. He then moved to Somerset and joined Thorn, the touring bike specialist. 10 years later, he returned to Woodrup.

    In other words, in 2017 I went to a guy with a mere 46-year experience as a frame builder. Given the cumulative years of his tenure, he is the longest serving frame builder at Woodrup. And, I wanted him to build my frame before he hung up his torch and file.

    My history with Woodrup started sometime in 2012. I placed a pre-order of Made in England: The Artisans Behind the Handbuilt Bicycle, the book by Matthew Sowter of Saffron Frameworks and Ricky Feather of Feather Cycles in the spring of that year. What got me interested enough to pre-order it was that it has a chapter on the late Ron Cooper, who was so accomplished but about whom so little seems to have been written. As a bonus for pre-ordering, they offered a A3 size print of one of the photos made by Kayti Peschke for the book --the other bonus being that the pre-orders were autographed by Matt and Ricky. There were 3 or 4 choices, and I chose the one with a lug by Kevin. I had not heard of Kevin or Woodrup. I just liked the photo, namely, the subject. Since I like lugged construction, often admiring historical works from Ephgrave, Hetchins as well as the Colnago Arabesque, I was drawn to that image. When the book (and the photo) finally arrived towards the end of 2012 (or was it early 2013?), I read it from cover to cover. I, rightly or wrongly, sensed the personalities of the featured frame builders. I enjoyed reading the words of Steve Woodrup and Kevin Sayles. My experience has been that with any bespoke or artisanal project, one needs to find someone who is capable of realising what one wants but more importantly, with whom one can relate as a human being. By its very nature, bespoke commissions are not transactional but often very personal. One thing led to another and eventually to Woodrup.

    The commission was expertly facilitated by Tony Woodrup, a frame builder himself and the operating principal of the business. Tony is also an excellent mechanic on whom one can rely in the darkest, most desperate hours.

    Frame number 8427KS is designed to be an "all road" bike to ride cobbles, the white roads and deal with the long, crap Belgian winters, for a hobbyist. Long and short, it rides like a dream: everything is where my body expects them to be and perhaps more importantly, the bike behaves the way I want it to. Of course, the latter is a confluence of factors, but it's impossible to achieve if the frame isn't right.

    In terms of the lug design, I gave Kevin carte blanche other than to incorporate the bellflower motif somewhere in order to personalise the bike in a way nothing else can aesthetically. The bellflower is my clan's principal motif since the 12th century, and Kevin incorporated it in the down tube lug.

    I am not in the habit of naming my bikes, but I named this one Belle de Jour because the colour scheme was inspired by Catherine Deneuve in the film of the same name. Semiotically, it's probably spot on...

    I will post more photos, including work-in-progress ones, but here are some details on the bespoke / MTO / customised bits:

    Bespoke bi-lam frame & bike build: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, UK. (2017)
    • Frame builder: Mr. Kevin Sayles
    • Apprentice / "master stainless steel polisher": Mr. Craig Bilclough
    • Build manager: Mr. Tony Woodrup
    • Frame components: Reynolds 953 tubes, hand cut 4130 steel lugs, Paragon Machine Works head tube and drop outs, customised Long Shen bottom bracket shell

    Custom paint job: the late Mr. Jon Sykes of Hydro Graphics, York, UK

    Custom wheel builder: Mr. Gilbert Cattoir, Overmere, Belgium
    • Wheel components: Corima tubulars rims (47 mm deep, 26 mm wide), Chris King R45D CL hubs, Sapim spokes, Silca valve core extenders.

    Bespoke kangaroo skin bar tape with my full name perforated in wabun Morse code: Mr. Mick Peel of Busyman Bicycles, Carlton, Australia

    MTO seat post: Mr. Brad Bingham of Kent Eriksen Cycles, Steamboat Springs, CO, USA (titanium, 27.2 mm diameter, non-standard 275 mm length, 20 mm set back, proprietary Di2 battery fitment)

    Customised saddle: Selle SMP Carbon Lite, custom-tinted by Maison Miyamoto, Antwerp, Belgium

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/2a4CFBv]
    photo by Ben Broomfield for Bespoked 2018
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    I know Woodrup from a ways back. There was a Woodrup touring bike I wanted years ago, but just did not have the money. Must have been back in the late 80's? Kevin Sayles is one of my Flickr contacts. I saw this bike "go past" in his posts there. The blue color is really nice.
    Jorn Ake
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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    I'm not really a lugged-construction kind of guy, but I find that bike aesthetically pleasing on a visceral level. So nice. And the write-up is beyond as well, a real pedigree. Beautiful.
    DT

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Thanks for sharing - great bike and background story. You describe perfectly that extra bond you get with a custom bike where you have invested much more of your emotions into the outcome.
    Condor Italia RC / Mason Resolution Disc / Tern Verge X11

    Instagram: rellonchris

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Thank you for your kind comments.
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Woodrup use the jig during the planning stage, but the actual build is done free hand.

    Here are some pics from various WIP phases:

    953 tubing before being polished


    After being polished to a mirror finish


    The down tube lug with bellflower cut-out in the making


    The stainless Maurice Woodrup head badge
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Coming together...









    Even more hours of polishing...




    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Getting dolled up...

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    "Lug lining tool"

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    The blonde with blue eye shadow...





    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Probably my favourite shot for all kinds of reasons.

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Just one of the many details I love about the frame: S with a heart around it, Kevin's signature.

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Since 2002, Kevin has been applying stainless steel cable rubber on the head tube. It seems to have caught on in recent years.

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    The dime welds... It's just a seat post but a seat post nonetheless.

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Busyman getting busy with my very personalised bar tape...



    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Custom tinted saddle...

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    I'm convinced that the difference between a master frame builder and others who build frames is that the former is well versed in alchemy of some sort. Translating qualitative requirements into tangible form is almost magic. I say "almost" because I don't believe in magic but in skill, which includes a sprinkle of experience.

    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    I have to admit that when i scrolled down after reading your story i wasnt expecting what i saw.

    Very nice, Chapeau Sir!
     

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Very unique.... well documented .....and a great result......should ensure you get out in the depths of a Belgian winter.....
    Real World persona : Andy Corso

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    Default Re: Woodrup Cycles, Leeds, England

    Quote Originally Posted by pajotfix View Post
    PM...
    Thanks for your message. I tried replying but your inbox seems to be full!
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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