Bike of the Month – November 2022
This months ‘Bike of the Month’ belongs to Kevin Davidson a Canadian now living in Ballyboghall in North County Dublin. What is most unusual about this bike is that the frame was built by its owner! Kevin is an instructor for the Bicycle Engineering Academy which is where he studied bike and frame building. This bike won the ‘Keeper of the Flame’ trophy (Sponsored by Donard Cycles) for the ‘Best Neo-Retro’ at the Concours d’Elegance competition at the OldVelos Cycling Festival.
Date of Manufacture:
A bit of a gravel/ all road/ pathway racer cross. Frameset and fork is a Columbus Cromor tubeset with lugs and dropouts from CeeWay, hand cut, mitered and brazed by myself at the Bicycle Engineering Academy in Limerick between August and December of 2021. Built around a 3 Speed Sturmey Archer hub with drum brakes front and rear. Runs 46t front 22t rear gearing, with a +/- of 30% with the hub. 35 x 700C Panaracer Gravel King tyres on 36h DT Swiss 595D rims. Cane Creek brake levers and Supacaz bar tape on a Control Tech 400mm flared riser drop bar and 60mm Control Tech Stem, BBB threaded 1″ sealed bearing headset. Sturmey Archer shifter mounted on the stem. Prowheel forged alloy 165mm crankset, Shimano UN72 BB, VP pedals with Zefal Christophe toe clips and straps. A pair of homemade dice valve covers and a Canadian $2 coin, a Twoonie, for a headtube badge. Finally, a Control Tech seatpost topped off with a Brooks C17 SE saddle in black and natural rubber. Bit of old, bit of new. All very simple, serviceable and durable. Built for the less than favorable Irish roads.
Late one night in March 2021, I came across an ad online for the Bicycle Engineering Academy and took a punt and enrolled. During the 40 week program, I covered in depth cycle mechanics, basic engineering and electronics, CAD and CNC, bike fit, welding and brazing, and designing and building my own traditionally lugged frame.
Being a mountain biker and never having owned a drop bar bike, I fully intended on making a singlespeed city bike with a riser bar based on a bike I had already. As the course and the build went along, I was finding myself immersed into the world of beautiful handmade Italian and French racers and randonneurs, hand cut lugs, brazing techniques, as well as the old Irish stalwart, the High Nelly, and a hearty stew of styles was forming in my head.
I completed the frame and fork, with the amazing instruction and guidance of Edel Barrett, BEA’s amazing frame building guru, but then the project kind of stalled, as I needed a job to help pay for the rest of the build. Fortunately I had impressed some folks at the academy enough they offered me a gig teaching cycle mechanics and training to teach frame building as well.
In April 2022, my gal Lorna invited me to join her on a charity cycle from Dublin to Thurles with a group of teachers from her school. All I needed was a bike, and with the stew seemingly simmered to perfection and the coffers refilling, the Davidson 1 came to fruition. Scrounging around the shop for parts, scouring online for deals, eventually a build kit came together with strong wheels, knobby tires, a simple drivetrain with an internal geared hub and no derailleurs, drum brakes (mostly so I didn’t have to braze on brake tabs and it solved some clearance issues caused by insistence of running bigger tyres!), and, my first drop bar, which is also a riser bar because a mountain biker can never fully change his stripes! Everything showed up and came together 4 days before the ride, with some loooong nights lacing wheels and solving compatibility niggles, and I finished the bike the day before the 137km endeavor. A quick 5km shakedown ride got me saddle height and yaw sorted and convinced me that the bike, which was the first I’d ever built, was solid and sorted enough. And, it was, and has been since.
The first of many, her name is Vivian, and she is a ripper.