Nina had flat bars and bar ends on her hybrid road bike, with integrated brake levers and gear shifters, and she was a bit fed up with them. She liked riding with her hands on the bar ends but couldn’t reach the brakes or gears easily from there. When one shifter packed up, she asked our advice: she wanted a neater alternative that allowed her to ride with her hands in a forward position, but she didn’t want drop bars and combined road levers.
I came up with this solution, and I’m rather pleased with how tidy and effective it is. Nitto bullhorn bars are superb and put her hands in just the position she wanted. Cane Creek “cross-top” levers allowed clamping around the bar (instead of clamping in the ends of the bar like many TT brake levers) and Shimano 9-speed thumb shifters slotted neatly into the bar ends. All the cables are neatly concealed under the bar tape and not only does it look tidy, it works very smoothly and feels very natural to ride.
Nina promptly took her bike on a several hundred mile journey across Italy, and was very happy with how it felt and handled.
Paul asked us to build him a fast, strong singlespeed to commute around 18km each way every day. A singlespeed seemed ideal for a London commute: no gears means fewer components, so there’s less to maintain and less weight on the bike.
A Marin Stinson was a great donor bike to start from, a second-hand bike with the frame and forks in superb condition but mostly worn-out wheels and components. These bikes are well-built from lightweight chromoly steel, and built to last. The paint and lacquer was in superb condition and I like its simple, clean lines.
32-hole high-flange track hubs laced with Sapim Race spokes to Rigida deep V rims made for strong wheels with good aerodynamics, and Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are our long-standing favourites for near-indestructible puncture-proof reliability.
A Sturmey chainset pulls a Shimano freewheel in a classic 48:16 ratio and a Surly Singleator keeps the chain tension right. This was the first time I’d fitted SRAM 500 brake levers, and I’ll certainly be speccing them again. They’re great quality, light, comfortable and inexpensive. A short stem brought the reach on the drop bars into just the right position for Paul – look out for him flying around North London on this one!