Late last year while in Roubaix, France we were lucky enough to catch up with Andreas from LaFraise Cycles. We originally had the stands next to each other at Bespoke UKHBS in Bristol and have stayed in touch ever since.
Andreas’s passion for cycling was always there, ever since he first rode a bike as a child. “There was just a huge fascination of using the bike as a mode to explore and the beauty of the object itself. I’ve been on many long-distance cycling tours in different places around the world using various bikes, always modifying the existing models to my needs”.
“Around 7 years ago I learned how to TIG weld a frame at the United Bicycle Institue in Ashland, Oregon, where Mike Desalvo was teaching the class at the time. And I learned how to braze with Rob from Big Forest Frameworks in Potsdam, Germany. I decided to stick with the brazing and spent about a year building various bikes and prototypes on my own before I started building for others. As in any other profession you never really stop learning. I try to set aside some time to explore other techniques and methods. Two years ago I spent a week at Reilly Cycleworks to build a stainless steel frame”.
Having built frames that cover almost every eventuality, including one for his mother, Andreas takes a lot of inspiration from the classic French builders of the 40s and 50s and their randonneur bikes.
“I built a bike two years ago for my participation in the Transcontinental Race No. 4. The race was and still is a huge inspiration. I already rode along with the 3rd edition of the race for 1800km in 2015. So I got an idea of what to expect and I knew that this race was less about speed and more about efficiency and limiting the pains of riding 300km a day for two weeks in a row. So I built the bike around these aspects which meant more comfortable geometry with higher stack and shorter reach to accommodate aero bars, wide tires (650bx38mm) that can float on the often rough roads, custom aerodynamic panniers on a low trail fork learning from classic french randonneur frame builders and their front loaded machines”.
The bikes he has built to date all manage to seamlessly blend high-quality design while drawing on elements of those builders who have inspired him. Add that to his selection of modern components and you’re onto a winner.
Last year Andreas was lucky enough to win the Concours de Machines with a stunning build. “The list of requirements for the 2018 edition of the Concours de Machines is long. It’s not just about the bike, also the equipment and gear to get through the two-day event is evaluated. The theme of last year’s edition was “B./Roads/” (Bicyclette Baroudeuse d’aventure et de Bivouac Tout Terrain) or as we call it nowadays: Bikepacking.
“The frame is made from robust but light Columbus Max tubes for the front triangle (if it was good enough for Eddy Merckx to go across the cobbles of Paris Roubaix it should be strong enough for any type of adventure) and Columbus Zona tubes for the rear triangle. For the fork I used Reynolds 631 blades made for disc brakes. Head tube and seat tubes are bilaminated, seat tube for reenforcement, head tube more fore esthetics”.
“Apart from the visible choices for wheels, tires, transmission and components, the innovations focus primarily on the bike packing aspects: very light front and rear racks and firmly sitting panniers (they don’t move a bit) both made by TIM TAS & REK, a charger that serves at the same time as a power bank, a full size tent that keeps rider and bike dry”.
Another string to Andreas’s bow has been his frame building classes. “The program takes 5 days and comprises an introduction to brazing up to a level that allows clients to build their own frame and fork within that time frame”. While we were there we were lucky enough to see the course in action. Beate and Louis were busy working on their frames under Andreas’s watchful eye and making sure that every detail of what they hoped to accomplish met with their expectations.
Catching up over a coffee you can see that the workshop is busy. Having taken on a new member of staff, Mattias has been working with Andreas for several months building up his knowledge, working on frames and helping out building bikes. One of Roubaix’s best wheel builders and mechanics these two sure know how to build you the perfect bike.
If you are interested in Andreas’s bicycles or attending one of his frame building courses then visit the LeFraise Cycles website for more details.