Over the past three years we have been catching up with Rob from Quirk Cycles as part of another project we are working on. From Bespoke to two workshop moves, his bicycles can be found far and wide as he becomes one of a new breed of frame builder spreading their wings and making a name for themselves.
Originally we caught up at his work space in Edmonton but now he is working in Hackney it is an easy stop for us to pop down and catch up with him. The workshop provides everything he needs to build outstanding custom frames that have truly been tested if the Silk Road Mountain Race is anything to go by.
As we catch up over a coffee and talk bikes there are some rather interesting parts that have just arrived. “We have been looking at producing 3D printed parts and you’ll see the results of that at Bespoked this year in Bristol. It is part of an ongoing exploration into production bikes as part of a range I hope to be working on. If I’m able to produce three production models as well as the full custom bikes it will streamline the build process and make it far easier for the customer if they want something that Quirk Cycles excel at“.
Rob seems to be one of a handful of custom builders that are looking at various ways to build bikes for people and actually be able to make a sustainable living. “It’s been a tough couple of years as most frame builders would know but things are always ticking over. We have some interesting builds coming up and with the amazing paint from Cole Coatings Workshop we are always trying new ideas“.
If you haven’t seen a Quirk Cycles out on the road you will surely have seen them on Instagram or Facebook due to one of the various adventures he has had over the years.
Last year Rob and Chris Hall tackled the Silk Road Mountain Race in
Kyrgyzstan which gave birth to the Kegety Rob’s ultra adventure bike. “We wanted a bike that could tackle anything from fire roads to forest trails to mountain single track with no compromise”. The Kegety is one of the first bikes he aims to produce with standard parts and tubing. “We like to put our frames through their paces to make sure our designs are up to task and when it came to our adventure bike, the Kegety, we couldn’t think of a tougher or more suitable event than the Silk Road Mountain Race – 1700km of wild single track in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan”.
From speaking to Rob the race was anything but easy. “Once we had left the capital (Bishkek) the first 100km of the ride was almost all uphill. Starting at an altitude of 900m, the Kegety Pass (Where the bike received its name) reared up ahead to over 3,800m. The bike’s rear end was designed to be short enough for steady climbing, and used smaller diameter tube shapes, which introduced an element of flex to the frame to smooth out the ride on the rough, barely-surfaced roads”.
AS we talk more you can see that he has unfinished business with the Silk Road Mountain Race. “We had so many issues from the start as did a lot of people. Chris seemed to have a lot of bad luck on this trip especially with his brakes. We ended up having to re-route his rear brake cable to the front, but the descents were insane at times and it just wasn’t safe”.
“In the end we had to make the decision to scratch the race. You don’t mess about in an environment this unforgiving and who knows what might have happened had we continued. My bike had been killing it and it was such a shame that we had to abandon and I couldn’t keep pushing on. But we’d entered as a team and would continue as one“.
Now back in London and working on bikes you can tell that Rob is in his environment. Beavering away brazing on a head-badge he clearly has a positive outlook on where he wants to go with his bikes.
“I have a lot of plans for the future and you’ll see them at Bespoked this year. There are some new things I have been trying out and 3D printing is only just one of them. I’m working on three models for those that want something semi off the peg, Durmitor (A bike tried and tested on the TCR), the Kegety and the Mamtor” (This is one bike that caught our eye).
“Developed using the Durmitor as our blueprint, the Mamtor is designed for those who just can’t resist finding out where that gravel track leads. Testament to the unmistakable ‘realness’ of steel this frame is as much at home flying down dirt roads as it is rolling on pristine asphalt. No other material brings alive gravel tracks and forest paths better and with clearance for 700x40c tyres only your desire to explore can limit where you will go“.
You’ll no doubt be seeing more of Quirk Cycles over the coming years from us as we work on a couple of projects with him. In the mean time head over to Quirk Cycles to see more.