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The Custom Bikes of Grinduro Scotland: Clandestine, Ted James, Spoon Customs, and The Bicycle Academy

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The Custom Bikes of Grinduro Scotland: Clandestine, Ted James, Spoon Customs, and The Bicycle Academy

Words by Jack Watney, photos by Adam Gasson

Grinduro Frame Builder Event Format

The Bicycle Academy (TBA) put the Grinduro Scotland frame builder competition format together 3 years ago as a way of creating a platform for frame builders to showcase what they do. It’s an opportunity for builders to work to a tight brief, but at the same time to be playful and creative with bike design. They get to make their own idea of a perfect bike, to keep for themselves, something that doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

Grav. Grav. And Double Grav! the Bicycle Academy at Grinduro Scotland

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Grav. Grav. And Double Grav! the Bicycle Academy at Grinduro Scotland

Words by Jack Watney, photos by Adam Gasson

And now here they are! The most daredevil group of daffy frame builders to ever whirl their wheels in the WACKY RACES. Competing for the title of Grinduro’s wackiest frame builder. The bikes are approaching the starting line.

First, is the TBA GXC driven by Tom Sturdy. Next is paratrooper Will Barcode on the TBA Splat Grav. Flying through the air is the Rad Roamer piloted by Ted James. Maneuvering for position is Andy Carr on the Spoon Customs Fat Tracker and right on his tail is Pi Manson on his Caledonian Carrier.

Sneaking along last is the unmistakable Petor of Dear Susan Bicycles riding his award-winning ‘Mike Rotch’…

“Grav, Grav. And double Grav!”

All About the Process: Sturdy Cycles Scrap Pile All Road

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All About the Process: Sturdy Cycles Scrap Pile All Road

It’s always the unintended creations that receive the most attention. That’s the case with this Sturdy Cycles all-road. Tom Sturdy is an instructor at the Bicycle Academy and this bike was intended to be an experiment of sorts. He wanted to show students that building a frame isn’t rocket science and intended to build the bike complete in less than 24 hours. That included painting it. Then, to make it even more interesting, Tom used scrap tubes and pieces of steel that had imperfections of various sorts. That includes crimps, dents and even buckling. In short, this bike is far from perfect and far from the level of craftsmanship Tom and Sturdy Cycles is capable of. Yet, this bike receives loads of attention wherever it rolls. All it takes is a detail-attentive eye to notice the dented and buckled steel.

About the bike itself. Tom wanted to make an all-road bike that was closer to a road bike than a mountain bike. Lots of bikes today align themselves on one side or the other and Tom felt that running a higher volume, lower pressure tire, along with a very flexy frame would achieve “passive suspension” versus relying on other forms of technology making the rounds. Now, this bike mostly takes Tom to and from his job at the Bicycle Academy. Since building the bike, he’s put both it and himself to the test, learning from not only building but riding his creation.

For Tom, this process of making, testing, refining is what building bikes is all about.

No “I” in Academy: Inside the Bicycle Academy

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No “I” in Academy: Inside the Bicycle Academy

Knowledge is best passed, like a torch, through experience. There are many institutions which educate hopeful framebuilders in the art of design, construction, and finishing of a bicycle frame. They each take their own approach to this process and many of our favorite builders have learned in this hands-on, classroom environment.

Nestled in an industrial building, within the town of Frome in Somerset, the Bicycle Academy threw their towel into the framebuilding education ring a few years back and in that time, have grown their curriculum into an impressive institution. All this could not have been possible if it were not for the successful crowdfunding operation and the 183 people who donated money and 23 individuals who donated their skills to jumpstart the Bicycle Academy.

The Bicycle Academy’s Old Skool New School Tom Ritchey 27.5+ Hardtail

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The Bicycle Academy’s Old Skool New School Tom Ritchey 27.5+ Hardtail

Before we jump into the coverage from my visit to Somerset, England’s the Bicycle Academy, I thought I’d share a very special bike. You might recognize this hardtail from the video I shared a few months back. It made its debut in the Tom Ritchey Old Skool New School video. It was built by Tom, while he was at the Bicycle Academy and has been ridden by various guests of the school. This fillet brazed hardtail features some unique cable routing, clean fillet brazing, a clear coat over the raw frame, 27.5+ wheels and tires by Ritchey, Shimano XT components, RockShox Reverb, Pike and Ritchey Bullmoose bars.

If you’re thinking the frame looks a bit small, Tom purposely made it a size medium, hoping to allow a number of people the ability to ride it. The Old Skool New School program is a great idea and this particular project made for a great first round. Look forward to more coverage from the Bicycle Academy this week and even more Old Skool New School news in the coming months.

… and if you haven’t watched the Ritchey video, you really should!