NAHBS 2013: Rob English’s Amazing Rigid 29er, TT Racer and Tour Divide Adventure Bikes

Rob English Split Top Tube Hardtail 29er mountain bike

We love us some Rob English. His bikes are always heavy on trick details that simply amaze, and his three showpiece bikes this year didn’t disappoint.

Normally, Rob rides a singlespeed. But, he built this new 29er because he wanted gears but the same short stays and 2.4 tires as his 1×1. This required a single front ring, but it put the chainstay length at 16.3″ (415mm). The frame uses a split top tube with his trademark super thin seatstays. The tricky part here is each tube houses a cable, rear shift on the right, brake hose on the left. And that’s really just the beginning.

Click on through for some of the most custom bikes we’ve seen…

Rob English Split Top Tube Hardtail 29er mountain bike

Rob English Split Top Tube Hardtail 29er mountain bike

He also brought over his upside down stem-steerer combo from his road bikes. The stem and steerer tube are one piece, and the fork crown clamps onto it. You couldn’t do this with suspension, but for a smaller, lighter guy like Rob, it’s pretty sweet.

He brazed a boss onto the seat tube and custom machined a chain guide put of Delrin. Above it, it uses a long Ti post for more comfort.

Rob English Split Top Tube Hardtail 29er mountain bike

He’s running an early set of the CK R45 disc hubs, before you or I can buy them. Check the nice hose and cable exits just before the brakes and derailleur.


Rob English custom time trial race bike

This is Rob’s personal race bike, on which we hear he crushes the locals.

Rob English custom time trial race bike

Custom stem is built with the bearings in the stem and fork crown, which keeps the front end only 18mm wide. He had to make the front brake, too, since nothing else fit quite right. It required modifying the USE levers to get more cable pull. The arms use a Ti spoke as a spring, and the cable runs around a small pulley on the left arm (click to enlarge).

Custom Di2 shifter buttons on the aero bar ends, only for up and down since there’s no front mech. It’s probably the narrowest frontal profile we’ve ever seen! Front hub is the original prototype for his aero hubs.

Rob English custom time trial race bike

Frame is genuine aerospace spec profile tubing, which led him to use then same tubing for the crank arms, which led him to make his own bottom bracket. It’s all driving a custom 55T carbon chainring.

A Tri-Rig brake is tucked under the chainstays. A custom Di2 battery is tucked into the seat tube with a micro USB charging port just under the saddle.

Rob English custom time trial race bike

At the rear, different dropouts hold the new 700g Dash Cycles disc wheel. The drive side dropout has a cowl to hide the wire port while the other side is smooth to cheat the wind.


Rob English Tour Divide adventure race bike

This Tour Divide 29er bike is for the owner of UK’s Black Rainbow Project, who makes the bags. Braze on mounts were put throughout the frame to bolt the bags to, so there are no straps.

Rob English Tour Divide adventure race bike

A custom front rack mounts to the fork and matches the curve of the bed roll.

The front end uses his inverted clamp and a custom aero bar system with a Jones Loop bar and extensions to keep things opened up while still allowing a more aero position for the long gravel road stretches.

Rob English Tour Divide adventure race bike

The bike uses his folding frame design, which unbolts at the top of the seat stays and rotates around the bottom bracket. The clamp system at the BB opens up the frame to remove the rear triangle completely for packing, which allows the belt to slip into the frame.

It’s designed with the Alfine 8 speed hub, but the front wheel uses 135 spacing and a single speed hub with another cog attached in case the rear hub blows up while on the Tour. Fork is spaced to allow a 26″ wheel with a fat bike tire, too.

A bike like this would be about $6,000 excluding the bags.


yesplease - 02/23/13 - 12:20pm

that TT bike……drool…..I have always wanted one of his TT bikes, they are amazingly simple.

jlie - 02/23/13 - 12:39pm

I’m in love with the nahbs divide bikes so far. Keep em coming!

Chris L - 02/23/13 - 1:30pm

In many ways he’s the modern heir to the throne left by guys like Herse or Singer. Like them, he doesn’t just build a frame that then has a bunch of standard parts bolted to it but rather he creates a complete bike with the parts designed to work in an integrated manner with the frame.

fayar - 02/23/13 - 2:34pm

These bikes are sick among sick!

Oregonian - 02/23/13 - 4:19pm

Robs work is nothing short of super ridiculously amazing. All of it is just really well thought out and executed.

carl - 02/23/13 - 6:31pm

Interesting bikes from a nice guy.

Ryan - 02/23/13 - 7:18pm

Looks fragile.

Joshua Murdock - 02/23/13 - 8:18pm

I look forward to seeing his NAHBS bikes every year. Awesome stuff… and that TT bike is one of the most incredible looking bikes I’ve ever seen in my life.

Rubens - 02/23/13 - 8:31pm

Amazing…. Sometimes i wonder why i love bikes so much,
now it is obvious.

Psi Squared - 02/23/13 - 9:47pm

Rob English is definitely one of the most creative builders out there right now, and he’s got gobs of brilliant technical insight. That TT bike looks brilliant.

Bog - 02/23/13 - 10:51pm

English is a bike genius. Everything he does shows such great attention to detail, planning and execution. One of the big brands should contract him to pick his brain because he could teach them a few things.

pmurf - 02/23/13 - 11:56pm

I would love to see that TT (made of STEEL mind you) go up against some of the best carbon knives from major manufacturers in a wind tunnel. Not saying it’d be more aero, but I bet it might come close. Too cool, all of these.

John - 02/24/13 - 2:57am

ROB ENGLISH IS A GENIUS! He is by far my favorite builder. I thought his previous TT efforts were amazing but I am completely blown away by this one. Bucket List Bikes.

ds - 02/24/13 - 4:59am

Astounding !

On Rob’s TT Bike, what is the two big transversal bar protruding with black ends just upper the brake ? Is it aero stabilizer ? Sorry don’t know this world…

Is it legal ?

Tom - 02/24/13 - 8:37am

3 amazing bikes!
Love the rigid 29er! And damn that TT bike!

Nick - 02/24/13 - 10:40am

that’s his very custom base bar, and the black pods are the brake levers

Sark - 02/24/13 - 2:48pm

Absolute respect for Rob English his building skills!

norm - 02/24/13 - 6:41pm

Beuatiful design and build work. The internal cable routing on the mtb is lovely. The TT bike is so simple it’s ingenius.

shark - 02/26/13 - 7:40pm

Cool TT bike but I doubt it is UCI legal. I bet is pretty flexy when accelerating too. A beauty nonetheless and a very sleek design throughout.

Canucklehead - 02/28/13 - 3:35pm

The CK R45 — 130 or 135 spacing?

MGK - 03/04/13 - 5:24pm


stephen - 06/14/13 - 12:18pm

Rob is making the most interesting steel frames I’ve seen, and perhaps the most interesting frames of all. Extremely elegant and beautifully executed!

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