Road to NAHBS 2014: Rob English Electrifies Things
Over the years, Rob English has shown us some of the lightest bikes around, which is saying a lot since he builds from steel! And usually, at least one of the very impressive bikes in his booth is for himself. And those bikes usually push the limits of what’s possible to streamline aerodynamics and shave grams. Look here, here and here for examples that’ll blow your mind.
This year, at least one of his bikes will be heavy, yet still likely very quick. The big guy shown above is part of the Gates Belt Drive e-bike competition at the show.
In his own booth, look for While he won’t have his own booth this year, opting to just send the motorized beaut for Gates’ expo, here’s what else he’s been up to along with several customer bikes…
BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?
ENGLISH: Fillet brazed steel with the occasional carbon or titanium tube.
BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?
ENGLISH: Up until last year’s show I was still working part time as the engineer for Bike Friday. Shortly after I made the decision to concentrate full time on English Cycles, and also to support my wife’s new venture of Velo B&B. The extra time has enabled me to build a few more bikes and take on some additional design work.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?
ENGLISH: Hopefully every one is killer for that customer! But I did a few ‘firsts’ for me in the last year:
- A full touring build complete with custom racks and belt drive (shown below, yellow)
- My first road frame adding carbon seatstays to a carbon headtube and seat mast (shown at bottom)
- A cargo bike with Bosch electric assist, Gates Carbondrive and Nuvinci hub
- Pairing Alfine Di2 with a Gates belt for an ultimate commuter build
BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?
ENGLISH: Function always comes first – which means fit for the rider and fit for purpose. I come up with my best ideas and solutions whilst riding – for me the bicycle is a tool, be it for speed, for hauling gear or just for getting from A to B. Generally it is the discussion with the customer to really understand their needs (and wants) that drives the ultimate solution.
BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?
ENGLISH: The No-Car-Kitty-Cargo ebike, featured in the Gates Custom eBike Showcase, will hopefully be of interest. Having a tool like this makes a car free lifestyle very easy.
BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?
ENGLISH: One way to go would be with a builder who uses a different material – I always like to see what Dave Levy of Ti Cycles and the Black Sheep crew bring to the shows as they are super innovative. Or perhaps Nick and James at Boo. It would be fun to bring different materials together into some crazy build. Maybe a superlight packable fatbike….