May. 25.17 – DSS3 teaser pics

Having walked away earlier in the year with the coveted Best CX award at NAHBS, things are really gathering pace for the DSS3, the forthcoming new frame set in our Signature Steel series.

Just like the two bikes that came before it, the DSS3 was built with a clear purpose in mind; to make riding cyclocross as fun and fast as possible. We don’t want to give too much of the details away while we finalise this bike, but this is one we haven’t been able to leave alone, hence it being a year behind release! All the extra work means this is going to be one awesome machine.

The key distinguishing feature is the seat lug. 3D printed, this is central to the bikes design, allowing us to design in multiple features to make racing cross both faster and with the most ease.

As well as Tom’s own input, to ensure we were creating the best CX machine possible we took our prototype and put it into the hands of Neil Phillips, Kibosh rider, Trans Con racer, CX thrasher and all-round rad dude. Neil really put the bike through its paces this past season, with appearances and podiums at events including Yorkshire’s epic 3 Peaks race, the National Champs and the fiercely competitive London X League. From the sounds of things he had a blast riding the DSS3 and his feedback has been invaluable in fine-tuning it.

“Whether it was the steps and rocks of the 3 Peaks or hucking it through the trees, the bike carried its speed, stayed planted and never faltered. We made some tweaks through the season and the bike rips!”  – Neil.

We now have a few more final tweaks to make before we make this frame set available for pre-order in the coming months, so keep your peepers peeled.

Thanks to Jim Holland for the awesome photos and to Ritchey Logic, Hope and Middleburn for their support.

 

There’s not many team riders that get their hands dirty building their own machines, grafting before they’ve even stepped astride their bike, earning the closest connection possible with the machine they’ll ride and race. The boys were working late into the evenings in Donhou’s east London workshop, drilling, mitering, prep’ing and carrying out the all important beer and pizza runs, helping turn a collection of tubes into something fit for lighting it up at the front of the bunch. Under the watchful eye of Tom Donhou they helped craft their own stunning steel race machines.

Built from a mix of Columbus HSS and Spirit tubing and utilising the world’s lightest steel dropouts, Donhou has pieced together a fit for purpose bike with both punch and glide. The frames feature an opposed oval teardrop down tube and heavily ovalised top tube, with wide set stays putting stiffness where it’s needed, all with that feel of a finely tuned steel machine. 

The bikes are finished off with the excellent new Columbus Futura fork and Ritchey WCS wheels and finishing kit, all of them dressed in Donhou’s famed deep glossy paint, taking obvious cues from a certain womanising race car drivers ‘77 F1 McLaren… 

As for the team, you won’t see them warming up on the turbo. They’d rather crash and burn than play safe, hungry for the art of racing, when racing was about guts, not incremental gains… and of course, the cold beer at the finish line.

Kibosh Racing, punching above their weight since 2016, coming to a local road race soon. 

#YouAintProBro

With support from ColumbusRitcheyFourPureScratch Labs and Kask.

Photography – George Marshall


Apr. 25.17 – The ultimate modern town bike

At first glance this build seems like a classic town run-around, but look a little closer and you’ll see that it’s very much a modern beast.

The frame is built completely with Reynolds 953 – that’s a stainless steel with a remarkably high strength to weight ratio. The fact it’s stainless gives a really excellent level of weather resistance and also allowed us to create the super-fine detailing on the frame. You’ll notice we’ve left the frame unpainted in some places to create a really eye-catching box-lined effect. It looks especially amazing when the brushed, unpainted sections catch the light. The fenders are painted stainless too, to continue the effect through the whole build.

The sleek look of this Midnight Green beauty is really enhanced with the clean, custom stem and bars, while the locking top-cap adds a bit of extra security. The fork and front rack are also custom-made for this build, allowing us to give the customer exactly the right specifications – in this case, as a professional photographer, he needed enough room on the rack to carry his camera bag securely.

The bike runs fixed and is propelled with a Gates Carbon Drive belt. This is a winner for any sort of urban riding, requiring no maintenance and going for many, many miles before wearing out. Disc brakes add the assured stopping power you need for emergency stops in unpredictable London traffic.

A braze-on bell mount, exposed stainless at the top of the seat tube top and on the fender tips, and Brooks saddle add the finishing details.

Often the greatest pleasure in building someone’s perfect bike for them comes from actually seeing them on it – when the owner collected this one it was immediately clear it was a match made in heaven. 

 

 

Apr. 4.17 – Best custom CX at NAHBS 17

We crossed the Atlantic for the esteemed North American Handmade Bicycle Show show this year, a pinnacle in the world of frame building and are super stoked to come away with the award for ‘Best Cyclocross’ bike for our soon to be released DSS3. 

Our latest Signature Steel machine, purpose-built for cyclocross and the needs of a racer, was on display at NAHBS where we partnered with Brooks on their stand. We’re especially pleased given the rigorous judging criteria the guys at NAHBS always stick to. They have a separate category for adventure/gravel bikes – so it was nice to see the DSS3 get recognition for being a purebred CXer. A true honour!

The fact the head judge, Padraig from Red Kite Prayer, picked up on a detail as technical as this is testament to how much the panel knows about bikes!

“The lynchpin of this bike was the 3D-printed seat lug. What made it unusual was that it permitted the top tube to be heavily ovalized and when the seatstays were joined, they extended beyond the seat lug, which allowed Donhou to pass continuous derailleur housing all the way through the frame until it passed out of the seatstay and ran to the rear derailleur.”

The seat lug achieves much more than this, we’ll have more details when we’re ready to release the bike.

Personal show highlights included meeting the guys at Black Magic Paint – they’re technical ability with paint is incredible, stealing themselves the ‘Best Finish’ award.

The US has a way different perspective on custom MTB, so it was really cool to see what’s going on over there, particularly stuff like the coaster braked clunkers by Black Sheep.

Oh and it didn’t hurt being able to escape out into Moab for a ride post-show!

 

DESIGN MUSEUM FEATURE – HOW DONHOU BICYCLES CAME TO BE

We were honoured to have our speed bike on display at the Design Museum in London as part of their Cycle Revolution exhibition earlier this year. As part of the show the Design Museum commissioned a short film, explaining a little bit about how Donhou Bicycles came to be – as well as what possessed us to try and make a bike that could go 100 miles per hour on the flat. If you missed the exhibit itself, be sure to give the video a watch.

Feb. 27.17 – Donhou x Kibosh

We’ve been working on something pretty exciting with our friends at Kibosh racing over the past few weeks, all gearing up to some seriously fast times in 2017. Things are still under wraps for now, but it doesn’t take the keenest detective mind to figure out we’ve made the lads some seriously quick steel-framed custom road bikes.

Launched in 2016, Kibosh are a small race team, all about riding for the joy, as well as for the podium. We really love that ethos, so were excited to get involved. It helps that one of their riders, Neil Phillips, is a long-time friend of Donhou – you might remember he is currently testing our next instalment in the Signature Steel series for us right now, but come road race season he’ll be on an entirely different piece of Donhou steel.

Photographer, racer and another Donhou collaborator, George Marshall, has snapped a few gorgeous preview shots of what we’ve been working on.

You can also check out our Instagram feed for a teaser video. Or visit the Kibosh site.

 

 

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Feb. 22.17 – Riding around America

Chris and Ties set off on their touring adventure around America last year, striking out from Toronto towards the western edge of Canada, before heading down the Pacific Coast into the USA. We caught up with Chris as he and Ties were resting up in San Diego, bracing themselves before setting off to cross the continent once again – this time through the Deep South.

Chris, I guess you’d better begin by telling us how you got started on this adventure of yours?

Well it all started with this idea I had to do a big trip riding along the Pacific coast, from Vancouver in Canada to San Diego. I’ll admit initially I’d had it in my head to do it in a car! However, eventually the cycling aspect started to appeal more.

I started looking at maps of the coast as a starting point to planning the trip and then eventually my imagination ran away with me.

It went from doing the coast, to trying to connect up the south of California across to Florida, and then it became ‘just do a loop’. Only, around an entire continent.

Do a lot of people just “do a loop” of North America?

Some parts of our route are more established than others – the Pacific coast is pretty well-trodden by cyclists as well as car drivers. That’s the bit we’ve just completed.

Then the cross-country leg to Florida from the west coast and the leg up to New York are less common, but they are still things that people do.

The Trans-Canada bit though, is very rare. It’s especially unusual to do it the way we did it because of the strong prevailing winds. You would find way more cycle tourers inclined to do it coming back from the West towards Toronto, rather than starting there as we did.

In the time we spent crossing Canada we only met about ten tourers – and they were all going eastwards rather than west.

And you’re doing this trip on a custom-made Donhou bike. How is she treating you?

Honestly, the bike is absolutely fantastic. I’ve always had knee and shoulder pains when I’ve ridden – nothing major, jut niggly discomfort – this is the first bike that doesn’t give me that.

It’s a robust and stiff build and it’s set up with a big dynamo inside the front hub, which has been a real boon for charging things and keeping lights powered.

Thanks Chris, happy riding!

You’ll be able to read a full version of the interview, including Chris and Ties’ encounters with raccoons, bears and thunderstorms over at Pannier.cc very soon.

 
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Jan 23.17 – Andrea and Andrew’s custom-built tandem 

This bike was, as you might have deduced, built for a couple. The customer wanted a clean modern build, but with some noticeable nods to the vintage tandems of days gone by. All the inspiration was around seafront rides and picnics, with lots of images conjured up of sun-bleached cornfields and checkered blankets.

The other big requirement was that it could be packed down into the car and for storage, and if you look carefully you’ll notice that the frame actually features a silver S&S coupler on both the top tube (behind the first seat) and on the tube connecting both sets of cranks. These couplers allow you to ‘break’ the bike so it can be folded up and put in the boot (or indeed, so that it can be stored at home without taking up too much space).

The elegant, cast crown on the custom fork and the side-mounted stays give the bike the retro appeal that they were after, while the serene blue paint for the frame perfectly evokes all things seaside and sunshine.

We built the bike with 26″ wheels and drum brakes for low maintenance, dependable braking. The rear hub is a Sturmey Archer three-speed, which again should give fantastic long-term reliability.

We finished this build just in time for it to be placed under the tree by Andrew as an extra big surprise for Andrea on Christmas morning. Hopefully with loads of riding ahead in 2017 it should be the gift that keeps on giving.   

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Jan. 13.17 – Marin Museum of Bicycling visit

We were lucky enough to visit the Marin Museum of Bicycling recently and even luckier still to get a tour from Tommy, who took us through the museum’s exhibits. With everything from the earliest velocipedes through to modern racing machines, the museum tells the story of cycling in a real and relatable way.

Where this place really shines is the MTB frames it has on show. Marin is the new home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, with a carefully curated selection of machines that tell the story of the evolution of the modern mountain bike.

The museum is located in Fairfax, California, the heartland of mountain biking, with the legendary Repack just a mile away. The absolute highlight has to be seeing the original clunkers as raced along the infamous trail by the likes of Joe Breeze and those earliest pioneers, the Larkspur Canyon Gang.

If you’re ever in northern California, stopping by the Museum is essential for any cycling history buff. You can visit their website at: mmbhof.org

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