Dec 17.15 – Win a DSS2 as part of the Rapha F500!

The Strava addicts among you will most-likely be aware of the Rapha Festive 500 already – it’s the annual contest run by Rapha and the aforementioned cycling app, to help encourage riders around the world to log some serious miles over the festive season.

The competition has been running for a few years now and entries are judged not just on completion of the required distance (500km in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year), but on the creativity shown in how the experience is recorded. In the past we’ve seen people create elaborate packages and hand deliver them to the Rapha offices, we’ve seen one entrant create an entire custom website dedicated to showcasing the stunning photography they captured during the challenge and an illustrator from Cheltenham who submitted a film accompanied by a hand-drawn notebook.

But why would people go to all this effort? Well how does winning a DSS2 bike from Donhou Bicycles sound? This year Rapha have asked us to offer up one of our new, super-versatile bikes to the one lucky winner who proves themselves above all others – and we happily agreed. With just a few days left until the challenge begins, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make your entry stand out – the full details of the competition are here.


Dec 8.15 – Cycle Revolution

Cycle Revolution at the Design Museum in London is an exhibition celebrating remarkable bicycle design, featuring a selection of bikes from across the cycling spectrum.

Our ‘Speed Bike’, is on show as part of the bike builder’s workshop – which shows the tools, materials and skills that combine to create a bespoke machine. Donhou is one of just six independent British bike builders to be featured, so we feel really honoured.

Needless to say it’s a pretty special feeling to see our bike included among some really historic machines; from those that have broken the Hour Record (Eddy Merckx’ from 1972 & Sir Bradley Wiggins’ from 2015), to the Lotus Type 108 ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Olympics – not to mention our personal favourite, the original Specialized Stumpjumper!

For more on the Speed Bike, check out the film ‘Experiments in Speed‘ by Spindle Productions. Or head down and check it out yourself – Cycle Revolution runs until 30 June 2016 at the Design Museum in London.


Nov. 27.15 – BLACK FRIDAY

Enjoy a 15% store wide discount in the Donhou shop.

Offer ends Sunday 29th Nov. at 12pm and includes the DSS1 and DSS2 as well as several new products.



Nov 21.15 – Christmas countdown

Christmas is creeping up, so if you’ve got a loved one with a yen for some handcrafted steel, a passion all things bike-related, or maybe you just feel like treating yourself – you’d better check out our online shop.

The biggest addition to the shop for this year is the DSS2, our brand new, super-versatile road-gravel-touring frame. The frame is available in stock sizes (54,56,58cm), with the stem length, bar width, crank length, chain set and cassette ratio are all specified personally for you and your riding style. You can read all about how we built the DSS2 in the shop, or check out the account of its gruelling test expedition in the barren wastes of Iceland.

It’d be remiss of us not to mention the DSS1 – the racier, performance road bike that we created to launch the Signature Steel range. You can get the frame and fork or the full build, in the shop now. If the frame size you need is out of stock, get in touch anyway – we should be able to help you out.

Even if you’re not looking to buy a new bike, there are plenty of other Donhou goodies – including T-shirts, books, bidons, prints and some beautiful handmade bike components. The only thing for it is to visit the store and explore. Al orders must be completed by 18 December to guarantee Christmas delivery.

Joyeux Noel!


Nov 09.15 – DSS2 on test in Iceland

To test a durable and versatile bike like the DSS2 – one that’s built to be ridden on road, gravel and for touring – we knew we had to do something special. A real challenge. To that end, Tom Donhou and his good friend and photographer George Marshall took two of the prototype DSS2 models to Iceland, with a goal of traversing the country’s barren and rugged interior, unsupported, fuelled by nothing more than pasta, tinned tuna and a healthy sense of adventure.

The pair struck out from near Reykjavik and immediately found the conditions testing – persistent rain and 15% climbs ensured they had to battle for every kilometre. Fortunately, they were starting out on the tarmac surfaces near to Iceland’s biggest city and the DSS2 has road riding in its DNA.

After 2 days of hard riding and gradually leaving civilisation behind, it was onto the Sprengisandsleið – an ancient pass that strikes straight through the heart of the barrenest, most otherworldly and challenging terrain in Iceland.  The name of this fearsome road is derived from the term ‘to ride your horse to death, to explode from exhaustion’. A charming moniker and the ideal way to explore the capabilities of the newest ‘steed’ in the Signature Steel range.

Any semblance of surfaced roads soon vanished – the Sprengisandsleið is a mix of hard pack, gravel, sand and rock strewn tracks. Near to the start, a sign by the road serves to drive home just how barren the next few days would be, “Next services 254km”.

The route skirts round the edges of calm, blue lakes; climbs high into the interior; offers tremendous vistas of melting glaciers and the imposing Hagafell mountain; and is buffeted by constant winds that saw both George and Tom unseated more than once. Still the DSS2 endured, sticking steadfastly to the job at hand, giving confidence in the increasingly tougher and tougher conditions.

Trying to outrun the storm that had been threatened for some days prior, it eventually caught up as the pair reached Nyidalur – a lonely mountain hut offering shelter to weather beaten travellers. When they asked about the possibility of continuing on, the ranger at the station shut the idea down very quickly, “These winds you experience are nothing compared to what will come through the night”. It would have been foolhardy to carry on.

Two days later, they dropped down from the desert plateau, eventually reaching the Northern stronghold of Akureyri and the northern Norwegian Sea. They took a lot of heart from the way the two bikes had stood up to the test. With no mechanical issues beyond a few punctures, and with great performance in some of the toughest conditions either rider had ever experienced, the DSS2 remained undaunted by the Icelandic extremes.

100% happy with the DSS2’s performance, Tom started production as soon as he arrived back to the workshop.

We would like to thank Pannier and Brooks England for their support with this project. If you would like to read more on the trip, there is a full account, with lots more of Georges photographs over on the Pannier Journal.


Oct 27.15 – Rapha + Liberty Town

To help launch a new collaboration between Liberty of London, the city’s oldest department store, and premium cycling brand Rapha, Donhou was asked to create two very special frames. The result of this collaboration is a collection of technical cycling clothing, featuring pieces for both road and more casual city use. We wanted to build a pair of bikes that reflected that split. 

The town bike we built draws on a lot of classic elements of city cycling, the step-through frame being the most immediately obvious. A custom-built bar and stem setup gives a lot of stability and a comfortable, upright riding position. 

The eye-catching paint job is inspired by a design found deep in the Liberty archive. The store is world-famous for its fabric prints, so it was very cool to be involved in bringing that heritage to bear on one of our frames. It’s the same print you’ll find throughout the Rapha + Liberty collection.

While the colour is prominent on the custom-made front forks, it fades out towards the back of the frame to create the impression of dynamism and movement. The scheme itself, with precise black dots on top of a pearly grey/green is all about invoking ideas of fluidity, beauty and speed.

We used a Gates carbon drive belt instead of the traditional chain – which makes for a hassle-free, clean drivetrain. Chris King hubs and headset add a flash of pink that mirrors the Rapha + Liberty highlights on both the clothing and frame.

Rear and back mudguards, plus super-responsive disc brakes, make this city cruiser more than equal to the task of riding in bad weather.

You can check out the Rapha + Liberty road bike we produced here. Or view the full Rapha + Liberty collection online.



Oct 13.15 – Rapha + Liberty

This bike is available to order, please get in contact if interested.

You may have seen some early releases from the Women’s Rapha + Liberty collection out on your travels of late, with the distinctive printed caps – their patterns sourced deep from within the Liberty archives. The full collection however comprises clothing for both road cycling and more casual city use, so Rapha asked us to help celebrate the collection by creating two different custom builds; one a road bike (pictured), the other a townie.

The road bike is built around a thoroughbred custom frame, using a mix of Columbus’ Spirit and HSS steels. Fine fillet brazing work creates a smooth, streamlined look. Dura-Ace drivetrain and ENVE rims, stem and bars are included to offer a great quality riding experience. The geometry is all about speed and the frame is built to the specs of a female rider.

The real standout of this build though is the paint scheme – it’s inspired by a print from the Liberty archive which has been used on the pieces created for the Rapha + Liberty collection. Using a black candy, we faded the design from the front of the bike to back, creating depth for miles and that super-dynamic look. Combined with the precision placement of black dots on the pearl blue base it’s a lovely way of expressing what the bike (and the collection) is about – beauty, fluidity, and speed.

If you look carefully you’ll spot an emblem on the seat tube – between the stays – which is a little nod to the Liberty Cup, a women bike race run by the department store from 1901. To create the badge we worked from an illustration of the original cup, then created a laser-cut, stainless steel badge, which was then brazed onto the frame. Discovering little stories like this is one of the great things about working with a historic British brand like Liberty.

Take a look at the Rapha site for more on the collection. Or if you would like to see the bike in the flesh it is currently on display in Liberty.


Oct 05.15 – Introducing the DSS2

We’re delighted to announce that the second instalment in our acclaimed Signature Steel series is now available for pre-order.

Building on the success of its predecessor – the DSS1, a sleek road machine, built for speed and winner of Bespoked’s Best Road Bike category in 2015 – the DSS2 has a more rough and rugged style of riding at its heart. At home on the tarmac, but built with detours off the beaten path in mind, it’ll adapt to road, gravel or loaded touring – so all you have to do is choose the adventure.

The frame, built from Reynolds flagship steel – 853, can be equipped with hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes. The DSS2 will accept up to 35c tyres and benefits from a relaxed road geometry that’s optimal for long rides and gravel riding. 

We’ve coupled the frame with the Wound Up Gravel fork, giving confidence if or when you do decide to hit the rougher stuff. The Wound Up is held by many as the best riding fork out there and has been tried, tested and refined over many years.

The DSS2 is all about rewarding your effort, whether you’re out on a Sunday club run, exploring your local bridleways or a sunny alpine ascent – it’ll be right there, smoothing out the road and digging deep with you.

To find out more, and start your order, visit the DSS2 page now.



Sept 25.15 – DSS2 at B1866 store

The DSS2 will be the new road/gravel/tour model in the acclaimed Signature Steel series. As part of the final testing we took the DSS2 to one of the harshest environments on this planet; the stormy and desolate Icelandic interior. We travelled unsupported through this hostile territory where we faced driving rain, glacial river crossing’s, bare lava tracks and fierce wind storms. When we made it out the other side, 100% happy with the adaptability and performance of the machine, production started…

To accompany the launch of the bike George Marshall will have a selection of photographs on display documenting the trip. Tom Donhou will also be introducing the bike and telling tales from the Icelandic adventure


August 27.15 – Donhou crosses a continent – Part 2

At the end of 2014 Alasdair Couch took his Donhou bicycle on a truly epic adventure in South America, travelling from Argentina to Chile and into Bolivia. He was generous enough to spend some time telling us about his experiences.

Donhou Bicycles: Alasdair, what an epic journey. What sort of mileage did you clock?

Alasdair Couch: I didn’t really keep a great deal of stats on the ride. I rode about 3,000km in total. I would generally try to ride between 100-130km a day. The longest day of riding I did was about 190km. I generally waste too much time stuffing my face with food and wine to ride much further. The highest mountain pass I rode over was in Bolivia and it was about 4,700 metres high.

DB: Where were your favourite places to ride? Any tough parts?

AC: Favourite place? That is such a difficult a question to answer because there was so much variety. The landscapes are all so unique and I suppose you have to factor in the quality of the riding. The Lake District in Chile definitely had the best ratio of beauty to effort. The vistas were all so lush and green. There were idyllic rolling hills, with massive volcanoes as a backdrop. I think the Atacama desert and southern Bolivia was the most fascinating area for me as it is so far removed from anything I had ever experienced before. It was, however, the most brutal cycling my body has ever experienced. The passes were at such altitude and the roads so appalling that you would be hard pressed to call it cycling a lot of the time. My lungs really struggled and it was a struggle to make even the smallest distances without stopping and slumping over my handlebars to try and gather my breath. I love cycling by myself, but in those moments it would have been great to have someone around to motivate me. In the end I took a wrong turn after spending several hours over a pass. I only found out when some locals asked where I was going. I only had information for my intended route, so I ended up hitching a lift. I was completely beaten!

DB: Ouch! So were people generally kind? No sketchy bits?

AC: I had zero “sketchy” moments relating to people. I never felt threatened once this trip. The wind was probably the sketchiest thing. In Patagonia the winds were consistently blowing around 100 km/h, usually sideways. Every time a truck drove by it felt like I was being thrown around in a washing machine. There came a point when the winds snapped the poles of my supposedly “bomb proof” Hilleberg tent clean in two. That was a huge slap in the face. Nothing is indestructible in Patagonia. 

There was so much kindness from strangers. Being on a bicycle stirs up people’s curiosity, so they are instantly keen to know your story and help you out. It sets you apart from other tourists. In Southern Bolivia I was camping by myself at Salar de Chalviri by myself when a Bolivian family invited me in to celebrate carnival with them. I was given a feast of grilled llama and we partied until the early hours. The next day was brutal to say the least! Top tip: don’t drink and ride at high altitude!

DB: It’s not the first adventure you’ve taken your Donhou on either, is it?

AC: I was teaching in South Korea when Tom built the frame and fork, so I got it sent out there.  I actually had no idea Tom was a frame builder until I saw my old housemate, George Marshall, had a Donhou bicycle. I had never owned a bike worth more than a couple of hundred quid and had never owned a car, so I decided that I had to get one while I could afford it. I have ridden it in Korea, Japan, Holland, Belgium, Northern Spain, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia… and of course in the UK. On this South America trip it performed really well. I’m not very precious with it, so it took quite a battering, yet it more or less came out the other end unscathed. I got a couple of broken spokes on the rear wheel – sprocket side – which fortunately happened when I was within reach of a bike shop. After that I got my hands on a chain whip and wrench because I was worried that it might happen again somewhere remote. The last thing I would have wanted was to get stuck in the desert with a wheel on self destruct.

DB: And the roads there were OK to ride on?

AC: In Chile most of the roads were perfect. A lot of the roads that were marked on maps as dirt roads had been recently paved. I used 2″ Schwalbe marathon mondiale tyres. I could probably have got away with riding thinner tyres, but there is no doubt that it opens up more options having wider tyres. When I got to Bolivia it became clear I had made the right choice. Calling some of the routes “roads” was laughable. It was more like riding on the moon. Personally, I think wider tyres gives you more flexibility to explore. 

DB: Thanks Alasdair!

Huge thanks to Alasdair Couch for use of his photographs, more of which can be found on his Flickr account.

Visit Alasdair’s excellent blog for more on this most recent trip, plus his other expeditions.

Newer Posts Older Posts