Apr. 11.16 – Rapha + Liberty returns 

The eagle-eyed among you may have already seen that Rapha and Liberty of London are continuing their successful partnership into 2016 with a new Spring/Summer collection of women’s cycling gear. Once again, to go along with the launch of the range, they asked us to create a custom road bike with a paint job that matches the prints used in this season’s apparel.

Liberty is world famous for its prints, so there was plenty in their archives to draw from this time around. For Spring/Summer they selected a houndstooth print which we have put our own twist on for the new bike. We ‘exploded’ the design and really focused in on the detail, creating this dynamic effect as if the print has been blown apart at high-speed. This taps into the ethos of the collection; fluidity, speed and movement. The execution was painstaking, especially applying the two different colours in the fine detail, but we’re delighted with the final effect.

The bike itself is highly-specced. The streamlined, fillet-brazed frame is constructed using Columbus HSS tubes, while the drivetrain is Shimano Dura Ace. ENVE provide the stem, rims and bars, while the headset is Chris King. For pure speed it’s hard to top those brands.

As this is a special bike we wanted to include a few special details. If you look between the stays on the seat tube you’ll see a trophy emblem. This is a tribute to the Liberty Cup, a women-only race that Liberty ran from 1901 onwards. The department store has been around for a long, long time, so while you wouldn’t immediately pair them with cycling, once you delve into the history there are a lot of surprising links. It makes working with them a real joy. We also included the Columbus dove on the other side of the seat tube – a mark of this bike’s steel pedigree.

You can shop the women’s apparel range at Rapha right now, or come see the bikes at Bespoked later this month in Bristol where Tom is also giving a talk about the subject of collaboration. After Bespoked the bike will be on show in the Rapha Cafe in Spitalfields.


Mar 21.16 – DSS2 goes mono’

The ghostly landscapes of Iceland left a real impression on us when we went there to road test the DSS2. The terrain was a true challenge, not just for the bike, which we designed to be a tough and versatile frame that can be adapted to many types of riding, but also for our minds and bodies. If we could describe that part of the world in one word it’d be ‘grey’. In three words, ‘grey and spooky’ would probably be pretty close.

Even after we got back from testing the DSS2 we couldn’t stop thinking about those haunting, gravel-strewn vistas, so we decided to pay tribute to them by creating a second paint scheme for the bike, influenced by the wastes of the Icelandic interior. To really capture the nature of the place we’ve used gradations of grey for a brooding monochrome look. We christened this look ‘Bad Vibes’, as a counterpoint to the original ‘Good Vibes’ scheme.

Having been a ‘secret’ option until now, we’ve now decided to make the monochrome version an official option when ordering a new DSS2. You can get in touch with us by clicking here, or read the full spec of the bike over here.



Mar 16.16 – Bespoked UKHBS 2016

This year we’ve decided to have a year off from the (glorious) madness that is Bespoked UKHBS, however if you were hoping to head down to Bristol to discuss a new Donhou build then please read on!

If you are going down to the show on the weekend of 15 April and wanted to talk to us about a project, we will be attending the show on Saturday and taking appointments to discuss any potential builds/Signature Steel enquiries then. So if you’ve got ideas for your own custom Donhou machine, or are interested in one of our Signature Steel offerings and want to talk in person with Tom, please drop us a line.

Tom will also be giving a talk on the subject of ‘collaboration’ at Bespoked and we’ll have the Rapha + Liberty bikes we made earlier in the year for you to get a closer look at, discussing that project among others. We’ll hopefully also have the DSS2 and the recent Donhou Klunker with us, so there’s still plenty of Donhou goodness to enjoy at this year’s show.

Want to book a chat about building your own custom bike? Drop us an email.


Mar 12.16 – Nolan’s dark destroyer

Deep down every road cyclist wants the same thing right? A custom road bike that “looks fast standing still”, as the old reviewer’s cliché goes. Well Nolan certainly got that with this fearsome, brooding road machine, looking like something out of the latest Star Wars film.

The groupset is Shimano’s excellent Ultegra Di2, which means Nolan benefits from smooth, simple electronic shifting. While at the sharp end of the bike a Chris King headset coupled to a Whiskey No. 9 thru axle road fork provides unparalleled control.

The frame is built with Reynolds 853 Pro Team tubing, with interchangeable dropouts. Light, strong and perfect for going quick.

The paint scheme comprises gunmetal and black (both with a pearl effect), plus a translucent red fade in key areas that serves to both highlight and break up the two darker colours. Nolan plans to travel with his bike a lot (would you want to leave a bike like this at home?), so he asked us to add a little detail in the paint scheme that’d help him with rebuilding it exactly right after it has been in transit. The offset ‘equaliser’ marks on the joins act as guidelines so he can align everything just so. As well as adding a neat little detail.

Thru-axles in the wheels give the handling a greater predictability over quick-release equivalents, with Pacenti rims and White Industry hubs completing what is a fast, durable custom wheel build.

We think it’s fair to say Nolan is what you might call a happy customer. He told us, “Just been staring at the bike, my cup of tea went cold. You have got the colours spot on. It’s exactly what I wanted.”



Feb. 25.16 – The DSS1 – be ready for those perfect days…

As winter starts to fade and thoughts return to the season ahead, it’s a fine time to remember that we all need a ‘Sunday best’. That’s a machine that you just love picking up, that’ll perform every time you wheel it out on that perfect dry, sunny day and will keep on drawing admiring looks from other riders.

The DSS1 fits the bill perfectly. It’s fast without compromising on stability, it looks great and it’s comfortable over long distances too. The judges of Bespoked, the UK’s biggest custom bike show, were so impressed with it they awarded it Best Road Bike in last year’s show.

Where our new DSS2 is a versatile superstar built for tackling various surfaces, whether with panniers or riding unloaded – the DSS1 is all about speed and panache. The DSS1 has plenty of admirers too, with Cyclist magazine having this to say:

Over several weeks of testing, with a handful of other highly desirable, top-end carbon bikes sat by its side in the garage, I found myself repeatedly picking the Donhou for a ride.”

While Road Cycling UK picked it in their annual RCUK 100:

Of course, there’s more to a bike than its paint job, but the deep granite grey with its pink to lime fade is gorgeous and utterly befitting of the craftsmanship that has gone into the frame.”

The DSS1 is available as a frame & fork or full build options. For orders you can check out our online store, or email us direct. For full details on the bike check here.


Feb. 23.16 – Festive 500: we have a winner!

This year Rapha asked us to put up one of our new DSS2 bikes as a prize in their annual Festive 500 competition. The premise of the contest is pretty simple, you must ride 500 kilometres in the eight days between Christmas and New Year. The winner isn’t necessarily the person who completes it fastest or goes furthest though – some 13,000 participants finished the distance this year and one rider went almost 2,500km, five times the required.

No, the winner is the most creative entry in the competition. The one that records their distance in the most unique or memorable way. And this year’s deserved winner certainly did something special.

The Cebulas, a Polish family from Poland flipped the idea of a solitary rider churning through the kms on its head by doing the whole thing together. With their 12-month-old daughter Magda towed behind them. Parents Justyna and Arek rode every day between 24th and 31st December, encountering temperatures of -9 degrees Celsius – well below freezing. Rapha thought the Cebulas’ lovely video of the experience was absolutely in the spirit of the Festive 500 and awarded them the first prize of a DSS2. 

You can watch the Cebulas’ film and read some of the other entries (including a guy who chopped off the end of his finger and still finished) over on the official Festive 500 page.



Feb 10.16 – Tom’s own “klunker”

Tom built this wonderfully idiosyncratic machine to race in the recent Hack Bike Derby, but the bike itself has been much longer in the making than that. The rules of the Derby are simple: participants all turn up with their own custom-made, klunker-inspired mountain bikes, build a course and then race them. 26″ wheel only, no disc or V brakes or professional paint jobs are allowed and all bikes must be running the same rubber – in this case Bontrager 2.35 Team Issue.

Tom had been looking for an excuse to go back to his early DH routes and create a rough-and-ready “suspended” klunker for a while – the Hack Bike Derby provided the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. The ‘hack’ spirit meant he could really revel in the freedom to freestyle the design as he went through the build process.

The bike combines some pretty out-there features with, what is at its heart, a very ridable geometry. The tubing is a ‘Frankenstein’ mix of Reynolds 725, 853 and 631 – essentially anything that was lying around the workshop. Tom engineered the leading link suspension fork himself with 4130, mild and stainless plate, various stainless bolts and 1inch headset locknuts to secure the shock. The addition of a coaster brake at the back makes things a little more fun – although perhaps not the safest choice when in the thick of the racing action (as Tom learnt!). The saddle is maybe the most ‘hack’ part of the whole build – being made from plywood, foam and duct tape…

The bike’s built as a good times, get loose hack bike for bombing hills and getting back to simple pleasures. The purpose was always for it to be ridden after the Hack Bike Derby as well and it’s been built tough with enduring use in mind. Lets go klunking!

For more insight you can read an interview with Tom about the bike and event on cycleexif.com, or check out the #hackbikederby hashtag on Instagram to get a flavour of the event.


Jan. 26.16 – A Greek Odyssey with the DSS2

December in Greece – as good a time as any to grab a quick break and explore this marvellous country. Discovering it has a lot more to offer than blue seas and white washed houses. Tom’s link to Greece is a family connection, but he’d never explored it his own way – with one of the new DSS2 bikes and only the most essential items of camping gear. This trip was about testing the bikes capabilities, as much as it was about enjoying the stunning landscapes and remarkable hospitality.

The ride took Tom through some challenging scenery – not just up hill and down dale, but traversing extremely taxing and varied surfaces, from snow-covered tracks to gravel pathways and dirt trails. The versatility of the DSS2 is one of its greatest strengths as a bike and it took all the challenges presented by the terrain in its stride.

Stopping in villages along the way, the offers of melomakarono, a traditional cake made during the festive period are frequent and insistent. As are the looks of surprise when the locals find out just how far Tom has come.

Heading northwest from Athens, the route brushes the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, before ploughing on towards the ancient city of Delphi – supposedly ‘the navel of the earth’ – and the Vardousia Pass beyond that.

The descent of Sinani proved to be one of the most testing sections of the trip – a narrow track, treacherous ice patches and tight corners demanding constant alertness. Then a group of bear tracks in the snow. All of a sudden there was more than just the chance of falling to worry about. Tom says he sang to himself, loudly, to let any ursine creatures in the area know that he was coming – the only thing worse than riding round a corner to find a bear, he tells us, is finding a surprised bear round a corner!

Throughout the journey, Tom’s DSS2 stood up to the task of navigating any terrain it was pointed at – proof of its fearless versatility and remarkable toughness. It wasn’t all a brutal slog though, along with the tough climbs and descents, there were also high-mountain meadows and the glittering azure blue of the Ionian sea to lift the spirits.

Distance: 215 miles

Time: 3 days

Elevation gain: 23700 ft

Max grade: 26.6%

Surface: Road, gravel, snow, ice

You can order a DSS2 now online and start planning your own adventure.

All pictures taken by Tom on his old 35mm SLR and as always, much thanks to Pannier.cc for their support – the online resource for your touring or bike packing adventure.


Jan. 06.16 – Ed’s modern classic

Ed wanted his custom-built bike to have all the performance benefits of a finely-tuned modern machine, but with a few little hints towards classic aesthetics. We found the balance between the two by adding some timeless touches like polished Columbus XCR stays and Campagnolo componentry, while the Ritchey finishing kit completes the style.

The custom frame is built with a superb quality Reynolds 853 steel tubeset and the paint scheme – made up of three complementary shades of pearl blue – is inspired by ‘IKB 79’, one of a series of monochrome canvases created by artist Yves Klein. Klein created the single-colour works as a way of rejecting representation in art and expressing his creative freedom. Hopefully Ed will feel that same sense of liberation every time he sets off on his new ride this year!

The Wound Up fork we’ve used on the bike is made using their unique filament winding technique, which creates world-leading toughness with the same lightness of carbon. The wheels are built with a combination of Chris King hubs, H+Son rims and Sapim CX-RAY spokes – not only are they fast with a great rolling feel, they’re also durable.

The Brooks C15 saddle is the first racing model in their famous Cambium range. It delivers that same balance between classic and modern – drawing on Brooks’ long history and pedigree in racing, and employing modern aerodynamic techniques to improve performance. Disc brakes with Avid BB7 SL callipers finish the job.


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.

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