Sep. 28.16 – Patrick’s stealthy town bike

Patrick wanted a town bike with a superb pedigree, but without the kind of flash that might draw too much of the wrong type of attention when ridden in the city. We created a bike with a stealthy blend of style and practicality to suit his needs.

With a frame of Reynolds 853 tubing this is a bike that’s built to be hard-wearing, without giving up too much in the weight stakes. The paint is ‘black magic pearl’ with a subtle dusting of silver for the detailing. Alongside the Donhou logos, there are also some icons dotted around the bike that have a personal meaning for its new owner. The custom integrated bar and stem, segmented fork and custom rack lend the bike a unique and retro feel.

For maximum strength, resilience and efficiency, Patrick’s build is propelled by the perfect pairing of a Gates Carbon Drive belt and Sturmey Archer 2-speed Kick Shift Coaster rear hub. Not only does this drivetrain give the bike a striking look and feel, but it also requires very low maintenance compared to chain-driven options.

As well as the belt drive which is perfect for riding in bad weather, the bike is rigged with mudguards to block as much of the road grime and water from spraying up at the rider. At this time of year, we’re sure Pat is going to get a lot of envious looks for that particular feature.

The stealthy bike is fitted with Paul componentry, while the Brooks finishing kit and Middleburn cranks round out a build that is truly one of a kind with a distinctively British aesthetic. Fast fun, built for London. 


Aug. 20.16 – Chris’ Trans America custom tourer 

Chris came to us with an idea. He needed a bike that would take him quite literally around a continent. He and his girlfriend had planned a huge touring adventure that would see them skirt the edges of the USA and Canada in one gigantic 12,000-mile loop – a journey deserving of the word ‘epic’. Of course, if you’re going to spend that much time in the saddle you need a bike that’s designed for the purpose – and that’s why Chris asked us to build him this rugged, versatile touring bike.

The custom frame is built around a comfortable geometry, but with a turn of speed should Chris want to ‘open her up’ a little bit. We used disc brakes to give Chris extra control when he’s descending with the bike under load and the wheels are built with tough Pacenti rims.

We decided on a Rohloff hub for this build, because of the minimal maintenance required to keep it rolling. It has an internal gearbox, with even distributions between each gear – the fact it’s a sealed system means you don’t get the normal wear and tear that comes from exposure to road grime and dirt, and ensures a very low chance of mechanical issues. The carbon belt drive is from Gates, another German brand who specialise in lightweight, carbon belt drives.

Another smart feature that will really come in handy out on the road is the dynamo lighting system, which we neatly routed internally through the frame and fork. This will allow Chris to generate wattage while he pedals and power the EDelux II front lamp you can see fitted to the head tube. He also has a USB charger port in the headset – so he can keep his gadgets charged up while he travels.

Chris collected his bike earlier in the summer and we’re delighted to say that he and his girlfriend have already made it from Toronto, where they started off in July, to Calgary. That’s an awesome 2,000 miles under the belt. Just 10,000 more to go now.


Jul. 19.17 – New. Wound Up and King Cage

We’re stocking a couple of new items in the online shop, including Wound Up forks as a single item, and King Cage bottle cages.

We use Wound Up forks on a lot of our builds now, the DSS2 in particular, because they offer unbeatable stability, vibration dampening and torsional stiffness. The company has been around since the nineties and their products continue to set the bar for superior design and function.

The filament winding process used to manufacture a Wound Up fork is borrowed from aerospace engineering – testament to the forks’ durability if nothing else. Obviously, we really rate them and are stoked to be selling the Gravel version with IS disc mount and mudguard eyes through the shop.

Also handmade in the USA are the King Cage bottle cages. These simple, classy cages are manufactured from stainless steel tubing that promises not to mark your bottles. We’re stocking a choice of their classic SS or contemporary Iris designs. Simple and stylish.


Jul. 13.16 – Harry’s shades-of-grey custom road bike

Finding a middle ground between contemporary and classic can be a tricky balancing act, but that’s what Harry wanted for his new road bike.

We used Columbus XCR tubing for this build, giving it just the right balance of rigidity, weight and comfort. The bike is also set up for internal cable routing, for that beautifully clean modern look.

In terms of componentry, we selected the very best brands to give Harry’s machine a beautiful ride experience. The groupset is SRAM Red for seamless shifting and we fitted the bike with Avid BB7 SL disc brakes, for that essential precision control when he’s really going after it on the descents.

The Wound Up carbon fibre fork is a key part of the build, these things can compete with a steel equivalent in terms of pure bomb-proof durability, but with the added benefit of being lightweight filament-wound carbon fibre.

We always like a bike to have a personal touch and for Harry we added a couple of neat details in the paintwork. You’ll spot a rose behind the seat tube – the symbol of Harry’s home county, Yorkshire. Then he’s also got his initials underneath the down tube, both of which we did in the exposed stainless of the tube set. Finally, the gradations of grey on the top and down tube give the bike a dynamic, but refined look.



Jun 21.16 – Touring the Reynolds factory

We were recently invited to tour the Reynolds factory, a really awesome experience given the amazing history of the company and their role in some major achievements in the pursuit of speed and engineering excellence.

It was the expertise of the Reynolds Tube Company that helped build the frame of the Thrust2, the famous jet-propelled car that held the land speed record for some 14 years between 1983 and 1997. Donhou are no strangers to this type of feat, making our own tilt at a similar, although perhaps slight lower-powered record, for our Experiments in Speed film a few years ago.

Reynolds is known for its iconic numbered decals – relating to the different properties of the steel alloys they produce. We typically build a lot of our custom frames and all of our Signature Steel range with Reynolds 853, their top end heat-treated, air-hardening steel, but we’ve also used their other tubesets when the situation has called for it. We’ve done track builds with stainless 931, used 725 for oversized chainstays and made use of the incredible strength of their marquee 953.

It was a great insight to see where the steel we build with comes from and it really adds some depth to the narrative that runs through every bike. Seeing the process of using rollers to expand and contract the tubes to release the various mandrels that give the unique butt profile of each tube was very interesting. 

When you see the process, you get a real sense of the journey, all the way from hundreds of tubes, all looking the same sitting on a factory shelf, to the unique Donhou custom bicycle that they become.      


Jun 20.16 – Stu’s Belgian beauty

We built this frame for Stu, making this his second Donhou bike. He wanted us to capture some of the iconic essence of Belgium and its inextricable link to classic cycling. To do this we created a ‘blown-up’ version of the three bands of colour that appear on the Belgian flag – red, black and yellow – and applied them in a chaotic, fragmented pattern around the frame. 

Of course, Belgium wouldn’t be Belgium without some horrible weather, so the bike had to reflect that and be a real all-weather riding beast. To that end we’ve painted Stu some mudguards in the same scheme, for when the elements turn sour. We’ve also used a Parlee thru-axle fork and thru-axle disc polydrops, so the bike can run disc brakes – perfect for extra control in the wet.

The tubing underneath the paint is stainless Columbus XCR, for that brushed, deep lustre that really complements the Donhou head badge. You’ll also spot the Donhou bridge between the seat stays.

This bike will definitely go quick, but it’ll also be comfortable – one of the biggest benefits of custom steel road bikes. 


May 25.16 – Owners Ride 2016

And just like that another year has flown by, with another great Owners Ride under our belts. This was the second time we’ve run the event and we were delighted to have some clear blue skies under which to explore the North Norfolk countryside.

We assembled early on Sunday at Whitlingham Station where a pillar of steam from a traction engine unofficially marked the start point. In the run up to the big day we’d been working flat out to get our newest owner’s bike finished for him, so we could have the big unveiling at the ride. Luke was chuffed with his new steed and hopped on it straight away and rode the 60miles with no qualms.

After the big reveal it was off out into the lanes towards Thurning and Briston. We crossed the river at Glandford, entering the North Norfolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then carried on past the historic Binham Priory.

Our lunch stop was quintessentially English. In the grounds of Holkham Hall, a Palladian country house that has been the seat of the Earls of Leicester since the 18th century, we lounged on the grass and refuelled with a view over the lake and a game of cricket being played alongside.

Keen to exercise the adventurous natures of our riders we planned a total of three ford crossings into the route, with some of the more intrepid owners actually riding through one of them. As well as that we threw in some secteurs of Norfolk pavé and a final breathless run down a lesser-known disused rail line. All of which acted as a great counterpoint to the shady, peaceful lanes that formed the mainstay of the route.

As we looped back around to the south we passed through some idyllic English villages, Little Walsingham and past the picturesque old water mill at Guist.

As with last year’s Owners Ride, one of the most enjoyable parts of the day was hearing what everyone has been up to with their Donhou machines and what schemes they’re cooking up for the future. The ride ended, as all the best ones do, with a cold pint and some cake back at the finish.

We’d like to thank Rapha for their support with the ride and also the boys at Break Fluid, who gave us some of their fantastic coffee. A special thank you goes to Tom’s mum for providing us with some sweet, home-baked flapjacks to keep everyone’s motors running. 

Also, big thanks to Tristan Conor Holden for the excellent photo’s.


May 18.16 – Luke’s all-action Audax road bike

The bike we built for Luke was always going to have speed and stability at its core. He wanted something to do audaxes and long-distance road rides on, so we built the frame for comfort over those demanding endurance adventures.

The frame is built with Reynolds 853 tubing, while on the rear stays we used brushed Columbus XCR to create that amazing contrast with the grey paint – mirrored at the front end by our stainless steel head badge.

The blue bricks painted on the inside of the forks are inspired by the ones on Luke’s house, and within that are a couple of little details paying tribute to his two children. We custom-made the bi-lam seat cluster so it could feature a little bit of the blue paint too, and we also hand painted the mudguards and titanium bottle cages to keep the theme going.

We got to use some of our favourite componentry for this build, with a Chris King headset and Fizik bars combining for an awesome cockpit setup, while the wheels use Chris King hubs, plus Sapim CX Ray spokes and Pacenti SL25 rims – for a smooth fast-rolling ride that’ll easily cope with any rough stuff Luke encounters out on his long-range forays into the wild. The Brooks C13 saddle is their first ever carbon fibre model, so its lightweight, but still offers plenty of the comfort they’re known for. The ENVE GRD fork is built with an integrated mudguard, teamed with Ultegra Di2 disc brakes to offer great control on twisting descents and gravel tracks.

We presented Luke with his bike at our Owners Ride earlier in the month and he loved it from the very start, throwing his leg over the top tube and completing the 60-mile route with no bother. We’re not sure there’s a better way to ‘meet’ your custom bike for the first time. Of course, our Owners Ride pales in comparison to the bike’s first major test, which will be later this year when Luke is tackling a 1,200km audax ride in the Highlands of Scotland. We wish him luck!

More photo’s in the gallery.


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.


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