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.


August 6.15 – Thomas’ street bruiser 

Thomas wasn’t sure what he wanted when he first came to us. Did he want a Sunday best road bike, or perhaps something a little more unique? After much deliberation he went down the unique route, embracing all the possibilities of using a custom frame builder to get something that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

After several conversations, we decided on putting together a bit of a street bruiser, something sturdy and a lot of fun to do the daily commute on and general riding around town. The frame is built from Reynolds 853 with a custom bar/stem combo, it’s hydraulically braked, belt-driven for low maintenance and runs thru-axles front and back for a super responsive ride. All wrapped up in the awesome flat frost blue paint finish.

For componentry we went with an English theme, with the hydraulic discs, hubs and headset coming from Hope in Lancashire; the cranks provided by Middleburn from Hampshire; and the Brooks England saddle and handle bar grips.

The Hope hubs are laced to H+Son Archetype rims, while the belt drive is by Gates Carbon Drive and the forks are Whisky Thru-Axle.

We think this one turned out beautifully and it certainly gained a lot of admirers when we showed it at Bespoked earlier this year in Bristol.

For more pictures visit the gallery.


July 13.15 – Donhou crosses a continent – Part 1

When our friend Alasdair asked us to make him a tough and versatile expedition bike we were only too happy to oblige. Long-time readers will remember seeing his classy British racing green machine on the site back in 2012. At the time Alasdair wanted the bike to explore South Korea, where he was living and working, and he was also kicking around the idea for a trip to Alaska.

In the intervening years Alasadair’s Donhou saw plenty of mileage around Korea, as well as a trip to Japan, and a few long-distance jaunts in the UK and Europe. At the end of 2014 he decided to take his Donhou on a fresh, trans-continental adventure – he was going to conquer South America.

Starting out in Argentina and exploring the stunningly scenic vistas of Patagonia, then heading into Chile and its breathtakingly beautiful Lake District (where we hope it rained slightly less than the English version!), before rolling into the otherworldly terrain of the Atacama desert in southern Bolivia.

Travelling with all of his belongings on the bike, including a tent, stove and all the accoutrements you’d expect for a three-month odyssey across a continent, Alasdair reckons he covered around 3,000 kilometres. The frame and fork we built for him carried Alasdair through it all without a hitch, with a couple of busted spokes and a bent mudguard the only mechanical issues he encountered.

We’ll be bringing you a full interview with Alasdair in the next couple of weeks so you can find out all about his trip, and maybe get some inspiration for your own bikepacking adventure.

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.


July 6.15 – Owners Ride route

In May we held our inaugural Owners Ride for anyone who has bought a Donhou to come along and share their stories, as well as enjoying a spin around the north Norfolk lanes.

We had a great time on the ride and it was brilliant to see and hear the tales of so many of the bikes – 22 riders in total came along, one from as far away as France. And of course it really helped that the weather played ball too!

There are loads more photos of the ride, plus a full report, which you can read on this blog post.

For those that couldn’t make it we’ve also put together a map of the route we took, so you can recreate the fun any time. You’ll splash through fords, cruise past second world war airfields and see some incredible views of the coastal landscape. There’s even a couple of places to stop for a restorative ale or two along the way.

Click here for a full-size version of the map. Or download the GPS file here.

And here to check out an album of pictures from the day.


June 24.15 – Adrian’s Dazzle XCR Road

Adrian is an engineer by profession, so using the highest quality materials was very important to him, meaning there was no other tubeset for this build than Columbus XCR.

When it was time to start designing the bike, Adrian came to visit the workshop with various print-outs tucked under his arm, including several images of old WW1 warships painted in what was known as ‘dazzle’ camouflage.

The idea behind dazzle is that it breaks up the lines of the ship so that an enemy couldn’t focus or gauge speed and distance while sighting their gun. Taking this concept and applying it to a bicycle frame, we worked up the exploded check pattern to confuse the eye.

The paint design includes some exposed areas of stainless steel and fillet brazing, allowing the craftsmanship underneath to come through also.

With a Campagnolo Chorus groupset, ENVE finishing kit and a custom painted stem, this is one camo bike that won’t be hard to spot.

More images in the custom gallery.

Photo’s, George Marshall


May 20.15 – Owners Ride report

So that’s it! The inaugural Donhou Owners Ride took place over the weekend and we couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The weather was excellent and the roads were empty – we set out with 22 riders, the furthest coming all the way from France to take part.

Over the next 60 miles we climbed around 2,500ft, cruised past WW2 airfields and even splashed through a couple of fords – there’s nothing like getting your feet wet to drive home that feeling of a deep connection with the land you’re riding through. As we approached the steepest climb of the day we were greeted with the inspirational sight of century-old power, as the North Norfolk Railway steam train puffed by under the bridge we were crossing.

We made a cake stop at Wiveton Hall Café, surrounded by strawberry fields and raspberry canes, with beautiful views out over the marshes to the sea. A fine chance to enjoy some scenery and chat more about each others’ bikes.

As well as swapping stories, there was lots of interest in who had which frame number – we had the first-ever DON001 along, as well as the latest frame to be collected from our workshop just last week. People were riding tourers, single-speeds and road bikes – every one a handcrafted Donhou original.

Big thanks go out to the people who helped make this ride happen: Mule Bar, who fuelled us with great UK-made, organic, Fairtrade energy bars; Tristan Conor Holden , for snapping some amazing photos; and August Wheelworks, for being on hand to chat to people about their wheels and servicing requirements. Special mention must go to the Parson Woodforde where we started and finished our loop, a great pub that served us coffees in the morning and cold beers and food on our return.

The vast open skies, pheasants, flint walls and gorgeous fields of bright yellow rapeseed will live long in our memories, and we hope they’ll do the same in the minds of everyone else who came along to be a part of it. Thank you all for making this ride a possibility.



May 04.15 – Wasma’s Step Through Sleeper 

Wasma came to us with images of space nebulas saying she wanted a fast town bike that would make guys jealous. I think we nailed it for her!

We came up with this awesome town bike and don’t let that step through frame and custom swept back bar/stem combo fool you, geometry is tuned in and this bike packs a punch.

The frame is built from Reynolds 953 stainless steel tubing with hand carved bi-lam seat cluster and top tube/seat tube support. We’ve used oversized tubing to replace the stiffness lost from the step through design, to make sure this bike is as lively and responsive as it looks. The bike sports the excellent Brooks Cambium saddle and bar tape. There’s British manufactured Middleburn cranks with Shimano Ultegra shifting and XTR hydraulic braking.

This is a fast, light bike and with room for 32c tyres and fenders is a comfortable one too. Finished off with the incredible purple to midnight blue fade and exposed stainless.

All that and Wasma can still wear a skirt while riding!


May 01.15 – London Craft Week: the best of London makers

We’ve been invited to take part in this year’s London Craft week, which runs from 6 May until the tenth. It’s a showcase of some of the city’s best and brightest creative makers, or to use their own words, it ‘puts craftsmanship centre stage of the world’s creative capital’, through a series of presentations and demonstrations. There are even some ‘hidden’ workshops, which the intrepid among you might want to seek out.

With a whole bunch of craftsmen and women on the line-up, from silversmiths to furniture-makers, glass-blowers to milliners, obviously we’re delighted to be involved – we’re also the only bike builders on the bill.

LCW is about removing the mystique around beautifully-made things and contextualising them with the craft it takes to make them. Instead of experiencing products as ‘branded items in a store’, visitors get to understand the story and process.

We love the spirit of this week and are chuffed to be involved! You can find out more information here.

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