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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April 22.15 – DSS1 takes ‘Best Road Bike’ at Bespoked UKHB Show

We are very pleased to say that the Signature Steel DSS1 took ‘Best Road Bike’ honours at the Bespoked UKHB Show over the weekend. Amongst all the custom builds the judges felt the DSS1 had that special something and they loved the concept of Signature Steel, wanting to award a bike that makes what we do that bit more accessible. We’re obviously made up with this and it is another feather in the DSS1’s hat after being included in the RCUK 100 and the incredible reviews the bike has been getting.

As always we had a great weekend and our thanks go out to Phil and Tessa for organising another awesome show, the game definitely gets up’d each year. Thanks to everyone that stopped by the stand over the weekend, always a pleasure chatting and catching up and we hope to see you all next year!



April 13.15  – Bespoked 2015 & first look at DSS2

It’s April and that means Bespoked, the UK’s leading hand-built bike show and the number one place to meet the country’s top framebuilders, is just around the corner.

To the right you’ll see a snap of something we’ve been working on in the spray booth, but we’re still playing our cards close to the chest, waiting for the big reveal next weekend.

We feel honoured to have enjoyed success at Bespoked over the years, having won Best of Show, the Peer Prize and last year Best Utility Bicycle for this gorgeous town bike. We’re really excited to share this year’s builds, including another fresh take on the step-through town bike and a stainless XCR frame with a flamboyant paint job.

As well as checking out these unique builds Bespoked is a great opportunity to get to grips with our Signature Steel series. We’ll have examples of the original DSS1 and our forthcoming DSS2, the ‘grown-up, older brother’ to DSS1, at the show – so if you’re tempted by owning some quality Donhou steel without the waiting list, this is your chance to size them up.

DSS2 is all about versatility, with eyes for rack and mudguards, plus enough clearance to take a 35c tyre with guards on. Where the DSS1 was an out-and-out speedster, the DSS2 is a road bike, one that has the characteristic Donhou smooth and fast ride, but one that leans a little more towards a tourer or audax machine . It’’s a little more versatile than the DSS1 and would also make a great gravel or CX bike. We won’t be launching the DSS2 until later this year, so this is a fine chance to get a sneak peek before it goes on sale.

You can get tickets here.



April 10.15 – Donhou inspires new Thames bridge

Now for something on a completely different scale. We’ve been working with architecture and urban design practice Studio Egret West on an exciting new bridge project which was, believe it or not, inspired by one of our bikes. The design was entered into the Nine Elms to Pimlico Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge competition and placed runner up out of 86 entries.

The ‘V Bridge’ is a beautiful piece of architectural design and as you’d expect for a combined pedestrian and cycle bridge, it captures the spirit of cycling brilliantly. The design of the bridge was approached in the same way one would approach the design of a bicycle, to be strong, light, minimum use of materials and the aesthetics are pared back and beautiful.

It was in fact inspired by a bike we built for Chris and you can clearly see the influences when you look at the two side by side. The central span of the bridge is imagined as the top-tube of a bike frame, while the bracing and landing points where the bridge meets the banks echo the head tube / forks and seat tube / seat stay of Chris’ machine – the V-shapes that give the bridge its name.

The two landings are intended to enhance their own side of the river. The Pimlico side blending into the park without disturbing the existing greenery and the south side landing integrating a glazed cafe with a small open terrace at the very edge of the river and ample cycle parking. These tailored aspects of the design are another nod to the functional excellence you get with a custom bicycle.




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March 20.15 – Donhou Owners Ride

The inaugural Donhou Bicycles Owners Ride will take place on 17 May 2015 where we’ll be getting back to Donhou Bicycles’ roots, exploring the beautiful and tranquil roads around North Norfolk. This is the first time we’ll be getting all the bikes and owners back together in one place and look forward to sharing stories and experiences…

The finer details are yet to be finalised, but rest assured there will be cake and coffee, wonderfully empty Norfolk roads and of course we’ll be warming down in one of the many fine pubs! Most importantly, we’ll be keeping things relaxed and friendly.

When we hand over a lovingly crafted Donhou bicycle to its new owner, its the life ahead of it that is most exciting for us. This ride is our way celebrating this. Every bike we make should be unique to its owner and have a fittingly individual story that begins when you receive your completed build. As an owner, the connection between you and us doesn’t end when you wheel your machine away from the workshop. In fact, it’s just the beginning…

If you own a Donhou and haven’t heard from us yet, please get in contact to register your interest.

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