RUSBY CYCLES’ FOUNDER HAS JUST HEADED WEST FROM LONDON TO BRISTOL. HIS HOME HAS CHANGED BUT THE TALENT’S REMAINED
A PLASTIC BAG GOT STUCK IN MY REAR DERAILLEUR
and bent just about everything on the back of my bike. I was pretty pissed off and searched for someone to repair the damage. I visited Oak Cycles workshop in London, which inspired me to do the repair myself and combine two things I loved – cycling and ‘making’. That inspired me further to become a frame builder. I still haven’t fixed that dropout.
BEFORE THAT I STUDIED SCULPTURE AT ART COLLEGE,
had a few jobs, and then installed artwork in galleries and grand houses in London. Experiencing this side of the art world killed my love of sculpting.
THERE WEREN’T MANY FRAME BUILDING COURSES AROUND
and I had little money, so I was mostly self-taught, using a few basic books, crappy YouTube videos and lots of experimenting. This was okay to a point but I learnt a lot more when I shared a workshop with Ryan [McCaig] at Oak Cycles and Matthew [Sowter] from Saffron Frameworks.
THE QUALITY OF WORKMANSHIP BY THE BEST-KNOWN FRAME BUILDERS IN THE UK IS INCREDIBLY HIGH
and everyone has their own style, which marks them out. I use a paired-down aesthetic, preferring clean lines and subtle metalwork detailing that you would never find on a mass-produced frame. I often put in sculptural, asymmetric bridges and loads of pinstripes.
I LOVE THE CREATIVE PART OF BIKE DESIGN,
carving unusual brake bridges and all the things that make the bike look amazing, but probably my favourite part is brazing in the bottle bosses. It only takes a few seconds but is so satisfying to watch the molten silver wick around the boss when it’s all at exactly the right temperature.
I’M PROUD OF ALL MY BIKES
but Pete’s All Road Bike on my website (www.rusbycycles.co.uk) is a recent favourite, as it features just the right mix of detail, simplicity and functionality. I managed to route the hydraulics through the whole frame, hide away the Di2 junction box beneath the saddle and custom-make the seatpost for a super-clean appearance.
I’VE HAD A FEW SMALL DISASTERS DURING MY FRAME BUILDING LIFE
but one of the most heartbreaking occurred when I painted a particularly complicated bike. It took me three attempts to paint the masked areas nice and crisp, and I lacquered it beautifully using a new lacquer. But when I looked the next morning it was suffering from something called ‘solvent trap’, which causes the paint to cloud over and wrinkle up. It took me about 16hrs to redo it.
A FRAME BUILDER REQUIRES PATIENCE,
an eye for detail and, if you forge fillet-brazed frames, the ability to enjoy sanding. Fortunately, I love sanding down fillets. I’m unsure what that says about me.
I NEVER PROPERLY FINISHED MY FIRST FRAME
and it’s really not much to look at, so it just hangs rusting in my workshop. My second frame, however, took around four months to build and, reassuringly, it still looks and rides great. It’s a belt-drive singlespeed, I use it everyday and I still get asked about it.
I’VE JUST MOVED TO BRISTOL.
I headed west for many reasons but primarily I wanted to be nearer the countryside. I like the pace of life; I was never a natural Londoner.