JA­SON ROURKE

JA­SON ROURKE HEADS UP STAFFORDSHIRE-BASED ROURKE CY­CLES’ FRAMEBUILDING ARM – AN AC­CLAIMED OUT­FIT WHO’VE BEEN FORG­ING QUAL­ITY BIKES FOR 45 YEARS…

Urban Cyclist - - Agenda - In­ter­view: James Witts Im­ages: Rourke Cy­cles

PRE­DOM­I­NANTLY I USE REYNOLDS

STEEL though some­times I’ll work with Dedac­ciai. The 953 tub­ing Reynolds pro­duce is fan­tas­tic, though it’s hard to work with be­cause it’s su­per strong and very thin. That makes it very dif­fi­cult to tig weld but I’d like to think we’ve got it off to a fine art now.

I BUILT MY DAD A BIKE. [Ja­son’s dad, Brian, started up Rourke in 1972. Brian’s a fan­tas­tic cy­clist.] We could build him one ev­ery year and he’d be, “Yeah that’s a great bike.” But that’d be the last you’d hear of it; it’s a tool to my dad. But I built him a 953 and it’s the only one that he still goes on about. “I flip­ping love that bike,” he says.

WE DO THE MEA­SURE­MENTS IN

OUR SHOP. A new lad called Wayne’s started and he does a great job with the CAD (com­puter-aided de­sign) sys­tem we use to take di­men­sions and the like. We’ve also taken on an ap­pren­tice, Liam, though he works with me build­ing frames in a garage by our house. Our phi­los­o­phy’s al­ways been the same: it’s all about build­ing a bike be­tween the hands, legs and ass. It’s all about lever­age, you see. Once we have those an­gles sorted, we can sort top-tube length, stem length, fore-and-aft of the sad­dle… THE JIG I USE IS A BIT OF A HOMEBREW and I wouldn’t swap it for a more ex­pen­sive ver­sion. They might be en­gi­neered bet­ter but this gives me so much more scope for ad­just­ment. Most jigs are solid to a wall or solid to a stand. Mine is freeflow­ing so I can tweak it round at any an­gle. It’s re­ally use­ful for ‘ tig­ging’. ONE OF MY BIG­GEST FRAMEBUILDING IN­FLU­ENCES was a chap called Paul Wash­ing­ton. He was a glass­blower by trade but joined us in the sev­en­ties. When I left school, I worked with him for a cou­ple years and he taught me how to build. I then ran the shop for a while be­fore I took over from Paul over 15 years ago. WE’VE WORKED WITH GUY MARTIN ON VAR­I­OUS TV PROJECTS and have an old frame of his in our work­shop. He was ren­o­vat­ing a Lan­caster Bomber and work­ing on a Rolls-Royce Mer­lin engine. Guy’s a truck fit­ter by trade and was re­furb­ing it in his boss’ garage when he de­cided to rev up the engine and see how it purred. Un­for­tu­nately, it bounced off the jig and sub­se­quently knocked down some stairs, a breeze-block wall and hit Guy’s bike. There are only a cou­ple of dents in it, though, show­ing how tough 853 is. His boss wasn’t overly happy.

WE’VE ALSO MADE BIKES FOR SOME

OF THE GB TRACK STARS in­clud­ing Ja­son and Laura Kenny, and Matt Cramp­ton who re­tired last year. He was strug­gling with his road bike so we forged a be­spoke model for him that could cope with his leg size – and power.

CUR­RENTLY THE MOST POP­U­LAR

DE­SIGN OF BIKE is wider-tyred road ver­sions. They’ll cope with 35mm tyres and are fit­ted with disc brakes. You can also fit in slim­mer tyres, so they’re equally ca­pa­ble rid­ing on-road as off-road.

WE’VE JUST SET UP A SEP­A­RATE

PAINT COM­PANY, so we can now paint for other builders. We know what a faff it is to paint bikes and can cope with the ex­tra work in our work­shop. As for the fu­ture, we’ll look to cut wait­ing times and up pro­duc­tion.

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