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