The Atala & Shoppaphenia Specialbikes.

Ben has been hard at work over the winter months creating these two incredible bikes. The Atala & Shoppaphenia Specialbikes. Two show standard transformations, this is bicycle restoration at it's finest.

His words precede a selection of professional photos of each bike. Great work Ben!

Atala (Bugsy)

The Atala Albatross seems to be quite a rare beast, with little or no information to be found on the internet. It is originally from Italy, sometime in the eighties. It had a 7 speed Nexus hub with a roller brake on both the front and rear wheels and was a comfortable and stylish commuter. The frame comprises of two parts, the main triangle and the swing arm which pivots centrally while compressing a strong spring in the seat-post.

When starting this project it became clear that some pretty important parts were missing from the suspension and pivots, so quite a lot of careful engineering and machining had to be done to even get the frame in usable shape!

The lines that the frame follow are very similar to a classic cruiser, so the obvious choice was to go with it! The soft black of the main triangle makes the rich cherry red of the swing-arm stand out beautifully, while the soft leather of the grips and sturdy brooks saddle complete the 1950's gangster/hot rod look I was going for. Finished with a few hand painted flames, Specialbike badges and shiny chrome, it really looks the part.

The rear wheel now has a 3 speed hub with a roller brake and custom chain tensioner, and the front wheel is kept in check by a powerful cantilever brake. The black rims are finished with black spokes and gleaming red spoke nipples which create a fantastic red glow as the wheels are turning.

The original fork has been replaced by a newer, stronger fork with a tapered sealed headset to keep the controls smooth. The design of this bike was constantly evolving while it was being built, as the more it progressed, the more it became clear what the final bike would look like.

The only shame is that I am certain I will not find another one so this one really is unique, and there are no worries about bumping into a another one!

The Shoppaphenia

The Raleigh Shopper is one of the most hard working little bikes and early examples, as far back as the donor for this one which is a 1972 shopper, are as strong and reliable today as they were when they first came out of the factories and workshops. Amazingly, the Sturmey three speed hubs rarely fail, and a good indication as to the age of your shopper can be determined by the date on the hub. Unfortunately the 1972 hub (which worked perfectly) on this bike had to be replaced with a slightly newer one (1983 I think) simply because of the number of spoke holes needed to build it onto a 20" alloy rim.

The riding position certainly doesn't lean towards long distances, but for general zipping around and in this case, showing off your pimp ride, they are comfortable and easy to ride.

Being in Brighton it only seemed fitting to take advantage of the familiar shape of the humble Shopper and give it the Quadrophenia mod scooter treatment. The RAF blue/grey of the frame matched with the rich royal blue of the custom made mudguards means the appearance is subtle yet striking.

The front light was originally powered by a 6 volt dynamo, but the salty air of Brighton destroys dynamos in seconds so it has been converted to hold a small battery pack with a weatherproof switch mounted to the chrome body. The rear bullet tail light is also custom made and also has a weatherproof battery pack and switch located above the chain guard.

Some of the original steel components have been replaced with lightweight alloy parts to keep the weight down and also to add to the styling of the bike. The open bearing bottom bracket has been replaced with a sealed cartridge, and the headset (which was originally a nylon bushing..) is a sealed tapered bearing which makes for smooth and accurate control.

Powerful brakes custom mounted to allow for the smaller alloy wheels make sure you can stop on a penny, and the super sticky high pressure Schwalbe Kojak tyres keep you glued to the tarmac while dodging pushchairs in the cycle lane!

I had a few doubts when I started building this bike as to whether it was going to look enough like a scooter, but looking at it now I think it is definitely a respectable nod to one of Brighton's biggest passions.