With lots of detail, step by step, this is how it happens:
- The Vision
- Donor bike assessment or frame selection
- Initial spec sheet, options and quotes
- Questions and answers, clarification, changes, confirmation and deposit
- Frame strip and preparation
- Colour choice
- Blasting and coating
- Parts selection and sourcing
- Frame receipt and preparation
- The build
- Tuning and testing
- Collection or delivery
The beauty of a Specialbike is that we can create exactly the bike that you want. The first thing we need to do is to work out what that bike is. We can work from just a few details, like "I want a classic pink ladies bike with a basket", or we can have detailed discussions about every aspect that goes into building your bike. Before we go any further we want to have this vision to work from.
We can do this by meeting in person, talking on the phone or by email, or a mixture of these. It can take five minutes or half an hour (any longer and we should be on stage 4).
If you can come down and see us so we can do this is in person that is great but please make an appointment first. We are not a retail business but a busy bicycle servicing and repairs workshop (see about us). If we don't know you're coming then we may well not be able to spend time with you and provide you with the level of service that we would like to. If you've got a donor bike, don't forget to bring it with you!
If you are not able to come to us, that's not a problem, we can do the whole process by email and if needed over the phone. Send us an email with as much detail of your vision as you would like. If you've got a potential donor bike, take lots of pictures of it and either attach them to an email or (preferably) post them to Flickr or another image sharing website and send us the link.
Donor bike assessment:
If you have provided a potential donor bike we will do a thorough assessment of it. This will involve checking the frame and all components for their overall condition, suitability for further use and how they fit in with the vision. If required we will remove any components and partially or fully strip the frame to complete this assessment.
If you are unable to get to us and have provided photos of the donor bike then we will do the assessment to the best of our abilities given the limitations of working from photographs.
If we are building you a Specialbike from scratch, the next stage is to choose a frame that fits with the vision and is a suitable size.
Initial spec sheet, options and quotes:
With the vision in mind and donor bike fully assessed or a suitable frame selected, the next stage is to do a detailed spec sheet, complete with options and associated costs. The spec sheet details every part that will be used to create the finished Specialbike together with all the costs.
If you have provided a donor bike, all the components to be re-used will be clearly noted along with those to be replaced. Often we will do two complete breakdowns, providing for variations in the budget or vision.
Questions and answers, clarification, changes, confirmation and deposit:
After you have received your spec sheet and quote we will wait to hear back from you with your thoughts, questions, changes, requests for more detail, clarifications etc. From this we will make changes to the spec sheet and resend it to you together with our responses to your requests, answers to your questions and any further questions of our own. We'll repeat this process (if necessary) until we are both happy and have a finalised and mutually accepted detail of the bike we are going to build and its cost. Once this has been confirmed we will take payment of the deposit (usually £100).
Frame strip and preparation:
If you have provided a donor bike we will now strip the frame, keeping any parts that are to be re-used, returned or may need to be referred back to at a later point. (If there's any doubt or question about it then we keep it.)
Whether you have provided a donor bike or we are providing everything we'll then select all the parts that are to be coated and box these ready for collection.
See a sample colour chart here - www.ralcolor.com. Colour choice doesn't need to be decided on as soon as the confirmation is given and the spec sheet is signed off, but the sooner we have the colour choice the better as the the powder-coaters sometimes have to order colours they do not have in stock.
Some customers agonise for ages over their colour choice. Our advice would be:
- Avoid light or pale colours (white, light grey, pale yellow etc.) as these will show the dirt more easily.
- Don't think about it to much! Once the bike is built the silver and black of the components complement the base colour of the frame so that it always looks great.
Blasting and coating:
The boxed parts are then collected and taken to be blasted and coated. The first stage is the blasting - this process removes all the old paint and prepares the metal for the second stage, the powder coat. Powder-coating a frame achieves a truly wondrous transformation. As a finish it is unrivaled for the combination of quality, durability and cost.
For more detail on blasting and powder-coating please see the FAQ and the links below:
Parts selection and sourcing:
While the frame is away being transformed we will take out of stock and/or order in all the required parts so that we have everything ready for the final build.
Frame receipt and preparation:
Once we receive the transformed frame back (see the timescale breakdown for more detail on how long this takes) we will unwrap it and check the finish. (This is really just a formality as they always look great.) Next we will prepare the frame for the build. Correct frame preparation is very important for a bicycle to work to its full potential.
- Reaming, facing and re-taping the threads on both sides of the bottom bracket shell
- Reaming and facing the top and bottom of the head tube
- Tapping the threads where needed for various frame mounts, e.g. the rear derailleur hanger, mudguard and bottle cage mounts
- Reaming and facing the fork crown race face
- Depending on the type, chasing or threading the fork steerer tube
- Facing disc brake mounts (if appropriate)
For more details on reaming, facing, tapping and threading please see the following pages:
- Reaming - Wikipedia
- Tapping - Wikipedia
- Facing and Reaming guide - Park Tools
- Tapping and facing guide - Park Tools
Possibly the most satisfying of all the stages, this is where we take your newly-transformed and prepared frame and turn it into a fully-functioning and visually superb, one-of-a-kind bicycle. This is where a Specialbike really differs from a mass-produced, factory-built bike. Every bike is unique and we take take pride in the build, never rushing it. Threads are correctly greased, wheels finely trued, components and accessories properly fitted. No shortcuts are taken.
Tuning and testing:
Once the build is complete we tune and then fine tune the operation of the bike. This includes:
- Check/reposition/secure handlebars, stem, headset, seat post, saddle and any other appropriate components or accessories
- Check/adjust/tune operation of gears - this includes setting the range, alignment and position of the derailleurs and adjusting the position of the rear derailleur hanger if necessary
- Check/adjust/tune brakes - this includes repositioning and 'toeing in' of the brake pads to reduce/eradicate squeal
Finally we road-test the bike and then perform any further adjustments or tuning as required. When we are completely happy with the bike, its build and performance, we will contact you to let you know that your steed awaits.
Collection or delivery:
Ideally you will come in person to collect your bike and we will then be able to make any required adjustments to the riding position. However many people are unable to visit us and that is in no way a preclusion to owning a Specialbike. We've built many Specialbikes for people we have never met and have shipped them all over the world.