To create a bicycle that gives you many years of enjoyable riding, so that with each passing year your Llewellyn bicycle gives you greater value and thus you come to cherish your Llewellyn.
This is my desire and goal.
Making my best better is my daily drive in the workshop. To accomplish these goals, I work alone. Building bespoke steel bicycle frames utilizing lugged construction, I have chosen to combine the best of traditional frame construction methods and the best of contemporary design and materials with a time honoured aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye and is never out of fashion.
For me the bike frame and the whole bike must be well designed to fit under the rider providing a functional, durable and stylish appearance. The frame must agree with the determined cycling bio-mechanics of the rider and be designed to fit under their position for the bike’s intended use. Can a rider really appreciate what a well designed and superbly constructed bespoke bicycle feels like to ride, if all they have ever experienced were on-trend but poorly fitted (and despite their retail cost, cheaply made) bicycles? My skill as an experienced frame maker is interpreting the rider’s position data and designing the correct bicycle frame to fit under them for the use intended which results in a bicycle that is comfortable and handles well, inspiring the rider’s confidence in all riding conditions. I strive to create that blend of rider and machine that makes it feel like the tyre contact patch on the road is just an extension of the rider’s body.
For me the bike frame must also be durable, to give loads of value from the many years the bike is in service. The frame’s tubing diameters and wall thickness must be selected to appropriately to suit the size and weight of the rider and the bicycle’s intended use. I do not think it is correct to use the one size set of tubes and wall thickness for the full range of rider sizes from 150cm tall 55kg lasses to 2m tall 95kg plus pedal pounders. There is no possible way the bikes will handle correctly unless one designs and selects the tube diameters and fork materials to match the rider’s size and weight. For those who are racing or can ride with a lot of spirit and grunt this is readily apparent, but less noticeable for the softer pedaling rider, but still no less important in seeking the correct result for each individual. I generally use OS tube sizes for small to medium riders and the XL for the tall and big lads unless I determine the rider’s requirements would be served otherwise.
As far as women’s specific design goes, I do that for all my female clients. A woman needs a bicycle built to fit her individual proportions and biomechanics, not the proportions of the herd. Each female rider may have different biomechanical strengths and weaknesess, however “Women’s specific design” is just a trendy marketing approach; averaging female body dimensions and grouping them into generic set of formulas is nonsense. Using the Nth percentile is a flawed approach and can result in terrible outcomes because female cyclists have just as much variation from the “average” in body shape, size, and strength as males. Skilled bespoke bicycle makers do not have to think like the big companies which make thousands of bikes of one size, and hope that not one notices. The correct approach is asses each person, either male or female, their requirements , morphology, and biomechanics; then design the frame, select the appropriate materials, and build a functional bicycle for that individual person.
Fashion is fleeting, style is forever. I feel that contemporary steel frame construction needs to have all the small details considered and covered. I use many stainless steel fittings in my frame work such as brake cable stoppers, chain hangers and stainless steel dropouts with raised wheel-bite facets to keep the paint neat and tidy. These features enhance the frame’s function, durability and appearance especially for those who perspire battery acid. Some details such as stainless head tube logos do nothing with regards to the function of the bicycle, but the clients like them and the result is that they became a standard feature. When a rider is following a Llewellyn bike it is instantly recognizable by the stainless heart detail between the seat stays.
For me to know that a particular detail or step is inserted in the build process, is to sate my desire in pursuit of purity in my frame construction process even if it is not perceptible to the owner. For example, I use a time consuming step-by-step main frame brazing process to reduce the chances of having to cold set a main triangle. My max tolerance of alignment of the head tube to seat tube is 0.30mm over 300mm length of the head tube and this includes the HT reaming. This reflects my drive to build frames with minimal built-in stresses and with very good alignments of HT/ST/rear wheel plane. The outcome is a better-handling and longer-lasting frame.
I am tired of the hearing the word “passionate” but I suppose I am a very self-motivated person. As a young lad I was attracted to individual sports such as athletics and bike racing, because it was totally up to me to train, suffer and be head-tough in competition. At the work bench it is always up to me as I work alone to make these tubes and parts work correctly for each client.
My past and ongoing work with Australian Institute of Sport and with the Aussie national teams all around the world has given me a lot of working knowledge, and an understanding of what innovations are really innovations that make a positive contribution to the bicycle, and how and what is important regards to good design.
I enjoy learning/discovering new things as the days pass and I feel there is so much more to chase in this gig as an independent frame builder. As much as possible I like to pass on what I know and I hope it is of benefit to other frame builders. I am pleased to be part of the Frame Builder’s Collective (link) for it is a way of collaborating on this sharing of knowledge and experiences with other frame builders around the world.
Since 2004 I have been motivated to design and produce my own frame parts as there was an absence of certain lug designs for XL tube sizes and also for XL and OS sloping top tube lug sets. I jokingly call this my PhD in frame building as creating these has taken up a lot of time, resources and energy but it has expanded and further refined my pursuit of purity in my frame construction.
I do my best to share the knowledge I've earned with other framebuilders. I've previously interacted with other framebuilders through internet forums. Now, through the facility of the internet a peer group of professional frame builders have come together to assist developing and fellow established professional builders by sharing their long term accumulated knowledge. I am very pleased to be involved with the The Framebuilders’ Collective as I believe we are travelling in an era when the creativity and quality of the bespoke hand made frame has never been healthier or more exciting.
I enjoy early morning riding, I like to see the sun come up while riding and hear the Aussie bird songs and see a few roos. It is out the door ASAP upon awakening for two hours or more of early morning pedaling or I do not bother pulling the knicks on. I ride most mornings, I like the hills, huffing and puffing up hills is more fun to me than pretend race rides with a large group. For me it is the ride, the exertion, making the blood flow, rather than how fast I can ride over the others. I prefer style and grace on the bike rather than meaningless grunt. When motivated I like to run the engine hard on the climbs. I reckon you pin a number on and race or you ride with the number unpinned, but I am glad I raced when the powers of one’s youth are at their best.
Life with the bikes is good.