Why have we partnered with Rob English to build what will only ever be a very small batch of frames per year (exact number TBD)? For the same reason we brought Daren Baum's frames to Above Category 13-plus years ago and, more recently, Prova, another esoteric frame manufacturer: because their work is incredible.
Of course, we do like the larger (a relative term) handbuilt companies and the occasional mass-market brand, as, in truth, they all do something cool. Yet I've always been intrigued by Rob English's bikes. Although when I first saw them, I wasn't sure if I liked them, based purely on what I tend to enjoy from an aesthetic standpoint. But what got my clock ticking were his TT bikes. Has anything this aero ever looked so good?
After seeing the TT bike, I looked more closely at Rob's road bikes. Serendipitously, we then had a couple come through the shop, and I just loved their uniqueness, but more than that, their purposeful design.
So, I called Rob, paid the deposit as a customer and got on the waiting list. About a year and a half later, he started building my frame. Yes, it really is Rob in the workshop and no one else (unless you count his rescue cow, Peanut, but cows are famously bad welders).
Eventually, my frame arrived, and we built it up. And then I rode it. After a few short outings, I called Rob and pleaded our case for why it'd be a good idea to let us sell his frames through Above Category. Luckily, he agreed, and here we are.
Stay tuned for a full-on ride report and more information about the frames we are working with Rob to build and the time frames for them. Until then, here's the nitty-gritty of my English.
BOTW: Chad's English Road Bike
Frameset: English Steel Road Frame
Group: Campagnolo Super Record Mechanical shifting and rim brakes
Power Meter: SRM, Campagnolo
Wheels: Campagnolo Hyperon Tubular
Tires: Vittoria Corsa Tubulars, 700X25c
Saddle: Fizik Arione, OO
Ceramic: Ceramicspeed coated bb, coated standard size pulley wheels
Cockpit: English steel stem and Ritchey shallow drop bars
Titanium: I'm not looking at the bike right now as I'm at the track, and the bike is at home, but I used as many titanium bolts as is possible on this bike...
Weight: 17 lbs (includes pedals, both bottle cages and computer)
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace
I don't know if this frame has a model name, but we'll call it Road. Rob built the frame, and Velocolour painted it. I love it. Notable features include a big-time sloping top tube, skinny tubing, really skinny wishbone seat stays and a threaded English BB. Suffice it to say, this frame is way different from the type of bike I usually go for, but as I just wrote, I love it.
We equipped the frame with one of my all-time groups here, Campagnolo Super Record, with mechanical shifting and rim brakes. Everything works amazingly all the time. Please, powers that be at Campagnolo, don't drop this group! I'm running a 52X36 combo up front and the 11-29 cassette out back. Plus, the chain has been waxed.
The frame features an integrated seat post with a super custom Thomson seatpost insert that is as ingenious as it is a pain in the ass. Unless you have a saddle with a hole in it, then it's super easy to use. But I don't care. As I've stated many times before, I love it. I could also write odes to the stem: 115mm long, sleek and steady. The saddle is Fizik's Arione OO, which keeps me sitting pretty and looks cool to boot. Unfortunately, the handlebar is out of production, but it's the classic and shallow-shaped Ritchey bar.
WHEELS AND TIRES
As with the Ritchey stem, you can't get the Campagnolo Hyperon tubular wheels that my English runs anymore - and I mean the ones with the regular spokes, not the big balancing spokes that looked weird. These wheels are sublime. I fitted them with 25c Vittoria tubs. Some photos will show the bike with Campagnolo Bora WTO 33s, which I used for a few weeks.
A Campagnolo/SRM power meter, Shimano Dura-Ace pedals and an SRM PC8 head unit.