Whilst visiting Joe McEwan’s Starling Cycles workshop in Bristol, UK, we met up with Pi Manson, owner of Clandestine. Pi is sharing space at the Starling workshop to hand build steel-framed works of art, it has to be said. We got the low-down on Pi’s new Clandestine Carrier, which is the bike for touring or bikepacking, grocery getting, audax, fire road bashing, – for life. It is a summation of Pi’s ideas around the ideal bike for most people, most of the time.

Clandestine Carrier Bikepacking Pi Manson
The Clandestine Carrier can be built to your exact sizing specifications

Clandestine Carrier Bike – Handmade in the UK

The 650b Clandestine Carrier is a fillet brazed steel frame bike composed of a mixture of Reynolds 853 and Columbus Zona tubing. The geometry is designed around 3 main things: Pi’s preferred long head tube, carrying weight over the front, and a comfortable and efficient upright seated position. The low geometry is built around a 70% front loading approach. Though customers can customise the geometry, Pi favors a long head tube with low trail steering, the bottom bracket drop is fixed at 67mm, the fork with a 64mm rake, and generally they feature chainstay lengths of 440mm. It will take 47c tyres, or 2.2″ knobbies, and gearing-wise, has enough clearance for a 38-tooth chainring.

Pi Manson fillet brazing clandestine bristol

Pi wanted to make something practical and affordable but still have the ability to tailor the sizing and geometry to each customer. To maintain the bike’s affordability, Pi doesn’t bother to file the fillets, instead he makes sure they are pretty neatly brazed from the get-go. The twin-plate high-rake forks are also of Pi’s own design, and are laser cut. He says these are more easily manufactured than traditional lug-style forks.

clandestine front platform rack bikepacking adventure gravel integrated dynamo
Pi Manson’s own design rack integrated with the dynamo

Pi actually began his fabrication career building bicycle racks, before discovering he might be interested in building a specific bike for these racks to fit onto. The result is that Pi can build his bicycles around the rack that will be used to carry all your important adventure items. The dynamo that the Carrier is fitted with is fully integrated – the cable comes out of the dynamo and inserts into a rack tube, pops out at the front light, goes into the downtube, up the seat tube and into the rear light. A stopper in the seat tube stops the rider from lowering the seat post too far and damaging the cable.

bear frame supplies dropouts jtek adapter

The carrier features 100 x 15mm and 142 x 12mm thru axles, with Bear Frame Supplies dropouts supplying a bolt-on replaceable mech hanger for the thru axle. The Jtek adapter pictured allows for a mountain bike specific rear mech to be run with road bike shifters.

clandestine copper headbadge
Pi kesp branding to a minimum with understated copper markings and a silver-soldered hand-stamped copper head badge

Pricing and Availability

Clandestine adventure bike built in britain

Clandestine bikes are built in Britain to order, with a 2-month wait from order to delivery. Your very own custom sized Clandestine Carrier will cost you £2100. With that you’ll get a frame and fork, a Clandestine stem with Lion brass bell, a front demi-porteur rack with removable lowriders, a rear Carradice bag support, front & rear Supernova E3 dynamo lights and Giles Berthoud stainless mudguards.

A word from Pi

Pi Manson working on a frame at the Starling Cycles workshop in Bristol
My name is Pi Manson. From my workshop in Bristol, I make award winning custom bicycles and components. My bikes are strong, utilitarian, beautiful.
My custom components have featured on award-winning show bikes, been ragged by hard working messengers, and abused on long bike tours.
I believe in:
DIY punk, fun bikes, and truth to materials.
Those beliefs shape my bikes:
I don’t chrome plate things, nor polish up stainless, or file my fillet brazed joints. Un-filed fillets show the process, the maker’s marks. A raw fillet is honest, beautiful as it is. My bikes reject the macho racing culture that permeates cycling, the simple powdercoat shouts “it’s just a bike, get over it” and the racks howl for having a picnic or building supplies or firewood thrown on and pedalled off. I do what I can to simplify, to make a handmade object as affordable as I can. My bikes are characterised by their essential utility.



  1. That JTech pulley is entirely unnecessary. You can run any 11-speed SRAM derailleur with any 11-speed SRAM shifter. I’ve run plenty of mountain bike X-Type derailleurs with drop bar 11-speed shifters, and vice versa.

    • Actually, you do need the JTech if running 11 mountain rear with 11 road double tap. Double tap rear is Exact actuation, so needs an Exact actuation derailleur. The 10 speed rear mt. derailleurs is Exact, so works with no adapter (1:1 ratio). 11 speed mountain rear is X-actuation, so not a 1:1 throw, so adapter needed (cable pull for Exact is 3.1 and for X it’s 3.48mm). I went through this in building a touring bike so if anyone needs a JTech, let me know…

  2. Nice looking bikes. I’m sure they have their market. However, I wouldn’t market the bikes as “for life” considering how quickly the bike industry changes its standards. I don’t doubt the quality in the workmanship, but what good is excellent quality when you can’t find parts of the right type and measurements to mount to the frame? Since when did thru axles, or any other of the frame’s specifications, become “standard”? Might be standards since a few years ago, but hardly 10 years ago, even less 20 years ago. Will our current “standards” hold for our “for-life-future”… we can only guess but looking at the trends and dynamics of the industry the only ever-lasting-standard is “change”.

    • A bike is only dead when you can’t get or make spares for it anymore. I’m sure the kind of person that will buy a custom made bike will keep riding it for a long time.

    • What I took away from that statement is it is a bike built for living or the life, the bike life. Seems like an awesome bike I wish the builder the best. I would ride one.

  3. The bike seriously looks like a war time thing that was build withe scraps and spare parts….some folks still drive Karmanghia’s (spelling????)…some will want to ride bikes straight out of wartime rations…

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