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BFS2017: Brother Cycles go 90s retro with modern steel Kepler cross, plus Big Bro mountain 29er

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Brother Cycles is a London-based bike company made up of brothers Will & James. Together the two have developed a range of no-nonsense steel framesets (and a couple of complete bikes) over the last six years that are deliver a reliable, fun ride whether on road or off, all on a budget that most cyclists will find reasonable. Their latest project had been to update their do-it-all Kepler adventure cyclocross bike, modernized with disc brakes and a new lighter fork for 2017, but at the same time they wanted to harken back to the beauties of the 90s with some retro-inspired paint jobs. Check out a few versions with us after the break, including the thoroughly modern canti, Campy off-road build and the trail adventure Big Bro 29er…

Kepler Disc Sunset

The Kepler Disc Sunset is the updated all-purpose gravel and cross machine from Brother. It is also one of the few bikes to be available from the brothers as a complete, with this SRAM Apex WiFli 2×10 speed build running £1400, with a claimed complete weight of 11kg/24.25lb for a 56cm.

The Kepler Disc is built around a welded, double-butted 4130 chromoly frame and matching unicrown fork. The 2100g frame & 1100g fork come in this colorful dark orange to yellow sunset fade, a retro pink to teal fade, and a simple black version. Each shares the same medium sized 72° head angle, 73° seattube, 70mm of BB drop, and 435mm chainstays. That gives the bike clearance for up to 42mm tires for a decent amount of off-road cush.

The £480 frameset is available in five sizes from 52-60cm.

The Kepler family bikes are all about versatility and reliable setup. That means you get full rack and fender mounts front and rear, plus easy to maintain routing with hydro-friendly continuous routing to the brakes and welded-on downtube bosses for external downtube shift routing. The QR axle bike sticks with IS disc mounts for 160mm rotors, plus a threaded 68mm BB and 27.2 seatpost.

Kepler Flash

The Kepler Flash is the 1990s throwback version of the newer disc brake bike. It shares the same geometry as the more modern bike, but sticks with cantis. The brothers actually thought at first that they might end up discontinuing the £440 canti frameset once they introduced the disc version, but they heard strong support from their customers. And with the fresh Flash paint job, the bike does lend itself well for some classic, early days of mountain biking builds. The canti frameset comes in the same 5 sizes and general geometry as the disc brake bike, but does trims the chainstays back to 425mm long and the BB drop to just 66mm.

A totally modern build, it’s bikes like the Kepler Flash that sometimes remind us that no matter how much new tech gets introduced into the cycling market each year, there are still a lot of people out there building bikes for the love of the ride. Many years on, and there is still no faulting Paul’s levers and cantilever brakes. Those Oury grips are still as soft and grippy as they ever were on our early singletrack slayers. I’d also like to take a moment to thank Ritchey for making polished silver handlebars, and to Jagwire for making all sorts of colors in their high-quality housing.

Lastly toss a Shimano thumbshifter on to control that rear…

Campagnolo Veloce derailleur. OK, so that was a bit tricky, but thanks to the Jtek Shiftmate, it shifts perfectly across the 9 speed cassette. Up front a shiny aluminum Veloce crankset with the single 39T ring that should give appropriate early mountain gearing. Of course you can’t forget the period-correct purple ano chainring bolts and matching nipples. It was the 90s after all.

Big Bro

On the true modern mountain side though, Brother Cycles has the Big Bro 29er. The £500 double-butted main triangle, 4130 chromoly frameset is really an adventure bike. The steel bike sticks with QR axles which seem to suit its more laid back riding style. The frameset gets slider dropouts for singlespeed friendly builds, plus clearance for 29″ x 2.4″ tires, and is suspension corrected for a 80mm travel fork.

With a wide array of braze-ons, the Big Bro can take pretty much any rack, fender, and auxiliary bottle cages you can try to stick to it. Or like brother Will, you can just strap some lightweight Apidura bikepacking packs on and head out into the woods for an adventure. (And let it stay dirty, which we kinda always like to see.) It is available in four sizes S-XL in this stone green or a black frameset.

Brother Cycles mostly sells all of their bikes as frame & fork combos for you to build up to your heart’s delight. The new Kepler Disc and the simple single speed townie Allday are also available as completes. They are available in select shops in the UK, EU & US, but also ship internationally if you don’t have a shop nearby.

BrotherCycles.com

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Tim
Tim
7 years ago

Nice-looking bikes!
One thing- that Flash in the pics has V-Brake levers paired to cantilevers. That combination gives extremely poor braking power, the levers should be replaced with short-pull ones.

lop
lop
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Looks like a silver Paul Canti lever to me.

https://paulcomp.com/shop/components/canti-lever/

Motarded450
Motarded450
7 years ago
Reply to  lop

so then they will cost more and even less performance?

Tim
Tim
7 years ago
Reply to  lop

No, look closely. The brake lever in the photo here on BR 1) has a great distance between the lever’s pivot and the barrel adjusters and 2) the lever blade is far from the handlebar. Those two things are the mark of a V-Brake lever.
The lever pictured in your link 1) has a small distance between the lever’s pivot and the barrel adjusters and 2) has a lever blade that’s much closer to the bar. These are the marks of a short-pull brake lever.
To see what I am talking about, follow this link and compare, on the left, the Love Lever (long pull, i.e., for V-Brakes), with, on the right, the Canti Lever (short pull):
https://paulcomp.com/product-category/components/brake-levers/

suede
suede
7 years ago
Reply to  lop

No, they are definitely long pull v levers in the photos.

Ashok Captain
Ashok Captain
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Tim, you have sharp eyes and know your ‘V’ brake levers to boot! I’ve been messing about with various Tektro and Cane Creek brake levers (both flat bar as well as drop bar) matched to ‘V’ brakes and ‘cantilever brakes and the differences in braking are a lot.

Nice builds btw. And purple ano levers (with dark glasses to match) would be kinda over-the-top, but cool!

Cheers.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago

It’s also nice to see bikes whose motivating principle is practicality, especially when the prices are nice like they are on these bikes. I especially have a soft spot for flat bar road bikes.

ourizo
7 years ago

1.1 kilos looks hefty for that fork!

Thermal Attorney
Thermal Attorney
7 years ago

Just helped a friend built up a v-brake Kepler as his commuter. Wonderfully utilitarian, with all the mounts you could want and clearance for 38s w/ fenders.

William
William
7 years ago

The shift lever on Kepler Flash is definitely not Shimano. It is from microSHIFT, it is friction/index transferable, That’s why it works with campy RD. I see a lot of it on Surly’s fat tire bikes.

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