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Perhaps its fitting that this year’s Best Road Bike award went to a gravel bike. There’s simply no denying the category’s growth, with most builders not only showing one or more models but also saying that a significant chunk of customer bikes going out the door are designed for riding the rough stuff.Rob English is known not just for making some very light bikes out of steel, but also for making some very interesting frames, too. The bike above may look normal, but it’s got a few treats worth seeing. And the rest of his bikes just keep turning things up, notch after notch…

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A carbon fiber headtube gets sleeved inside a custom cut steel tube. Note the extremely clean cable entry for the rear brake and the molded one-piece bar and stem. This one’s his own Gravel Race Bike and is made specifically for SRAM eTAP.

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A bent seat tube lets the larger 700×35 tires tuck in tight, and thin seatstays smooth the ride.

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There’s ample clearance top and bottom, leaving room for fenders. But where are the mounts?

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Oh, there they are! Note the tiny holes on the seat tube, seatstay bridge and rear dropout. Remove the plug screws and you’ve got threaded fender mounts that are all but invisible when not in use.

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No wire or cable holes, stops or guides continue the ultra tidy appearance.

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Thru axles and flat mount disc brake front and rear.

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Over in Campagnolo’s booth was this entry for Best Campy Bike.

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Maybe it didn’t win because of the chain? Maybe, but worth it.

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This Obree Tribute bike is made for one thing: Speed.

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It may look odd, but it’s designed to get the rider in a very specific position. It also shows off the amazingly detailed, thoughtful work coming from English.

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The bolts are to hold the eccentric BB in place, allowing for chain tension adjustments since the dropouts don’t:

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His Travel Triathlon Bike reduces the headaches of traveling with a tri bike by making it fit inside a large suitcase.

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Detach the seat stays from the seat tube and the rear end folds and pivots up against the bike…

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…rotating around the bottom bracket shell.

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The Stainless Ultralight comes in at just 9.9lbs with this build, which is admittedly over the top. The pedals are no longer available, and, like many of the bikes shown here, is for Rob himself. Being a smaller guy, he can get away with a lot, but it’s 100% rideable.

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The cable stops are removable, so it’s eTAP ready.

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The Right 29 is a single-sided bike that puts everything on the driveside. A singlespeed, belt drive setup keeps it simple, and it is indeed a very simple bike, which makes it all the more amazing.

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The front brake hose enters through the stem and pops out of the fork leg, completely hidden from view.. The rear brake enters just behind the head tube and runs all the way back to the caliper inside the frame.

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The hubs are custom for English.

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An eccentric BB gets the belt’s tension set.

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This electric blue commuter bike had the most amazing, deep blue with just the right amount of metallic.

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Note the front fender mount under the fork’s crown.

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EnglishCycles.com

39 comments

  1. Ryan S on

    That single sided belt 29 is almost my personal “dream” bike, as in the one I have often thought about building…if I was a builder. Mentally, however, I would need the front a rear “sides” to be opposite of one another in order to feel balanced.

    Reply
  2. Cody leuck on

    Does anyone know what kind of cable housing is on the 9.9lb bike? It wasn’t Nokon, I didn’t get a chance to as Rob.

    Reply
  3. Tyler Durden on

    God Rob is such a boss. I live two miles from the guy… this makes me want to head over there and order a bike.

    Reply
  4. Chris on

    So good to see him back and building after his accident. That gravel bike is my dream bike though maybe without nearly so much drop from seat to bars.

    Reply
  5. Jason on

    The fender mounting is clean, but IMO it would have been cooler if he used the same attachment system as the Enve fork.

    Reply
    • PsiSquared on

      Obviously Rob English must have thought the same thing, else why would he have have got a masters in mechanical engineering from Cambridge University?

      Reply
    • JasonK on

      Wow. Just wow. Your posts have been smug and uninformed before, but this one tops them all.

      FWIW, I’m also a mechanical engineer, and Rob English’s work involves a lot more actual engineering than most NAHBS entries. Most of those involve a great deal of skill, but few approach English’s thoughtful engagement with design.

      Reply
    • JasonK on

      My previous comment was deleted, probably because I said some unkind things about the OP.

      But the thrust of my comment still stands: while most NAHBS entries are exquisitely crafted, Rob English’s bikes exhibit this craftsmanship *and* manifest his (degreed) engineering skills in a creative and deeply design-focused manner.

      Reply
    • jlg on

      What do you mean ?
      He’s study Mechanical Engineering at university and start at Bike Friday in Oregon as their engineer and production manager.

      Reply
  6. Dude on

    Rob IS an engineer. Mechanical. With the degrees and work history to prove it. Which is why his designs push the performance function of his bikes way beyond what other “artisan” types can manage. Stripped of paint, most NAHBS bikes would be boring, unimpressive in innovativeness, functionally identical, and the only thing making them better than an off the shelf frame is custom geometry and everyone’s doing pretty lug work. Rob actually thinks through every detail from a high performance perspective and doesn’t let tradition hold him back. The core value proposition of like 90% of NAHBS bikes is “made by hand in the USA”, Rob’s is “works better”.

    Reply
    • Craig on

      @Dude, I like your comment….The core value proposition of like 90% of NAHBS bikes is “made by hand in the USA”, Rob’s is “works better”.

      Reply
  7. matt on

    I’d imagine that these bikes aren’t inexpensive, but I can see them all having buyers… except the O’Bree bike. It’s cool but seems like a complete waste of time and material. When would anyone use that? Glad he has the time to spend on such endeavors.

    Reply
    • PFS on

      I’m glad he has time too. Everyone deserves to have some downtime. That is what the weekends are for! It would appear that his favorite hobby is also making bikes…

      Reply
      • Huffytoss on

        Obree set the hour record with that position before it was banned. Then he did it again with the Superman position which also got banned.

        Reply
  8. Tom on

    for some reason, his work leaves me cold. Undoubtedly well constructed, but much of it seems over the top in details or novelty, the result being art work instead of a bike. For instance, the carbon fiber head tube – how much weight did that save? To what effect? To each his/her own…

    Reply
  9. Ryan S on

    The clearance on many of these gravel bikes makes me wonder if it never rains where these owners/builders ride. Dirty Kanza, Land Run, OGRE, etc. often include snapped derailleurs, immobile wheels, and rocky peanut butter mud jammed up in the stays and forks.

    Reply

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