The #ÆIGHTMANUFACTORY ONE frame is a true all-rounder, whether it’s gravel, ‘cross or getting the miles done on the road it’s really good at everything. But when Pip and I started discussing racing the National 24-hour Time-Trial Champs it was clear that we’d need something even more special – so we asked our friend Geoff, from GEOFFROBERTSFRAMES if he could help…
Normally Time Trials are raced over a distance of 10 miles or 25 miles, some people race 100 mile TT’s, but once a year there is a CTT competition to see who can claim the furthest distance over a period of 24 hours! After two successful 12-hour races in the last two years Pip decided that she wanted to try for the National 24-hour record, so we started looking into plans and tactics. Pretty quickly we realised that we needed a bike that matched Pip’s normal TT setup, but could add a level of comfort back in – it’s all well being super “aero”, but if the bike’s shaking your fillings out, you’re going to be drained after a few hours.
With the rider/bike aero gains being roughly 80/20% I’m sorry to tell you carbon fanatics that huge aerodynamic tube profiles help you to a very limited degree. Wheels matter and so do cranks (although manufacturers seem to worry little about this – interestingly going single ring makes a big difference, but more on that later), but round tube versus flattened tubes and even modern cam shaped tubes are all so similar as to make virtually no difference. Rider position however is critical and Pip already has a great bike-fit which she was happy with. So if the contact points are all in the same place, how do you make the bike faster? The answer is with a bespoke frame featuring carefully selected tubes and joins.
With the brief in place Geoff chose a mixture of tubes to build the perfect frame. This centred around a beautiful 1950’s Reynolds curved seat tube – probably originally intended for use in a tandem, the tube was perfect for us as it allowed us to use super short stays, which in turn improved stiffness in the BB/transmission area. The longer ‘80s Reynolds seat stays were lengthened to put the comfort back in and the top eyes were brazed in as per #aeightmanufactory design.
Columbus tubing provided the tapered headtube which Geoff milled down as far as possible to allow us the get the front of the bike super low for short efforts (we can easily add height in, which we did for the 24). This was fillet brazed to a Columbus Spirit top and downtube which we intentionally kept small to aid with comfort and aerodynamics. So the frame is made from both modern day and 65+ year old tubing, is designed between me (very little experience) and Geoff (a vast amount of knowledge and experience), using both contemporary and traditional techniques. For me it brings all of the amazing things about frames and bikes together and I couldn’t wait to build it up.
We designed the bike to have a standard drop-in headset, standard road brakes and a standard 27.2 post – in my day job I build and maintain lots of TT bikes and every one of them is needlessly difficult for different reasons. I didn’t want pointless tech for no reason – Geoff and I agreed that unless there’s a genuine advantage there’s no point having silly brakes/headset/post that compromise the way the bike works. I really believe that having the bike working perfectly will help relax the rider, which will in turn allow them to concentrate on the job.
For this reason standard Shimano brakes worked with the Di2 shifting system to provide perfect gear changes at the back – Di2 is brilliant as it ensures correct indexing and adjustment which isn’t affected by cable stretch and I can’t really see myself going back now. We use standard bottles and nutrition provided by Fuel of Norway to keep things working via a 2 bike strategy that allows the helper to load up the fresh bike with new drinks and food, rather than slowing down for bottle and food hand-ups.
One big change I made a couple of years ago is the single front chainring – this time provided by Pyramid Cycle Design. There are so many benefits to the system that we could (and probably will) write an entire blog about it, but the highlights are; even gaps in the shifting, less noise in the system, less friction in the gears you use most, better aerodynamics that actually matter and (most importantly) it looks super clean and tidy. There are a lot of haters out there, but I’ve got three riders (plus myself) who now choose 1x and they genuinely could have whatever system they’d like.
The most unique part of 24-hour racing is the need for proper lights – We’ve got a lot of mountain bike night racing experience and for the last five or six years we’ve been well looked after by Four4th, who make the best lights available. They made sure that we had enough batteries, lights and mounts for both bikes, including 3 very bright Scorpion rear lights which we run all day and night to make sure Pip was safe from drivers. Up front we ran a Holy Moses which puts out 4600 lumens – virtually daylight! We also had a Scorch on both bikes as a back up and for use at dusk and dawn, again to help keep Pip safe.
We’ve got a couple of options with wheels but 90% of the time Pip likes to use a disc on the back and a 65/70mm deep section on the front – for the 24 hour we took seven wheels with us giving us countless options in case of emergency. We ended up doing a few hours on a shallow front but spent most of the time on the standard set-up.
For anyone who’s inspired by this blog I’m helping Geoff design and build a very special frame that will be announced soon – whether you race short or long TT races (or any other kind of races) please feel free to contact me or Geoff about what’s possible. If you can make it Geoff is also running an open day on the 18th of August where you can get a close up look at Pip’s bike, see the latest frames and bikes built by Geoff, see some fine examples of bikes built on Geoff’s Framebuilding Courses and even have a go at some brazing yourself! He’ll also have the BBQ and beers ready to go, so it should be a brilliant way to spend a few hours! You can get all the info on the geoffrobertsframes Facebook page (click here).
#aeighttech #aeightmanufactory #aeightracer
Photos by Glen Whittington.
Thanks to Geoff Roberts for his encouragement, wisdom, cups of tea and a frame which helped Pip ride 463.8 miles in 24-hours!
#aeightracer – Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He started building frames in 2013, has worked in bike shops since 2002 and started racing in 1998. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights and set-up the.æight.bicycle.cøllective
Pip races road locally and TT at National level. In the last two years she’s developed from a background in Triathlon to one of the best riders in her club (SDW), currently holding all female club records including the outright 12 and 24 hours and has collected more than 15 Open TT wins along the way. She races all distances and receives personal support from Geoff Roberts Frames.
GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO RACE WITH US?
We’re always looking for other riders to be on our collective. The #aeightbikeco is about doing things a little differently. We’re looking to kit our riders out with steel race frames made in Sussex. Whether that’s for ‘cross, road, crit, TT or mountain bike we’re offering the chance to have a custom steel bike made for you to race on – not just put together, but fully bespoke.
The best part is that we’re not asking you to leave your team or club – that includes racing in your club/team kit. We’ve got certain brands that we’d like to work with and that we’re adding to, but we’re open to suggestions and maybe you’ve got a sponsor or support that you could bring to the table?
We have some strict qualifying criteria but don’t be put off by this – if you’re interested in being part of the #aeightbikeco then please get in touch by emailing your racing CV to email@example.com