Into the saddle….. the pre-history of The Velocipedium.

Welcome to the first post of The Velocipedium’s blog. To begin, I have decided to give a little of the back-story behind the new project – to introduce myself, the Velocipedinarian, and give an idea of why a geekish, lefty, slightly grumpy middle-aged chap has decided to spend his working life on the humble bicycle. Imagine we are in a pub – let’s make it a lovely old English inn, with log fire, beams, the whole horse-brassed cliche. We have cycled here of course, on lovely classic-style steel steeds, which are now being admired outside. The pints of ale have arrived at the table, and you have asked the question. Here we go….

Several decades ago, I drove rally cars for a living. My leisure time being spent playing with vintage cars and motorcycles. My first love however had always been the bicycle, having learned at a young age that I could escape my home town under my own steam, and go where I pleased into the big wide world. Then, the bicycle awoke my love of nature. Now, it keeps me healthy and saves me money.

In the early 1990s I returned to that first love, having dragged a vintage Raleigh roadster from a skip. Copies of the iconic ‘Richard’s Bicycle Book’, and ‘Encycleopedia’ fertilised the seed, and my path chose itself.

The Velocipedinarian in 1992, riding the 1950s Raleigh that started it all. Dragged from a skip and restored as a runabout. It’s interesting how the image of “off-duty morotcycle geek 1992” would look perfectly acceptable in Hackney or Manchester circa 2016!

In the early 2000s I was a daily visitor to my local city dump, in York, for my one-man bike repair and recovery business, BikeRescue. The staff even put aside anything they thought I might like to buy, for the price of a beer or two. Then the Government changed the rules, and we scavengers could no longer ‘remove material from the waste stream’ without a Waste Carriers Licence and a Registered Recycling Premises. “OK” thought I, “I’ll do that”, and I morphed BikeRescue into the UK’s third-ever Community Interest Company. When I moved on, some years later, BikeRescue had become one of the most successful bike recycling schemes anywhere, with 5000 sqare feet of workshops, a city-centre shop and ‘Cycling Hub’, and a dedicated team of staff & volunteers processing over 2000 bike per year.

Collecting bikes for refurb with the old VW camper – before BikeRescue even got its frst van.

Nowadays,I still enjoy building and modifying bicycles to suit my preferences and needs, and those of my family and friends. For me it’s a creative endeavour as well as an ethical mission, and I have enjoyed refining my skills, expanding my knowledge, and owning, riding & handling such a huge variety of pedal powered marvels.

Each bicycle is restored and reimagined to suit the rider. With a belief in sustainable mobility, recycling and craftsmanship, I create bikes that are comfortable, practical, easy to use and maintain, and visually distinctive. A functional work of art that reflects its owner. My taste has been described as “Amsterdam meets Tweed meets Rivendell” (the last being the bicycle manufacturer, not the fictional location!).

I typically start with a quality steel frame or complete bike, and an idea already formed, of what I want to create. I then build the bike up using an eclectic mix of vintage and modern components, finishing off in my, or indeed your, own personal style.

Occasionally I will build a bike from scratch, if there is nothing in existence from which to create my dream. I have been building frames occasionally since 1997. My first two being a recumbent and a tandem – a baptism of fire!

I also buy interesting projects and parts. A lifetime of skip-diving and scavenging has stood me in good stead, and delivered some amazing finds. Some of these, and bikes that have passed through my hands, can be seen on my Flickr site, linked on this page.

Since last year, I’ve started to sell many of my large collection via ebay, word-of-mouth and social media. The bikes have been extremely well-received, and so the result is this, The Velocipedium.

Some of the current fleet, on display at a vintage event in 2015.

Please contact me if you’d like me to build or source a special bike for you…


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