We met Stephen over 4 years ago when we were still in our old shop, he had a bike, we had a bike shop, it was a match made in heaven. Turns out he had quite a few bikes, but the first one we met was this 1980s BSA Competition. This was his daily commute, his workhorse, but back then it looked a little different. Sticking with the horse analogy, it looked like it’d had enough of pulling carts. But that’s the point of a workhorse right? I can’t imagine a horse waking up in the morning, sticking the kettle on and galloping around in excitement at the prospect of heading out to pull more carts. So over the next few years we kept it in good health, fed, watered etc. We left the riding to Stephen, but the workhorse continued working.
I’m going to drop the horse analogy for now as I’d like to give you a little insight into Stephen, and I don’t want it to get any stranger than it already is.
I remember one early morning in the shop, 8am or thereabouts, Stephen popped in on his way to work. He’d just been swimming in London Fields Lido. It was Decemeber 2015. Now, for anyone who visited this outdoor swimming pool pre-2017 you’ll know that it wasn’t heated. As a non-seasoned cold water aquatic guy I was taken aback. He then told me he does the same all year round in the ponds of Hampstead Heath, to which I replied “Swimming in freezing cold fresh-water at 7 in the morning in December, are you mad?”.
Stephen coming out of the sea in Margate after a swim with Ross Edgley.
That’s all you need to know about Stephen, as it sums him up perfectly (and it’d be weird if I wrote too much), although it might be worth mentioning that he spends his lunch break doing laps of Regents Park, or sets of hill sprints up Swains Lane in Highgate. All on top of being a family man. I genuinely don’t know where you find the time (if you’re reading this).
Anyway, back to the horse…
One day Stephen decided he wanted to turn the BSA into his weekend bike. He’d started pining after more gears and found himself lost down an 11 speed rabbit hole. Wanting to keep the bikes classic looks whilst modernising it as much as possible within budget, we settled on 10 speed rather than 11 as it was much more cost-effective and the Veloce groupset was still available in silver.
The 'workshorse' in its former glory, photo taken earlier this year.
So, it was over to Argos Racing Cycles for the frame alterations and refinish. The rear ends needed re-setting to 130mm to accept the 10 speed wheels, the fork crown & brake bridge needed converting to recessed allen key fittings & they also added downtube cable guides for Ergo/STI shifting. The decals weren’t available to buy, so before the frame went off to Argos we drafted in Steve at H LLoyd Cycles to reproduce the original decals and create a fresh set.
Stephen's tracings of the original decals, supplied to H Lloyd for reproduction.
A couple of months later it arrived back with us looking like a brand new frame. We swiftly got it into the workshop & started assembling. Stephen went for the Brooks Cambium saddle & handlebar tape in black, and classic gumwall Vittoria Corsa tyres to hug his shiny silver H Plus Son Archetype rims. The workhorse had become a racehorse.
So, if you find yourself up Swains Lane, or Regents Park, or Hampstead Heath, or London Fields Lido, or the pub, and a man with a red horse (bike) whizzes past you, that may be Stephen. If it is, say hello, you’ll be rewarded with great conversation from a very friendly man. He may even let you stroke his horse (bike).
If you'd like us to help out on a similar project, or fancy starting a build from scratch, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 02036758003.
If you enjoyed this article please don't forget to share it around 😊
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Hand-made from lightweight British and Italian steel since the 1930s, the Flying Gate is a vintage bike like no other...