A life by bicycle
I have ridden bikes since I could walk, and been a passionate cyclist since I was ten. I have ridden bikes on five continents, and raced them on four. Racing most disciplines on road, track and dirt. I have experienced the development in materials and innovation first hand, understanding what works and what I believe doesn’t.
The bicycle has been an invaluable source of fitness, and sportive expression, and as I matured a spiritual grounding and meditative leveller, and always a rich source of culture and community in my life.
The bicycle is far more than the most efficient and sustainable form of human powered transport, they liberate and empower the human desire to explore, freeing the road and trails ahead for self powered adventure.
My goal is to create hand made bicycles that fit the body and soul of the owner, intuitive extensions of your cycling dreams and aspirations. Inspiring you to get out and ride with a trusted companion at every opportunity ! I do not build show bikes, I build beautifully functional and unique bicycles to be ridden and enjoyed by individualists who love cycling.
Quality steel frames have a strong history and culture in cycling, a lively and responsive ride sensation, and a soul ! And through new technology are as relevant as ever.
A past, a present, and a future !
Handmade Bespoke ?
Why handmade bespoke when many brands build very good bicycles today ? Any mass produced product is defined by the law of averages, this is especially so with bicycles, which must work with a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, ultimately a compromise.
A bespoke bicycle is a holistic concept with the frame at the centre, which is designed on the very specific measurements of your unique body, biomechanics, perhaps even very specific physical challenges and quirks we all tend to have.
A concept and creation totally optimised and focused on you and your expectations of use, without the baggage of industry dictated categories and trends. The icing on the cake you can decide every hand made detail and have it finished to your hearts desire. It’s not for everyone, it’s for those that care about personalised detail and enjoy a touch of self indulgence in what they love.
I was lucky enough to study at a design school that adopted the principles of design thinking long before the term existed “ Human-centred approach to innovation”.
With Finnbar Trout the human factor is you ! Its about a one on one relationship between designer / builder and client, its about your needs and bicycle expectations realised in a meaningful and responsible product that represents you 100%.
It’s not just a finished product, but also a creative, enjoyable and fulfilling process.
I would definitely say I am a modernist in approach. And form should follow function ! However this must be pushed further. Form must also be beautiful, and function must be elegant and efficient, from the frame through to the carefully curated component selection that equates to a holistic whole, with standards that represent longevity, and innovation that makes beneficial sense to you, and your riding aspirations !
The late Colin Chapman once said:
“ Simplify then add lightness“
Chapman took this to extremes with his race cars, however a bicycle should be as simple and light as possible in relation to rider weight, intended type of use, with a margin of engineering built in for safety.
With the frame this begins with tubing selection to optimise weight and ride characteristics, then careful component selection to compliment the frame and design brief.
This attention to detail is just as relevant for a town and country commuting bike as for a high performance competition machine. A commuting bike should be light and agile, just as the competition bike should be comfortable to optimise rider efficiency.
Comfort as performance dynamic
Comfort is an underrated factor in bike design across all levels and categories. This tends to be associated with heavy city, commuter and touring bikes, and enormous soft saddles, often comfort is only marketing blurb, rather real rider orientated benefits.
However a performance athlete can benefit just as much from comfort integrated in a holistic bicycle concept as his less sportive colleges. A comfortable position and rider can be faster, more efficient, allowing more focus on surroundings, creating added safety, and generally enhances any kind of cycling experience.
This starts with analysing each individuals fit, movement and flexibility in relation to the type of riding they are planning on doing. Then designing and building a frame that fits like the proverbial glove, and speccing components that work with the frame as an intuitive, responsive and comfortable concept.
The art of aerodynamics
Aerodynamics has developed into a science, performance bicycles especially time trial machines are optimised to extremes. However even the everyday cyclist can benefit from aerodynamic optimisation of the frame, components, and riding position, we must not forget that up to 80% of the drag created by bicycle and rider together is attributed to the rider !
I am not saying that you should adopt the praying mantis position of the professional timetrialist, however its interesting that even gravel and long distance tourists are using components to help optimise a comfortable aero advantage, perhaps not saving seconds, rather optimising their energy output, with the benefit of comfort and safety for all day riding !
I personally have always been inspired by vehicles from a time when aerodynamics was an art. The most beautiful car I ever owned was a deseamed E-type stripped of all bright work to the absolute minimum, which celebrated Malcolm Sears wonderfully slippery shape.
However the hidden aero advantage of the E-type is not only its low drag co-efficient but its incredibly narrow stance, not much wider than the original Mini.
Its easy to draw parallels to the cyclist, simply lowering frontal mass can be very beneficial to performance and efficiency !
A bicycle for life
As cyclists we are regularly confronted by the impacts of climate change in the nature that make our rides so inspiring. The bicycle itself is a very sustainable form of human powered transport. They are positive for our health and well being, and a benchmark example of sustainable living.
Unfortunately the materials that make up a bicycle, carbon, aluminium, titanium, and steel do not have such a great track record, with high carbon foot prints. This includes my chosen frame material steel. However steel is perhaps the most sustainable of frame materials when used responsibly.
Reimagine: A well made and maintained, personalised steel frame can last a lifetime, by avoiding flippant trends and responsible design logic. Encouraging slow consumption.
Repair: Steel is the most repairable frame making material.
Reuse: Due to steels durability, it can enjoy several leases of life, and evolve with the owner.
Recycle: If a steel frame is finally worn out or damaged beyond repair it can be stripped of its paint and recycled to use again.
Just as we notice the impacts of climate change on our environment, it is our responsibility as cyclists to contribute to the solutions to combat climate change, firstly as responsible consumers and secondly as advocates of the bicycle as a positive contributor to a cleaner healthier future for planet, people and society.