What it's like to be a bike builder

For many the bicycle is not just a mode of transport, it’s a way of life. Travelling on two wheels offers a wealth of benefits such as boosting both fitness and mental wellbeing.

Liz Colework of Beaumont Bicycle in Bishops Castle
Liz Colework of Beaumont Bicycle in Bishops Castle

And it’s Liz Colebrook’s mission is to keep people cycling, especially if their enthusiasm may have been affected by a reduced range of movement.

In her south Shropshire workshop she hand-builds lightweight, bespoke bicycles that are designed around the rider’s lifestyle.

Liz creates bikes that have a step through design making them easier to mount and dismount as well as those with a traditional diamond frame.

“I felt there was a real gap in the market. There was nothing out there that matched my criteria of being a step through and light-weight but well-designed so that it’s strong enough. It’s got to have low gears and it’s got to have been made with quality components.

“It needed to suit someone who had been cycling all their life with a cross bar and has had a knee or hip replacement and can’t lift their leg but they still want to go out on a ride.

“You typically find heavy bicycles with a step through frame and they’re often called women’s bicycles which is really bad.

“It’s not just women that get old, men get old too and men can have trouble getting on and off their bicycles too.

Liz Colework of Beaumont Bicycle in Bishops Castle

“It goes back to Victorian times when women weren’t allowed to show their ankles,” she tells Weekend.

Liz set up Beaumont Bicycle in 2015 to combine her experience from working as a bicycle mechanic and as an occupational therapist over the last 30 years.

All of Liz’s bicycles are made to measure to ensure they are a perfect fit for their owner.

“They are made to measure like a suit or a pair of shoes. It’s about listening to what the person’s bicycle isn’t giving them and what they want it to give them.

“Off-the-peg bicycles tend to come in T-shirt sizes so extra small to extra large, but we are all different sizes and shapes,” she says.

As well as making sure they are the correct size for the rider, Liz also likes to take into account the kind of cycling they will be doing and the physical environment of where the bicycle will be ridden.

“It’s like I’m conducting an orchestra, I’ve got to bring everything together to make a song and make a bicycle that is unique to them,” she explains.

It takes Liz, whose business is based in Colebatch, near Bishop’s Castle, an average of six months to build each frame.

Liz Colework of Beaumont Bicycle in Bishops Castle

They are made from steel tubes which are predominantly joined together with brass using a process called fillet brazing.

“You get a really strong join. A frame built in steel will last for 50 years or even longer. Steel’s got a really nice springiness to it. It’s strong, it’s stiff but it’s forgiving. If you’re riding an aluminium frame it can be like holding a pneumatic drill if you’ve got a set of wheels that are quite harsh.

“Steel is going to have a long life and you find people with frames built in the 50s and 60s that are still going strong today.

“Aluminium has a shelf-life. It can start to corrode after 15 years and you’ll see bubbling under the paint,”explains Liz, who has built over 50 frames.

Her own love of cycling and working on bicycles began at a young age.

“I remember being 12 or 13 and I’d had the usual little bikes but I was getting my first big bike to ride on the road. I had saved up half of the money and my parents paid the other half. I bought a three-speed bicycle with the name Palm Beach.

“After riding it I wanted to take it apart so I did and I wanted to paint it so I painted little mushrooms all over it and called it mushroom soup.

“As a child, a bike is your first mode of transport. It was great to have such freedom, you could be out all day and just come back for lunch.

Liz Colework of Beaumont Bicycle in Bishops Castle

“I’ve always cycled. I lived in Manchester for 12 years and I never had a car.

“The bicycle is so amazing. So many different people ride for so many different reasons from community to belonging to a road racing club.

“The bike enables people to get out in nature, recharge their batteries and unwind,” says Liz.

She takes great pleasure in helping other people to enjoy their passion for cycling by building her bespoke frames.

“I enjoy the individuality of it, each bike is different and means something personal to that person. I enjoy building a rapport with the customers and being able to know what will suit them really well.

“It’s lovely to know so much about bicycles that I know I can help. And at the end of the day the customers are really happy and it’s made their life and cycling a pleasure.

“It’s lovely to know my bikes are out there and being enjoyed,” says Liz.

See www.beaumontbicycle.com

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