SPA CYCLES TOURER
My current touring cycle of about 25 years’ use had become problematical for several reasons. Looking forward to more off-road riding in the future, I decided that a steel-framed non-suspension straight bar type would suit me well. The nearest I could find was this version which is assembled by Spa Cycles. Various other touring builds can be found on their website. Mark Jacobson tells us about his new touring bike.
Being unable to visit the shop I discussed my requirements with John of Spa Cycles. Having agreed the basic frame size and build ideas, I bought the cycle on line. Subsequently I was sent a specification list on which to make my particular preferences. All this was built as specified, so the system works for me.
After a short delay awaiting a fresh delivery of frames. the build was completed quickly and the boxed bicycle arrived not long afterwards.
The bicycle had been built and then dismantled for packing. The front wheel and mudguard were held in a slim box alongside the boxed frame, the whole within another box. The frame was well wrapped with padding and was complete with rear wheel, mudguard and carrier, with the padded saddle and bar secured to the top tube, very firmly. It probably took me about an hour to carefully undo all this careful packaging.
Once rebuilt at home a test showed that all worked well. The bicycle had been properly set up before being dismantled for packing, so no need for any further resetting of gears, brakes, etc.
Being a smaller frame that my previous bikes have been, it normally has 165mm cranks rather than the 170mm I have been used to on other bikes. Although I could have changed these, I decided to keep the smaller size as this would give better ground clearance. I was amazed at the difference that 1cm less in diameter made, and it took about 30 miles before it felt more natural!
I had specified a 500 mm bar width, which left my hands somewhat cramped between the levers and the bar ends. This was corrected with replacement bar grips, sent to me by John, so I could remove the bar ends, solving the difficulty. Subsequent riding was more comfortable with better control.
I am very pleased with my choice. The bicycle rides so smoothly, and the built made by Spa Cycles suits exactly what I had in mind, especially considering that I could not visit the shop to try out the various bikes and sizes. It looks very smart in all black, too.
About the build
There are five different configurations of the 725 touring frame. I chose the fat bar 8-speed version, liking its simplicity. I took my measurements off the hand-built Raleigh Royal and, what had become more comfortable for me, my Brompton. After discussion with John (as I could not travel to Harrogate to try out various sizes) I settled on the 51 cm frame. I asked for the 630 mm bars to be cut down to 500 mm. I have removed the bar ends and this works for me but, to retain the bar ends I would suggest a minimum of 540 mm for the bars. My choice of gearing was for 26/36/42 x 11-34 (8 speed), which suits my riding. The Spa Cycles rear rack is included in the build specification. As for the all-up touring weight, it is about 14.75 kg, against 14.1 kg of the Raleigh with 708 tubing, which includes both front and rear rack, lighting, pedals and Brooks saddle. Once laden for camping, it will not make much difference.
The standard build specification can be found on the Spa Cycles website.
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2021