Rourke Cycles

Date:

Brian Rourke – Stoke-on-Trent

Photo-film by Nick Hand

“I’ve ridden three Tours of Britain and have been national champion on a 57cm frame, which is ridiculous for someone who is 5ft 6in. But when you are set up properly on a frame that fits, it’s amazing the difference.

“It’s all about leverage over the pedals, not being too high, not being too low; having the bike so that you’ve got floppy arms but so you can really get hold of the thing. We go on where your hands are, where your bum is, where your feet are, your body shape. We see how much control you’ve got on your bike, where you’re getting your leverage for climbing and descending.

“The best thing about Stoke-on-Trent is you can be out of town in five minutes. You’ve got the Peak District, the Cheshire Plains, Market Drayton, Shrewsbury and Wales. It’s ideal for professionals. I’m a Stoke lad and I just love the place.

The bike

“We’ve built it from Reynolds 853, tig welded it and, to make it look a bit nicer, we’ve silver-soldered all the welds. We’ve also filleted all the welds to make it look uncluttered. We tend to recommend tig with a lot of the frames now because it doesn’t restrict us with lugs so we can change the geometry more than usual.

“There are so many different shapes of tubes, like teardrop tubes, which they can’t make the lugs for. That’s why we use tigging more than lugging. We also use it for strength. Tigging doesn’t use too much heat so it doesn’t destroy any of the heat-treatment processes that the manufacturers have put in. Take 953 as an example. If you bronze weld it you can lower its strength to that of ordinary chrome alloy tubing. But tig welding keeps all the strength in the tubing – it’s twice as strong as titanium.

“If you don’t mitre the joints smack on together you get a little gap and you may as well scrap it. In the early days, when I went wrong I found it easier to smash the frame to pieces and start again. If I made a mistake there was no going back. It didn’t do my wife’s blood pressure much good.

“The wrap-around seat stay is something we’re quite famous for. The tubes are scalloped out on the inside and then joined on the top, so it’s got a nice strong triangle at the back. We’ve made 5,000-odd frames and have never had one break.”

PHOTOS: Wig Worland

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