Following the sad demise of my second Salsa El Mariarchi frame, I found myself in something of a quandary. I needed a do it all singlespeed workhorse, but extensive googling revealed few options to meet my (admittedly quite specific) requirements. Singlespeed frames are of course something of a niche market anyway, but when you factor in the fact that my one needs to have sliding dropouts (no potentially creaky eccentric bottom brackets thank you), it needs to be tough (I have previously broken 3 previous singlespeed frames) and it needs to be pretty (no cyclist wants a bike they don’t love to look at), the choice becomes even more limited.
After weeks of internet searching I was beginning to conclude that ordering some custom exotica built by a man with an extensive beard in a shed in the US and then taking out a second mortgage to have it imported was my only option. Then however by chance I stumbled on the Travers Bikes website in late spring. I had been aware of Travers titanium frames for a number of years having seen the Travers team racing fatbikes when we used to make an annual pilgrimage down to Thetford Forest in East Anglia for the now sadly defunct Dusk til Dawn event. I was also aware that two time World 24 hour Singlespeed Champion Steve Day rides a Travers (albeit with a chain tensioner, something else I was not prepared to entertain on my bike). So based on this I knew Travers frames certainly had some racing pedigree and had proven track record when it came to being tough enough for the job.
Until this point I had never seen a Travers frame which I would consider a “true” singlespeed, ie a frame that didn’t require the use of an eccentric bottom bracket or an ugly tensioner to stop the chain from falling off. However to my immense delight and excitement there in the shop section of the website was what seemed like the answer to my dreams, one of a limited run of Travers Angus 2 SS frame. A truly dedicated singlespeed frame, with beautiful US made Paragon Design Works sliding dropouts, no superfluous cable guides, a threaded bottom bracket, the functionality to run 29er or 650b “plus” tyres and of course the stunning clean, classic, simple look only a well crafted titanium frame can deliver.
The only possible spanner in the works was frame sizing, as I poured over the geometry charts on the website the realisation began to dawn that the “large” frame was potentially not quite large enough for me. I rattled an email off to Michael Travers asking for further details about the sizing, and received one back promptly confirming my fears that unfortunately the standard large frame would not really accommodate my long legs. However Michael did also raise another intriguing possibility, that of a fully custom Angus SS, built exactly to my requirements, and to this end he kindly included a full set of tech drawings on a similar XL frame he’d designed for another customer.
Now this really set me thinking, and attempting to justify to myself the slightly increased cost of the custom option. The last time I’d had a custom frame was back in the early 1990’s, when every town had a framebuilder, producing bespoke frames out of steel for local club riders, and the thought of once again having a “one off” designed and built for me was an instantly appealing option. In truth it didn’t take me long to convince myself that given the other limited choices available having a no compromise singlespeed frame, exactly as I needed was really the only way to go, and so started an email exchange with Michael to commission my very own, unique Travers Angus.
Truth be told, I’m not really a good, knowledgeable (or fussy?) enough rider to need to deviate far from the drawings Michael had provided previously, and I was more than happy to trust in his superior knowledge and expertise around frame design. A few tweaks here and there, 10mm’s off the top tube length and a couple of other minor alterations were all that was required to create a frame design that I was happy with. Through the entire process Micheal was always helpful, answering my emailed questions fully and promptly. As importantly full tech drawings of the design were provided prior to my sign off, something which increased my confidence that my not inconsiderable financial outlay would be well rewarded.
Michael has said to me there would be a 12 week wait for the frame (which are built to his designs and specifications in the Far East), and to be fair the frame arrived 12 weeks and 1 day after I had placed my order. (It would have been exactly 12 weeks but frustratingly I missed the courier on the first delivery attempt). Throughout the process Michael kept me in entirely the picture, informing me when the frame was at customs, had been delivered to him and then finally on route to me.
With any new frame or bike there is always that delicious moment of anticipation mixed with anxiety as you open the box and see for the first time the outcome of all your previous thinking, planning and deliberation. This feeling is intensified with a custom frame and the knowledge that if you don’t like it, or you’ve made a poor decision on some aspect of the design you can’t simply box it up and send it back for a full refund. However my Angus certainly did not disappoint, and the raw titanium tubes were simply beautiful and laser etched graphics looked stunning as I removed the protective bubble wrap and cardboard. The attention to detail on the frame is as good as anything else I have seen, and the lovely fish scale welds are as even and clean as those on my US built titanium Litespeed gravel bike.
The build process one of the most enjoyable aspects of having a new frame. It is a real luxury to have some time on savour the process of creating a beautiful bicycle from its component parts and finally seeing how the finished article looks. It also gives one time to full appreciate some of the other features of the frame including the asymmetric horseshoe chainstay yolk with its huge tyre clearances, the triple mounts on the down tube for bikepacking luggage duties and the Travers logo engraved into the headtube.
Built up with a Niner rigid carbon fork, mainly Hope and Shimano XT kit, my Angus is both beautiful and supremely fit for purpose as a do it all bike. During its first countless of months of service it has already carried me on multiple West Yorkshire autumnal rides, spent a weekend in Northumbria’s Cheviot Hills, been ridden through snow in Galloway and carried me to victory in the singlespeed category of the Relentless 24 hour race in Fort William. I look forward to us many having more adventures with in 2018, starting with what will hopefully be a snowy Strathpuffer 24 hour race in January. Thanks very much to Michael Travers for my Angus.....it’s much appreciated.
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