The Push Hog Strikes Back – Made in Yorkshire

Baldwin Titanium Bicycles might not sound familiar at the moment, but the start up company manufacturing bespoke titanium bikes aren’t letting the grass grow under their feet, within eight months of their creation they are now on the cusp of realising their dream of bringing to market their first bike, a road bike with thoroughbred intention.

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Introducing Baldwin Titanium Bicycles…

“…We manufacture custom fitted titanium bicycles. Every one of our bikes is hand built to order…”

“…We believe that to get the most enjoyment and performance out of your bike, it is absolutely necessary to have a bike that fits you perfectly. Our custom fitting service enables us to make a bike to fit your individual measurements…”

“…Our bikes are made from aerospace grade titanium tubing which offers a superb ride quality along with many years of trusty service as titanium is impervious to the elements and does therefore not rust or corrode…”

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Baldwin Titanium Bicycles are a manufacturer of bespoke titanium bikes and the brainchild of Richard Baldwin, an experienced cyclist and bike mechanic. Their manufacturing base is Beverley, a popular market town in East Yorkshire, a place familiar with cycling, visited annually by the countries best professional cyclists for the East Yorkshire Classic Road Race & Criterium.

What sets Baldwin apart is their vision and the strong ethos that a bike should be tailored to the individual, something special that is manufactured to their clients exacting requirement, be that the geometry of the frame, the choice of stem or even the group set, the list is long. There is every chance that each and every bike that leaves Baldwin will be different, each owner will have their own requirements and Baldwin will offer pre manufacture bike fitting to make this a reality.

But thats not quite all, one final thing which could potentially add the cherry on the icing on the cake is that the company are so confident in their product, they are looking at offering a lifetime warrantee on each and every hand made frame – That’s a proud boast and something which will hopefully instil customer confidence.

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Meet the Owner…

I caught up with owner Richard Baldwin, who kindly gave me a tour of his workshop and a test ride on their prototype race bike.

PB: Hello Rich, many thanks for giving me the opportunity to meet with you, can you tell me about your business?

RB: The reason I have started my business is three fold. Firstly, I love cycling and working on or with bikes feels more like a fun than my previous job.

Secondly, I always feel on a shop bought bike that I am just another one of the crowd, there is no individuality in buying a mass produced branded bike.

Thirdly I want to build a business where my kids can join me in future years. I have 3 kids and the B in the Baldwin logo reflects them.

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PB: What happens next, will we be seeing the mk2 ready for sale in the near future?

RB: Mk2 will be ready by the end of April 2013. This build offers us flexibility with tube suppliers and tube guages that enable us to tune a frame even more for a specific requirement. There is an element of this bike that I want to use in a cross bike later in the year.

PB: You are offering a bespoke service, so what is the bike specification? And can this be tailored to the individual?

RB: Our frames are bespoke and from there the customer can choose their Groupset & Wheels from the Campagnolo catalogue. Options for bars / stems / seatpost are available but these will depend on the fitting requirements of the bike.

PB: What is your demographic i.e. what type of cyclist do you envisage riding out on a ‘Baldwin’?

RB: Our demographic are brand loyal individuals (male or female). Riders who want to own something that is different from the rest of the crowd. Riders who want to enjoy longer rides either through the fit of their bike or through the ride sensation of titanium or both.

PB: What is your USP? I’m guessing its the lifetime warrantee, but assuming somebody reading this blog is looking to buy a bike, what sets you apart from the opposition?

RB: Our USP is that we are British engineered, custom fitted only, titanium bike builders. Lifetime warranty on a frame is something we are keen to offer and we are looking into this possibility.

PB: Tell me why you chose Titanium for your frame material? What are the benefits of this material over steel, aluminium and carbon?

RB: Titanium is often referred to as “the magic metal” for the ride quality that it imparts. It is not very elastic but it is very “springy”. A titanium frame feels alive as the bike reacts to your input and feels like an extension of you. It is a light weight material that offers great strength and to add to that the longevity of titanium (as it will not rust or corrode) when you buy a titanium bike, you are buying a lifetime bike. Titanium bikes will also stand a crash better than CF which has a potential to crack. There is also the possibility of repairing a titanium frame after a hard crash which is something you cannot do with CF.

PB: Will you be producing a range of frames eg. A female specific, sportive etc…

RB: Yes. We are currently building the “sportive” type frame. We have the designs for a road race frame in the wings which we can build should the demand be there. I will be building a womens frame soon and I am looking to develop a CX bike later this year.

PB: I’ve seen the workshop, it is obvious that you are taking this business very seriously, do you take inspiration from any other manufacturer or do you see yourself as unique?

RB: I am inspired by MOOTS. I love their bikes. If I wasn’t building my own now, I would have one of theirs for sure!! Our blast finish is a nod to them.

PB: Finally, who’s your favourite cyclist?

RB: My favourite cyclist….. Hmmm….. It’s very difficult to choose with such a plethora of talent at the moment (especially from the UK). My choice is Swiss though – Fabian Cancellara (Sparticus). He is a really inspirational cyclist and he is on fire at the moment.

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Fabian Cancellara by Dave Strom

The Test Ride…

The test bike is a titanium prototype frame fitted with a Columbus Tusk carbon fork and equipped with a Shimano Ultegra group set, 105 shifters / brakes and Bontranger Racelite wheels complete with Schwalbe Durano tyres.

One of the first things I had noticed about the bike was the finish, described by Baldwin as a ‘blast’ finish, I’m going with etched, either way you can’t help but admire the raw titanium, which is very tactile. The titanium frame certainly has a retro steel look about it and some of the detailing is impressive, although its certainly not flashy, relying on good looks, quality materials and traditional styling, it does stand out from the crowd.

The second noticeable thing is the weight of the bike, which is certainly lighter than the aluminium bike that I ride and although not carbon light, is not far off and shows off the versatility of the titanium frame, which is built to last.

Setting off for my test ride I soon find out this bike is set up aggressively, with its high seat post and low handlebars, it’s a great riding position and I instantly feel at ease, rounding the corner of a small circuit where I’ll be cycling. For a few minutes I have a play around with the gears and brakes, just to make sure I’m comfortable, once I’m happy, I make a turn onto a up hill section and see what the bike can do.

Accelerating up the slope I’m impressed with how well the Baldwin prototype climbs, I can really feel the difference in weight now, exaggerated when I’m buffeted by a cross wind, and not being used to a light bike, it takes me by surprise. I’ve only ridden a few hundred metres and I am already pleasantly surprised, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I am soon rounding the next corner as the course flattens out before descending, giving me the opportunity to check out the handling, which is responsive, I’d expect no less as this bike is well specified and stable, giving me plenty of confidence as I round a tight left hand corner where I come to a stop – Its a dead end!

Turning the bike around I stand on the pedals and on the flat I can really see how fast this bike is, it’s rapid out of the blocks and as I retrace my steps, I make a right turn on to a small hill and again accelerate up the slope, this is unheard of and I can’t wipe the smile off my face as I ease to the top, the bike having done most of the work.

Before long the test ride is over, which is a shame because by the time I’d finished I was really getting to grips with the bike and it was a real pleasure to cycle. It is quite amazing to think that this is a prototype, but then again Richard admits that their first build has gone so well he’s been riding around on it as his permanent bike for a number of months and later on in the year will be riding the bike coast to coast, aiming to cross the country in a little over 7 hours.

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The Verdict…

It is clear from meeting Richard that he oozes enthusiasm for bicycles, especially the road bike variety, yet he really enthuses when talking materials, namely titanium, it’s easy to understand why, these bikes belong in an art gallery, never mind the road.

The prototype is extremely tactile and in my opinion it is understatedly stunning, not only that but the mk1 rides well too, so I’m really looking forward to seeing mk2 at the end of April.

A bespoke titanium bike might not be within reach for everybody, it’s a premium product and as such expect the price point to be in line with mid range carbon bikes, however if you are looking for a bike which can be used all year round without risk of deterioration, is also robust, light and built around you, look no further.

If you would like to find out more about Baldwin Titanium Bicycles or discuss buying one of their bespoke bikes, they can be contacted by using any one of the following methods:

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CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE BALDWIN TITANIUM WEBSITE…

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