The Millfield Special – what exactly are you thinking, Steve?

Isn’t it good to ask yourself questions. I often do it.

I don’t always put those questions to myself in writing though, so this particular issue must be something important. I must be trying to work out my kinks in public – is it transparency I want? Or the critical eye of those I trust?

Hmmmmmm.

OK, so we all want to leave a legacy. Nothing strange there. I’ve done some good stuff, and left behind a body of work. I have a family that loves me in spite of all my ‘Krazy’.

But there’s something about bicycles, isn’t there. They have a permanence; a perpetuality that hasn’t been made redundant by technology or design. They’re still fundamentally the same machine created 150 years ago. Two wheels, forks, pedals and chain.

Of all the things I’ve done with my brain and my hands in my half-century, I think the bicycles I’ve brought back from the grave are the best uses of the skills I have. So my legacy is going to be the Millfield Specials.

I’m going to take dead bicycles, and bring them back to life.

I’m going to find good things, and put the Millfield name on them.

I’m going to find bicycles that are unloved, unremarkable, undervalued or unwanted, and find them new lives and new homes.

They’ll all say ‘Millfield’, and they’ll go on to live new lives, and they’ll be my legacy.

 

#staytuned

 

Millfield Special #1

Some time ago, I bought a bike from a guy on eBay, and when I met him to collect it, he opened up the back of his van and started handing me stuff.

“Do you want this?” he said, handing me an old-school ‘Fly’ aero front wheel. Of course I did.

“How about some Mavic wheel bags?” he said. I kept my poker face on – is that even a question? “Sure, I’ll have them if they’re free.”

“What about this?”. He was holding a lugged steel frameset, with a dodgy metal flake blue respray, and a well-used Mirage 9sp gruppo hanging from it in tatters. There were no wheels to be seen.

“You can have it for free.”, he said.

“Ummm…I guess so…maybe I’ll use the gruppo…”, I said. Into my ute it went, but I’ll be honest and say I was a bit reluctant to take it. Scrap steel is not worth the cost of the trip to the recycler.

That frameset turned out to be something quite unexpected, and when I realised it, the first Millfield Special was born.

Now that we’ve decided to restore this bike, you can follow the story in The Museum here.

 

The 10th Anniversary project

For some time I’ve wanted to do a 10th Anniversary replica.

Built as either a TSX with a flat crown fork or an SLX with a sloping crown fork, these bikes have aged beautifully. They’re a classic bike, with instant appeal to the cycling afficionado.

So it’s time for us to build one. Hmm…where to start.

Because I knew what I wanted, the search for a frame took a while. I found (in a shed in Poland!) a NOS 1998 Corsa Extra in Columbus SLX New. It checked out as a genuine factory build, has correct serial numbers for 1998, and was a custom build for a pro that had some particular requirements for braze-ons.

It’s been fully inspected for quality and straightness by Rob at Tempest Bicycles, and been given a clean bill of health.

I elected to not use an original Merckx steel fork on this build. There are plenty around, but a carbon fork rides so much better than steel, it’s a no-brainer when there’s no imperative to be period-correct or faithful to the original design. The fork will be an Italian Tifosi carbon/alloy fork, painted to the Anniversary scheme, and so it will almost disappear to the eye.

This combination of original steel frame and modern carbon fork perfectly hits our objective of old and new mixed together.

The bike will be built with a Campagnolo groupset, as a nod to its European heritage, and to Eddy’s preference; the factory preferred the Italian gruppos over the Japanese, although you could order the bike with either Record or Dura-Ace.

The crankset, hubs and brakes will be Record Titanium. These will all be restored with new decals.

The drivetrain (Shifters, F&R Mechs, Chain, Cassette) will be 10sp Veloce. I’m sure there will be calls that a modern 11 or 12 speed Record gruppo should be fitted, but it’s overkill on this bike. I’ve used the Veloce gruppos before, and they’re sensational. They’re light, they shift beautifully, and they’re absolutely bullet-proof. Plus, they aren’t garish and overstated; they’ll suit the styling of this bike perfectly.

The frame is now ready for painting, and should be available for inspection and sale in September ’18.

Contact us for more information, or to arrange an inspection.

Merckx Domo Farm Frites Mania (say that fives time really fast)

So, there I was, checking eBay for new and interesting things, and I found this.

Looks like a team replica, and not overpriced! Columbus Zonal, 54cm, Carbon fork…

”Hey!”, I said to #bestwifeever, “Can I build you a trainer bike to keep you healthy during that long, cold, Australian winter?”

“Sure you can…”, she said. “…knock yourself out.”

I think it’ll be simple. Shimano 8 x 1 will do, and a nice set of wheels. Maybe even flat bars, seeing as how it’s for the trainer.

Stay tuned!

Update: it’s finished!

Eddy Merckx Team Domo-Farm Frites, 2001

The Yellow Bike arrives

Some time ago, I discussed an important issue with my wife.

It concerned the placement (and therefore the colour) of the training bike that was due to be placed in the living room of the new house we’re building.

Placement was no issue; there’s a spot marked on the plan, so all good there. As to the colour, though…that’s a different story.

The issue was that all the bikes I have are the wrong colour, and will clash with the decor.

Orange…out.

Red, white and blue…out.

White…out.

There was nothing else to do, but look for a new frame, and let my wife pick the colour. Everyone is happy!

Wife says: Yellow or Green.

Green…out. I’ve never seen a green bike I like. Couldn’t even bring myself to look for a Team Stuttgart. Green=Ick.

It’s a Yellow Bike, then. Time to start looking!

By Mid-August, I had found this frame online:

It’s a 3-Athlete, 1983 build, 60cm. Made from Reynolds 501, it’s a budget bike, so perfect for a trainer-bike that may never see the road.

It’ll be a Dura-Ace 7400 9sp, with downtube shifters…

…and it’ll be repainted as a Team Lotto replica…

…and it’ll be perfect if I ever get invited to a L’Eroica ride!

Update July ’19

They Yellow Bike is now complete, and can be seen here.

Not my normal level of ‘vintage’

Probably the worst thing to say to me is this:

”I’ve got an old bike, do you want to see it?”

Certainly, this question is problematic for my wife; the new shed isn’t built yet and there’s a limited number of bikes one can reasonably keep in the house.

And yet, I still respond to the siren’s call in the affirmative. I’m an old dog, and I like the tricks I have.

The question was posed to me by Owen, who runs my LBS. I was down there on a Saturday afternoon looking for a couple of bits I knew he’d have (and he did). With no-one in the shop, Owen and I were chatting about old bikes. We meet on the road sometimes; he’s always riding something new, and I’m inevitably on some rusty test mule trying to road-test my crazy engineering.

That’s when the question was posed.

“Sure”, I said. “Let’s have a look at it.”

Out comes the ladder, and the apprentice get sent up to the mezzanine with an instruction to fetch ‘…the old thing in the blue tub…’

$100 later, and I’m stashing most of a 1948-ish Mal Rees in the boot of my car. No ‘bars or wheels, but the rest of it’s there, including the dynamo headlight and alloy fenders.

I put it up on the stand and had a look at it. No rust, every thread like new. Nervex professional lugs, Reynolds 531 tubing. BSA crankset, Lytaloy brakes. State of the art!

I stripped it back to frame and forks, and started testing ideas.

Yes, it has a standard British thread B.B…

Long sliding dropouts, narrow spacing…

Standard 1” threaded fork…

Can I get new decals? Yes…

Done. This old boy is going to be a fixie. And not just any old fixie, it’s going to be a 1948 with carbon bling.

It’s now in the hands of Peter Fleming,

 

…for a new white enamel repaint, with custom red decals and a pearl red topcoat. Oh, and red lug-lines under the clear. Magnificent!

Matching enamelled white crankset, bottle cage, stem and seatpost, new wheels, and carbon ‘riser bars. I may even put a red chain on it.

It’s going to be SWEET!

Get ready for it to appear in the Showroom in January ‘18.

#titaniumisreal

For most Merckx fans, having an AX Titanium in the stable is a shortlisted objective. The Ti bikes existed for about four years in the late nineties, so they’re getting rare now.

When I saw one pop up on eBay a month ago, I was like a seagull on a chip. That bad boy was going to be mine, and I couldn’t hit the ‘buy it now’ button fast enough.

When it arrived, I was bowled over.

Full Dura-Ace 7700 gruppo, Mavic Cosmics, this was a pro’s bike in the 90s, and now it was mine.

Only one problem, though: it’s a 57cm frame. Too small for me 🙁

I emailed Litespeed to get the inside info. It’s a 1995 build, genuine Merckx spec. Fantastic! But what to do with it? Didn’t take long to find out. Along came Tim (from Perth, no less!) to claim this legend bike for himself.

Tim has decided to go with a 105 11sp gruppo, for a bulletproof modern setup. New wheels, new decals, new carbon forks – a total overhaul in The Millfield Way.

Tim’s bike will be ready by Xmas 2017, stay tuned for more posts as the project goes together.

The Ferrari takes a new shape.

Some time ago, I asked a friend for a frame.

“Something cheap and cheerful.”, I said. “Just need a quick build for the Winter, while my Merckx is being painted.”

“I have just the thing…”, he said, “…ever wanted to own a Ferrari?”

And along came the photo.

Oh Geez. It was tired, so so tired. And it was rusty. Quite rusty, in fact. But it was a Ferrari, right? Of course I wanted it. You would too.

So Big Red finds a new home at MV, and we strip it down to see what it’s got. It’s a Technotrat frame, with a never-before-seen Bozzi/Falck decal on the downtube. It’s about an ’85 model I reckon, cables under the BB, but no brazed lugs on the downtube – it had a clamp-on shifter set. Must have constantly come out of tune in the cables, the 80s weren’t always high quality, huh.

A full 105 gruppo though; shifter, mechs, brakes, crankset, hubs. You can find them on eBay now, there’s a good home out there waiting for them (please bid!).

The forks had both problems – they were rusty, and they were shit. Scrap bin for them.

But Big Red was straight, not too rusty for a resto, no damaged threads, and with a couple of small adaptations he would take a 2017 gruppo and live a second life.

Test Mule Time! I’d been wanting to build a 30-speed for a while, with a 30t inner front chainwheel to combat the local heart-stopper we call Twin Peaks.

Surgery over, Big Red is a rocket ship that also climbs like a billy goat. What a ripper.

105 5700 10sp triple, Carbon Tifosi forks, WH-R550 Wheelset. Did a 40km shakedown and it’s a bloody crackerjack. Goes up like a balloon and it’s rock solid at 45kmh. I love it when a plan comes together.

And did i ride it again? Of course not. By the time I had all the little bits I needed to get the gruppo running right, the #1 bike was back from the paintshop, and calling out for its new build.

So straight to phase 2 for Big Red; now it’s in the safe hands of Peter Fleming @ Star Enamellers, with a fresh set of Cyclomondo decals and a bright future.

Stay tuned for this Maranello Red 30-speed super bike to hit the road in early 2018.

Expressions of interest to our contact page please!

Greeting, Cyclists. Take me to your MX Leader.

Welcome to our new site.

As with everything we do, this site will evolve through tinkering. Unable to leave well enough alone, i’ll change, update, delete, tweak, tune, modify then change again.

Can I apologise now for what I’ll inevitably do? I’ll try to keep it on topic, but if you’ve seen the bikes I build, you’ll understand that there are no guarantees (sorry!).