Rob is the product of a lovely couple, one of whom was a Physicist/electronic engineer who built everything from HiFi to the Kitchen Table, one day at an Aircraft museum, he pointed to a square patch on the tail fin of a Lightning, he stated that he designed the compass/gyroscope inside, that was quite a memory for a young Rob. Rob is also younger brother of a mechanical engineer who fed him a diet of dismantled engines, C50’s and 3 speed Sturmey Archer hubs. He also has an insight (an opinion) into what works and what tends not too.
He was employed for 17 years as a fault finder and trouble shooter extraordinar on Private and Global telecom networks. first in the now gentrified Clerkenwell then in the west end of london, The West End was swapped for the West Country, and a final stint with an American Telco ended that particular career. It could perhaps be said that since leaving traditionally paid employment his main thrust has been gathering experiences and stories with which to regale no one in particular.
Always a rider of bikes, from RSW20’s to road bikes, then Mountain bikes when they arrived in the 80’s. Bromptons in the late 90’s, with a lull in the noughties.. In 2005, a chance meeting with a longtail bike changed his life for ever.
Rob on bikes…..
“Bikes are the greatest invention ever and with some help of good infrastructure can really address some the transport, mental health, community and pollution problems that seem to baffle our politicians and for a large part, the general public. Bikes that are simple and can carry more must be part of the revolution our urban spaces and their inhabitants are becoming more aware is required”
After telecoms he took a few years out, to work with the land and develop new skills. Training in Aboriculture and working with Tree surgeons, this naturally lead to his fabricating parts and repairing machinery.
In 2006 a chance meeting with a chap who imported Yuba bicycles (via a Sunday Times newspaper article) led to a fulfilment of a lifelong dream of working with bicycles. Really Useful Bikes was created, now in 2018, 10 plus years of selling, improving and repairing many of the best (and not so best) cargobikes in the world helps Rob when considering their own Rodford Built bicycles. Rob enjoys the process of fabricating, honing his skills with the welding torch. Central to his Modus operandi is the development of the function and style of bicycles for transport and the growth of the Transport bike genre in general.
Outside of Rodford Built, Rob is a simple soul, Encouraging Bees and Birds into the garden is always somewhere in his mind. His works LDV pilot van occasionally needs a new part, and there are always cargobikes to develop and and most importantly of all a small person to look after, and it is she that now hones his thoughts when kid carrying function is concerned.
Did you know? – Rob never managed to learn the drums, although he still thinks about it occasionally….
Robs top 5 favourite bicycles (in no particular order)
- The Raleigh 16/20..(RSW16/20) small wheeled oddities that provided basic transport in the 60’s & 70’s with lights and hub gears. My youth was spent on them. i still use one and have a few others as ‘projects’.
- Metrofiets, The first non European boxbike I knew of. Great North American style and panache (now possibly closed down 26/5/18), great inspiration.
- Monarck long john, the first load forward cargobike and the inspiration for the Larry vs Harry Bullitt. They are still being restored, modified and ridden today. An inspiration for Rodford Builts right there. (steel is real etc)
- Peugeot Canyon Express, My first Mountain bike in the 80’s, I spent days riding around Hainault and Epping forests, I knew those forests like the back of my hand. Then bought a Rory O’Brien MTB frame (bikes you wish you still had!).
- The Rodford Built T1 Boxbike. Cheesy I know, but it’s a good bike that always getting better. A year of two of development and we have built a world beater. The Ebike version is refined, the short wheelbase pedal power version (Dart) is a bit nutty.
Rob on Steve…..
“Steve’s one of those chaps that doesn’t watch much television, so does lots of stuff. His ability to interpret ideas and add that engineering knowledge to make ‘it’ happen, is what turned Rodford Built from a pipe dream into a reality.
It’s always amazing to work with him, I might pop off to find a part or tool in the other workshop and when I return, normally after something else has distracted me…he will have made something genius or moved an idea forward, he’s quite self motivated and good with his hands, all of our production jigs are made by Steve. We share aesthetic likes too, so the design and the feel of our machines tend to happen in a nice way. We both enjoy a simple function and that can be seen in the design of our machines. Likes tea, not keen on Cheese.