Speaking of Spokes……

Perhaps you are wondering about the mechanics behind the bicycle wheel, how spokes work, what lacing patterns can be used and so forth. More likely, perhaps your not. Regardless, here are a few words on the fascinating topic of spokes.

The spoked wheel was first conceived by Mr George Cayley who was an early pioneer of flight. As well as being successful in producing a working glider, he invented the wire spoked wheel in his quest to design a light and durable wheel for his flying contraptions. Spoked wheels were around much earlier than this, chariots and horse drawn carts had spoked wheels, but these wooden masterpieces were not stressed like the wire spoked wheel. On the wooden wheels the weight of the vehicle was simply supported by whichever spoke was at the bottom. The spokes had to be strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle plus its load and with excess strength to resist impacts.
Wire wheels came later and were significantly more advanced …keep reading

Buckle up and knuckle down

In order to reduce the weight of a bike it is important to explore tube dimensions such as wall thickness/diameter ratios and length/diameter ratios to determine the best dimensions for the purpose. Looking into this can lead to a somewhat interesting (for some at least) foray into stress analysis and buckling theory.

Referring to a previous blog on second moments of area, we know that shape of a part greatly affects its mechanical properties and this explains the reason for most engineering shapes used, from simple “I” beams to complex aluminium extrusions. In the world of cycling, round tube is often favoured for it’s consistent stiffness and strength in all axis and its traditional cosmetic appearance; but what should the wall thickness and diameter of the tube be for the best performance?

In an attempt to answer this we …keep reading

Hot from the oven

We are cock-a-hoop to be sending out another delivery bike this week. This is one of our finest builds, a long chassis Sherpa box bike, with E-assist, integrated lighting and a lightweight commercial box. This bike will be delivering bread for the artisan bakery “The Oven” based in Bath in the U.K.
This is the first bike to be finished in our new Rodford colour of “Grey black” and we like it. It is classy yet durable, understated but fashionable.

The Oven Delivery Bike by Rodford

The cargo box is a leading design weighing in at just 6kgs but with a capacity of 250,000 cubic centimetres. We have fitted a soft canvas top so it can be loaded beyond the top edge and the box is water tight to keep the bread rolls crispy in all weathers. For power the 250W Shimano STEPs system provides 50nm of torque to help the bike climb those Bath hills and Shimano Deore hydraulic discs control the bike when going back down.
Call us to discuss your delivery bike requirements.

Bespoked 2017

Once again this year we were proud to be part of Bespoked the handbuilt bicycle show, a showcase of world-class, hand-made bikes from all over the world……and little local ‘Rodford Built’ with our own sturdy handbuilt style. Highlights from the show included Feather cycles, always quality, August bicycles with their handsome city bike and Sven bikes who craft some of the finest looking touring and city bikes (and a cargobike last year). Bespoked is always a chance to catch up with old friends and so it was nice to see our friends at Boneshaker, the very super Ted James and Darron (and many others)
A personal highlight was a chance meeting of the mighty Mr Schmitt and his masterful SON dynamo hubs, (selfie time).

We were showcasing our range of box bikes featuring two load decks lengths, various box options and electric assist. Below is a studio photo of our short model ready for adventure in our standard grey paint finish with orange accents. Contact us to talk about cargo or transport bikes, custom build requirements or a test ride.

Photo courtesy of Ben Broomfield Photography.
Photo courtesy of Ben Broomfield Photography.

Food Distribution..by Bicycle.

Great to be able to finally talk about our latest collaboration. We have been working with Fareshare (food redistribution) and Boston Tea Party (Cafe chain). Fareshares wonderful initiative to fight hunger and reduce food waste now has a Rodfordbuilt cargobike to help with their Bristol Logistics. Thanks to Boston tea Party for facilitating the purchase. A great partnership. http://www.fareshare.org.uk/http://www.bostonteaparty.co.uk/ (can recommend, (no bias))

We work with good people….with bikes built for life…..

Chain Tensioners? A bit old school.

Many of our hub geared bikes favour the use of a chain tensioner but comments from observers indicate that some people think this an unnecessary complication. What can we say about this?

First of all, there is the fact that we have chosen vertical slots for our custom drop outs. This ensures that the back wheel is nicely centred in the mudguard wrap and allows the easiest removal of the wheel from the bike. However it also means tension cannot be set by moving the wheel.

A horizontal drop out would be a simple solution. It would allow the chain tension to be set manually without the need for a tensioner, but removing the wheel could be an issue depending on the tyre size and mudguard clearance. The more the wheel is moved back the worse the mudguard clearance can get until a link has to be removed from the chain and the wheel moved forward again. Moving the wheel can affect brake adjustment too.

An alternative is to set …keep reading

Excitement Builds.


Production looms…the excitement builds

We have been working on the CAD designs for our husky and the boxbike..daily we go through the details so that once we commit to small scale mass production we don’t get bitten on the bottom. 
You might say that “small scale” and “mass production” are phrases that do not sit easy in the same sentence…. We are committed to local production, by the very nature of our business the bikes will be handmade…but to ensure consistency and provide the means to create an economic affordable frame-set we must use modern techniques. 
So designs are evolving, drawings are being amended…experience is being gathered..
exciting times.

Rodford Built. 


Aerodynamics is a heavily debated subject in all transport systems, but why is it so important?

One reason is that aerodynamic drag increases massively as speed increases. Roughly speaking it can be viewed as a “Cube Law”. A cubed number is a number multiplied by itself twice. For example 2 cubed = 8. or in longhand 2x2x2=8.
This means that when you double your speed, you require 8 times the power because you are experiencing 8 times the wind resistance. This is evident when you ride a motorcycle. Sitting behind the bars of a motorcycle you can feel the wind pressure against you at 30mph. Double your speed to 60mph, and you’ll not feel twice that force, but 8 times the wind pressure pushing you back. This annoying aspect of physics is what limits …keep reading

Bottom Bracket Height

In cargo bike design a lower bottom bracket is favourable. It gives a lower step over and a lower centre of gravity; but the ground clearance is also reduced, most notably the pedal clearance when cornering.
So what is the ideal bottom bracket height and how does is relate to pedal strike angle?


It is obvious that pedal strike is most likely to occur with the widest pedals, lowest bottom bracket height and …keep reading

A case for the transport bike

Many bikes sold in the U.K are tailored towards sport and leisure riding. There’s nowt wrong with that and if you enjoy fast road cycling or getting proper muddy up in the hills, then you should carry on; good on you for getting out there.

However here at Rodford we think there is a case for owning a transport bike too. A bike that is low on maintenance and high on comfort. A bike you can ride in your city civvies without getting muddy and wet. A bike that has built in lighting, easy gearing and the ability to carry cargo are all things that a convenient urban bike should have as desirable in a standard spec.

That’s why all Rodford bikes are designed to be comfortable, reliable and convenient. They are all designed to be fitted with guards, racks and lights so that you don’t have to worry about accessorising and you won’t need to own masses of cycle clothing to look great when you’re out about town. With a Rodford you can arrive in style and not in a sweat, ready to start the day’s work or do the shopping run.

Titfer optional, style not optional…

Simple, transport bikes from Rodford.

Comfortable bikes for transport................. (dog carrying options are in our design brief)
Comfortable bikes for transport…………….. (dog carrying options are in our design brief)

Drum Brakes! Really?

Bicycle brake systems can be disc, drum, roller or rim. There are hydraulic and cable versions too.
Rodford bikes are often fitted with drum brakes and people have questioned their suitability.
Here we set out to describe the benefits and drawbacks of some of the available systems and the considerations you should make when choosing brakes.

Rim brakes
Rim brakes are the simplest and oldest brake system. The components are lightweight and because they work on the wheel rim there is little stress in the fork or in the spokes.
The downside is that they wear the rim particularly in off road applications …keep reading

Frame Builder of the Week.

We appear to be the Bespoked UKHBBS Frame builder of the week this week.

Check out the article here and find out why Rodford built Utility Bikes are more than just a frame and why we are passionate about bikes that offer practical transport.

Rob and Steve with their award winning delivery bike at the 2015 Bespoked Constructor's Challenge.
Rob and Steve with their award winning delivery bike at the 2015 Bespoked Constructor’s Challenge.

Bespoke Bikes

As you might gather if you have read our previous blog entries, we’re off to the Bristol Handbuilt Bicycle Show in about 7 weeks, held in Bristol’s Temple Meads it gives Europe’s finest frame-builders the change to show off their wares. We will be there (as we normally are) to add a bit of utility to the rather fancy affair. 

Construction is now well under way for our show bikes. We are working flat out on the notching welding and alignment of the bike frames. We have a box bike already resting on its wheels while we decide on how to build the body work. (yes, some bikes have body work).
The city bike we’re bringing is commissioned by a customer and she has kindly let us bring it to the show to before she takes ownership. It’s been very much a joint effort, finished in her choice of colours and very much taking her style of riding into account.

The bikes will be off the the powder coaters soon, the parts bin is filling up, that slight tingle in the belly is growing….the evenings will be getting lighter too, which coming up to show time can only be a good thing.

We are both excited about what we hope to show you in April.

Steve and Rob