Sven Cycle’s Randonneur was a genuine revelation
In 2013 Neil Foddering, a keen cyclist from Dorset, was asked by a friend to collect a bike frame for him from Sven Cycles in Weymouth.
Neil was intrigued. Sven Cycles was still a well-kept secret and Neil had no idea there was a framebuilder just a couple of miles from his home. He collected the bike and spent time chatting with Darron Coppin, founder of Sven Cycles.
Neil takes up the story…
“Darron had built a 650b roadster for himself, and when I showed an interest in it, he told me to take it for a ride. Its responsiveness and comfort were a revelation after the bikes I'd been riding with narrow-section high-pressure tyres.”
This was the first of many and frequent visits to Darron's workshop, watching him work, producing beautiful steel-framed machines to his customers' requirements. From ultra-light racing bikes and roadsters, to mountain bikes and tourers, and just about anything else which took the customer's fancy, Darron was able to craft it. He even made a pair of single speed road bikes for two guys who rode them in the French Alps!
Time for a change
Neil collects and rides top-quality lightweight bicycles from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and at that time, his hack machine was a Bates. Designed in the mid-1930s with cigar-shaped frame tubing for stiffness, the Bates was one of the few unconventional frames of that period which actually did what the makers claimed.
Used with high-pressure tyres, Neil found it very uncomfortable to ride for any great distance. In fact, he was so shattered after a 100-mile charity ride, that he blended in perfectly with his green bed sheets! Something had to change. He asked Darron to build him a randonneur.
Darron took his inspiration from the French Randonneur bicycles. These were racing, touring bikes, first built in the1940s and 50s. Custom made in aluminium, these bikes were well ahead of their time in both form and function.
Randonneur races were often overnighters and usually over chalk and gravel roads, so big tyres were essential to allow the bike to travel fast over these surfaces comfortably. Larger tyres have been and gone, and are now back in fashion again, with some great options out there, — and the 650b was Darron’s starting point.
Adding a thoroughly modern frame and forks, and a mixture of some very classic components, Darron was able to create a beautifully light, very sporty, agile bike, inspired by all the rich bike history that Neil revels in.
Neil loves his bike so much that he’s now ordered another. Who knows, maybe he’ll start collecting Sven Cycles now.