Matt Teague started building bicycles in 2012, working out of a small workshop in East London.

 

The following is from the Bespoked 'Framebuilder of the Week' feature:

 

Do you remember your first bike?

 

My first bike was a Triang Moulton. I loved that bike, but it quickly became too small for anything but short rides, so my first real bike was a Dawes Fox. Lugged steel, ten speeds and I spent a lot of time on it around the Warwickshire lanes.

Cycling and I spent some time apart after I moved to London, and then I bought another Moulton.

 

How did you get into building bikes?

 

The aforementined Moulton. I bought an older F Frame version with the intention of building a 'Woodburn tribute bike' (which set the London-Cardiff speed record), however that frame had a cracked rear triangle and my first foray into brazing was in order to repair this. I'm sorry to say that the 'Woodburn tribute bike' is still in bits somewhere in the back of the workshop.

Then I had a big accident on yet another  Moulton I'd built up for time trialling and whilst looking for replacement (something with bigger wheels) I thought about building my own bike. The resulting frame has just done about 35,000 miles. Anyway, I thought to myself 'I must be doing something right' and just carried on.

 

How would you define your style as a framebuilder?

 

I would say that I like bikes that are intended to be used for purposes other than pure racing - commuter and touring bikes and lugged steel are my favorites. Having said that I also love track and Keirin bikes...and I've made a couple of pure racers too.

I've tried a few things I probably won't do again. Press fit bottom brackets are one example. They offer no benefit to the bespoke builder and the threaded versions are - in my opinion - un-improvable from a practical engineering point of view.

I suppose I'd draw from all that that I don't try to have a style as such. We used to have a mantra in architecture of 'No Style, No Beauty'. In other words; it is what it is, and there's a kind of beauty in that.

 

Who or what has inspired you along the way?

 

My Grandad, whose garage was full of bits from his time in the automotive industry including a beautifully sectioned carburettor - (cut right down the middle and all the edges picked out in red enamel paint). - The usual suspects; I've a great deal of respect for people like Grant Petersen at Rivendell who have stuck to their guns and really champion what cycling is about; Just Riding. Pongo Braithwaite (Aende Bicycles) who built frames in his Nottingham end-of terrace. Eric Estlund's flicker feed (Winter Bicycles), Matthew Crawford's book 'The Case for Making Things With Your Hands' . Richard Sachs. Obviously.

 

If you weren't building bikes for a living what would you be doing?

 

I have two jobs. I'm a part time framebuilder and a full-time architect for a steel company. Necessarily this means I don't (I can't) produce vast numbers of frames (about 12 a year would be the maximum) - but I like to think that all my thought and care in that moment are vested in that frame. Framebuilding might end up being a full time occupation, we'll see how it goes. The key for me is enjoying it and improving/learning all the time.

So - to answer the question directly, if I wasn't building frames I'd be in building design  - I have a specialism in housing, of which there's more need now for an affordable and sustainable solution than ever before.

There's obviously a great deal of cross-over materials wise between working for a steel producer and building steel bicycles, but the attraction of building bikes is the direct connection between the design process, the interaction with the customer and the techniques the skill set of cutting and joining a collection of tubes and components into a usable bicycle. It's this connection, the physical process of making things which really attracts, and provides, for me at least, the antidote to office work.

 

M Teague

October 2016