Back when I first assembled my test Independent Fabrication Club Racer, I quickly concluded that it offered something approaching the most sublime ride quality of any bike I have ridden. This view wasn’t formed on billiard-smooth boulevards but on the pock-marked streets of the Angel, Islington and its environs, where no bike lacking full-on suspension can expect to shine.

Significantly, the IndyFab lacked mudguards for its maiden voyage; by the time it had been prepared for the Autumn Tour, it had mudguards, a rack and enough luggage to keep me looking presentable for three nights in the fleshpots of Shropshire.

Ignoring the weight of the luggage, I began to suspect that IndyFab boss Joe Ingram had secretly built the thing with plain gauge gas pipe. From the first few hundred metres of the Tour along an old Roman road out of Cirencester, the Club Racer seemed to ride more like a postie’s old clunker than a confection of feather-light, paper-thin high tensile steel tubes.

It, or rather the front mudguard, had taken to rattling violently over anything but smooth Tarmac, which is notably rare in the wilds of the Cotswolds. The sensible reaction would have been to investigate the rattle; doing so would have revealed that it was caused by the extension forward of the crown bracket being just the right height to bounce upwards when jolted and hit the underside of the crown.

Thing is, the incessant rattling now persuaded me that the bike was the stiffest thing ever assembled, with a fork of solid bar stock that was holding me back compared to my companions. Never mind that I could freewheel past Andy and Shrubby on the slightest decline or that Smythey’s Roberts was probably faster ‘cos he was running aero wheels with 16 bladed spokes – on tour.

Of course, when I rode the bike without luggage on day two, it ran noticeably quieter and normal service seemd to have been restored only for the laden day four to be another strangely hard one.

Finally, I got home and took the time to investigate and then cure the rattle by lowering the mudguard a millimetre. Amazingly – or perhaps not – the supple ride and impressive cruising speed that had so impressed me on the first ride had returned. But rattles can’t actually slow you down, can they?


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