Ricky Feather has carved an impressive reputation for bespoke steel bikes with flowing, elegant lines.
While simplicity is a given for the track bikes with which Feather began his career, and which has since become a calling card for his road bikes, cyclo-cross machines are not an obvious vehicle for smooth, flowing lines.
Until now. We took a detailed look at Feather’s new cyclo-cross bike, one he’ll race in the coming season, as well as his award-winning “modern classic”, his track bike, and Rapha Continental Bike, all exhibited at the Yorkshire Bicycle Show.
Feather Cycles Cyclo-Cross Bike
The frame of Feather’s latest creation – a cyclo-cross bike – is made from a mix of tubing.
He’s deployed Columbus Life for the downtube, chainstays, and seat stays. The downtube is just 0.6mm thick at the butted section, and dropping to 0.4mm at its narrowest.
The top tube is made from Reynolds 853, while the seat tube is made from 853 Pro Team, flared at the junction with the bottom bracket to create a wider brazing area to offer greater stiffness.
The length of the seat-tube – a tube Feather had to hand in his North Yorks workshop – has allowed him to create an integrated seat mast. The tube has been sleeved by Matthew at Broadbent Engineering, Feather told RoadCyclingUK, flaring the tube from 28.6mm to 30.25 to fit the Ritchey mast topper. The seat-tube also houses a battery for the Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting, secured with adhesive-backed expanding foam pads.
A headtube fitted with an external Chris King headset tapers from a 1.5” lower bearing to 1-1/8” at the top, creating a stiff front end. All the cables are internally routed, obviating the need for a cable stop or hanger for the cantilever brakes. The seat stays and chainstays have been shaped with an S-Bend to offer greater mud clearance.
Up front, there’s a Speedvagen stem with integrated cable routing. “Somebody messaged me when they saw I was building a ‘cross bike and sold it to me for a decent price,” said Feather. The stem provided the perfect position for the Di2 control unit, and inspired the cable routing for the rear brake.
The routing of the Di2 cables is similarly clean: the cable for the rear mech enters the frame at the headtube, rather than the downtube, and emerges at the end of the driveside chainstay. “I wanted as little cable on show as possible,” said Feather. At the front mech, the cable is routed through the boss, obviating the need for further drilling of the frame.
Feather has deployed a Enve Cross 1.5” tapered carbon fork, and Enve carbon wheels laced to Chris King hubs. The shifting comes from Shimano’s 6070 Ultegra Di2 groupset, while braking duties are handled by Avid Shorty Ultimate Cantilevers. The Saddle is a Selle San Marco Concor.
Feather Cycles “Modern Classic”
Building to a design brief to create “the ultimate modern” classic, Feather mixed Columbus XCR stainless steel with Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace Di2 9070 electronic groupset to create an elegant machine that rewards close inspection.
The unpainted sections of the XCR frame (stainless is, as the name suggest, corrosion resistant) were polished for a super clean finish and then brushed. Feather has used Llewlyn lugs, drilling them for detail, and carving the seat-tube lug.
The rear dropout has been filled with silver solder, and then filed to create a smooth line. Feather used the same technique for his ‘cross bike.
In keeping with the design brief, the bike is equipped with Shimano Dura Ace Di2, presenting further challenges to preserve Feather’s signature clean lines. “I drilled and tapped the stem so we could attach the remote beneath the stem, rather than using elastic bands,” he told RCUK. The frame, built in February and March, was the first consumer bike in Britain to contain Shimano’s integrated Di2 battery, which is housed in the seat-tube.
The cables are routed through an internal tube made from stainless steel, rather than the more commonly used brass, which Feather believes can develop a patina over time and ultimately fail.
The seat clamp is integrated within the seat stay, rather than at the top of the seat tube. The bolt is drilled to a depth of 14mm in the 16mm stay, preventing it from piercing the opposing plane. “It’s completely clean,” said Feather.
He has used Reynolds 953 tubing for the fork, whose blades terminate in a Paragon dropout brazed with silver. He had the tubes “over-raked” by Reynolds, and then cut them back to preserve the line while accommodating the dropout, thus avoiding the straight section sometimes seen at the end of raked forks.
“I like the curve to be continuous, so I tend to over-rake them, and then cut them back, so the curve goes all the way to the dropout,” Feather said. The twin-stripe detailing of the frame is mirrored at the fork crown.
The bike is dressed in Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and Nitto finishing kit: the Japanese company’s Pearl quill stem, Noodle handlebar, and S65 seatpost. Feather’s quest for the finishing kit was two-fold: firstly, to find components equal to the aesthetics of the frame, and secondly to use a company that makes everything in-house. “It’s a nice nod to the frame,” he said.
It rolls on wheels built by York Cycle Works: H Plus Son TB14 rims in a 23mm, box section clincher profile. “Because it’s a wider rim, the tyre sits a bit wider, giving you a nice round profile. It’s more like a tub, and gives you better control,” Feather said. The rims are laced with DT Competition spokes to Chris King hubs.
Feather Cycles Track Bike
The Feather Cycles track bike shown at the Yorkshire Bicycle Show was made three years ago and has barely been ridden since, according to Feather.
The frame is made from a re-released Reynolds 531 tubeset, joined with a set of Carlton lugs from the 1950s which Feather bought on E-Bay. “The lugs inspired the rest of the bike,” said Feather. “I wanted it to be classic geometry with classic tubing.”
Feather’s own innovations, however, are a central to the bike. The seat binder has been filled with a brazed-in rod to prevent it from being squashed under pressure from the bolt. The fork blades are round, and the crown has been filled with brass and flattened, to resemble forks of yore.
Finishing kit is NJS-approved (the Japanese track federation), including a used but still immaculate Shimano DuraAce seat-post, Shimano Dura-Ace chainset and Dura-Ace 36-hole hubs. “Most of the parts could be used for professional track racing in Japan,” said Feather.
Feather Cycles Rapha Continental bike
Feather brought his personal steed, the Columbus Spirit bike built for Rapha’s Continental project, and winner of the best road bike award at last year’s Bespoked Bristol show. He also showed a new frame inspired by the bike, also made from Columbus Spirit and featuring the same classic geometry: parallel 73 degree head-tube and seat-tube angles, and a 45 degree fork rake.
“It’s a perfect all-rounder,” said Feather, who recently rode the bike across France, including an ascent of the Mont Ventoux. The groupset is a SRAM Force 10-speed set-up, and the finishing kit is 3T. It rolls on Ambrosio rims laced with Sapim spokes to Chris King hubs, shod with Continental tyres.
Website: Feather Cycles