James Thinks

writing is a kind of thinking

I've ordered a new bike; my first in over thirteen years - the tandem doesn't count, that's Erica's.  :-)

It will be the first bike I'll own with drop handlebars. It's designed to go well on the road and be comfortable over long distances. Although I've become very keen on cycling lately, I don't intend to buy myself new bikes very often, maybe never again. I hope to still be riding this one when I retire. For these reasons I went to some trouble trying to get it right. Despite having done a fair bit of cycling over the years, I've haven't got really geeky about bikes until recently.

Sportive/Audax bike frame design

I've gone for a custom-built titanium frame by independent Harwich-based frame-builder Justin Burls. He designs the frames to customer specification, which are then built in Russia by titanium professionals trained in the aerospace industry.

So I've spent quite a lot for someone who's still really a casual cyclist, but you could easily cough up far more in any high-street store for a bike that probably wouldn't last as long. It wasn't strictly necessary for me to go for a custom frame, as I'm not an especially unusual weight/build. Once you consider titanium, however, the price for custom and off-the-shelf is similar, so I chose patience and (hopefully) perfection.

I always like to know what I'm buying, in fact I think it's half the fun, so over the past 5 months I've been doing some serious geeking-up on all things bike. I've chosen every part of the bike and I think I've made good decisions and compromises, going for cheaper components in places that I might change after trying them out for a while, such as the stem and handlebars. However, I won't really know until I ride it. For that, I have to wait until mid-April.


  • Burls titanium frame (3AL-2.5V tubes with 6AL-4V for head tube, dropouts and BB shell)
  • Kinesis DC07 carbon fork with alloy steerer
  • American Classic Sprint 350 wheels
  • Campagnolo Athena Chainset (Compact double with 12-29 cassette for easy hill-climbing)
  • Shimano Tiagra R451 dual pivot caliper brakes
  • Chris King headset
  • Basic carbon seat post
  • Basic alloy handlebars (40cm wide, compact drop)
  • Shimano "touring" SPD pedals
  • Continental 4000S 700x25C tyres (frame allows up to 28mm with mudguards)
  • SKS Blumel narrow road mudguards
  • Charge Spoon saddle
  • Elite Taki budget plastic bottle cages
  • Rear rack possible, but not fitted

Category: Cycling
Mugshot of James cycling on a road in the sunshine.

James Bradbury

I write about whatever is on my mind. I do so mostly to help me think more clearly. If other people find it interesting that's good too. :-)