It's been a couple of weeks and it's BEEN a couple of weeks. Clearly those of you who tune in regularly could sense that a two-week no blog appearance might have meant something had gone a bit tits up and yes, it did. Thank you to everyone who got in touch to ask if things were ok. Let us explain a little bit.
It's a weird time of year for us. On the one hand we are looking forward to our little one's second birthday, but on the other, that day unearths a lot of painful memories for us. My dad went into a coma that he, ultimately didn't wake up from, just a few short hours after our daughter was born. I felt I had no option but to be with my mum, leaving Amy alone, scared and confused in a maternity ward, with a new baby. I was then under a lot of pressure to leave her again the following day, to go to Cambridge, where my dad was taken for specialist treatment. Amy had to bring our daughter home alone and spend her first night at home, alone. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this really contributed to the crippling post-natal depression my wife suffered through, as well as compounding my own mental health struggles. Dad died six days after our bub was born and this year, it all came to a head and something changed. My brain clearly decided it was time to start addressing, leading to a pretty colossal meltdown, a sudden and drastic change in medication, big talks with Amy and her deciding to quit her career entirely, to support the household full-time in a different way. That was a day neither of us will forget for a while.
If you know Amy, you'll know that her career was important to her. She built it carefully, garnered an amazing reputation (you don't get requested by name by Hollywood film stars for nothing) and earned a bloody good living for us all. She never imagined herself as a housewife and neither did I. The weird things is...it's working for all of us. Which is why I've been able to get on a more even keel, start getting genuinely excited about work again and have been pretty productive too. Remembering to say no to things we don't feel connected to or in the right mindset for has also helped, not to mention flat refusing to deal with rude shitheads. More to come on this.
So, grief, guilt, sacrifice and birthday cake all accounted for, we've enjoyed some fun projects over the past few days, starting with a Mason restock of their custom August light brackets and a new order for the guys at Wheelrunner to work with Fairlight's 3d-printed Son tail lamp brackets. That's a little niche! It's always an absolute pleasure to be able to fulfil wholesale orders, so a massive thank you to everyone that comes to us for these little doohickies. They are a small item and would be easy to copy but those that keep things supportive and honest do more than just top up our coffers.
It's been a week of wheels, wheels and yet more wheels too. We know that a lot of you are probably getting frustrated with wait times for certain off-the-peg wheels, which is why we've been creating a somewhat signature offering of our own. Price-matched to a leading competitor but comprising of better components and being genuinely hand-built by an industry expert (gotta toot your own horn occasionally!), we think they are not only a step up but also a timely alternative that won't leave you hunting around. We don't have the right connections to get them recommended by every cycling magazine under the sun, admittedly, but you're all smart enough to take those articles with a pinch of salt and a cursory check to see who used to work together and gets freebies...right?
If you've ever fancied a set of custom wheels but assumed that they won't be within your budget, now's the time to get in touch. We can build beautiful, reliable and high-performance wheels from £350 a pair and the sky's the limit with how crazy you want to go. But this brings us to the shithead issue, because we WILL give you advice about your weight, spoke count etc. If you are going to take expert advice personally and get rude, aggressive and swear in emails to my wife, you should expect our reply telling you to go elsewhere and to someone who cares less about your comfort and expendable cash.
For the sake of ease, let's just get it out there that we will not build 18/24 spoke wheels for you if you do not look to have the right build for them. Yes we know the pro teams ride fewer spokes and the riders are all heavier, but they have a new set of wheels every day. They do not ride them for years and then wonder why spokes keep breaking. In fact, they have endless wheels and can use as many as they like, per day, so the comparison doesn't work. And if my wife tries to manage your ego by stating that at 70kg, she wouldn't ride that wheelset, she's not saying she couldn't and that the wheels would fail. She's simply trying to be polite. This was a real request and those of you that messaged us after we posted about it in our stories... you ALL got the measure of this enquirer perfectly. And no. We didn't lose sleep over the loss of a recommendation from this person because we pride rider safety over egos and blind profit.
If you are an old school BMXer, you'll know the name Bullseye and the brand has recently relaunched with a new version of the original hub and a more modern 'Hurricane' option. We had a pair of each come through the workshop and they are DELICIOUS. There are a host of other amazing bits and pieces available from the brand too and from what we gather, there will be a very happy and invested distributor in the UK soon, all being well. But that's not our news to announce, so we will wait for the go ahead on this.
Fancy a look at some of the snazzy wheels we've been building? Oh go on then... it's a big gallery though!
You all know how much we love a tamper commission and they've been coming in thick and fast at the moment. We've had some beautiful vintage hubs sent to us directly for conversion, as well as transforming some of the collection we already have too. We've been getting a little extra nerdy about our Rancilio coffee machine set-up at home, so our tampers create much-enjoyed sessions in the workshop, just thinking about those brew times, that crema and all the other nonsense that bores non coffee fanatics to tears! Here are a couple of our latest commissions and check out the #augustcoffeetamper images on Instagram for more:
What else is going on? Well, our daughter's balance bike is on its way back from being painted in LA as we type. We are building the artist one for his daughter in return, so that's being finished up now. And other than that, a host of weird, wonderful and downright bizarre requests. From unusual racks to custom spiders, top secret 3d printed prototypes and banana-themed musettes (Amy has gone insane with the canvas), it's all been happening. Apart from securing a lot of the parts we need, of course.
We're not the only ones struggling to get hold of certain parts. As brands update their lead times, stretching out deep into next year in some cases, we are butting heads with suppliers at every turn. But as everyone is in the same boat, a little patience an understanding is needed. We have been super fortunate in that all of our lovely customers have an infinite capacity to be awesome and happy to wait but it doesn't stop us from feeling rotten as fuck that you can't all have absolutely everything you want, right now. We know the pain too, as we are trying to find a seat for our Bullitt. Might end up making something, so we can add that to the custom cargo bike offerings, along with all the sweet stems that are out there already. Speaking of which...
Our brilliant client, Martin, got stung by a customs invoice for his bespoke Bullitt stem this week. We do everything we can to minimise the risk of a big bill, but we are in the hands of the greedy Brexit-loving xenophobes that are killing small businesses. Please be aware of this if you are ordering from overseas. We will do everything in our power to help, minimise and reduce your bills or likelihood of getting one, but they are happening. We voted against it, but here we are, dealing with the Brexit fallout anyway. Pffffft. At least by voting, we retained the right to complain.
So. A bad few days, a busy few days and a positive outlook on the next few. If that's not a mixed bag, we don't know what is. But we come on here to be honest, so that's what you get. We could pretend everything is rosy. We could post pretty shots of bikes fresh from the Scotchbrite, but that's not going to let you know that if you're in a similar funk, you're not alone. It's not going to keep the conversation about male mental health and post-natal depression flowing, and honestly? That's more important to us than trying to be a big deal in an oversaturated industry. Because guess what? THEY ARE JUST BIKES.
As bloody good guy and valued friend Noah said to us on the phone, let's get it in perspective and remember that they're just bikes. And he's right. We're not curing cancer, solving world hunger or eradicating mental illness. We are taking the simplest and most sustainable form of transport and turning it into a constant dick-measuring contest and fuck it, we're out. Have the bigger dong, we don't care, we're happy doing things on our own terms and without the pressure of mortgages and business loans etc that force us to compromise our style, ethics or passion. You know what we make and if you like, want and can afford it, you've either got one, are in the order book or are staying in touch to get in one day. In the meantime, let's be humans and engage with each other's struggles and successes and let's find people to talk to, like I have with a couple of peers over in the US. Performative support isn't it. Swell-guy superficial support can do one. Authentic interaction is the key to everything in life from happy relationships to successful self-employment and good health.
Rad Peeps of the Week:
Rob English. You know why dude and we are sending you all the love.
School mate Dug for getting me out on a bike for a razz around the woods. I didn't know how much I needed that until I got back and napped all afternoon on the sofa!
Mrs A's friend Shanice, who sent us a box of vegan brownies. Just because. They were fucking amazing.
Everyone that bought us a coffee even though we haven't posted much. You can feel good that meal deals were bought for a number of people that couldn't buy them for themselves this week.
Lucy Colgate. Seeing Mrs A crack up while texting you about 'fart symposiums', Pratt Daddy Crystals and lilac hair fails has been very welcome. It also gave us a good excuse to, once again, laugh at Ben Affleck's terrible back piece and the fact that he is referred to as a "tat daddy".
See you next time!
If you need support with mental health in the UK, the following are valuable resources:
You are also most welcome to reach out to us, if you simply need an ear.