N+1 - Cycling Aviator

5th Feb 2017

Woohoo, this week I drove down to Brighton to pick up my new frame that hopefully I'll have built up by the time the cycling weather improves. Do I need a new bike? Probably not, however, I do find that my current road bike, a Cannondale CAADX 105, a bit harsh after a couple of hours in the saddle. The CAADX is a cyclocross bike that in it's simplest terms is a beefed up road bike, as cyclocross events are on rough and varied terrain, and critically are relatively short in duration. This means the geometry of the bikes are pretty racy and that compromises their ability as long distance bikes, for my less than flexible body anyway, and something to consider with a couple of full days of cycling looming and a perfectly reasonable reason to expand the bike stable.

The formula used to find the correct amount of bikes one should have is N+1, where N is the number of bikes one already has. It's difficult to argue with the science so I was compelled to look for a bike more suitable for distance. The Cannondale was bought for commuting and for weekend rides that were limited in distance prior to my knee op. It is still a great bike and will remain a perfect winter/turbo bike. There's plenty of choice when it comes to what are referred to as Sportive bikes, meaning they are designed with riding distances rather that racing, and I soon had a shortlist. However, when I was buying new wheels from Hunt Wheels a few months ago I come across a small, recently formed British company called Mason Cycles. They offer a range of bikes based upon only three types of frame, but each of the frames have been designed from scratch by Dom Mason, using specifically sourced tubing  and hand built in Italy. The quality of finish looked wonderful and the attention to detail fascinating, clearly the work of a man with a passion. At the time I was shopping for wheels so my interest remained one of admiration for what looked a fine product but no more.

It wasn't until I was looking around for a new bike that I ended up back on the Mason website. It was while weighing up component options and seeing that you could opt for just a frame and forks that I thought it might be nice to build a bike myself. I've always fancied doing a kit car, or even an aeroplane for that matter, but haven't got the space, money or time. Building a bicycle seems like a good way to scratch the project build itch plus rather than limiting the fun of research through to purchase of just a complete bike, I get to dip into this journey for the components too.

The shortlist of bikes got put to one side and I started to look at what frames were available. Not as many as complete bikes as you can imagine and I kept going back to Mason. I liked that they were a British company, albeit using Italian tubing and builders for quality and performance reasons. The other draw was the bikes seemed to be everything I was looking for so a couple weeks before Christmas I ordered a Definition frame in Shutter Black and a long six weeks later I was able to visit Mason and pick up what is as much a piece of art as it is a bicycle frame.

The drivetrain will be Shimano Ultegra with hydraulic disc brakes, not to piss off the cycling purists but because they are awesome. Wheels will be the Hunt 4 seasons that currently adorn the CAADX, which will return to it's OEM rims. The Fizik stem and spacers in the photo are there to hold the forks in place, until the DEDA stem that will match the DEDA headset arrives.

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