Have you ever wanted something for a long time ?
Well for about 5 years I have wanted a Coventry made bike , I wasn’t overly particular about who it was made by, but I wanted it to be a nicely built frame so that I could then either spec it to suit my needs or adapt it to do the job .
In June 2014 I paid a visit to a house on the outskirts of Coventry where to my surprise I found a craftsman at work in his converted garage building framesets to order for anybody lucky enough .
The man in question was Lee Cooper, a Coventry born person like myself but he had stayed a bit closer to his home town than I had . After a bit of chit chat he explained the different processes that go into making a quality frameset . I never thought it was easy and from what Lee showed me it all looked very complicated but it seemed to work ok .
Lee showed me a few of his finished frames that he had completed earlier in his career which he still had hanging around in his workshop roof space. These included a nice touring frameset , what looked to be a lo pro time trial frameset and a few track frames to boot , but the one that took my eye was a finished frame that carried the name of “Bromwich” on it and for those in the know that was another Coventry framebuilder and was the person that Lee first worked for building frames .
Whilst I was looking at this frameset Lee explained how he had started to do his own powder coating and this was one of the first he had done and was quite proud of its finish , and having seen a few other frames that had been powder coated myself I could understand why . He also showed me a glorious Audax bike that he had built up a few years ago for display at a show . As any cyclist does I picked it up to get an idea of its weight and was astounded by how light it was , it’s just a shame it was that bit too small for me .
From that day forward I have kept a close look on various auction sites and forums for his frames or complete bikes. I have seen a few alloy frames badged as Lee Coopers but he told me himself he didn’t work with alloy and the frame numbers didn’t match his normal format , others were being sold for silly amounts and were not always in good condition.
So earlier last month I e-mailed him to ask if he still had the Bromwich frameset and to my amazement he replied yes and a deal was struck and a date was pencilled in for collection. It was duly paid for and collected and was exactly how I remember it, 631 Reynolds tubing , Lee Coper head badge with Bromwich decals on seat and down tube , rearward facing rear drop outs and more importantly in my size range ie 22″.
I had a build plan straight away ie a nice pair of polished Mavic MA2 rims that were hanging around waiting for the right bike just a shame they were not flip flop equipped . I was unsure re chainset and opted for a single SR Aex one with a 52 ring and an 18 toothed freewheel . Items like bars and stems were always to be decided once built , the initial build was done with a 130 Cinelli stem and bar combination but this had me looking about two inches in front of the front axle so this has been swapped for a shorter combo that has me looking straight through the axle .
So far I have covered about 15 miles in total, so early days for sure but I am well impressed with the feel and handling of this machine and look forward to covering many a mile with a smile on my face as I ride along .