Nestled in rural Shropshire, deep in the embrace of Britain’s historic industrial bosom, the Swallow marque is alive and thriving, delivering lovingly hand-built steel frames to please even the most demanding of enthusiasts. The brand relaunched at last year’s Bespoked show in Bristol, and will be attending this year’s show this weekend too, so head over and have a look.
Rather than an engineering background, Swallow was unusually born of the skills of a goldsmith. Pete Bird’s background has lent him a unique understanding of the materials he works with, and an artist’s view of the creation process. Teamed up with Robert Wade, the two swiftly became the innovative enfants terribles of frame-building, at a time when tradition was everything. 30 odd years on, the two are still building high quality made-to-measure frames using both traditional and more avant-garde techniques.
Bespoked will see a showcase of both beautifully finished bikes (mostly belonging to Pete and Robert themselves) and also frames in the process of being built up for clients, including an Italian stainless steel Columbus tubing frame. With an average of just one frame per month, the commitment to quality and perfection is obvious. The end result is a bike for life, something to treasure. Swallow frames even come with their own discrete little bit of bling, a sterling silver Swallow frame badge, referencing Pete’s goldsmith background.
Equally important to the business are the frame building courses on offer at the company’s HQ at Bicycles by Design in Jackfield. With one to one teaching, it’s a chance to build something special with your own hands, but with the coaching and support of two master frame builders of three decades experience. The ultimate in custom build? Quite probably.
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.