Award-winning torchmen beef up West Country company's skillset...


Crowdfunded framebuilding school The Bicycle Academy has two new tutors in Robin Mather and Ted James. Both are highly respected in the bespoke bike world and have both won awards for their work.

Robin Mather has been building frames for over 20 years and won Best in Show at the 2012 Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show. He says he has always felt it important for practising craftsmen to pass on and share their skills, to encourage the development of new ideas and improve standards. He says his career has benefitted from what he  describes as a “culture of openness” in the frame building community.

"The opportunity to work with The Bicycle Academy is really exciting,” said Robin.

“I have been very impressed with how much it has achieved in a relatively short  time and honoured that they want me to be a part of it. I strongly support [Bicycle Academy founder] Andrew’s approach, in providing students with a framework for meaningful practice and feel  that this is more likely to produce a long term interest in the craft.”

Ted James won the Bespoked show’s 2013 Peer Award. He recently moved to the West Country from London, giving himself the opportunity to join the Frome-based firm.

“I will now finally be joining the team and teaching frame building courses,” he said.

“Andrew and I have been discussing ideas for additional courses where I can share  some of the different things I do on a daily basis. We have also been working on some similar projects involving frame building tools – something else that we will all be developing together.”

Robin and Ted will also carry on with their own projects.

The Bicycle Academy founder Andrew Denham said he was honoured to welcome two of his personal heroes to his team.

He said: “The quality of their workmanship and range of techniques used means we can move up another gear and offer students an even richer experience.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.