We’ve had many a beautiful bike in our shoots, and one of the stars of the show in our Autumn/Winter 2016 shoots is the stunning city bike built by Gavin Buxton of august bicycles. We spoke to Gavin & his wife Amy to find out more about the brand and the builds.
First off, how did august bicycles come about – tell us more about the brand & frame builder? How did you start out?
Gavin: august (we spell it with a small ‘a’) came about naturally as a development of a side project I already had, august wheelworks. I was building wheels for a number of UK framebuilders already and knew that I wanted to get into framebuilding too. I built my now wife, Amy, a frame a few years ago, but I was being supervised, so I wouldn’t call that my first solo attempt, but in 2015, I took a grey gravel bike to Bespoked that was all my doing. While we were at the show, Amy told me she’d happily support us both if I wanted to leave my job (as an engineer for a sports car company) and get set up to start building frames. Three months later, I left and haven’t looked back. I’ve always been around bikes and everyone locally remembers my dad, both from riding himself and always being at my races etc, so it was kind of in my blood from day one and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. When I couldn’t afford new wheels, I’d build my own and tinker with my bikes, so that’s where the love of it came from and now that I’ve got 16 years of engineering and design under may belt, I can think of new and interesting ideas, as well as formulate a feasible plan to actually see them through. august is a bike company for everyone. There’s no style of bicycle that doesn’t appeal to me, but I always like to put my stamp on things by looking to include integrated solutions, neater ideas and simple elegance. I think it’s always a shock when people meet me, as my bikes are always so streamlined and put together, but I’m as scruffy as they come.
Who was the bike we borrowed for Indian Summer shoot built for?
Gavin: The bike was originally designed to be built, used for some promotional things and then sold, but things went a little awry on that front. I maybe shouldn’t have ridden it, but the moment I did, I knew I wouldn’t be able to let it go. I went home knowing that it was new bike day for me and that I might have a slightly grumpy Amy waiting for me. Luckily, she totally understood and didn’t want to sell it either (we have the same geometry, so she borrows my bikes and vice versa). We had some enquiries after Bespoked about the bike asking if it was for sale, but there’s just something about that hearing aid beige that won’t let me say goodbye!
What was the design process & considerations that you made when designing and building the bike? It’s such a beautiful build – what are the unique features? What’s it built from and what are the components?
Gavin: I just wanted to create what, to me, would be my ideal commuter/town bike. I thought about all the niggly bits that I have had issues with on previous bikes and attempted to improve on them. It’s pretty flat where I live, so single speed was viable drivetrain for me, it keeps things simple and clean, and also pretty low maintenance. To tension the chain, I used an eccentric bottom bracket, this means once the chain tension is set, every time you remove the rear wheel and then refit it, the chain tension will be correct, that also allows the use of vertical dropouts which means no mudguard faffing like there would be with horizontal dropouts. Disc brakes work great in all conditions, 650b x 42c wheel and tyre setup means a plush comfy ride over the sunken drain covers that litter most of the streets here in the UK.
The fork is segmented and uses dropouts from Geekhouse bikes, I love segmented forks, its a real New England style, its reminiscent of the old Fat Chance MTBs that I lusted after in my youth and reminds me of an amazing time I spent in Boston a few years back. Head tube is a BMX style integrated setup, this to me seems pretty robust, no where near the price of King and similar headsets and also looks pretty clean. The stem has been made with an integrated headset cover that matches the curves of the head tube, and it also has a braze on bell that covers the steerer pinch bolt. This looks clean, covers the pinch bolt from soft knees and also it’s a little bit of a theft deterrent.
The custom built front rack is super handy for transporting stuff, usually my messenger bag or sometimes pizza! I wanted to mount it in such a way that if it was removed there would be no unused mounting points left on the fork. This was done by locating the top of the rack into the bottom of the steerer and the legs of the rack onto the front skewer. The rack also has fully internal wiring for the front dynamo light that hangs on a custom-made bracket and allows almost infinite adjustment of the beam. The bungy cord hooks on the legs of the rack are small august logos. The rear light is also dynamo powered and fully internally routed. The cable pops out of a hole drilled in the top of the seat post and the light hangs of a bracket that piggybacks off the brooks logo on the back of the cambium saddle. There are a lot of other little touches that I could spend forever describing. The frame is made from Columbus Zona tubing with my own dropouts and a 4130 Cromoly BMX Integrated head tube, the Fork is 4130 Cromoly as Is the rack and the stem. The build kit consists of Shimano M8000 XT cranks and brakes, Schmidt Dynamo front hub and lights, Brooks Cambium Saddle and bar tape, A few Velo Orange bits and Grand Bois Hetre Tyres.
Now time for a sneak peak at our soon to launch Rainy City & Luxury Winter shoots – tell us about the bike we borrowed for them?
Amy: It’s actually Gavin’s! It was the first ever branded august bike, as it’s hard to sell a product without having one to show, plus he wanted to try a few cool ideas out and it made sense to build a bike for himself, that we could debut at Bespoked 2015. It’s designed to be an all-raid gravel bike that will take you from asphalt to grass and back again on any ride. It’s got provisions for mudguard mounts and rack mounts, so it can be used in any season and for light touring too. It was designed to take the place of three other bikes in the stable!
With that in mind, it was built from Columbus Life tubing, with a Whiskey Number 7 QR cross fork, disc brakes, clearance for 38mm tyres (currently on 33mm). It has a one-by Sram Force CX group set. It’s flat round here, so 11 gears is a little overkill, but it’s good to have them in case he takes it away anywhere. It has our own custom in-house designed dropouts, which turns the brake calliper itself into a structural component. We built the stem, because Gavin loves steel stems and it’s a little nod to tradition, but to keep it contemporary, it also incorporates the cover for the Chris King headset. Finishing kit was more bling than we expected, but the Chris King goodies came in orange and as that’s the company colour, we had to go for it! The paint was the first incarnation of our recognisable polka dot fade and the battleship grey was designed to be functional over flash, but it looks great and has lead to many more drab shades!
Thanks to both Gavin & Amy for taking the time to answer our questions and of course for loaning us their beautiful bikes!