One Thing Led to Another, and to Woodrup Cycles in Leeds

by Chikashi


My history with Woodrup Cycles started sometime in 2012. I placed a pre-order of Made in England: The Artisans Behind the Handbuilt Bicycle, the book by Matthew Sowter of Saffron Frameworks and Ricky Feather of Feather Cycles in the spring of that year. What got me interested enough to pre-order it was that it has a chapter on the late Ron Cooper, who was so accomplished but about whom so little seems to have been written. As a bonus for pre-ordering, they offered a A3 size print of one of the photos made by Kayti Peschke for the book — the other bonus being that the pre-orders were autographed by Matt and Ricky. There were 3 or 4 choices, and I chose the one, shown above, with a lug by Kevin Sayles of Woodrup Cycles. I had not heard of Kevin or Woodrup. I just liked the photo, namely, the subject. Since I like lugged construction, often admiring historical works from Ephgrave, Hetchins as well as the Colnago Arabesque, I was drawn to that image.

When the book (and the photo) finally arrived towards the end of 2012 (or was it early 2013?), I read it from cover to cover. Well, I read the Ron Cooper chapter first, and then read the remainder. I, rightly or wrongly, sensed the personalities of the featured frame builders. I enjoyed reading the words of Steve Woodrup and Kevin Sayles. My experience has been that with any bespoke or artisanal project, one needs to find someone who is capable of realising what one wants but more importantly, with whom one can relate as a human being. Mick Peel of Busyman Bicycles in Australia is one such person, and so is wheel builder Gilbert Cattoir in Belgium. By its very nature, bespoke commissions are not transactional but often very personal. Occasionally, there are exceptions, for example, I work with one artisan in an unrelated field with whom I am disinclined to have a drink or a meal, but he does excellent work so I continue to work with him. But that’s an exception.

Shortly thereafter, I found Kevin on Flickr and started following him.

In early 2015, I wrote to Tony Woodrup (Steve’s son and Maurice’s grandson) with some preliminary queries about a bespoke build. In late 2016, I resumed contact with Tony, and then in March 2017, I flew to Leeds to meet with Kevin and Tony to get the project started in earnest. After spending the afternoon discussing the project and bouncing around different ideas (and educating me), the three of us met up for dinner to chew some fat. I felt comfortable.

The result? An all road rig built with Reynolds 953 tubing. I am not one to give my bikes names, but I call this one “Belle de Jour”.

The problem is, as with most things, once you go bespoke, it becomes impossible to ponder going back to off-the-peg.

Woodrup Cycles are located at 345-347 Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2HD, United Kingdom. Tony can be reached on +44 (0) 113 263 6212 or at