Julian's Rachel

I’ve really been leaning into step-thrus these past couple years. My first was a 51cm single speed dark blue Rachel in 2018 - I’m riding a 59cm now, two full sizes up, which goes to show how versatile this frame shape is. I got a Riv Clem in 2021, and that got me more comfy and upright, which informed the sizing choices on this lovely brown guy. I have another super secret step-thru on order, which I’ll share soon! For now, here’s the background on my current Rachel, which has quickly become my beloved everyday bike.

I often think of my builds around one or two key components. For me this tends to be a handlebar, because it’s so integral to how you interact with a bike. With this bike though, there were a lot of parts that I really focussed on, and obsessed over their coming together, both functionally and aesthetically. Here’s a breakdown of the most important ones.

The Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub definitely contributes to the specialness of my Rachel. Mine is a 1976 model - you can tell because they’re all stamped with a production year. I’m so impressed with parts that have been on the road so many decades and will likely last many more. This choice, and the whole bike in fact, was inspired by my dear friend Dan’s (of Winooski Wheels fame) Univega. When I go visit him in Vermont and forget my own bike, it’s my first pick though I always feel a little guilty for taking his own everyday bike.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I wanted to nod to my first bike as a young adult, the one that really got me riding and fixing bikes. It’s a 1988 Miyata Team Pro with a complete Dura-Ace 7400 groupset that my dad bought new back then. I managed to get my hands on a headset and right crank arm from that same groupset, and thought they’d be a silly but fitting addition to this build. The original Miyata by Nitto quill stem from that 1988 Team Pro is reused here - I shortened the reach on the road bike and this is a perfect place to re-use the original. 

The handlebar is another special bit. We were so warmly welcomed to Japan by Keita and his friends at Crumbworks in Tokyo that I want to incorporate something from them, or their house brand Magic Components to every new bike I build. Here I used Magic’s Moth Bar in the Raw Clear finish. They’re obscenely wide, in the best possible way, and there are so many spots for my hands. Mine have already developed a patina, and I look forward to more as they age over the years.

I have a small and shrinking stash of this floral pattern housing that I save for only the special-est bikes, and even though I needed long swooping lengths of it here, it was totally worth a couple meters.

The rest of the build is straightforward but just right. Front and rear dynamo lighting, Axiom fenders, a big ol’ Wald 139 atop a Sim Works Obento front rack, my trusty old Tubus Cargo rear rack that has been with me for tens of thousands of kilometers and is handy for pannier-filled grocery-getting, strong LX parallelogram v-brakes with matching levers, my first Brooks from 15 years ago, and my favourite Deore XT pedals that always end up on my most-ridden bike. 

The result is a chaotic, all over the place, but somehow coherent build that I’m thrilled to call my own. It rides like a dream and is super nimble and speedy despite how comfy and upright I am. Finally, the brown colour is just right - who knew that brown can sparkle?!


Photos by Emiliano

Portrait by Simon

26 Feb 2024
Julian Gammon

My PBH is about 82cm.

26 Feb 2024
Sorry if this is a weird question, but what is Julian's PBH? Trying to figure out if a 55 or 59cm would fit me better :).

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