Words by Marc Abbott for www.howtospendit.ft.com – February 13, 2018
“We wouldn’t have half our good ideas if our customers didn’t question what was possible,” says Oli Laverack, co-founder of cycle firm J Laverack, named after his cyclist grandfather Jack. “It was customer demand that led us to offer a fully bespoke service.” From a studio in the sleepy east Midlands county of Rutland, the young company’s one-off titanium road bikes have already attracted a loyal clientele whose eye for detail is keener than most, including senior staff at Aston Martin and Bentley. Off-the-peg bikes are also available, but, says co-founder Dave Clow, “90 per cent of our customers take advantage of the tailored service”.
A collaboration between a customer and the in-house design team. This BLK J.ACK features a Dura Ace Di2 groupset with power meter, ÆRA AR|46 wheels and ENVE finishing kit
On initial consultation, customers are treated to a Shimano “dynamic bike-fit” session (£130) in the firm’s studio; by pedalling on an adjustable jig, laser readouts are taken, and the rider’s unique frame geometry and tubing lengths – to the millimetre – are discerned. The readings are worked into a CAD drawing that can be translated into a bare titanium J.ACK road bike (from £3,650) – a “go-anywhere, disc-brake-equipped cobble smasher” – or the north-of-£10,000 BLK J.ACK with extras such as electronic gears and a power meter.
This J.ACK II Di2, which has an ÆRA dynamo fork, ÆRA AR|36 wheels and electronic gears, was built specifically for last year’s Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show in Bristol
A custom geometry BLK J.ACK II featuring a metallic purple finish, a selection of anodised components and lightweight ÆRA AR|36 wheels
“Every frame tube is cut to length by our Chinese manufacturing partner, who follows a fully three-dimensional blueprint that we create from our CAD drawings,” explains Laverack. “From initial consultation to delivery typically takes 10-12 weeks.”
While the frame is being hand-welded and finished to the highest standard, customers select the moving parts that will adorn their one-off machine, with saddles, forks and wheels from boutique cycling brands such as Brooks, ENVE and ÆRA just some of the options. “The only thing we can’t put a definite price on is our custom paintwork [from £600], that’s limited by variables such as complexity of design,” notes Clow. A personalised logo (from £90) can even be bead-blasted onto the titanium tubing. These can be surprising, notes Clow with a laugh: “While some clients opt for a Latin phrase or a motivational message, one guy asked for ‘Life’s too short to ride a s**t bike’.”