The Roberts family has been building top-quality made-to-measure bicycles and frames for more than 50 years and has established an enviable reputation across three continents.
Beginning soon after WWII, Charlie Roberts started working as a frame-builder for some of the great names in British bicycles - Holdsworth, Claude Butler and Freddie Grubb. Among many outstanding achievements, his track frames were particularly highly regarded by the cognoscenti - professionals and Olympians alike.
In the early 1960s, Charlie finally branched out on his own and started up Roberts Cycles in Croydon, not far from our present location.
Not long after, Charlie was joined in the workshop by his then teenage son Chas, who runs the business today. Chas started part-time at 14, brazing together carriers. At 17 he joined the business full-time, but it took a further seven years as a hard working apprentice before he was allowed to start building frames with the Roberts name.
In the 35 years since, Roberts Cycles consolidated its position as one of the finest bespoke bicycle producers in Britain. Chas's younger brother Geoff also joined the company for a time, but in 1979, Charlie, the founder of the business, sadly passed away and Chas took over at the helm. Since then, the company has embraced innovation, building some of the very first British mountain bikes back in the early 1980s and setting the pace with low-profile time-trial and triathlon bikes.
Throughout its history, Roberts Cycles has maintained the exacting engineering standards that Charlie Roberts first set and combined them with new technology and a passion for beautiful design.
WHO WE ARE
Alongside Chas, the other framebuilders are Winston and Adrian, each with more than 15 years' experience, much of it at Roberts. In the workshop, Brian, sometimes XC racer, has spent just as many years building and tweaking bikes and wheels to perfection. Out front, in the showroom and completing the team is Andrew, our salesperson, technical enthusiast and former Ironman triathlete (and still occasional time-triallist and long distance tourist).
WHAT WE DO
Today, Roberts Cycles combines modern technology with traditional craftsmanship to produce practical, elegant and affordable custom bicycles and framesets. Whether it's a world champion's bike or a Sunday runabout, every one of our frames and cycles is designed and built one-at-a-time in our own workshop.
Our range includes road, track, time-trial, audax, touring, commuting and mountain bikes. Tandems too. Women's bikes are a speciality.
We can also incorporate S&S torque couplings into our frames, enabling any of our bikes to be split into two halves and packed into a 26"x 26"x 10" case. Such bikes are a pleasure to take travelling and the advantage over other designs of folding/travelling bike is that there is no compromise in performance or comfort - it's your bike, built for you.
Each frame is hand-built to reflect the individual owner and their needs. Our carefully selected fittings, components and accessories and almost infinite choice of finishes give ample scope to customise each bike further.
We aim to build a bicycle that is responsive, comfortable, durable and suited perfectly to you. We achieve this by:
Giving you, the customer, plenty of time and attention to ensure that you are awareof the possibilities open to you and that you are confident about your choices.
Making sure that you are properly and precisely fitted for your frameset.
Using proven designs and a combination of tubes hand-picked by Chas for thetype of bike and your size, weight and style of riding.
Taking care of every last detail during the construction, finishing, assembling andtuning of your bike.
Our frames are the equal of any in the world. We take great pride in our work and measure our success by your satisfaction.
BUYING OUR BIKES
You don't need specialist knowledge or even be a regular cyclist to go custom. If you're having trouble choosing between off-the-peg bikes in the shops or you can't find the features you need, if you're not of average build or can't find a bike that feels right for you, if you appreciate individuality and extraordinary engineering, or if you simply want the best, you can be confident that the performance of our bikes can't be bettered.
HOW WE WORK
Steel is our preferred choice for bicycle frames. It's a material with a long history, with well-understood characteristics. Yet it continues to evolve to this day. Better alloys are introduced, ever-finer tolerances become standard and new ways to treat the finished tubing are found. To put it simply, steel just keeps on getting lighter, stronger and more durable.
Apart from its historical association with bicycle frames, there are other advantages to working with steel. There is an element of craftsmanship involved that is rarely seen in aluminium, titanium or carbon fibre frame production. Much of this can be attributed to the welding and joining techniques used for steel tubes. Each of our frames is, in essence, a handbuilt work of art.
The number of frame tubing options available and our experience of using them to build frames to suit individual riders means that the precise fit and level of comfort achieved with our steel frames is second to none. The more demanding the ride, the better the bike will feel.
Every one of our frames is built to last. Steel is a durable material that can be repaired easily. A bent or otherwise damaged frame tube can be replaced with a minimum of fuss (even in far-flung places where getting other frame materials repaired is impossible).
TUBES AND WELDING
We use tubes from all the best manufacturers of steel bicycle tubing, particularly Reynolds and Columbus. Some tubes are made to our own specifications. Chas rarely builds a bike from a single stock tubeset, preferring to mix and match to more closely meet the rider's needs. That can mean mixing sets from different manufacturers, such as Tange and Dedacciai. The standard Reynolds 725 tubeset may be too fragile for a heavy rider who wants to carry lots of luggage, or unnecessarily robust for a small, light rider. When you come to Roberts, we offer the flexibility to build exactly the bike you need.
All our models from the most to the least expensive, receive the same attention to detail and workmanship. Both lugged and lugless welding (fillet brazing) are excellent methods of building, producing fine, durable frames. Two otherwise identical frames built in the two different ways will not show much, if any, difference in performance, but they will look different.
Lugs can be streamlined and minimalist, but they are more often decorative and ornate, showing off the builder's craft as well as allowing for detailed contrasting paint work. Using lugs to join the tubes is the classic way of building a quality steel frame and we've been doing it for a long time.
Fillet-brazing is a more difficult technique but it offers much more flexibility in design. The builder is not restricted to the specific angles dictated by using lugs, and can create sloping top tubes, extended head tubes, sharp angles and so on. It's important to fillet-braze frames meticulously and accurately, both for the sake of strength and appearance. At Roberts, we probably have more experience of lugless frame building than anyone else in Britain. It's what a restaurant would call the house speciality.
The price of a Roberts includes what you don't see as well as what you do. A nice coat of paint can cover-up a badly built frame. We've seen some of them - they turn up at our workshop for repair. At Roberts we are proud of our longstanding reputation for building immaculate bikes. We use only use top-quality tubing, we braze at the right temperatures, we file accurately and we finish the job with a fanatical attention to detail. When you're speeding down a mountain road, loaded with luggage, and you hit a pothole, those invisible details can make the difference between a successful holiday and an early flight back.
Every bicycle we build is unique. Product pages on this site simply show a selection of the various styles of bicycles we can offer, and give some idea of the thinking behind them, highlighting the interesting and important details of each (and there are close-ups for the anoraks out there!).
As for angles and tube lengths, gauges and brands, you'll notice that we don't provide exact details alongside each model. That's because Roberts Cycles is a custom builder and every customer is treated as an individual. So, while one of our Audax bikes may be built with parallel angles and Reynolds 725 tubes, the next one may require a steep seat angle and a lighter gauge of tubing. We'll even combine lugs and fillet-brazing in one frame where it's the best choice. Our only rule is that we build what we consider to be the most suitable bike for each customer.
S and S Coupled bike photos by Robers Cycles on Flickr
Phone: +44 (0)20-8684 3370
Fax: +44 (0)20-8665 9763