Price from £3,550, jlaverack.co.uk
Gears Shimano Ultegra
In the early 80s, there was an advert for Ford’s Sierra. It featured a laughably square-cut box on wheels plunging down a steep mountain road. A gravelly voiceover told us: “This aerodynamic car has been shaped by the wind.” As the Sierra roared off into the sunset, the voice summed it all up: “It’s man and machine in perfect harmony.”
Last month I took part in Revolve24 – an endurance event in which 82 deluded souls rode round and round Brands Hatch for 24 hours in search of… I’m really not sure. Some sort of oblivion, I suppose. That tagline from the Sierra ad kept floating into my mind. One of the more esoteric pleasures of cycling is the unbreakable bond you form with your bike. That probably sounds weird, but ask any rider and they’ll tell you they experience moments of pure communion with their machine. I know people who genuinely love their bicycles. After a nasty divorce, one friend told me that there were times when he was riding when the unsullied rapport he experienced with his bike was the one true relationship in his life.
The bike I rode during Revolve24 was a J Laverack. From the get-go you can immediately see it’s a stunning machine. If you were to have only one true relationship with your bike, this would be a good one. J Laverack is a young British company set up by Oli Laverack and Dave Clow a couple of years ago. It’s based in Rutland.
Oli spent a lot of his time building and perfecting his own bikes and finally decided to take the plunge and turn his hobby into his career. He took inspiration from the heroic era of cycling at the turn of the last century when riding 24 hours would have been no big deal. Oli’s grandfather Jack Laverack, after whom he named the company, was one of those granite-hard Yorkshiremen who relished riding on rough, potholed roads and tracks to discover new places and adventures. He’d set off early in the morning from Great Horton, West Yorkshire, on his own or with friends, and carrying water and some jam sandwiches. He’d return late in the evening having often ridden more than 100 miles to the coast and back.
It was this sort of riding that Oli and Dave wanted to pay homage to when they created their own four-season bike. The frame is made from aerospace-standard titanium. The top tube flattens slightly in the middle, while the seatstays and chainstays arch towards the rear axle. It’s all very shapely, but this also, crucially, provides clearance for wider tyres and mudguards. Mounts for a rack can also be provided. Once you are in the saddle, you’ll find it a wonderfully poised and balanced ride. At just over 9kg it’s a little heavier than some bikes out there, but its all-round comfort and bump-swallowing abilities are remarkable. Componentry is of the highest order – you can work with Oli and Dave to have your bike fitted out just as you would wish – right down to personalised graphics and even bespoke frame painting.
Special mention has to go to the Brooks Cambium C15 saddle. It looks rubbery and unforgiving, but even after sitting on it for 24 hours my backside looked… well, less baboon-like than I feared. Oli is full of small helpful details. He told me, for instance, that the best way to give the titanium that special lustre is to rub the frame with baby oil. I told you cyclists really love their bikes…
Wash the mud and muck from your mountain bike after a ride with this handy Kärcher blaster. OC 3 portable cleaner, £129.99, kaercher.com
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010