To coincide with the launch of the new Podia website, we wanted something special for the first blog article. What could be more special than a small company from the UK who make extraordinary steel frames.
We first met Tom Smith of Field Cycles at a small bike show in the east of London when Podia was only a sketch in a notebook. Travelling down from Sheffield, Field Cycles were displaying a single bike that stole the attention of everyone there. A few months ago we had the chance to meet them again at the Berlin Bike Week and find out how things are progressing.
Tom is one of three that make up Field Cycles in what seems like the perfectly balanced collective, each with their own area of specialism. If one were to draw a Venn diagram with framemaker, graphic designer and painter; Field Cycles would be the point where they all meet.
Tom forms the graphic design part of that diagram, spliting his time between working for a creative agency and designing for Field. Harry, the framemaker, has a Fine Arts teaching background as well as making furniture, props and sets for film and TV. John completes the circle with his skills in painting, carefully and painstakingly applying the often vibrant designs which they are known for. Coming from a background as an internationally shown artist, he’s got the perfect eye for detail and colour.
The three of them have crossed paths in different forms around Bristol and Sheffield, but what united them was their love of cycling and that eventually led to the creation of Field Cycles.
Currently they make frames in steel and stainless steel, which stands to reason considering the building where stainless steel evolved into a product we know today is only five minutes away from their workshop. But as a progressive company they are constantly developing and pursuing new avenues.
We don’t rule out using other materials, there’s some interesting collaborations that we’re working on that are allowing us to explore some very exciting possibilities in terms of construction technique and materials.
As with most small and custom bike frame producers, the process is incredibly time intensive and prices reflect this; £2,800 is a guideline cost for their custom road frames. A strategy that some other builders have explored is a standardised frameset that still retains the craftsmanship and quality of the brand, but without the customisation of a fully bespoke build, something which Field see as a natural step in their business.
A natural step would be to retain our levels of quality, but in the production of a ‘stock’ frameset, in standard sizes and limited edition paint designs, albeit with a Field edge. But we’d always see this as something that ran alongside a limited number of fully bespoke builds every year. We get a huge amount of satisfaction from these builds, they allow us to indulge our creative passions and let us prototype new ideas.
That ‘Field Edge’ certainly has a lot to do with the eye-catching paintwork that on one hand gives the bikes a very distinct aesthetic, whilst also making them feel part of a family or larger collection of work. Field Cycles ability to deliver clients bikes that fulfil the creative brief, yet keep them within this family of work is again another example of how their design and fine art backgrounds have made a happy collision with frame making.
The hard part is always trying to out-do our last, never settling and keeping things moving forward in terms of the expected aesthetic of a bicycle frame. Each frame is a reflection of ourselves, so we’ve a vested interest in giving our customers a bike that we’d be proud to present on our show stand.
Road bikes make up the most common orders from customers of Field Cycles. Although they have had some unrealistic requests that they have politely avoided, they have still managed to produce track frames and even a 29’er.
Things like tyre sizes have increased in volume both in road and MTB – The beauty of building bespoke frames is we can move with developments, we can react quickly to functional improvements and also choose to not react to some of the more marketing driven developments.
We look forward to seeing what direction Field Cycles go and encourage you to go and find them at a bike show, seeing the level of detail in their work is something that should be experienced in real life.