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Tom Donhou
February 17, 2015 Max Burgess
  • Donhou Bicycles

Tom Donhou

From a tent in China to Signature Steel

Posted in Meet the Makers

On a recent trip to London, Podia decided to try and visit some of the great English frame makers establishing themselves in the custom bike world. At the top of the list was Tom from Donhou Bicycles. We caught Tom at one of his busiest periods, so we had to make do with a chat while watching the man at work; fine by us!

Based in a small workshop in the East of London on the outskirts of the Olympic park, Tom covers the whole process of building a bike; from graphic design, welding the frames to final paintwork. He has only been doing this for four years, which seems staggering considering the level of detail in his work and the standing he maintains in the custom bike industry.

Having completed a degree in product design and building a career in this field, it wasn’t until he was laying in a tent while crossing China by bike that he realised what he truly wanted to do in life; build his own bikes.

Fast forward four years and his accomplishments are great. Tom’s brand was further enhanced after building one of the early Rapha Continental bikes (replica of one of them soon in the Machines gallery) but he didn’t sit back. Instead Tom went on to build one of the most interesting of recent engineering projects, the 100mph (160kph) bike. We definitely recommend watching the film below on the project.

He currently produces about two frames per month, but hopes to construct thirty frames this year. Small numbers until you consider it is largely only him and an assistant (as well as his young dog Meli). Tom has recently launched his Donhou Signature Steel range that feature stock frame sizes and a seasonal paint scheme, not too dissimilar to how Dario Pegoretti works. The Donhou Signature Steel or DSS1 is a classy bike made from Reynolds 853 Pro Team tubes and a build kit that includes a painted ENVE fork and Chris King headset. The full bike build comes in at around €5,500.

Like so many modern frame makers, you will not see Tom’s work in your local bike shop. With very tight margins on each bike it is hard to give the reseller their percentage. Instead all sales are currently done through one to one contact with Tom himself.

This personal touch, as well as the fact that he likes to be in control of every part of the process up to the final bike build, is something quite special and worth every penny.