The handmade bicycle might well be considered something of a rarity these days, but there are thankfully still enough framebuilders around to have kept the industry alive.
One of those is Mark Reilly. Previously a co-founder of Enigma cycles, Reilly has since set up in a little workshop on a Newhaven industrial park. Here he builds frames under his Nerve bikes brand and also the little-known Mustard.
This is a brand owned by Stephen Roche of Prestige cycles and until recently focused on Titanium builds. Stephen learnt his trade as a fitter at Mosquito bikes in London before he became a bit fed up with the commute and established Prestige in Hove.
The Mustard range now includes steel frames - the classic, lugged, timeless variety that you could quite realistically ride for the rest of your life. Where Mustard differs from other makers of handmade frames is the price point - a starting price of £900 will get you a custom-built frame. This is a price that comes in a good few hundred pounds below what might be considered a standard price. It is also a price that Stephen Roche considers reasonable: “That price includes a decent margin,” he says. “I don’t know how you can justify a higher price.”
Roche calls Mustard an affordable entry-level into handmade bikes, but that’s not really doing the brand or the bikes justice. Mark Reilly builds these frames with the same passion and precision he would any other and there will not be even a fraction of a second when you would consider yourself to have gone for the cheaper option.
On Your Bike’s frame was built using Reynolds 853 lugged tubing, carbon forks and a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset. The ability of the steel to dissipate road buzz and take the edge off jarring imperfections in the nation’s atrocious roads all feeds through to provide a highly comfortable, engaging ride. It will never compete with carbon in terms of weight, but then you would never consider steel of any kind if you were the type who thought a saved ounce would do you any favours.
This is a bike for the lover of the ride rather than the speed freak - Strava louts seriously need not apply. This mere fact alone sets Mustard in a bracket far removed from your average bike.
It is also a bike that will turn heads, especially given that you do have the opportunity to make it completely unique by requesting particular frame geometries and paint schemes. The On Your Bike Mustard was built with a horizontal top tube and a more aggressive geometry, then finished in a mid grey with red lugs to complement the logo. It is worth noting that the paintwork is also done in Brighton and all lettering and logos are actually part of the paint process rather than added afterwards.
This is the sort of attention to detail that you would find on the highest-end of handmade bikes and which sets the tiny Mustard brand apart even in its own small industry niche.
Summary: Quite extraordinary value for money for a handmade frame, finished to perfection with an entirely made-in-England construction that would usually set you back an awful lot more. Get one before the waiting list gets too big.
From £900 (frame only)
For the full story of the fit and build consultation visit here.
Full specs below:
Frame: Mustard Classic custom build by Mark Reilly from Nerve Bikes
Forks: Columbus carbon
Groupset: Shimano 11-speed
Bars: 3T Ergonova
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Wheels: Fulcrum Seven
Tyres: Continental Grand Sport
To discover more about the Mustard brand, visit:http://www.prestige-cycles.co.uk/