Lincolnshire Poacher (frame & fork) review£287.80

Frame building history reborn

BikeRadar score4/5

Born to showcase a near-vanished frame-building art, the luxuriously relaxed and retro-looking Lincolnshire Poacher is a shortcut straight back to cycling’s golden age. Nostalgia aside, it’s an absolute pleasure to ride too.

Ride & handling: Once you’ve got it galloping, it’s absolutely glorious

The main reason brazed and lugged frames fell out of favour was that while all the extra overlapped metal looks great, it adds a significant weight. The 2.8kg frame of the Poacher confirms this, and even with a conventional fixed rear wheel this bike takes a stately attitude to acceleration. It’s in no mood to gain any speed against gravity either, so climbs are generally a case of clinging on to fading momentum rather than trying to kick clear of your riding mates.

On flatter ground, the big chainstays mean stout power delivery, and once you’ve got it galloping it’s absolutely glorious. The slim tubes arranged in a big open – rather than modern compact – layout mean a super smooth ride with minimal road buzz. The skinny fork legs curving forwards like tusks also spring and flex to suck out sting. Relaxed steering angles and the long rake of the fork give it a rock solid surefooted stability and the Poacher charges downhill with assured confidence.

However, a very tight rear end (another nod to classic yesteryear geometry) gives it a short wheelbase. That means once you’re used to the steering, it’s no slouch in tight stuff. You’ll soon find yourself whipping between traffic and back lane pot holes with a quick-wittedness that belies its ‘old buffer’ persona.

There’s no doubt that where it really comes alive is surfing a wave of smooth, nostalgic speed on rolling country lanes. As long as there’s no uphill sections ahead, it’s muscular enough to teach young welded-frame whippersnappers a thing or two about cultured comfort.

Frame: Lugged frame adds significant weight, so climbs are hard work

The traditional construction method of brazing (rather than welding) butted pipes into pre-cut junction lugs is all but extinct outside custom-building circles. On One have designed this fully retro road machine to grab a last bit of frame-building history at an affordable price, and given it handling and looks to match.

The elaborately curled Fleur de Lys lugs with gold painted lining detail certainly sit proud against the blood red paint. The skinny 1 inch head tube and pencil thin near vertical stays shot into the back of the seat tube are also pure retro. Ditto the lazily curved lugged crown steel fork legs stretching out in front.

Two sets of water bottle bosses, big tyre clearances (up to 38c) and mudguard mounts mean it’s an entirely practical, not just nostalgic, frame though. A 2cm frame size jump from 52-60cm means you’re  likely to get a totally accurate fit.

If you’re after a conventional frame then the On One Pompino is a top-value traditional fixed/ conventional steel chassis (£170) that’s also available in complete bike build formats from £499 upwards.

Equipment: Getting hold of the parts is a labour of love

The Lincolnshire Poacher is sold as a frame and separate fork rather than as a complete bike. In the words of On One owner Dave Loughran “getting hold of the parts should be – and needs to be – a connoisseur’s labour of love”. Our sample bike was certainly an eclectic mix of retro-influenced pieces. A Nitto moustache bar gives a massive backsweep to enhance the retro feel. It’s also held in a chromed, Fleur de Lys lugged stem that matched the frame but wasn’t quite straight from the cockpit. Red and gold labels make the Velocity rims look like classic Mavic hoops from when we started riding, and the saddle and stem are accurate golden age mimics too.

The drivetrain is an experimental one based around a new three-speed fixed gear hub from internal gearing experts Sturmey Archer. It’s an interesting concept, but it adds a lot of weight over a standard fixed and all the creases don’t seem to be ironed out yet. As a result, Dave isn’t going to be offering it as an option after all, so we conducted most of the testing with a standard fixed wheel.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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