This is what happens when a bespoke bike company builds a bike for itself

A closer look at Adrian Ridley’s custom aluminium crit racer

Adrian Ridley is the more creative half of Bristol based Engineered Bicycles. Ridley and his business partner David Fong have been designing bespoke bicycles for several years now and this — Ridley’s personal bike — stands as the perfect example of what the duo are capable of.

The Donder is Engineered’s race chassis, and pairs stout Deda Scandium alloy tubing with a 44mm head tube and carbon fork for a bike that was designed specifically to compete in criterium or short road races.

Although designed in Bristol, Engineered outsources its production to a small Italian builder
Although designed in Bristol, Engineered outsources its production to a small Italian builder

Those well-versed in Flemish may already understand the connection between the bike’s name and its spectacular paintwork. For those of us who aren’t, Donder literally translates to thunder.

It’s a design that was envisioned by Ridley himself, and as the company’s creative director it can be considered well within his job description.

Our images can’t quite do justice to the extraordinary depth of the paint finish, which fades from dark blue at the fork to a vibrant purple at the rear dropouts. There’s a metallic flake throughout, and each of the lightning bolts at the front triangle have been applied using a combination of hand and air brushing.

The realisation of this paintwork was only ever going to fall to one man — Tim Cox of TJC Designs.

A friend to Engineered, Cox is an illustrator and airbrushing specialist from the Bristol area whose exceptional skills bagged Engineered the best paint award at the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show in 2016. You can have a closer look at that design in our gallery here.

The Donder's stunning lightning bolt paintwork was designed by Adrian but painted by Tim Cox of TJC Design, Bristol
The Donder's stunning lightning bolt paintwork was designed by Adrian but painted by Tim Cox of TJC Design, Bristol

With Ridley’s Donder, the company decided to go the whole hog and use an integrated seatpost for a design that favours feedback over comfort.

This is something that remains an option on customer build bikes. As Engineered’s David Fong, the technical brains behind the firm, explains: “This gives the rider a more positive connection with the bike and feels great when really leaning on the bike through corners.”

It’s the potential to make changes like this that draw people to a firm like Engineered, as Fong put it: “It’s what bespoke design is all about — working with the rider to make these trade-offs rather than the rider accepting what the product manager at a bike company thinks they should have.”

The integrated seatpost allows for 22mm of adjustment
The integrated seatpost allows for 22mm of adjustment

This Donder takes full advantage of the firm’s custom sizing option too, with dimensions chosen to perfectly complement Ridley's shape and riding style.

There’s nothing particularly radical about the 73-degree head angle, nor the 73.5-degree seat tube angle behind it, but these are figures that amount to a poised machine. In fact, it’s the same geometry that our sister publication Pro Cycling raved about when they got hold of a Donder test bike early last year.

A custom painted Deda stem links the frame to an ENVE aero handlebar
A custom painted Deda stem links the frame to an ENVE aero handlebar

As it stands here, the build totals 7.2kg (15.87lbs). Highlights include Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9000 group with its chainset wearing one of AbsoluteBlack’s distinctive oval chainrings. ENVE provides the wheelset with its climb-friendly, aerodynamic and unapologetically expensive SES 3.4 rims laced to Chris King hubs and wrapped with 23mm Schwalbe One tyres. A custom painted Deda stem ensures the frame's aesthetic flows seamlessly to an ENVE SES Aero handlebar.

Ridley has not only created his dream bike here, but he's also built a rolling showcase for what Engineered can offer its customers.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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