We have been following and appreciating the work of Tom Donhou, an independent frame builder based in London, since we discovered it some years ago when the British craftsman was asked to build a bike for the Rapha Continental race. Ultimately the craftsman was invited to take part in that particular race, riding the frame he built for the cause himself. The beautiful two black swallows of the Donhou logo became a regular sight in the films and photographs coming out of the UK Continental rides, and when the idea to create a bike to accompany the Rapha + Liberty launch was first suggested, Donhou’s name was top of the list. Building two bespoke bikes, one for road riding and one for the city, Tom painstakingly incorporated the distinctive Rapha + Liberty print into each frame’s paintwork. Evoking the image of starlings in flight, the 1930s print from the Liberty archive is the perfect match for both Tom’s craftsmanship and the bikes themselves.
Tom on the two impressive designs he created:
The road riding products in the Rapha + Liberty collection are technical and designed for fast riding. I wanted the bike to reflect that. It has the highest quality components available, and the geometry is race-led, with oversize Columbus tubing, and an Enve fork. It’s a really responsive bike.
For the town bike, I took inspiration from the casual nature of the City products in the collection. The bike is a typical Donhou town bike, with a step through frame, designed to be a fast little ‘about-towner’.
On the bikes Donhou added references to Liberty’s cycling heritage. The so-called Challenge Cup is one of those great story from Liberty’s history and their connection to women’s cycling. The illustration from the winner’s certificate that the Liberty designers found in their archive was turned that into a drawing by Donhou, who did a stainless steel laser cutting from it, and then brazed it onto the frame.
Rapha and Liberty are both very ‘London’, and the fact that I’m based here tied us together quite well. The print itself looks great on a bike, and leant itself really well to the process. Had it been a standard Liberty paisley-type pattern it would have been a different story, but the pattern that Rapha and Liberty chose really looks great on the bikes.
The impressive Rapha + Liberty bikes can be ordered here