Photos: James McGraw.
I’m good friends with James McGraw, and even I was surprised that number one he left London Bikes, and number 2 that he managed to keep this custom ride build quiet off social media until it was done. After a quick chat with James, I was pretty curious about all the details of his new ride and figured you at home might be as well.
Like everyone else on social media I saw your new bike post. No more London bikes and a custom bike build, what’s the story?
I feel very blessed that for the past 30 years I have not really had to pay for a bike. I have had a lot of sponsors over the years and London Bikes has been one of the best. For me the change is not any kind of bad blood or issues its simply time I do something 100% my way. With a sponsor you get some input but ultimately there are trademarks of a brand that you deal with. Ultimately I just no longer am willing to compromise my riding just to get a free frame. My new bike is built around how I ride and the style of tricks I want to do. My next birthday will my 50th and with age come ailments that hinder my riding. For years I was a front wheel prominent rider, however I developed really bad back issues due to the leaning and body position of front wheel tricks. At one point I considered quitting do the the constant pain. Instead I found back wheel to be therapeutic in the sense that I ride in a more vertical position which relived the pain I developed from leaning over on front wheel. With that said Will from London has made a very good bike that he designed for what fits his riding, for me it is way to short and I feel limited to back wheel. I took a look at all the bikes I have rode over the years and really thought about what geometry worked best for front wheel and back wheel. I realized the last time I rode front wheel I was riding a longer frame which in theory allowed me to stand more upright during the tricks. I also looked at seat post angle which directly affects the position of your seat location. With the old seats you could move your seat forward or backwards on the seat rails to compensate position but the new seats you can only change the angle of the seat. So seat post angle is a very critical point of reference depending on your height and the style of tricks you wish to do. Also we made sure to build the bike around the forks I ride to insure that the rolling head tube angle is exactly as I desired. Different forks can manipulate the rolling head tube angle of the bike depending on the length of the forks. Bottom line is after months of really thinking about these factors I realized that I could build a bike based on my body size and ailments that would allow me to ride both wheels again. Simply put at my age I don’t know how long I will be able to keep riding at this level, so I built this new frame in a effort maximize my potential as a rider and remove any limits I may have due to a production frame that has a more generalized geometry as opposed to a very rider specific frame.
What are the specs?
Seatpost angle: 69.5 degree
13.5 back end
7 inch stand over
Bottom bracket in 12″ off the ground
Rear drop outs are flush with outside tubing for clearance and comfort with pivots.
Rear top triangle tubes have a bend near drop outs for more heel and toe clearance during pivots.
Sick child style bottom tube for front wheel clearance.
Built in chain tensioner.
Is this just a frame for you only or will you be able to buy it?
This frame is built for me, but it does have a lot a specs that fit riders my height. I am sure that if someone wants one, we can make it happen, we documented all the specs in case I wish to build another.
What’s different about the new frame, than your previous London frame?
Whats different is the geometry of the bike and overall size. This bike is built with me in mind and the type of tricks, I want to due based on any limiting conditions I may have.
Who’s building the frame? And how did you come across the builder?
Eric Baar with Ground up speed shop here in Colorado Springs is who I had built the bike. He is a very well known builder who contracts work for numerous bike companies. with literally thousands of builds under his belt he knows all the pit falls and mistakes. His experience and knowledge was a invaluable asset in achieving my ultimate goal. I feel like I went to school building a frame with him. The other cool factor is the frame jig #17 was purchased off Gary Tunner and was used to build GT performers back in the day. He has built bikes for Olympic athletes as well as bikes that have been ridden in the tour De France. He works with all metals from Titanium to aluminum and 4130 chromoly. I had heard so many good things about Eric over the years that when I decided to do this, there was no other option. The cost was high, but the result is epic.
Any more products planned?
We are working on a pair of forks based on Odyssey Flatware forks. I want a thinner tube so when grabbing the fork I will have more room for my fingers to not get caught in the wheel. Ultimately the sky is the limit.
No more teal?
Seriously you think I would not have a Turquoise Bike.
Any final words James?
I want to thank London Bikes for all the great years, and I want to thank Eric for helping me achieve a long time dream of making a frame built exactly how I want it. We have titled the frame “I’ve been Framed” the James McGraw signature frame by Eric Baar.