How We Rebuilt Our World Touring Bikes

How do you take a touring bicycle from this….

Friedel's Robin Mather Touring Bike

To this…?

Rebuilding our touring bikes

By rebuilding it, of course! That’s Friedel’s bicycle in the photos above, and there was (literally) a world of riding between the two snapshots: 3 years, 30 countries and nearly 50,000km. After a trip like that, our bicycles needed a bit of work.

Want to know…

Why The Rebuild?

  • The paintwork on both bikes and racks was chipped and scratched
  • Many things were worn out: back cassette, chain rings, chain, pedals, bottom brackets, handlebar grips…
  • After over 15,000km of riding, the wheel rims were a bit thin
  • Almost everything needed a good clean and re-greasing

This was also the perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about the technical side of a bicycle; something that, frankly, we weren’t so interested in when we began touring in 2006.

First: Build Some New Wheels

We began the rebuild process by learning how to build our own bicycle wheels with a master frame builder and bike mechanic.

Wheel building workshopBuilding our first wheels. Photo by Alicia.

We built two wheels each: a back wheel with a standard 9-speed cassette, and a front wheel with a SON dynamo. (Cost: €174 for each SON dynamo. €46 for the rim / spokes for each wheel + €54 for the cassette / hub for each back wheel)

Second: Repaint The Frames

We stripped the bikes down to the bare frames and took them to BCP Special Paintwork to be bead blasted and repainted. This wasn’t cheap but the paint job was a professional one, and we could choose almost any colour we liked. Fun! (Cost: €250 each)


Third: Get Out The Tools & Start Building

Eight weeks later, our newly painted frames were ready, and we started the actual process of rebuilding the bikes.

A head tube facing and reaming tool is a hand tool used to machine the head tube to ensure proper headset bearing alignment. –Wikipedia

Let the bike rebuilding begin!Preparing Friedel’s frame, before putting on a new headset. In hindsight, we should have done this on the bike stand, but it worked out okay!

With the headsets on, the rest of the build went quite quickly. Just a few hours later, Friedel’s bike looked like this!

Trevor & Andrew

By the next day, both bikes were complete enough to go for a ride. Only the racks, kickstands and a few minor accessories are missing.

Andrew & his new bike

The First Ride

To our surprise, it was both wonderful and strange to be back on the bicycles that took us around the world. They have a completely different feel to the Santos Travelmaster bicycles we bought in late 2010. For example, these steel-framed tourers are smaller, and we sit less upright in the saddle than we do with the Santos bikes. Both bikes are comfortable, just in different ways.

It’s early days yet but if we had to pick a bike now to take on a world tour, we’d have a hard time deciding. Both bikes have their plus and minus points. A few more tours are in order, before we can really make that call.

In any case, we’re thrilled to have our one-of-a-kind Robin Mather bikes back together. There’s a lot of nostalgia and many good memories in those frames!


  1. Tyler
    9th December 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    They look fantastic–nice work! I love the red Andrew 🙂

  2. Mario Preston,Canada
    21st December 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Great work and way to go.I would like one day to have the… to build my own wheels like you did.I also like your choice of the Son Dynamo.

  3. anthony kelly
    25th September 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    the new paintwork looks stunning.

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