Northern Ireland’s Donard Bikes are masters in the art of custom builds, here’s a detailed look at the making of their Celeste gravel bike.
Ever dreamed of owning your own bespoke bicycle? Well, Owen Byrne at Donard does exactly that sculpting hand-crafted bike frames into unique builds ensuring you and only you alone will own a one-of-a-kind ride.
From Owen’s first frame in 2012, Donard Bikes followed in 2015 and by claiming awards at the prestigious Bespoked UK Handbuilt show in 2017 quickly ensured him as the go-to guy for custom builds.
Going The Extra Mile
Overlooking Strangford Lough, Donard Bikes has now grown to become the only manufacturer in Ireland that builds bespoke custom bikes in carbon fibre, steel and stainless. In fact they are one of only a very small number anywhere in the world that work in all materials. Every bike is painted in house, in their dedicated paint shop.
The carbon bikes are made using “Tube to tube” construction, with all of the tubes individually designed and made for each rider. On the steel bikes, Owen uses fillet brazing in brass and silver, or lugged designs. He can source components for complete builds, recommending only brands that he would use on his own personal bikes.
When Owen posted up images of his newest creation the Celeste gravel bike on Donard Instagram, we were in envy, so we dropped him message to find out what went into the making of it…
The Making Of The Celeste Gravel Bike
Every Donard frame is custom made specifically for one, and only one person. This custom gravel bike was built for a customer who does a lot of off road riding and cycling adventures all over the world.
The process starts with a visit to the Donard workshop for a bike fit, where we also talk about the kind of riding the bike will be used for and then start with a completely blank page to design the absolute best bike we can right down to every detail.
Our frames are made one by one in our workshop, this one is fillet brazed or “lugless” construction where the tubes are joined with “fillets” of bronze. This is an old school method that allows us to create nice smooth transitions between the tubes.
Steel Is Real
For this “Celestial Beauty” we started out with a set of Reynolds 853 main tubes, then added a very nice tapered head tube with a Donard Head badge – topped and tailed with a Hope Technology external headset cups and making a clean interface into the Columbus Futura fork.
Steering is courtesy of a handmade Donard steel stem custom painted to match the frame. We do all of our painting in house and spend a lot of extra time making sure the final finish is top quality, this frame uses our Donard “Signature” paint scheme with the colours selected by the customer.
Curvy Columbus chain stays and seat stays at the rear got some extra tweaking and custom bending to increase the tyre clearance too – loads. Optimised for 700c wheels and also compatible with 650b with greater clearance. The brake callipers use the standard flat mount callipers and 12×142 thru-axles keeps things nice and stiff.
A reinforced seat collar and front facing seat binder keep the Deda seat post in and the mud out – The Celeste was fitted with a Brooks saddle with sentimental value (not shown here) set at just the right position for effortless pedalling and optimum weight distribution over the wheels from Scribe.
The new Scribe Gravel wheels with a very clever freehub are shod with WTB 40mm Venture tyres. There is a 140mm rotor at the rear and a 160mm rotor up front. A SRAM Force 1x groupset handles the shifting and braking.
Fully fitted for external cables include cable guides for potential front mechs/double chainrings in the future, while mudguard mounts are nicely hidden on the seat stay and chain stay bridges, and there’s rack mounts for loaded adventures too. Donard have all potential add ons covered.
Finally some Shimano SPD pedals, a nice clean set of Topeak bottle cages and black cork tape supplied by Galibier finish things off for the Donard Celeste.
Donard Celeste Full Build List
- Donard Custom Gravel Frame (Reynolds 853/Columbus tubing)
- Columbus Futura Fork
- Hope Technology headset
- Scribe Gravel Wheelset
- WTB 700c x 40mm Venture tires
- SRAM Force 1x groupset
- Donard Handmade stem, painted to match frame
- Deda seat post
- Deda bars
- Shimano SPD pedals
- Topeak Bottle cages
- Galibier bar tape
- Customer’s own Brooks saddle (not shown)
Many thanks to Owen for helping put this article together. If you want to know more about Donard Bikes or custom builds, drop him a line.
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