Robert Penn’s bike


I caught Robert Penn’s fantastic documentary on BBC4 on Monday night. The Story of the Bicycle, timed to coincide with the launch of Penn’s book All about the Bike (jacket below), saw the one-time round-the-world cyclist build his dream bike from parts sourced direct from manufacturers in many different countries – bars from Italy, hand-built wheels from the U.S., etc.

The resulting super-rig, the bike of dreams, turned out to be a Brian Rourke steel frame equipped with full Campagnolo Record, Continental tyres, Chris King headset, Cinelli bars, and – the cherry on top! – a Brook’s saddle. A fine combination of kit, if not exactly in line with my tastes. However, you have to ask – why the blue and orange colour scheme? Dark red, white panels and black lettering, surely?

Jacket image: All About the Bike by Robert Penn.

10 Responses to “Robert Penn’s bike”

  1. Tom July 31st, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Diverting show but couldn’t agree more about the odd choice of colour scheme. Very strange.

    Also, how could he go on a ‘dream kit’ tour of the States without visiting Phil Wood?!

  2. Al August 1st, 2010 at 8:17 am

    There’s a scene where Rob is looking really closely at the paint colour combo as the protective tape is peeled off the frame. I swear there’s a flicker of ‘Oh god, I’ve created a monster’ before he gets a hold of himself.

    Good shout for Phil Wood. Steve Gravenites is clearly a legend, but the rims selected for the wheelset were DT Swiss, and it was odd they didn’t get a mention.

  3. james August 16th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    can’t agree more with the dodgy colour comments. the Royce hubs deserved a mention and why does it take an italian company to revive Brooks?

  4. Al August 16th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I suspect Rob had a producer breathing down his neck and had to be a bit selective about which componentry he featured in the doc. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the Director’s Cut in a few months’ time…

  5. Tom August 17th, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Update on my earlier post: the choice of colour still hasn’t grown on me but, having bought the actual book, I’m inclined to look on this whole idea more favourably. I didn’t particularly warm to Rob Penn on screen but his writing is great. Really enjoying it so far. Recommended.

  6. Robin Trikie September 18th, 2010 at 5:45 am

    No mention of the Seat Post which doesn’t come with the group set. It gave the impression that the wheels where “Gravy” where as he was the builder. Good to see Cycling on the BBC.

  7. Recumboman May 20th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    It IS all about the bike, and like horses, we all have our own version of a dream bike. Color scheme? The more unique the better! Make mine a purple/red carbon suspended recumbent with cargo trunk and mini fairing. As long as we’re cycling, that’s all that matters. Hooray for the next “Golden Age” of cycling!!!

  8. Steve Jones June 11th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Great book, reading it now, and particularly relevant to me as I’m also now in the process of ordering a custom bike. It’s really tough to narrow choices down to a few select parts. Color is down to personal choice, blue and orange contrast nicely ( opposites in the color spectrum ) maybe wouldn’t be my choice either but so what? My next bike will be chocolate brown with white bars and cables and a pink brooks saddle, Works for me, maybe not for you. But that’s what’ll make it MY bike, As long as Rob is happy with what he’s got!

    He did the right thing. I mean going to the builder of the bike to get things sorted. I’ve learned the hard way that doing it by e-mail is NOT the way to go. You would not believe how many mis-interpretations of measurements i’ve had to deal with.But then I have a job and can’t just fly off to California right now. If you do have the time and money to indulge yourself by meeting the frame builder in person,,DO IT!

    There’s no better way to get the custom fit and build that you wanted,

  9. timbo S July 30th, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Have just read the book after seeing film on BBC2 early this summer. Fantastic to see more cycling on the TV, that and the bigger viewing numbers for ITV4’s tour coverage. The book is inspirational and a huge history lesson. As for the colour scheme, i’ve had several chats about that with cycling buddies, a noticable one on the eve of this years dragon ride. I was firmly in the camp that if it feels right and it’s bespoke for you, who gives a toss how others feel if they’re not getting the privilage to ride a £3,500 bespoke bike. Others around the table thought looks were the key, which i found a little strange the night before a 200km ride, i’d definately want to feel comfort first. Perhaps finishing way before them in a Lidl’s kit on a sora groupset Orbea v Rapha clothed top spec colnago made me feel a little smug and that comfort (+ the legs ) beat colour and looks.

    Keep the wheels turning and let the good times roll on!!

  10. Al September 21st, 2011 at 1:35 am

    @timbo – thanks for the comment. It’s all in the legs.

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