8Ball bicycles are completely hand made and every component is carefully selected from a community of suppliers and artisans from all over the world. We produce bicycles one at a time, because each bicycle is built specifically for its buyer. Our flagship model is Yeats, a modern day path racer.
At the end of 2014, Urban Cyclist magazine tested several bicycles including our own Yeats and scored it 8/10, placing it joint leader with overall winner the Pashley Speed 5. We were commended on the steering of the Yeats, reinforcing our claim that the moustache handlebar is much overlooked in terms of its versatility, and our decision to go with drum brakes was met with approval.
Urban Cyclist also picked up on our key differentiator – customisation – whether it’s a more appropriate stem to correct your reach, or different gearing to give the most appropriate riding style, we offer something you don’t get from a pre-built bicycle.
“Sweet handling, well equipped, great looking bike with thoughtful custom options.”
Can’t say fairer than that.
The steel we use for Yeats is CrMo 4130, aircraft grade, steel alloy, seamless tubing, so called because it is used in planes where steel is required. As of mid-2017 we’re actually standardising on Columbus Zona for all our steel frames. Higher strength steel means you need less of it, so it saves on weight. But don’t expect an 8Ball bicycle to weigh in like a lightweight racing bike, it won’t, but it’s no tank either. We use steel because it’s affordable, reliable, comfortable and easily repairable.
The frames themselves are hand made by a Dutch company based in China. Yes, China. There are very few bicycle manufacturers outside of the Far East that run a team of welders or brazers capable of delivering several frames a month, those that do produce for their own brand only. The rest are solo frame builders who might spend tens of hours on each frame and do bespoke work only. We’ve found a happy medium. The company was created by a professional cyclist and master frame builder in 1982, so it has a strong history and reputation. Indeed, the frame builder also makes frames for some very big European and American names.
Part of the experience you don’t get from an off-the-peg build is personalisation. We offer this as standard and will give you a shout after your order is made to check what length and rise stem you would like to make sure the cockpit is comfortable, as well as discussing the gear configuration (front and rear cogs) to make sure your gearing is fit for purpose.
The wheels are hand built to a special order in the UK around Sturmey Archer hubs. Again, this is a time consuming process but we want something specific. We’ve standardised on the Sturmey Archer drum brake for front and rear. This means the entire system is encased in the hub, making it maintenance free. No slipping in the wet, no brake pads to change and nothing to go out of alignment.
Sturmey Archer was originally founded in 1902 in Nottingham, England but is these days owned by Sun Race of Taiwan. Their 100 years of experience has generated some interesting technologies and they are still widely regarded as some of the best hub gears on the market, even with Japanese engineered competition from the likes of Shimano. As a result, we are making available a plethora of gearing options: Single speed with drum brakes; two speed kickshift (a two speed with no cables, you kick back to change gear); three speed fixed (yes, a fixed gear with bar end shifter for three different ratios; three speed freewheel (a ‘regular’ three speed); and five speed hub gears, covering most requirements. We can also build coaster brakes (backpedal) and standard calipers as required. The hubs are laced to double walled alloy rims with stainless spokes, ensuring a stiff, reliable ride.
The crankset is also Sturmey Archer and we modify this with a Stronglight track chainring for extra stiffness and power transfer. All moving parts, like the bottom bracket, which the cranks attach to, the headset and the wheel hubs, use sealed cartridge bearings rather than loose bearings. This keeps water, dirt and grit out of the moving parts ensuring a longer and smoother life for the components.
Up front we have moustache handlebars, a versatile design that has been around for almost a century. Flipped down they give an aggressive, sporty ride with multiple hand positions for comfort on longer rides. Flipped up they give a more laid back, upright position with a commanding view of the landscape (or traffic) around you. We will call you to confirm your choice. Spring loaded brake levers and shifters are fitted to the bar ends, keeping them accessible but out of the way. The handlebars are finished with real leather bar tape, stylish, classy and hard wearing, colour matched to the Brooks saddle. Vegan options are available too.
Each bicycle is hand finished with a leather lifting strap (or not for the vegans), ideal for getting your trusty steed up three flights of stairs or over fallen logs.
Our bicycles don’t come from a factory and we don’t have boxes of ready made builds sitting in a warehouse. Each complete bicycle is designed and assembled by hand in London or Lincolnshire. Just for you.
Each 8Ball bicycle is built specifically for its owner. While the foundation for each build is our stock frame, available in many sizes, from the smallest to the tallest riders, what we also do that off-the-peg bicycle retailers don’t, is work with you to get a suitable fit for comfort and riding style as well as make sure the gearing is suitable for your usage.
So before we begin a build we get in touch with you and ask whether you want a negative rise stem (as seen in the main picture), which gives a more aggressive, sporty ride; or a positive rise stem, which puts you in a more commanding, relaxed position. We’ll also make sure, based on the length of your back and arms, that you get a stem of appropriate length.
Another tweak we can make is to flip the moustache handlebars upside down, delivering a sit-up-and-beg style ride, rather than the aggressive sporty ride seen in the pictures.
Each build is designed uniquely. Just for you.
After years of research and testing, we think we’ve almost overcome the most off putting issue associated with bicycle ownership – maintenance.
With the latest models of our (get around) town bicycles, we’ve delivered something that if not quite zero maintenance, is pretty darned close.
When ordering be sure to add the Tannus puncture proof tyres to get the maximum (almost) zero maintenance features.