01 Oct, 2014

Building Bling Bikes

If your top of the range bike just isn’t good enough for you any more, there are bikes out there built with uncompromising purpose. And with Christmas just around the corner, perhaps you can find that special something. We spoke to a bike builder who specialises in that little bit extra.

“Once you know that every single detail has been taken care of, you know your bike is different and that makes the ride much more special.”

So says bike builder and elite cyclist Jean Spies, who is based at Morningside Shopping Centre’s Design In Motion.

These “special” cycling creations can reach price tags of up to, and probably over, R250 000 but the average price for one of Jean’s high technology creations will probably cost in the region of R100 000.
“It all depends on what the customer wants, so we work with the customer in order to make him, or her, happy. For example, a bike might have 10 or more different wheel set options so which one would you choose?” he rhetorically asked.

What are you using it for? What do you want it to look like? What is your weight target for the bike? And what is your riding style? After answering all these questions with the customer, the correct wheel is chosen.

“You need to enjoy riding your bike. I mean, I have been riding bike since I was six years old and I love riding my bike. So I want every single person to love riding their bikes as much as I love riding my bike,” he explained.

Jean, who followed his father’s footsteps into cycling, started his cycling career racing cross country mountain bikes, then he went to downhill, then went to road and ended up on the track.

“I’m a track rider specifically, but I ride all four disciplines and have been racing in the elite category for the last two years. Before that, I raced under 23 which is basically the same thing as you race together, so you could say that I’ve been racing at this level for the last six years,” he smiled.

Jean’s bike building started “when I was a little kid on my BMX”, when his dad would show him something once.

“After that, I’d have to figure it out for myself. And once he saw that I was getting it right, he’d give me his stuff to fix,” he quipped.

Jean now sees a bicycle as a puzzle.

“Every little thing has its place and has its specific reason why it’s there, otherwise it shouldn’t be there,” he explained.

Bikes now take Jean “around” three to four hours to build but, he says, it depends on how “user friendly they are”.

“For example, I once built a Pinarello Bolide time trial bike, the bike that Team Sky uses, and it was a nightmare build as it took 13 to 14 hours!” he said.

Design In Motion customers who are interested in Jean’s creations range from “real racers” to “weekend warriors”, but the one thing they all have in common is a desire to enjoy their cycling, no matter what the cost.
Raymond Travers

Raymond Travers

Modern Cyclist Editor |