Helen’s road bike

Helen’s road bike

Helen is a great example of the rider I really love to build for – a smaller, light rider who is terribly underserved by production bikes, both for fit and ride quality.

Firstly we set Helen up on the fitbike and spent some time making adjustments – including shortening the cranks to 160mm. With the final position decided upon, I set about to design the bike, with the goal of excellent handling whilst eliminating toe-overlap. The frame is designed around the shorter cranks, so there is more BB drop to keep the pedals the correct height from the ground. The tubing selection uses reduced diameters appropriate for Helen’s size and weight, so that the frame has the correct amount of stiffness to give the best ride feel.

Up front is a 3T Funda fork, held in place with a Tune headset. There aren’t a great many options for 160mm high-quality cranks – fortunately one of them is the excellent US-made Lightning carbon crank. Fitted with Praxis chainrings, it drives a Shimano Dura-ace Di2 drivetrain. I had wanted to use EE brakes front and rear, but unfortunately with such short seatstays, there wasn’t quite enough space for the cable angle on the back, so I used a Dura-ace caliper there.

Paint is by Colorworks, and the complete weight with the aluminium Vision wheelset is 15.2lbs.

I have been riding bikes for several decades now. I love the freedom, speed and power I experience when I’m on the bike. I am barely 5’4″ and roughly 50% torso. I have owned many bikes. I have sustained injuries, frustration and handling restraints from riding bikes that almost fit but don’t. And then I met Rob English. Rob set me up on his fit bike and observed and tweaked multiple different aspects until we found the most efficient, fast and comfortable position possible. Rob’s knowledge base and passion for getting it right is exemplary. He built me a bike that feels like an extension of my body. It handles like a dream. Although built with a fairly aggressive riding position it feels so good, I find myself on it for 5-6 hours at a time without fatigue.


  1. I love small bikes too, superb in white!
    I noticed that the front brake has the cable entry on the LHS; any reason why pas normal?

    • Ah, define normal! Helen, like me, runs her front brake from her right hand. The EE brake entry is a bit more central than other models.

      • In that case, your attention to detail remains impeccable! If you were a normal customer and ordered/bought a front brake, you would just get cable entry on the RHS (suitable for left-front brake).

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