Charge Bikes HBD – Hack Bike Derby Klunker

March 29th, 2016

By Andrew Dodd in Bikes,Features

Charge Bikes HBD Custom | Bike Check

You might have spotted a few strange looking custom built Klunkers floating around on social media over the last few months.

They’ve been specially made for the Hack Bike Derby – an event held by Andrew Denham – man behind The Bicycle Academy.

We caught up with Nick Larsen from Charge Bikes to check his Charge Bikes HBD bike out, and hear a bit more about the event…

Charge Bikes HBD

Nick Larsen’s Charge Bikes HBD is based on the old Raleigh Bomber, with a few ideas from the Charge Steamer. This thing looks bitchin’ – we’d love it as a cruiser for the summer! Rat look cruisers for the win!

Factory Jackson | Tell us a bit about the Hack Bike Derby…

Nick Larsen | Andrew Denham – who runs the Bicycle Acadamy in Frome – had this idea for an event, where a group of frame builders had to make a hack bike. By hack bike he meant a really basic construction. The bike needed to be made with what was laying around – and nothing could be made with proper frame building tools.

Dropouts needed to be hacksawed, and we could only use basic hand drills and files – no high tech machinery, pre-made drop outs or anything like that.

Charge Bikes HBD

No paint needed on Nick’s Charge Bikes HBD – just a few marker pens and paint pens. Check out that awesome (read : rushed) fillet brazing. Got to love a good old bodge!

Factory Jackson | What were the rules of the bike building?

Nick Larsen | We had to make the bikes around provided set tyres – 26 x 2.35 Bontrager XR4. The rules were we couldn’t use disc or cantilever brakes and couldn’t use stock forks. No professional paint either – only rattle cans or marker pens.

The objective was that the bikes would look something like Klunkers of old, and we’d race them.

On the race weekend we camped over and made a slalom course- then raced it. And did the same the next day with a downhill course that we built. We added up the timings to ‘seed’ us, and then had a mass start race – something like the old Klunker races  from Repack on a fire road.

Those with the best times started at the back – expected to claw their way through the pack. Kind of.

It was amazing!

Charge Bikes HBD

The number plate is one of Nick’s favourite parts of the Charge Bikes HBD! It gives a pretty laid back bike a bit of a racer edge!

Factory Jackson | Who else was invited?

Nick Larsen | There were quite a few brands involved – BTR; Rowan Frameworks; August Bicycles; Ted James Design; Robin Mather Cycles; Swarf Cycles and Torke Cycling. All of them UK hand built frame builders.

The only reason I was invited, was a chance chat with Andrew about this event. He mentioned it was hand builders only.

I said all our bikes were hand built – they might not be made in England, but each Charge bike is still hand built. So I got myself an invite.

Charge Bikes HBD

The brazing on the home made fork is probably the neatest on the Charge Bikes HBD, and the Sturmey Archer hubs are an ace touch.

Factory Jackson | Tell us about your Charge Bikes HBD…

Nick Larsen | My bike was based on a combo of an old 26in wheeled Raleigh Bomber, and the old Charge Steamer we used to make. I have done brazing before, although it was about 20 years ago!

The tough thing was I didn’t have long to put it together – I had 3 days to completely build the bike and make it rideable!

One of my favourite bits of the bike is the bent top tube. It needed to have a bent tube for the right look – but without the availability of proper equipment for bending tubes it was going to be tricky. So I used a tree.

Essentially we got a really long bit of tubing, and bent it round a tree. I knew the angle I wanted, by eye obviously! The first bit of tube folded, so it took two goes to do it – it’s pretty hard to bend a bit of tubing like that!

Charge Bikes HBD

The rear drop out was drawn freehand with marker pen on a sheet of metal, and painstakingly cut out with an inadequate hack saw. The seat stays were then crimped in a vice and the whole lot was held together with a lot of braze! Brilliant!

I think Andrew tried to make it even harder for me with the drop outs. He gave me a big thick bit of A5 plate and a hacksaw to make my drop outs. I didn’t measure it or anything – the drop out shape was drawn free hand with a permanent marker and I simply cut it out. Although I broke about 6 blades doing it, but eventually got the shape.

I tried to make them match – they’re near enough.
The seat stays needed to be crimped in a vice to slot together with the drop out, and I had to use shit loads of braze to get the thing together. It held up pretty well!

Charge Bikes HBD

The forks were hand made on Nick’s Charge Bikes HBD, and so were the bars – though Nick didn’t make those himself. Apparently there was a bit on trading going on between Hack Bike Derby builders – sounds like a right laugh!

By no means was my bike pushing the boundaries – some of the other bikes were unbelievable.

You’ll have to wait for the official video launch at the Bespoked show coming up later this month to see them all in their glory – but you can check out the hashtag #hackbikederby on Instagram to see a few behind the scenes shots…

Check this clip of Nick making his Charge Bikes HBD in the mean time…

The making of my #HackBikeDerby bike @thebicycleacademy and bending the top tube around a tree with @ndrwdnhm

A video posted by Nick Larsen (@chargebikes) on

What do you think of Nick Larsen’s Charge Bikes HBD entry?

Loving the Klunker styling?

What would you do differently if you had to make one?

Let us know in the comments below! 




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