While I’m quite content to stand around talking preferred group sets, comparing pads against discs and taking notes on the seemingly unstoppable emergence of Di shifters the truth is there’s a huge part of me which craves simplicity. Stand in any large bike shop and listen to the traditional bike salesman (and yes it is invariably a man) list the three hundred brilliant pieces of technological development on that bike you really do need and the truth is he’s just listed what will , in time, become three hundred costly repairs. For many of us the complexity associated with modern bikes soon shifts from appealing to burdensome.
When it comes to the daily commute many of us simply have no need for the latest advances in technology. What we need and crave is simplicity, reliability and affordability. It is therefore not surprising that at last year’s NEC bike show what really caught my eye were those small independent companies refining their product to it’s absolute best. Back then I spoke of discovering Trillion Cycles and being instantly impressed by their attention to detail, their commitment to matching great frames with great components and their desire to create a ride which is both beautiful, utterly responsive and affordable.
Several months later and in conversation with Loz, the brain child behind Trillion I found myself being offered the solution to my needs. Loz would build me the bike I needed in exchange for my honest reflections. Not a bad offer!
Two weeks ago and after considerable amounts of careful planning and meticulous building Trillion’s Tera Custom finally arrived.
If first impressions count then I instantly knew I was onto a good thing.
Using Reynolds 520 aero design the quality of frame and its weld appeared first class. Added to the frame were a spec of components all adhering to my trio of requests ‘make it simple, affordable, reliable’. In Matt Black paint work the Tera Custom looked stunning but did it ride stunning?
Before answering that question I need to interject with one very important caveat. While I’ve ridden dozens of bikes I had until now avoided single speed bikes like the plague. I’m no where near cool enough to be hipster and have always thought the concept of single speed a tad pretentious. I’d craved gears since I was six years old. 7, 14, 21. The more the better. Single speed had always felt to go against the grain of everything I considered to be an advancement of cycling technology and thus I had firmly resisted.
Sitting on the Tera custom the simplicity of what had been built really hit me. No bottle cage mounts, no brake cable housing, and just one cable to the front brake. Put differently this is a bike with clean lines, zero clutter and a real sense of being utterly connected to the road beneath me. That last point is important. When I ride my road bike I feel deeply connected to the bike but riding the Tera Custom I felt a sense of deep and immediate connection to the road. This was aggressive responsiveness riding on steroids and that took some setting used to.
I live in a city with few hills and so in dialogue with Loz I had chosen reasonably high gearing with a Sram Omnium 48T Chainring and a Dura Ace 13T single speed sprocket on the back. While this makes for a slow start I’m quite prepared to acknowledge that such slow progress might say far more about my current levels of fitness than the components on any particular bike. Building past the 13 - 14mph stage the Tera custom suddenly and gloriously came into a league of its own and I could not stop smiling.
Rolling beneath me were a pair of Miche Xpress wheels fitted out with Vittoria Pave CG’s both chosen for affordability but in no way were either found lacking in the quality of ride they provided. I’d chosen an Easton EC 70 Stem and handle bar connected to the front forks via the one small luxury in this ride, a Chris King headset. I figured this bike is in for years of brutal abuse so investing in a good headset now just made sound fiscal sense.
The front forks aren’t great and will almost certainly be replaced in the near future but that’s cool I hadn’t expected it to be any other way.
I’m still getting used to single speed and have promptly discovered that Birmingham is in fact significantly more hilly than I had previously thought. Most important of all is the simple truth that 15 days later this bike still has me smiling from ear to ear.
In the early days of Trillion all frame manufacturing was outsourced to Taiwan. I know for a fact that this is a decision Loz made with a very heavy heart but one which the finances simply demanded. This September all Trillion manufacturing returns to Birmingham meaning you not only have the opportunity to purchase a great bike but to purchase a great bike made here in the UK.
My only real caution is that my Tera Custom may not remain unique for very long. Trillion is a brand set to grow and grow and boy do they deserve it!!
Trillon bikes feature in the forthcoming AlleyCat movie and can be viewed
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