Some know that I like cycling and bikes. I don’t compete or anything, and am mainly a commuter cyclist, and I’ve ridden to work at least a few times a week year-round for about a dozen years now. Depending on the route I choose, it’s either a 25km or 34km ride each way.
I also like to accomplish as many things as possible at once. “Multitasking” is a word that suggests that, but it also implies that you don’t do any one thing well. But cycling to work achieves numerous things really well: physical fitness, travel, mindfulness, environmentalism, one less car, saving money, alertness, eating four meals a day . . . I recommend it.
I also like the idea of overlapping hobbies. I’m a baseball fan, and about six years ago master frame-builder Hugh Black at True North Cycles in Fergus, Ontario, designed and built a custom, old-style lugged steel frame and built up a one-of-a-kind fixed gear bike that riffs on the St. Louis Cardinals. I’ve been riding “The Redbird Express” ever since. Like Rothesay, she’s a bute.
But I’ve had in mind for many years the idea of combining piping with cycling. What if we could create a ride inspired by the 1936 silver-and-ivory R.G. Lawries I play? About a year ago I finally went back to Black with the idea.
We went with a hand-built titanium frame. In homage to our nine notes, the bike would be a nine-speed, with a nine-gear cassette and a single chain ring. The frame was powder-coated in a colour to match blackwood, and some of the components would be painted ivory, and the rims plain silver. To inspire Hugh, I left him with a piece of old silver-ivory Robertson drone that the late Gordon Speirs once loaned/gave to me when I broke a tenor pin on my first Hardie pipes.
We took another cool step: I took photos one of the engraved silver slides on my Lawries. Hugh sent me the raw titanium piece for the head tube, and I contacted David Davidse of Toronto, who is one of the world’s top silver engravers. He does a lot of work with reproduction replacement mounts for vintage pipes, as well as engraved mounts for new instruments.
David determined the titanium was suitable for engraving (some grades are too hard and brittle), and he sized-up the engraving on my slide perfectly for the head tube of the bike.
Hugh Black then got to work putting everything together and, finally, I took delivery of what could well be the first and only bagpipe bike. (If you’re a cyclist and interested in the components, just drop me a note and I’ll send them to you.)
Here she is, a flying drone of sorts, ready to slide through the streets and bike paths of Toronto, humming along at 485 or higher.
Hugh does stunning work! I have admired his creations for many years,
I love outside the box things!
That is really really cool! I got a serious case of bike envy now.
Holes in the handle bars would be perfect to practice as you cycle.
How about an old sheepskin bag hanging under the crossbar for your “stuff”?
This is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard seen. And as an owner of a 1915 Lawries with that same silver pattern I would guess it will run me more than I originally paid for the pipes in ’82. ( Silk drone cord tassels from each handle bar is a look you could pull off)
Beautiful! Stop in for a pint next time you’re in Fergus!
That is incredible. I’ve been into cycling since around 2008. Started with fixed gears and got into geared bikes later on after working in a few different bike shops as a mechanic. This is very cool to see!