Hallett Handbuilt Cycles

Richard Hallett





Designer - Richard Hallett

hallett handbuilt cycles

Maker - Richard Hallett

Where - Wales






I build cycles and framesets for anything from laden touring and audax-style riding to competitive cycling, in steel, using the traditional techniques of brazing, fillet brazing and silver soldering. 

I began building cycle frames having spent more than 20 years testing and reviewing bikes and writing about the intricacies of cycling technology for publications including Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport, Rouleur, Procycling and Cycling Plus.





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Based 15 miles from Carmarthen in·the challenging cycling countryside of west Wales, Richard Hallett creates individually tailored, fine-handling cycles with a distinctive style and finish.


Do you remember your first bike?

I had a Moulton Mini when I was 10 or 11, but my first ‘serious’ bike – drop handlebars, derailleur gears and the rest – was from Ken Bird’s shop in Green Street Green near Farnborough in Kent. My dad had just taken up cycling again at the time, in the early 1970s, and had bought a bike from Youngs in Lewisham. He bought me the Ken Bird, which was a re-sprayed budget Carlton, when I was 14. I did my first 100-mile ride on it, accompanying my dad from London to Cheltenham, and passed it on when he ordered a Charlie Roberts and I inherited the Youngs, which was better equipped and built in Reynolds 531.


How did you get into building bikes?

I have always spannered on bikes and machinery, I can use machine tools and I learned the basics of brazing when Ken Bird and I built a car for the 1993 World Solar Challenge in 1993. I then spent over a decade as technical editor of Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport, visited many custom frame builders and factories and had numerous custom frames built, so I had a good idea of the frame-building process when, a few years back, I wrote The Bike Deconstructed’, a book on cycle technology. This got me thinking about aspects of cycle design largely forgotten in the age of mass-produced carbon-fibre road racing bikes so, to try a couple out, I asked the legendary Cliff Shrubb, an old friend, to teach me the serious stuff. The resulting frame handled nicely and I was asked by a couple of friends to build them something similar, which meant I had to acquire or build the equipment, which then meant I could build as many frames as I liked.


How would you define your style as a framebuilder?

In terms of technique, I guess very much old-school in the manner of Cliff Shrubb or Ron Cooper, using the minimum of tooling needed for accuracy. I have built a couple of lugged frames for historic cycling events but prefer the flexibility on geometry offered by fillet-brazing and bi-laminate construction.

I have a few design goals, some prompted by test bikes over the years: stable, reassuring handling, direct cable routing, robustness and a nice balance between ride comfort and stiffness.


Who or what has inspired you along the way?

Having been a club cyclist for over 40 years, I grew up in the age of hand built lightweight cycle frames. The first one I really appreciated was my dad’s first Roberts, which was exquisitely finished. I mostly rode Roberts frames during my early racing career, along with wheels built by Ken Bird, who taught me some of his wheel building techniques and impressed on me the importance of immaculate mechanical preparation. In the 1980s, as a reader of Miroir du Cyclisme and other French cycling publications, I heard stories about André Sablière, the ‘Sorcerer’, whose gas-welded aluminium frames are some of the most beautiful ever made. And, of course, there’s Cliff Shrubb, whose modest manner belied his immense talent as both engineer and frame builder.


What can we expect to see from you at Bespoked 2017?

I haven’t quite decided yet, but possibilities include a gravel bike and Reynolds 953 track frame.

Where is your favourite place to ride?

Along the Teifi valley in west Wales, where I live… My favourite ride is probably from Newcastle Emlyn to Newport, Pembrokeshire and back but the whole region is scenic, very hilly and largely traffic-free.


And finally, if you weren’t building bikes for a living what would you be doing?

Writing about them? I still write for Cycle, the CTC magazine, but if I weren’t in the world of cycling I might be restoring old motorcycles or making furniture.

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