At the breakfast table with Glenn of Faber Cycles
The London Baroudeurs hooked up with Faber Cycles very own founder, Glenn Jeffrey in New Zealand. An award winning architect, orignally from Lincolnshire, England and a Baroudeur formerly based in Singapore, he now lends his creativity to crafting custom painted performance bicycles and more. Here’s the score at Faber:
Who’s your favourite cyclist, or cycling team and what makes them stand out for you?
Peter Sagan – it’s great to see a rider out there who is not afraid to do a little show boating and display a bit of character. The racing scene can sometimes become a little too serious and it’s wonderful to see Sagan putting some fun back into the sport. He gets people talking – he never fails to surprise.
The ‘Fera’ – A custom aero bike for the London Baroudeurs
What inspired you to start your own bike company?
Very simple: I was shopping for a bike, and couldn’t find a bike that I wanted to ride for the price that I wanted to pay. I love custom hand built bikes and the custom paint jobs the frames wear – Donhou Bicycles being a personal favourite. The mass produced bikes are so the same – they’re ‘vanilla’ and the graphics never flatter the frame. I wanted to change that.
Tell me about the name Faber. How did it come about?
I was an Englishman based in Singapore and wanted to acknowledge that connection, but I wanted the name to also have a real relevance to the products we are creating. Faber seemed to be a perfect fit. Mount Faber (named after Charles Edward Faber) being one of the few hills that Singapore riders can train on in an otherwise flat terrain and the word Faber originating in the Latin translation of skilful / artisan / fabrication. So, as well as the geographical connection, the name resonates a unique, crafted quality.
Blending a saffron-rainbow for a very lucky Ella
You own a cat, dog, and a hermit crab. There’s geese on your website. What’s the fascination with animals?
I have no idea how this has evolved, but as you have discovered, the dog loves photo bombing all of the photo shoots that take place! The geese came about from us really wanting to go out there on a limb with the track frame – the Cursus. I love the paint jobs that you see on todays track and crit frames. Look at what’s coming out and riding at the Red Hook Crit races – beautiful frames. It seemed fitting to have the geese that laid the golden eggs becoming envious of our gold Cursus! You’ve probably realised by now that not we’re very big fans of matte black characterless stealth bikes. There’s no joy or excitement for me when I see those frames.
How would you describe the approach of doing things at Faber?
Do it our own way, there’s no right or wrong in the studio. We try lots of things with the frames and our inspiration comes from the most unusual objects, art and graphics. There’s no formula.
We don’t believe in taking our cues from other brands – they’re already doing that and by following and imitating we are not setting ourselves apart or being original, which is very important to us and our riders. Custom paint comes as standard at Faber because we believe that no two riders really do want the same thing. Everyone is an individual with their own likes, dislikes and preferences and this should be expressed with the bike that they ride.
Not just pink, but hot pink will do
We’ve noticed builds sporting top end SRAM to mid-range 105. What’s the deal with that?
It doesn’t matter does it? Real world riding is about variety and our riders all have different preferences of groupsets and varying budgets. The message that we are trying to put out there is that your Faber frame is going to look great regardless of what groupset, cockpit or wheels you’re riding on. It’s not just about dressing our frames in bling. Sure this looks great, but it looks equally great wearing mainstream components too.
So you’re British right, and ride motorcycles and drive fast (pink) cars. Is there a connection there with your cycling?
Definitely, certainly there’s a strong connection with motorcycles and bikes. I love that when you’re riding your performance is ‘your performance’ – there’s rarely anyone else to blame if you’re having a bad day. The cross over between motorcycles and riding is very noticeable though – motorcyclists tend to have the better lines and tend to be much better at fast descents. Just ask Julian (Jules) Doyle!
Discussing their craft – Jules and Glenn
The ‘alone’ time that riding gives an individual is very important to me. I value riding alone as much as I do riding with the team. That’s what’s so great about cycling – it’s as much a team sport as it is an individual sport. Doing something alone for yourself is very important. You make some of your best decisions on the bike.
You’re an accomplished architect. Do you believe your profession has influenced your decision to create Faber?
I think so. Being an architect has given me the self-belief and creativity that gives you a confidence that you can design and build almost anything once you put your mind to it. Making something for myself wasn’t a big step; it was a natural progression to take. Graphically and design wise the process is not so different.
Someone tells me you’ve got a big and growing family. How does that work out?
With 4 kids I hope it’s not growing anymore! It’s crazy, but fun – everyone has an opinion – (they’re) my sounding board team, but sometimes you feel like waterboarding them! Seriously, they’re very supportive. They love that they ride a bike that dad’s made. And when you really get stuck for ideas I can always print them an outline of one of our frames and ask them to colour it in!
The ‘Impel’ – A celebration bike made especially for a very talented young rider
What’s your favourite Faber bike and how does it appeal to you?
There’s no real favourite, but I do ride my Impel an awful lot; it’s so rock solid, stiff, and very responsive. It just reacts to everything you give it. A real performer: massive diameter on the down tube, enormous depth to the chain stays, with a short wheelbase – it’s a thoroughbred. To give it some comfort we gave it an integrated seat post that gives it the right amount of flex. With the 2017 Impel, we’ve managed to produce this all again, but in a lighter package and now available with discs (brakes), which I think we’re gonna see more of in the pro-peloton. It’s really the flagship of the Faber brand.
You’re in Christchurch, NZ now; how does this impact the way you choose the way you design your bikes?
Until now, maybe our designs have been a little loud, which has really suited the urban backdrop of Singapore. Now going to a more rural / landscape area, we may see a few more muted variations – actually probably not! One thing that’s happening though, is that 2017 will see the launch of our first mtb frames. It’s one discipline we can’t ignore and we’re really eager to take advantage of the fantastic mtb riding that New Zealand offers us. Having mountains on your doorstep, it would be rude not to.
Hey, we’ve gone all arty. Cheers, Glenn and all the best with Faber Cycles!
For more information, check out Faber Cycles.