It was at Bespoked Bristol Bike Show in 2013 that I first met Steven Shand, owner of Shand Cycles. Wildcat Gear supplied Steven with some bags to display at the show, and that marked the beginning of the two companies working together to unite Shand’s superbly crafted frames with the high quality bikepacking luggage creations from Wildcat Gear.
When I first looked at the bikes in their range at the show, two things stood out to me; thoughtful, elegant design that instantly portrayed the true purpose behind each frames intended use and, secondly, a level of craftsmanship in the brazing and quality in the final finish that is best seen in the metal to be fully appreciated.
At Bespoked Bike Show in London this year, Steven and I had an opportunity to chat again; for me it was about what I wanted to achieve over the next couple of years on the bike, and for Steven, his thoughts on the development of bikepacking and adventure bikes in general. It was clear that we both had a common outlook.
When I found myself unexpectedly without a bike to ride for this year’s Highland Trail Race, Steven and I spoke again. The clock was ticking rapidly towards the start and there was no time to have anything done specially. By good fortune, Steven had a frame that he’d originally made for himself, but never used it (or even given it a final coat of paint). I compared the geometry with what I was used to riding, and although there were differences, it seems close enough to be a good fit.
To go from having no bike to ride to being able to ride a Shand was a result I was over the moon with. I’d only ever swung my leg over one of their bikes once at Bespoked this year – I nearly demolishing the stand in the process, so it’s something of a miracle that they’re talking to me at all! But, things were shaping up and I was very excited about what lies ahead – not just for the Highland Trail, but future projects and rides too.
I managed to get the frame built up a week before the highland trail and to give it a couple of good rides to check the ride and fit. The ride was a real surprise. I expected it to be similar to my previous bike, but it took all the characteristics I was familiar with and served them up with more poise and refinement. The handling is great – sharp and precise without being twitchy or nervous. The higher front end more than compensates for the extra length in the top tube to the point that the whole thing instantly feels comfortable. I’ve found it much easier to lift the front over stuff, so I’m hoping this will lead to less fatigue on the descents. The rear end is less compliant than the titanium, which is to be expected, but it wasn’t uncomfortable by any means. When you jump on the power it doesn’t squirm or give in any way.
All in all a delight to ride, and it confirmed everything I thought I should expect from one of Steven’s frames.