In our third instalment of ‘Made in’, where we look at the resurgence in the ‘hand built’, we visit BTR Fabrications. Burf and Tam Racing (BTR) are just two uni friends with a mutual love of making things, bikes and being creative, which is a very dangerous concoction for your bank balance.
dirt issue 138 – august 2013
Words by Ben Winder. Photos by Ben Winder.
BTR have just recently relocated to Bath, in a workshop next to the Bicycle Academy (see page 58). The idea is that BTR will be able to use the equipment at the Bicycle Academy and that BTR will be on–hand to answer questions from the students.
We visited BTR before the move, and took a step inside their workspace in Worthing. The workshop was more of a garden shed at the bottom of Burf’s garden, but it’s not only a workshop. It is also the design studio and also Tam’s bedroom. Going inside this was like stepping inside the raddest studio flat I’ve ever been in. They’ve made fireplace to keep the workshop warm in the winter months. Most flats have coat hooks, this one has bike hooks, with bikes past, present and future hanging off them. The office area was covered in little sketches, numbers and measurements. Their kitchen area consisted of a kettle and a couple of tea bags. The walls were coated in race number boards, old bike parts, helmets, etc. The bed was a plank of wood on top of a shelving unit, with a mattress, sleeping bag and an electric blanket. Beyond that was the workshop, full of handmade jigs, brazing torches, clamps, tubes and some pretty hefty machinery.
Tam grew up in Scotland, just a couple of miles away from Fort William, and Burf grew up in South Africa and moved to the UK when he was 13. They met at Oxford uni, through a mutual love of bikes, and soon hatched a plan to start their own frame building company, it didn’t take long for them to start building their first frame in early 2011, and the rest is history…
BTR are at the forefront of the ‘hardcore hardtails’ movement (if you can call it a movement), bikes which on most UK tracks can provide hours of fun, they force you to think a differently about the lines you’re taking and about the relationship the bike has with the ground below. The Belter was the first frame they built, which is their downhill frame and it is already a race winning machine! Burf and Tam are all about hardtails, ‘I used to ride squishers, but I got bored of having all that travel soaking all the fun out of tracks’. But this is not limiting them to only building hardtails, they’ve told us that something is in the tubes…