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How Kamaal built his steel dream bike in Cape Town

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For steel bike obsessed Kamaal Martin, this South African built steel frame machine, is a dream come true. (Photo: R24)
For steel bike obsessed Kamaal Martin, this South African built steel frame machine, is a dream come true. (Photo: R24)

If you have been following our series called 'The Bicycle Collectors' about local cyclists and their amazing vintage steel bike collections, the name 'Kamaal Martin' will ring a bell. 

In March last year, we chatted to Kamaal about his favourite bikes and found out more about what drives his passion.

He is the only person we know who owns a bike made by the legendary Dario Pegoretti. When word got out that Kamaal had commissioned local steel-bikemeister Dave Mercer to build a custom frame, you knew this was going to be something special.

One look at these images confirms precisely that (and it looks even better in reality). From the frame to the paint job, groupset and wheels, Kaamal has assembled one very desirable modern steel bike. 

We sat down with this bicycle fan to find out more about the genesis of the project and what the process of having your own custom-made dream bike entails.

Spectacular bicycle Kamaal. Tell us what inspired the whole project?

It was always a dream to have a custom-built bike by the magician Dave Mercer. When Columbus released their 100th anniversary Cento tubing in 2019, a friend of mine had a bike made by Dave, and I was blown away. 

It was the perfect steel machine. All the tubing was the right thickness, and it had all the small details I was looking for. I finally got my hands on a Cento tube set and rushed off to Dave to start the planning process. And what was your brief to him?

The brief was simple. Build a modern-day steel machine with an electronic groupset and disc brakes and enough wheel clearance to slap on gravel wheels to take it off-road. 

I had a folder full of ideas for the first meeting and wanted to throw it all into one build. I loved the tubing and its detail so much and did not want to take much away from it. The plan was to emphasize the beauty of the tubes, and I used my old and trusted Bianchi to give us a guide on measurements that I believed was comfortable. 

Dave then took my measurements, and we put the two together. The frame style was taken from a modern-day Stelbel bike (high-end Italian steel and titanium brand by frame builder Stelio Beletti). We added details from ideas seen online and Dave’s magical knowledge on how to add subtle touches.  

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