The Garage

Dekerf Team SL 853

This is my baby, its on the list of things to grab incase of a fire. It’s a long story and I’ve been putting off writing this a while because together we have been through so much and it has undergone so many guises, that I wouldn’t know where to begin. At the begining? Well OK, but I’ll have to skip a whole lot in the middle.

Love at first sight

So back in 1999 I was very XC race driven. Mountain Bike design was reaching a crossroads and the choices we have today were less complicated then. Full Suspension designs were still descending oriented and if they could be climbed well they were either still much heaveir than hardtails and descended not a whole lot better. I knew however that the day of the hardtail in my life would come to an end and so set about finding the one last frame that would see me through and worthy of keeping forever after. The next junction of descision was in material choice. Steele was the creator, Aliminium was the contemparary lightweight race king, Titanium was the exotic ‘one to rule them all’, and then there was another new kid coming up in Carbon Fibre but it was still in developement. I was looking for something timeless. A material that gave me some comfort for the longer missions yet be competitive on the two hour tracks. Something light but strong enough to last a life time, and knowing it was never going to be a cheap investment I wanted it to be crafted by hand by a specialist so that it was the best of it’s kind.

Enter Reynolds 853 steel tubing, blended together by Chris Dekerf out of Vancouver. The relationship between the two is ledgendary and the results for the customer (moi) so very special. It is a bike so functional it’s beautiful. His unique wishbone seat stay’s have an organic flex to hug the trail and provide a positive spring effect that reward your efforts. Small details of function over form like the forward facing seatpost clamp provide an insight to a true artisan’s logic while the detail of a slender fork supporting gusset on the downtube something to celebrate. Not needing an ego trip he sourced the best ride by making sure where possible the skeleton had the best of the best and got Ritchey to supply him Bottom Bracket Shells and Dropouts.

11 years ago

Dressing it up has been my personal pleasure. It is on it’s second paint job (started metalic navy blue), when after a couple of years I made the change to Disc Brakes. Chris kindly removed the old cantilever brake bosses and welded a simply stunning disc boss. They then repainted the entire frame with a custom “Glacier Blue” to reflect my newest passion. As you see it today it is built for weight and performance with a 100 mm Fox Fork, Mavic Cross Max Wheels, Sram XO drivetrain (save for an XTR front deraileur), Race Face Carbon/Aliminium crankset, XTR disc brakes, Chris King headset, Answer Carbon bars, Ritchey Stem, Thompson Seatpost, Selle Italia saddle and Time pedals.

Redressing an old favorite is so underated

Even now with Suspension so effcient and do-it-all, I still find the desire to ride my Dekerf occasionally and it still stands up against all modern competitors. Given the choice I’d do it all over again and give Chris another call. It might have been expensive back in ’99 but 11 years later it is still giving me giggles and attracting remarks of admiration from strangers. Money will come and go but the legacy of a special bike like this will out live all financial strains, and that to me represent something priceless.  

Wilier Le Roi XL (Lampre edition)

My current Race bike, she’s-a-bellisimo no? My 3rd Wilier. The XL is a lighter frame than my last Le Roi (pron: le wh-a) and stiffer through head tube with square(d) down tube and diamond top tube. Chain stays also changed to drive flush off the full width of the BB like most modern Race Bikes do for maximum drive these days.

Dressed in Campagnolo Chorus, with Record Rear Derialeur and upgraded ergo cockpit – 2010 Centuar shifters (same weight as 10 speed Record but seriously improved hoods and levers). Keywin Ti pedals continue to rock those in the know (192g set), KCNC brake calipers for the weenie in me, Selle Italia SLK, Gore professional cables (you gotta have them), and Deda Blackstick, Zero 100 and Newton (deep). To round out the equation Campy Eurus keep me rolling effortlessly for as many training miles as I can throw at them – flawless.

I’ve loved all my race bikes but this one is proving difficult to want to let go of.

Wilier Le Roi (Cofidis edition)


I had just come of a long season of racing and a life changing crash when I decided to pack it up and live in East Africa as a Mountain Bike guide. The following 6 months were a blast and could never be replaced however the racing siren sang her tune and becond me back. After some good times on my first Wilier I wanted another crack this time with their top steed the Le Roi (pron. le wah?). This frame is now retired but helped me through one of my best periods of fitness and a few course course records that still stand including the brutal Alexandra-Roxboruogh-Alexandra. It was also the first bike I’ve owned that started to tickle the UCI weight limit (esspecially when I raced on 404 tubs) which perhaps comes as an obvious coincidence; but it’s team colour and power delivery was always inspiring on the road and the motivation followed. I dressed it in the next years Campagnolo kit which included a redesign in BB and Crank and still is unmatched in performance and maintenance by any other manufacturer – the old boys in Italy still lead the way!

Trek 5200 (custom)


Em originally bought her 5200 back when Project One was thought to be something hidden inside Hanger 18. The first incarnation was a stunning hand painted frame of Blues, Silver and Red in almost 90’s Colnago deco style. When it got sent back to Waterloo for an alignment claim she used her inside connections to get the replacement equally customized; this time travelling the opposite path of “show” bikes and going under-the-radar naked carbon with Black Decal’s – I’m yet to see another “EK” like it. Other individual choice over the Ultegra groupo include a much-loved Specialized Lithia 143 saddle, Bontrager Race Lite’s and Cannondale Carbon cages.  

Trek XO1

Em’s winter commuter – she’s from Vermont. A standard X bike from Trek, great for when the going gets cold, the ice turns to slush and or you want to really  explore. In this modern world gravel roads thankfully still abound; and these things are a blast. If you haven’t experienced riding a cross bike from sealed tarmac full gas onto the dirt you don’t know what you’re missing. With the UCI now giving in to allow these things have disc brakes what’s stopping you?

Pinarello Suprise

Now we’re going back a ways, actually I think this was the same year that I got the Dekerf and started to shave my legs… This was my second Pinarello after owning a Sestriere (steel and oh so good). At the time (as today) who didn’t desire a Pinarello, they had just spent the previous 10 years destroying the Tour; Indurain, Riis, Ulrich. Back in Adelaide there was a turning point matching the world scene where Mountain Bikers were starting to really hurt the Roadies at their own game, and this frame took me to my first road victory (Regency Park crit). It was us against them, and a great time for us, esspecially as our usual from the gun sprints were particularly discouraged – we didn’t know better and still don’t today.

Any way the Suprise was a middle of the road Aluminium Pinarello that copied a Paris from Riis years. It was a lively if a little harsh ride but that got me excited and on Adelaides long climbs just the ticket. A few years later it continued it’s winning way after a passed it on to an up and coming local junior Tom Scully. Tom has since gone on to win World Cup’s on the track so it’s great to know this bike motivated more than it’s fair share. Very fond memories and even though they have only won 1 tour in the last 10 years they still are one of the most desireable and race worthy marques in the world today.


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