Oops, it followed me home honest it did. Late 80's Ken James

allenh

rBotM Winner
No No No No No, I don't need any more bikes I really don't, but I always argue that need and want are such easily interchangeable words so that justifies it as far as I'm concerned.

This is one of two bicycle frame manufacturers to hail from my childhood home of Ashford in Kent, the first was a huge concern which was Norman cycles and then a small frame builder Ken James who was hand building frames long after Norman had been absorbed into the Raleigh empire.

I used to visit Kens shop a lot in the mid to late 90's before work took me overseas for a while and he rekindled my love of cycling at that time. I had one of his frames already (which I still have) a nice 531 Pro frame that was my regular use machine for many years but if I'm honest is a little on the small side for me. I've hung onto it because its a very nice thing and because of its ties to my home town and I do keep thinking about restoring it as its more than a little battle scared but haven't yet as I don't think I can get replacement decals for it.

I'd been casually looking for another Ken James frame closer to my size for a while now and this one popped up on ebay the other day so with a maniacal laugh I vowed it would be mine, and a bit of last minute bidding later it was.

The guy I bought it from told me Ken built it for him in 1987 and it went back to him to be resprayed in 2000 but didn't get a lot of use after it was painted and stayed in his shed until he decided it needed to go.

This frame is pretty perfect for me size wise, is a suitable quality being 653 and is in such nice condition I don't even have to consider painting it so as soon as the weather warms up a bit I'll get out in the garage and have a dig through my parts boxes and see what I've got to build it up with, I'm thinking 9 or 10 speed Campag and I'm pretty certain I've got the majority of a suitable group to go on it.

I'm expecting even though I haven't got to do anything to the frame cosmetically this one wont be a quick build but I'll add to this thread as I work out what to bolt onto it.
 

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peetee

Senior Retro Guru
Re:

I remember visiting the the shop a few times back in the 90’s. I seem to remember it being about 200yds from the train station. Was this it? There has been so much development since.
 

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allenh

rBotM Winner
Yep that was it, top of Beaver Road just down from the train station.

Are you / were you a local lad then peetee
 

peetee

Senior Retro Guru
Re:

Only for a few years up to ‘97. I lived in Singleton and was a member of Folkestone CC. Ken James has a good reputation but I wasn’t so impressed with his paint sprayer. Did a horrid job of my MTB.
I remember his shop being tiny and you could see a separate room behind the counter where he worked on the frames.
 

allenh

rBotM Winner
Ah Ok, Yes I know Singleton well and yes that was Kens Shop, tiny.

That's bad with your MTB frame bit I can't say I've had the same experience with the painter, I can only go on the ones I've seen close up but the paint on this one is nice as is the paint on a friends Columbus tubed tourer, my original was powder coated so isn't a direct comparison but those are the only ones I can comment on.
 

peetee

Senior Retro Guru
Re:

Looks like a lovely frame with the fast-back stays and flush fork crown. Are those seat stays a large dia in the middle or is it just the small size of the frame that gives that impression?
 

allenh

rBotM Winner
They do look a little chunky in that photo but the don't seem it when looking at them in the flesh, it could be because of the fastback fitting at the rear of the seat cluster
 

allenh

rBotM Winner
I got to do a bit of digging through my parts boxes yesterday and put together a few bits to build this one up.

Its going to be 9 speed Campag and so far I've got ITM bars and stem, Campagnolo Veloce mechs and cranks with Athena brifters that are all 9 speed from around the same period and the brakes are a bit earlier and I've got a few pairs in this style which i quite like so they're going on. I'm a bit light on wheelsets with Campag freehubs on but these I think will work quite well, they're Mavic MA3's on Mirage 9sp hubs.

I did a bit of indoor building up today so its starting to take shape, there's a couple of bits I'm not struck on so may well change them as I'd prefer all silver and I'd prefer a Campag seatpost which I'm sure I've got somewhere.

Anyway this will do for now whilst I wait for some ordered bits to arrive and a bit more digging in the garage when I can make the time.
 

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allenh

rBotM Winner
Some shiny and some blue things arrived in the post yesterday so I spent an enjoyable morning finishing this one.

I even managed to get away with doing my assembly work indoors as I assured she who should be obeyed that as this one was all new it was all clean, the I mean you don't see McLaren putting together their racing cars outside in the cold do you argument finally worked.

Anyway I'm quite pleased with it and its built for now although a couple of bits might change, not sure about the brown toe straps as they were meant to go with the tan saddle and the seatpost and headset will change to Campag once I can find the ones I have but for now I'm just waiting for nicer weather so I can take it out without it getting filthy.
 

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