Wester Ross frame. 469 FGF.
This frame, which is one of the last few frames to be made is owned by Ron Matross in the USA.
"I picked up Wester Ross #469 in Whitby in the summer of '85. I had traded houses with someone outside of London for a month, and decided that I would have a frame built while I was there, especially since the pound and the dollar were then trading at about 1 to 1. I had become aware of Wester Ross through a Cycling magazine annual, which featured the bike and John's reputation for craftsmanship.
By then, John was getting out of the frame building business and was running the Haven B & B in Whitby, where I stayed. I picked up the bike fully equipped, and rode it back to York to pick up the train. It then went home with me to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where it became my main road bike for the next decade.
The bike was constructed with Reynolds 531 ST (for special touring) with a stout downtube and seatstays. It is built with a Cinelli bottom bracket and Prugnat lugs. It is a "club bike" in that it has relatively short chainstays and tight clearances. It did take mudguards, but only when I used very narrow 700 x 20c tires. The dark red enamel was painted over a gold undercoat, and the lug windows were painted gold by John's wife. The paint is all original.
By the mid-90's I was using a lighter ti bike for my "go-fast" bike, and the Wester Ross became a spare. Because of its clearances, it really didn't work as a utility or rain bike, so it mostly languished in my garage. It pained me to see such a fine machine sitting unused, so I had a brainstorm: What if I converted it to use 650b wheels, and turned it into a bike path and town machine, which I truly needed?
Jim Thill, of the wonderful Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis www.hiawathacyclery.com helped me do the conversion, including 650b wheels, Panaracer "Nifty Swifty" tires, Berthoud stainless steel fenders, and Nitto "Albatross" bars. I still have my Look pedals and Turbomatic saddle, but will sometime probably add SPD pedals, a honey-colored Brooks B-17, and a Carradice bag.
The bike now provides a wonderfully comfy ride. It has a splendid new life, running errands, cruising bike paths, and coming out whenever I want to ride at a "smell the roses" pace."
In a few days, I'll be riding the bike at an all-British bike rally in the area: www.abcetour.com
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