Ricky Feather works from an out-of-the-way, rural setting in the York-shire countryside at Feather Cycles. But don’t think for one minute that he is a country boy that dons a blue overall every morning. The only thing that relates him to a country worker is his no-nonsense attitude towards his builds and his rough hands which are a reflection of his passion, hard work and long hours at the vice. Ricky truly loves his profession and a conventional 9 to 5 week is not what he conforms to. Noise can frequently be heard coming from his workshop late at night. He is completely self-taught and has had to figure out a lot of stuff on his own – he carries a permanent reminder of this in the form of a ‘D.I.Y’ tattoo on one of his fingers.
Lug-work is what allows Ricky the most freedom to express himself and this is evident in the unique carvings of his lugs. Like a sculptor, Ricky doesn’t start with any preconceived ideas of how his lugs should turn out, he allows them to take their own form. Whilst Ricky is still at the beginning of his career, he has always strived for perfection. He builds truly unique frames at Feather Cycles that reflect each owner’s personality, often with hand carved details that are a nod to their other interests. But ultimately he builds bicycles that fit, perform perfectly for the job intended and are a joy to ride as well as being beautiful works of art.
Who or what got you into frame building?
I guess it was a combination of a lot of things. I’ve ridden bikes my whole life and I have a background in metal work. I have always modified my bike frames, ever since I was about 12 or 13, I would cut down BMX handle bars and shave material from frame and fork dropouts with an angle grinder when they used to be massive. Later I would shave material from stems and open up the slots on 10mm dropout to accept 14mm axles. I suppose the thing that really got the idea going was seeing an interview with an American frame builder in a magazine called COG. He was a youngster, Jordan Hufnagel, and he was doing something similar to what I wanted to do. My wife, Kayti, helped out with everything and if it weren’t for her and her family I wouldn’t be doing this now. They gave me a good boot up the backside to get me out of the factories. If it weren’t for the garage that Kayti’s dad let me work from I probably wouldn’t have got myself together and done it, well maybe down the line but it would have been too late by then. I would have just thought it would be too difficult to set up. So that’s it really. The main thing was getting out of factories and wanting to do something that I could put my mind to and really enjoy doing rather than repetitive stuff with no real goal or satisfaction.
Do you have a favourite tool?
I like to use my angle grinder for everything. It’s almost like using a hand tool. You can just carve out anything you want with an angle grinder. When I was working in the factories I used to carve stuff out with an angle grinder, just for fun. I would get laughed at, but I’ve always enjoyed cutting stuff out. Like, if you’ve got a line scribed on a piece sheet metal, you can just follow that line perfectly with an angle grinder, dead straight too. Now, I’ve taken that from the sheet metal work, into using it on stuff for bikes. When I first start out carving lugs I use my angle grinder to take the bulk off. I use it for carving head badges and all sorts of stuff.
Extract from Matthew Sowter & Ricky Feather’s book, Made In England, to find out more visit the Feather Cycles site here.