By Popular Request: Bob Jackson Vigorelli

I have a go-to bike, and it’s my Bob Jackson Vigorelli track frame. It’s not really a track frame, at least not out-and-out; the angles are perfect, slightly relaxed, and it takes full mudguards. I ride it most winters (and summers) and never deviate from a 68″ gear. For those of you living in a metric world, all you crazed audaxers especially, and Matt Clinton who only speaks in ratios, it’s 39:15. In my experience you can get up and down anything in this gear and tack along on the flat at around 19mph without a care in the world. Apart from Draycott. I once went up Birdlip on Boxing Day, I think there’s a blog on here somewhere about it. I won’t ever be doing that again.

I have a pair of flopped and chopped cinelli bars; probably criteriums. They were really scratched and abused so I didn’t feel too bad about hacking them down. The curve is just right; I’ve tried various other set-ups but this is by far the most comfortable. In the early days I ran with a Dirty Harry lever mounted on the tops but this has been replaced by a single TT lever on the widest point, it makes for easier braking and control when riding at speed; your hands are wider and it’s better, especially when your ass is bouncing around from the effect of a 180rpm cadence.

For some time I ran with a double campagnolo chainset, but with the single ring, this made things lighter. I’ve since reverted back to a Miche Primato; it has a better chainline, less faffage and the Q-Factor is good. I also use the Miche sprocket and carrier system, this is a remnant of hill climb days when you could remove a sprocket very quickly without a chainwhip. Some people sneer a bit at this system, as though somehow it’s not reliable. This is total bollocks. They are sturdy and utterly secure.

Wheels are a set of Mavic Open Pro; the front is laced radially to a Phil Wood hub; it’s very tasty. I have a ceramic rim on the rear, just for shits and giggles because I don’t use a caliper brake. In other words, it’s a pointless addition. It makes people laugh when they see it. I went through the rim of an open pro whilst descending Bridge Valley Road. I nearly shat myself. It exploded. There is a lesson: don’t ride on concave rims.

I love this bike; it’s light enough, but not super light, frame and fork come in at 1.4kg; which is pretty heavy. For a winter bike though, without the addition of a groupset and other stuff, it comes in light. It rides beautifully. I have a carradice on the back to keep my school books off of my back. Saddle is a Brooks Cambium – I’ve tried various saddles. I think the trick is with fixed riding for any length of time is to go a tiny tiny bit lower on saddle height; your ass is moving around a lot more, you need a bit of give.

I’ve had it resprayed by Argos, it’s now orange. It used to be blue. I recommend having your bike re-enamelled every 8 to 10 years; it’s worth it. It used to be a royal blue colour. I also had some additional bosses put on, including secret mudguard ones. The bike was stolen about 9 years ago from outside a pub in Bristol. I got it back a year later almost to the day when it was listed on ebay and an eagle-eyed chum, Rob Mortlock, spotted it. I got knocked off by a car last year and broke two ribs. The bike was fine.

We were meant to be together.

5 Author at point of collapse on the Rake pic Larry Hickmott.jpg
On the Rake, on the edge, with Vigorelli in full hill climb mode in the 2012 National.
On Burrington, probably 2014 I think. FUCKEN HORNS.

8 thoughts on “By Popular Request: Bob Jackson Vigorelli

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  1. Hup hup hup! Back to your old ways you know they are best and a dead cert you are back to your old self and fitness booming keep up the good work love my vigorelli albeit BJ don’t make their finishes last long see you racing soon!

  2. Good one, mines not Orange……it’s blue. Spookily though -I do have an orange bike -sprayed by Argos , it is an Argos, very parallel I think.

  3. i remember seeing it in the flesh out Portbury way when in full winter mode a whiles back – beautiful, understated classic steel porn 🙂

  4. Hey up Paul – don’t know if you are still picking up messages on this blog/forum. It Jon Poole here from the Ashley Touring CC – I got your book off you in Manchester at the Rapha shop. Great read – especially about Granville Sydney – still the best! Though Jim H runs him a close second. I bought a Bob Jackson last year form a man in Otley four just £80 – it had no decals but I had it confirmed by the Bob Jackson team that it was one. My old mate Uncle Geoff the all original headbanger has also got a Bob – he got his from the cycle jumble in Manchester in 2016. His is a mint late 1980’s one with index down tube campag Mirage levers. He haggled down from £400 to get it for £285!
    I am writing a blog this year about trying to get fit to enter the CTT National Hill Climb 2020 and me & Uncle G race on the Bob Jackson’s I’ve only just set it up this week using a Danish comapny called Simple site. I’m lousy with computers – but me son has saved the 1st 3000 words or so I’ve written. I’m unsure if this is a good site to aim at cyclists – could you recommend a good one?

    1. Hello Jon, still checking on here although struggling to generate content because everything is going into the book(s) and projects. I recommend wordpress and then linking to the blog from elsewhere, i.e the UK Hill Climb group on facebook, tagging Simon Warren or me on twitter, etc. If i can get any sense of fitness in time and the global pandemic alertness drops to a level that allows bike racing I might even race on the Bob at the National. This is a massive set of ‘ifs’ though.

  5. Cheers Paul that’s exactly my thoughts as well – I play in a couple of bands but still work part time as a nurse – the girlfriend says I work to fund my lunacy! No gigs or festivals this year though! So determined to get fit and hopefully the Hill climb season will be on. I’ll keep you updated re finding a site – If you’re ever really bored check out ‘The Distractions’ live at the Ruby Lounge youtube or ‘Firewater lies’ – Your’e on my mind youtube – Take care dude and stay safe x

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