A closer look at Toby Pantling’s unique Whyte E-150. Less is raw...
Who here hasn’t yearned for a totally unique-looking bike? Something you’re guaranteed never to see the like of on the trails, a bike that’s unmistakably yours. Probably all of us. Take a close look at this Whyte E-150, acid striped of all its paint before being polished and anodised, it’s probably the coolest looking raw bike we’ve seen this year.
The bespoke look is more than just skin deep though, owner Toby Pantling from Ace Bikes in Guildford has customised every part of the build, from the suspension to the drivetrain. That leaves just the Bosch motor as standard, although even that’s been dropped out and reinstalled to improve the cable routing, Toby says.
“We’re famous for the motor now, our mechanic does this to every one of the Whyte’s we sell to give it a more direct line,” he says. “It’s a big process, but worth it – we had a guy travelling 75miles to get that done.”
This doesn’t invalidate the warranty, you might be surprised to learn, because it’s done through an official dealer. It also took hours to work out the first time it was done, Toby says, so it’s more of a pro hack than a DIY project in your garden shed. The custom E-150 also has a remounted switch, now located lower than the top of the bars to prevent it from damage, and ziptied in place so it can spin in a crash.
Start with a bike, strip down the components until you’re left with just the frame. Then leave to soak overnight in a bath of acid. Again, don’t try this at home. Then polish the raw frame, add stickers to form logos (in this case, Ace Bicycles), bead blast to remove any surface deposits without damaging the frame, before removing the stickers. Finally, bathe it in acid and run some current through – anodising.
Anyone unfamiliar with anodising, it’s an electrochemical process that actually changes the surface of a metal. The benefits here are that it will remain tarnish free, because unlike paint it can’t chip or peel, and it’s more durable. It looks great too.
Why all the effort? “It’s the dream,” Toby says. “It’ll never get tatty, I’ve always loved the raw look — what’s lovely is the different alloy mix on the welds, the colours you get. I’ve had some experience too, working on the Geometron project, so I knew it would look good.”