This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from teacher Varun in Coventry, UK, who shares the steel Stayer Groadinger UG frameset he bought from the London-based makers as an all-rounder after a pair of his bikes were stolen. Find details, more photos, and Varun’s story of building up his new rig himself here…

Words and photos by Varun Jyothykumar (@twowheeledteacherman)

My name is Varun, and I’m a secondary art, design, and technology teacher from Coventry in the United Kingdom. After spending all my childhood cycling or running competitively, I lost touch with both sports as an adult.

Stayer Groadinger UG

However, when training to teach a couple of years ago, funds were so tight I ended up selling my car and buying a bike with a fraction of the money. After a tough winter of riding to my school in the freezing rain and learning to maintain my old Specialized, I completely fell in love with riding bikes again. The twin purposes of utility and exercise were satisfied; I haven’t owned a car since and probably never will.

How I acquired my Stayer is a bit of a story. At one point, I owned three bikes: a road bike, a Cannondale CAADX fitted with 40mm tires, and an old MTB I had built up for load carrying. This was excessive and took up way too much space in my tiny backyard. One fine day, some thieves broke into my yard and stole both the Cannondale and the road bike. I realised this was a wake-up call, and I decided to put the insurance money from those two stolen bikes towards one high-quality frame and build it up into something that fulfilled both their traits—an N+1 killer, if you will.

  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Stayer Groadinger UG

After much fruitless hunting on second-hand websites, I found Stayer Cycles in North London. Their Groadinger UG frame seemed the perfect match: room for large (2”+) tires in a 650B size, decent stack height for my long-suffering lower back, and a stunningly beautiful steel frame built lovingly by Stayer themselves in their workshop.

At the time, I was growing increasingly interested in local British makers and building a friendship group of people who built and raced bikes made using local craftsmanship. The Stayer fitted the bill perfectly! After many phone and email conversations with the incredibly helpful Holly and Sam, I took the train to London and returned with my clear-coated “raw” finish steel frame, complete with braze-ons and mounts aplenty.

  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Frame Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Fork Windover Cycles carbon cargo disc
  • Rims DT Swiss G1800 Spline
  • Hubs DT Swiss Centrelock Disc 28H
  • Tires WTB Byway 650 x 47mm
  • Handlebars Zipp Service Course SL70
  • Headset Hope ZS44/EC44
  • Crankset Rotor 3D+ with 48-32 Praxis Works chainrings
  • Pedals Shimano M520 SPD
  • Cassette Shimano 10-speed 11-36
  • Derailleurs Shimano GRX400 10-speed rear/Tiagra 2x front
  • Brakes Shimano Tiagra Hydraulic
  • Shifter(s) Shimano Tiagra Hydraulic 2×10 speed
  • Saddle Charge Spoon
  • Seatpost Deda Zero100
  • Stem Deda Zero2 “polished” on black
  • Front bags Alpkit Gnaro 3L roll-top bar bag (+copious amounts of duct tape)
  • Frame bags Restrap Race frame bag + Race top tube bag
  • Rear bags Alpkit Fiana 13L seat pack
  • Other accessories Alpkit Exo-Rail, Blackburn Outpost cargo cage, Garmin Edge 530
  • Lights Moon Meteor Storm Duo (front) / Exposure TraceR (rear)

I accumulated the parts to build the bike up myself over a period of months. I was keen to do this because: a) I love tinkering and being mechanically minded, b) I felt that assembling the bike myself would give me ultimate control and ownership of it, and c) it would empower to maintain and fix it, because I’d done it all myself! The build balanced thrift and practicality with aesthetics. The Shimano Tiagra hydraulic groupset was as good, I felt, as anything more expensive. The wheels, groupset, chainset, and many of the components were all purchased nearly new or second-hand.

  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Stayer Groadinger UG
  • Stayer Groadinger UG

My favourite part of this build is the subtle red anodising that runs all through it—in the tubeless valves, the Exposure rear light, even the bar-end plugs, and my favourite, the Garmin/light mount that I’ve owned for nearly three years! In its current guise, with chunky road plus 650B tires from WTB, it’s set up for comfy long journeys on broken roads and gravel, though it will be receiving much wider tires to go further off-road in the future.

Stayer Groadinger UG

I use this bike for absolutely everything, and it’s my vehicle of empowerment. My daily commute, trips to see friends, rides to local scenic spots and destinations, and, after I strap my old duct-taped Alpkit and Restrap bags to it, even the odd ultra race or two. I attempted the TransWales race on it earlier this year, and hope to add many, many more kilometres under the wheels in the years to come.

You can see more from Varun on Instagram @twowheeledteacherman.

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