The Migration

I’ve lived and worked in Bristol for over 20 years now.

During all that time I’ve been here I’ve always commuted to work (and gone to the pub) on my bike. The only exception to that is when I built bikes in my shed and my commute was the length of my garden! Now we’re in the new Workshop, I’m back on my bike and I love it.

My preferred commuter bike has always been an old steel MTB, built up with slick tyres.  It’s nimble and quick to accelerate in the traffic. There’s always the opportunity to get a little bit of air off speed bumps and you get super respect points in the commuting hierarchy as you overtake lycra clad roadies on full carbon race bikes.

My current commuter is getting a bit baggy and needs a complete overhaul.  So, I decided to start from scratch and build something special for myself. I want to make the bikes that I ride.

I always had an eye on making them for my customers, but since the rigid bike market is so saturated I had to come up with an original design.  I also wanted to keep the aesthetic cues that all of my current Starling full suss bikes have, in particular the bend to the seat stays.

We built a front triangle and chainstays first, then set about getting the seat stay configuration correct.  With the traditional seat stays junction at the top tube, the aesthetics didn’t look correct.  Dropping the junction down the seat tube started to look like a Starling. Imagine one of my full suss bikes without a shock. But it wasn’t a great structural solution.

Extending the seat stays all the way to the head tube was the solution that worked.  It kept the Starling design cues, it was different to the double diamond frames that overwhelm the market and it provided a good structural solution.  ‘Chevron’ stiffening members between the stays were the final touch that added to the distinctive solution.

As a long time mountain biker, I have boxes of old and perfectly good but redundant parts.  It seemed a sound solution to design the new bike to use these parts. The bike works with non-Boost wheels and has a 27.2 seat tube for example.  My own personal build benefitted from some freebies from Middleburn, Rust Ti bars, Magura brakes and Funn parts, but you can easily built it with less flash kit.

The finishing touches came from John at Breathe Brandworks using the chevrons as inspiration.  Then, it was down to the powder coaters for a a JCB yellow paint job to compliment (or clash!) with the purple velvet curtains I had acquired for the Bespoked show. The bike was ready to go!

And there we have it, the Starling Cycles Migration.

Want one?

If you’d like one, we’re taking orders now and you can read all about the bike on its page here.

Orders will take a couple of months to build but are generally a bit quicker than my full suspension mountain bikes. I’ll offer custom geometry, custom colours and you can also get a colour-matched Clandestine.cc hand-made stem to make it extra special.


We’re celebrating as we move on up to a new workshop.

Starling was born in the shed at the bottom of my garden. That’s no exaggeration, it was an actual shed. It was very nice and sunny, spacious and had power but nonetheless it was a garden shed. It even had a little pond outside with a bridge you had to cross to get into it. You can see a few photos of it here over on Dirt (opens in new tab).

With the big Murmur Factory project and the amazing response to our bikes, we’ve had to upgrade the shed.

So, I’m no longer working at the bottom of the garden and I’ve moved into a proper unit in Bristol.

The new Workshop is amazing and is exactly what I was looking for.

It isn’t massive but has plenty of space for everything we need. It’s light and sunny, has room for customers to pop in and has plenty of space for fabrication and bike building.

There’s a little office, there’s parking and there’s even a brewery next door… totally by coincidence of course.

When I first moved in the new workshop was just a big empty room. I started out getting the wiring and power sorted, then moved on to build some insulated partition walls for the office. With that done I moved on to built a long, L-shaped wooden work bench for frame-building.

It was great fun getting that just-right and having lots of space to lay everything out exactly as I want it. The final job was the fine-details and I clad some of the walls with wooden panels and go some of my original frames up on display.

There’s loads still to be done but… there’s plenty of time.

If you fancy a visit, just drop me a line and the kettle will be on!

Cheers, Joe.


The new Starling Cycles Murmur Factory Edition is the latest hand built 29” mountain bike frame from Starling Cycles.

The frame is built in Reynolds 853 steel with modern angles to be fast, aggressive and beautifully simple.

 

Designed in the UK, Built by ORA

The new ‘Factory’ frame has been designed in the UK by Starling owner Joe McEwan and hand built in Taiwan by ORA, one of the World’s very best steel mountain bike frame manufacturing facilities.

The collaboration between British-born Starling Cycles and Taiwan’s expert frame builders means that Starling can meet the high demand for their frames whilst maintaining the awesome ride and build quality that has claimed praise from riders and press alike.

Customers will also see a price reduction when compared to all British-made Starling frames.

Why Taiwan?

The move to Taiwan was a considered one. As a frame builder, aerospace engineer and designer, Joe made the decision after visiting the factory and seeing first-hand the high quality of manufacturing, work ethics and working conditions.

ORA’s factory is the perfect setup for hand-crafting the new frames with expert engineers, boasting years of experience in building top-quality mountain bikes.

Fast, simple, silent

The Starling Murmur Factory Edition is built around 29” wheels with 140mm rear travel with room for disc rotors up to 200mm and 2.5” tyre clearance. The frames will fit metric rear shocks and 148 x 12mm Boost rear hub spacings.

Frames will be available in two sizes and with a choice of rear shocks from Rock Shox, DVO or Fox. They can be supplied as a frame-only package or build kits with components from Rockshox, DVO, Fox, SRAM, Hope, Middleburn and Maxxis. Frames will be available in Primer Grey with black graphics as standard or in a choice of custom colours for an extra cost.

The Murmur Factory will be available in two sizes:

Still want a custom Murmur, built in the UK?

Riders that want a custom geometry, British-built Starling frame won’t be disappointed.

Starling will continue to hand-build frames in the UK and customers can simply choose whether to commission a one-off UK built frame or order one from the ‘Factory’.

Available to order now

Starling Cycles are taking pre-orders now with delivery expected in Autumn 2018.

Frames will be £1850 with a Rockshox Deluxe shock and all pre-orders will receive a Hope headset and seat clamp. Orders paid in full at pre-order will also receive a Burgtec control kit.

You can learn more about the Starling Murmur Factory here on our website.


Our good friend Jacob Gibbins just made this great short documentary all about Starling Cycles.

If you want to learn a little more about Starling Cycles, this is a great way to do it. It shows Joe’s journey from a full time aerospace engineer to a full time bike designer and builder.

Cheers Jacob!