Bike test: Oxford Bike Works Model 1E touring bike

A comfortable commu-tourer with tried-and-tested kit and a British-built steel frame. Cycling journalist and bike tester Simon Withers put it through its paces

The 1E is Oxford Bike Works’ least expensive bike – and one of the least expensive complete bikes with a British-built steel frameset. Both the double-butted frame and fork are made by Lee Cooper in Coventry, and the super-smooth fillet brazing makes for a very handsome machine.

There are fewer options with the Model 1E than with Oxford’s other bikes but you still get the personal fitting session, 10-year frame guarantee, and one-year comfort guarantee, which allows you to change the stem, bar or saddle if they’re not working for you.

You also get a lovely ride that’s suitable for commuting, day-long rides and light touring, and the 1E proved comfortable on road and off-road surfaces such as towpaths. Its V-brakes may have a historic air these days but they’re powerful, consistent and pleasingly squeal-free. (A disc-braked Model 1E is an option.)

The drivetrain is smooth and quiet, the Shimano Deore gears shift easily, and the bike coped admirably with loaded panniers, with no discernible frame flex or brake rub. The taut, hand-built wheels and supple Panaracer tyres are a great pairing for poor roads and towpaths, and the rims, frame and fork will all accommodate much wider rubber.

A single-ring setup does limit your gear range but Oxford offers chainrings from 34t to 40t or a triple, which I’d choose for extended touring. I’d also prefer Ergon GP3 bar ends or similar for the extra forward-facing handhold, but along with safety-release fittings for the front mudguard, those are the only changes I’d make.

A ‘proper’, sonorous brass bell and a kickstand round out a well-considered package. With a threaded bottom bracket shell and external cabling, Oxford’s 1E is user friendly for the home mechanic too.


The Model 1E’s hand-built frameset is paired with well-built wheels and sensibly chosen components for a comprehensive commuting and light-touring package. Throw in a comfortable ride, plus Oxford’s personal fitting service and comfort guarantee, and the value looks very decent.

Other options

Genesis Tour De Fer 10 FB £1,199.99

Genesis’s flat-barred tourer comes with a rear rack, Shimano triple chainset, and Promax mechanical disc brakes.

Giant Toughroad SLR 1 £1,299

Giant’s aluminium all-rounder has two racks, a double chainset, and powerful hydraulic discs.

First published in Cycle magazine, August/September 2021 issue. All information correct at time of publishing.

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Tech spec

Oxford Bike Works Model 1E

Price: £1,299

Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL

Weight: 13.1kg

Frame & fork: Double-butted steel frame, 135mm QR dropouts, 3 bottle mounts, mudguard/rear rack mounts. Steel fork with 100mm QR dropouts & mudguard mounts

Wheels: 32-622 Panaracer Pasela ProTite tyres, 36h Zac 2000 front rim, Exal LX17 rear rim, 36×2mm pg spokes, Shimano RS-300 front hub, Shimano Deore LX FH-670 rear

Transmission: 175mm Shimano FC-T3010 chainset with 36t chainring, Neco cartridge BB, Shimano 10-speed 11-42 cassette. Shimano SL-T6000 shifter & Deore RD-M4120 SGS rear mech. Ten ratios, 23-88in

Braking: Shimano T4000 V-brakes

Steering & seating: Ergon GP1 grips, 610×25.4mm Zoom handlebar, 100mm Zoom stem, Ergotec threadless headset. Men’s Terry Fisio Gel saddle, 27.2mm Ergotec seatpost

Equipment: Flinger F42 Deluxe mudguards, Pletscher kickstand, brass bell