I first stumbled across Shimano’s Aero AX components when I bought a Raleigh Road Ace as a box of bits and frame on Ebay some time around 2003.
Very quickly I was taken by the number of design innovations and Shimano ‘firsts’ that the group set had, despite being very interested in bikes and cycling, the Road Ace was technically my first proper racing bike and it was already ‘retro’, which fitted my interests just fine. The more I researched the AX range, the more I liked what I found.
Cycling rapidly became an obsession with collecting AX kit becoming a small hobby, hunting New Old Stock (NOS) parts from around the World alongside picking up a non-aero bikes along the way. I made a basic website as part of the hobby, quite quickly a few people made contact and sent me pictures of the Aero AX projects and bikes they had, this was all before Facebook and social media activity. A highlight was being sent pictures from the legend Sheldon Brown, someone I admired for their excellent website. Then life moved on, I sold all the kit and got more obsessed with the actual cycling of bikes more generally. Riding replaced the hobby, modern kit replaced the aero stuff. In my defence, the ‘modern’ kit was still old stuff and started with a Litespeed Classic that was beautiful and ended up rather typically with Italian stuff, namely Colnagos.
In 2007 my first child was born, fancy bikes and cycling was parked… However our first trip into London as a new family resulted in us driving home with not just a new baby and buggy in the back, but a Raleigh Road Ace I had ‘found’ again on Ebay. New babies, bikes and buggies are a tricky combination. The Road Ace was sold locally to a motorcycle mechanic within a few months without so much as a single ride out on it.
In 2009 my second child was born and by this time I now had my own office space with a second storage floor. I had also and started working again with cycling brands and related products. Lots of retro bicycles were bought, sold and in the mix were Shimano AX bikes and again, a focus around Raleigh Road Ace bikes. Quite a few were bought in order to have a specification correct example in excellent condition. I even managed to buy back the Road Ace I had sold locally two years earlier to the local mechanic, and actually ride it.
The businesses closed in 2012, and the office storage space went with it. All bicycles were sold as I prioritised return to working as an employee alongside family life, from here there was a solid break from anything cycling related.
Then in 2020, the World is turned upside down due to the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three days before the UK’s first full lockdown, I had bought two road bikes purely by chance, an opportunity to get fit and get my youngest out on bikes with me. I bought a clunky old alloy GT road bike and a junior racer as a father and son activity. Together we rode most days through the first UK lockdown (just one form of exercise within your household group permitted each day) and once again, got bitten hard by the cycling bug. Within a couple of months the GT is traded in as a Raleigh Road Ace has been found. And the cycle starts again, it’s no surprise to me that the bike has no brake hoods…
Quite accustomed to riding Road Aces without hoods, I found myself hunting for them all the same, just as did back in 2003.
A few people seemed to think they were in production but enquiries proved fruitless, and with time on my hands I decided to explore making my own. Now we are here, the third phase of my Aero AX and Road Ace journey.
Third time round, the bike collection is stronger, the aero parts more interesting and the website is back.
Thanks for reading this far, I hope you find what you are looking for and if not please ask someone on the Facebook group who might be able to help!