A Sovereign Story: Victoria, Japan, Whitehorse, Kenya

We've been building bicycles since 1986 and with the long history of bikes we've made, there's no shortage of amazing stories. Matt Wood describes his lifelong history of Brodie and where it's adventures around the world. Thanks Matt, we wish you more amazing adventures for the next 20 years!


I saw by coincidence on the web today that Mr. Brodie's handmade bike recently won an award.  Congrats on that.

I thought you might be interested in the story of the life of my Brodie bike, one of the old school hard tails/no suspension, which has seen about 20 years.

I bought my first and only Brodie 2nd hand in 1994/5 or thereabouts I think it was at Oak Bay Bicycles in Victoria, BC.  I still remember my dad taking me to the shop to get it as a replacement for a Trek I had that was stolen.  The Brodie was already two years old then, so I guess a 92 or 93 model.  17" or 17.5", light blue.  I think it was a Sovereign but the name faded years ago.  I rode it around everywhere and raced it a couple years in the high school mtn bike competitions on the island.  We were also into trials then back when Hans Rey was king so it bounced around a lot on rocks and logs.  Upgraded the components a bit with XT shifters, etc.

In 1997/98 I moved to Japan for a year and brought the Brodie with me. I rode it to work and back every day through the urban streets and all over the rice paddies and mountains on the weekends with some American and local dudes.  We were in Nagano prefecture, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, so it was perfect terrain.  That year we had a big snow dump and the Brodie slipped and slid its way along through the drifts.  It was also used for clandestine night rides to the local "love hotel" with my girlfriend on her old school grandma bike.

Back in BC from autumn 1998, it became my university commuter bike. Too lazy to do proper maintenance, the paint started chipping off and some parts started to rust.  My friends used to laugh (probably still do) that I used my little sister's nail polish to patch up the rusty sections.  Still do in fact (well, not my sister's).

In 2001, my uncle called me up to Whitehorse to work with him on the National Census.  The Brodie came along.  The bike took me all over knocking on people's doors to fill out census forms.  If you know the Yukon, you know many people there don't like government employees asking questions, but I think the fact that the census taker showed up on a bicycle helped to convince them.  I also had a 2nd part-time job taking kids out mtn biking after school.  My uncle had a cabin in the woods about 60km from Whitehorse and the bike often made the trip.  It was even light enough to ride under the summer midnight sun.

In 2003 I moved to Kenya for work and in 2004 brought the Brodie over. I raced it for a couple years in the then nascent local mtn bike circuit, which has since grown a lot.  Took it on some epic 120km+ one-day rides through the hills and acacia scrub (10 punctures in one day!) as the buffalo and giraffes looked on.  In 2005 I finally had to buy a new front suspension bike (Gary Fisher) for races because the hard tail/fork became a bit of a pain on many of the Kenyan trails that are often more corrugated sun-hardened mud than nice flowing single track.  So the Brodie was regulated to riding the mad streets of Nairobi and navigating the traffic jams.

From 2006 I started living more and more on the coast in Kenya and brought the Brodie down there with me, where it has been ever since. You could say it's become a beach bum.  It's my local transport and used for exploring and once in a while my buddy used to take it out for his Ironman training.  It's even been in one (road) triathlon.

So that Brodie is 20 years old.  It's seen me through my teenage years and university up to now married with a kid and a small business owner.  It's been ridden hard all over, a world traveller, basically nil maintenance on the frame and still going strong.  The salt air (it's kept right at the beach) may be starting to take its toll, it's in dire need of some attention (components have mostly stopped functioning so it's become a single speed), but if you guys are still producing animals like that, I think you're doing something right.

Keep it up.

Matt Woods Kenya

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