35 years of curtis bikes
We take history for granted, we don’t really take into consideration when companies emerge and what the ethos behind them is, many companies start from the complacency around them, they’re usually the brainchild of someone who isn’t entirely satisfied with the influences that surround them.
DIRT ISSUE 66 – AUGUST 2007
Words by Elliot Eveson. Photography by Grant Robinson
When I started to ride, I would occasionally see Curtis Bikes adverts in magazines, so I checked out their website, I couldn’t really see the point of spending that sort of money on a hand crafted frame when I could get one built by a robot for less than half the price. That was until I started talking to other riders and the friends around me who I ride with. The amount of respect they held for the brand, bespoke frames hand built in the UK using top line tubing, but more than anything, it was the geometry of the frames that people are always most impressed with.
Although riders knew that Curtis were at the forefront of frame design for riding trails and 4X, 24” frames and BMX race frames, no-one had an idea about the previous twenty–odd years that preceded the mountain bike era at Curtis. The years of BMX influenced by current owner Gary Woodhouse, and before that, the years when Brian Curtis supplied Scramble (motocross as we know it now) riders with a sweet geometry of his own, the Curtis Honda CR250. This year Curtis has reached the ripe old age of 35, with young-blood influences, Curtis bikes are still producing some of the finest built frames in the world, remaining at the forefront of the industry, managing to tread water against all odds, supplying purist riders with a quality that a robot frame builder isn’t programmed to understand.
When you’re in strange lands you see strange things, everything a ‘local’ overlooks on a daily basis is incredibly funny to a visitor. We drove through Compton without getting shot, we drove through a town called Street instead of up one, and went past Radstock which sounds like a festival for the ‘extreme’. We managed to get so lost that we needed to stop for something to eat, we had no map and no idea of where to go other than directions from a man who doesn’t drive, cheers Jim!
We thought we should be in the vicinity by now, and after our written directions came to an end we thought it would be sensible to stop at the next property and ask if they knew where we were going. We asked an old boy with a knowing face who has probably helped numerous people in the search for the Curtis workshop before and will no doubt will also assist many times in the future. He smiled and pointed over the road, ‘up that lane and stop’, he ain’t wrong, you go 100 yards up a mud track and stop. Blocking the whole lane seems to be the norm and doesn’t bother anyone. As we get out of the car we fire each other nervous looks, we’ve been told by the old boy it’s where they make bikes, but there is nothing obvious to say that, all we see is a modest gate, no signs just an old boys word, as we sheepishly walked through the gate, we see stables, we expect to see horses, but instead we see a long line of chromoly steeds, all in chronological order. Welcome to the Curtis Museum, where you can have a peek into the future if your lucky.