The art and act of making, the creative process, from idea right through to final product, is both exciting and vital to progression. Bikes are strange things, we become so attached to these inanimate objects, we obsess over bits of metal, rubber and plastic. We want to know what they are made out of, where they have come from and sometimes how they are made. For some people knowing the origin of a product is just as important as to how it works. This is no ‘UK rules’ deal here, but there is something special about a product made in your own country. I’m not talking ‘MADE IN BRITAIN…ra ra ra…raise the flag’, but there is something to be said for things that are made on home soil (wherever that may be). The people who design and make these products are very real for us. Some of you might even know the people that work at Orange, Hope, etc. These people who craft chunks and sheets of metal into ‘real’ objects live in the same place as us, they eat the same food, suffer the same weather and they ride the same trails. These are products selling to a global market, but made originally for the UK.
When it comes to bicycle and component production we are in an age of Far Eastern domination (we have been for a long time), we should celebrate the art and craft of our own engineers and makers here in the UK, because even though the companies we have featured in this issue are healthy, they are a dying breed. They are vitally important to the health and prosperity of the bicycle industry, and if we are not careful, and if we don’t keep these skills alive, we could easily lose them in a generation…and we don’t want that.
Ideas are still dreamt up by bright sparks, sketched on to a napkin or scrap of paper. Drawings, models, mock–ups, and then fully working prototypes are made. Changes, adjustments here and there, and then finally the finished product. When your factory is next to your design office alterations can be made in an instant, attention to detail and quality control is high, and of course because of their small scale these companies can afford to be innovative, they can try new ideas out almost immediately, discarding those that fail and move forward with those that have potential. But we’re not sitting here with rose tinted spectacles, we know that British doesn’t necessarily mean best.
And we are in no way anti products that are made outside of the UK, because there is no doubt that quality outside of the UK is high and of course that the price is right, but this issue celebrates what is good about mountain bike manufacturing here in the UK, all that is home made.