We look at some of the brands that are representing the best of Britain’s design and manufacturing skills to make their mark in the cycling world.
Fat Lad At The Back
We had to feature FLAB because of their inclusive approach to cycling. Founding Yorkshire lad Richard, started the company after struggling to find top quality cycling gear in normal and bigger sizes – or at least clothing that wouldn’t make you look like an overstuffed sausage – and so decided to make his own to counter this. Their Spare Tyre range of clothing is available up to 58 inch chest and 64 inch waist. Their jerseys start from a very reasonable £39.99.
Stanforth Bikes create expedition bikes for intrepid explorers to go out and ride the world. All their bikes are hand crafted here in the UK. The steel frames are built from high quality Reynolds tubing by the country’s top frame builders, including legendary British frame builder Lee Cooper. Owner Simon Stanforth recently joined us at the London Bike Show to showcase the brand new Stanforth Conway, a hand built, bespoke design which he created with Sean Conway. Sean will be riding this on his upcoming world record attempt.
Each and every Brompton bicycle is hand made in their west London factory. Founder Andrew Ritchie, designed the first prototype in 1975 and their first folding bike was made in 1977. Their iconic folding structure of the bikes make them ideal for commuters of any kind, particularly those battling with the crowds of London on public transport. They are as much a staple of the commute as an overpriced coffee and a season ticket. Bromptons are now well known the world over because of the Brompton World Championships. The finals take place in London and start with a dash to unfold your bike. Riders must follow the strict dress code of jacket, shirt and tie to be eligible – the most dapper race around.
Pashley Cycles is England’s longest established bicycle manufacturer, now over 90 years old. The whole process remains in-house, from design to build in their Straford-upon-Avon factory. While their gorgeous, classic Princess bicycles bring to mind peaceful days out in the British countryside, they now produce a range of styles of road bikes, tricycles and courier bikes. They channel the Best of British by also being directly supplied and supported by other British companies, thereby encouraging the ongoing resurgence of industry right in the heart of England.
Multi-award winning Kitbrix is now the go-to company for kit bags for athletes across the country, particularly when it comes to triathlon. They are British Triathlon’s Official Luggage and Transition Supplier so you can keep everything organised on race day with them. They recently smashed the target on their Kickstarter campaign to launch an additional range of commuter backpacks, the CityBrix.
Brooks England has been manufacturing here in the UK ever since 1866, specialising in leather saddles. We love the Cambium saddle range, which has something for every type of cycling. They also produce a stylish range of handmade leather and suede bags for commuting and everyday travel, merging practicality with quality materials.
Carradice have been making saddlebags and panniers for more than 80 years. It is now managed by David who took over the company from his parents 20 years ago and all Carradice Cotton Duck bags are handcrafted in the workshop in Lancashire. You’ll find the name of your craftsman signed in every bag they make, and we love the tweed designs for a quintessentially British feel.
Researched, designed, manufactured, hand sprayed and hand assembled in Britain. What could be better than that? Former Rolls-Royce engineer Stuart Abbott wanted to bring cutting edge bicycle design home to the UK, using his expertise both in engineering and in aerospace. Dassi create carbon bikes and last year launched the Interceptor, the world’s first graphene bicycle.
USE Exposure Lights
Ultimate Sports Engineering (USE) began in 1990 with the creation of the world’s first suspension seat post. They expanded into a range of other bicycle components, but their Exposure LED lights are what we’re most impressed with. The patented technologies ensure the brightest lighting with sleek, durable designs. They’ve since branched out from land to sea, and their cycling light technology is now also used by divers and sailors. All of their products are designed and engineered in West Sussex, and are tested and developed by riding around the South Downs National Park. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it!
It would be hard to discuss Best of British without including Rapha, even though much of their manufacturing is now in China. Beginning with beautifully designed merino jerseys in London in 2004, Rapha is now one of the most iconic names in cycling wear and is considered the brand that created the road cycling lifestyle. The surge in cycling’s popularity in recent years has helped Rapha to dominate the market with stylish reworkings of “the jersey that started it all”.