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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 119 > HARDTAILS WITH SHOCKS

HARDTAILS WITH SHOCKS

Ian Bailey takes a trip to Stanton Bikes’ Peak District HQ to talk about steel bikes, the future of British framebuilding and following your dreams.

The British bike manufacturing industry has a tumultuous history; once the world leader in both output and innovation, it has fallen on hard times since the mid-tolatter end of the 20th century. Fluctuations in bicycle popularity have influenced the birth and demise of many companies, while others have had to reshape business models and look abroad to survive. Reasons are multiple, but in simplified terms, an increasingly global economy, where foreign production has become more cost-effective and logistically possible, has rendered most UK factories obsolete.

Faced with stark survival prospects and unable to compete, the vast majority of manufacturers have left our shores. In turn, beneting from a new bulk of experience, factories in the Far East have become capable of producing industryleading standards of workmanship, combining quality with competitive pricing.

Against this backdrop the UK has still maintained a strong, albeit small, presence on the world stage in terms of cutting-edge product development, but even the most passionately patriotic have generally succumbed to the lures of our shore manufacture. While British artisan framebuilders have enjoyed a resurgence this century, many are shed-based sole traders with moderate turnover and little global infiuence. It’s dicult to envisage a larger outt bucking the trend, and so when we got wind of an industry rumour that Stanton Bikes was considering moving production back to the UK, it needed further investigation.

Derbyshire-based Stanton Bikes appears to currently occupy the middle ground, still small, boutique, and expensive enough to retain a desirable exclusivity, but with distribution reaching farflung places, it’s not among the aforementioned small fry. Building a reputation on top-end ‘hardcore hardtails’, it has taken that niche segment and successfully sold it into a continually expanding worldwide market. A beneciary of skilled Taiwanese welding, it is eectively mass-producing framesets that maintain the perfectionist attention to detail often only provided by custom outfits.

Dan Stanton is well known in mountain biking circles as a philosophising engineer, as likely to be found discussing ‘the concept of femininity’ as he is to be examining the ner points of seat-tube diameters. A student of social and cultural theory, his metallurgical knowledge has been entirely self-taught – a process of painstaking research and fearless trial and error. He’s never looked back since selling his beloved Charge Blender to fund the rst-ever Stanton frame, unsurprisingly a titanium hardtaile British bike manufacturing industry has a tumultuous history; once the world leader in both output and innovation, it has fallen on hard times since the mid-tolatter end of the 20th century. Fluctuations in bicycle popularity have influenced the birth and demise of many companies, while others have had to reshape business models and look abroad to survive. Reasons are multiple, but in simplied terms, an increasingly global economy, where foreign production has become more cost-eective and logistically possible, has rendered most UK factories obsolete.

Faced with stark survival prospects and unable to compete, the vast majority of manufacturers have left our shores. In turn, beneting from a new bulk of experience, factories in the Far East have become capable of producing industryleading standards of workmanship, combining quality with competitive pricing.

Against this backdrop the UK has still maintained a strong, albeit small, presence on the world stage in terms of cutting-edge product development, but even the most passionately patriotic have generally succumbed to the lures of oshore manufacture. While British artisan framebuilders have enjoyed a resurgence this century, many are shed-based sole traders with moderate turnover and little global influence It’s difficult to envisage a larger outt bucking the trend, and so when we got wind of an industry rumour that Stanton Bikes was considering moving production back to the UK, it needed further investigation.

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