Augustus Farmer

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Hope Technology Factory Visit

December 9th, 2013

Hope Technology Factory VisitBarnoldswick. It just sounds like a Northern village name. I can’t hear it without thinking of a northern accent saying it. The kind of place you find in a rom-com where Cameron Diaz goes to find herself but finds Ewan McGregor instead. What you actually find in Barnoldswick is Hope.

Pulling up at the house of Hope is quite different from most of the British bike industry I’ve visited. It’s, well, kind of American actually. At least in appearance. Kind of huge in presence and neat in display. You’d never think this gentrified modernised church of British bicycle family silver was actually made in this incredibly smart building, it’s just too nice, too neat, too, well, American. But this front of house is entirely appropriate. To the founders, to the workers, to the ethos, to the product. (more…)

Hans Rey 20 Questions

October 17th, 2013

Hans Rey Retro BikeHans Jörg Rey aka Hans “No Way” Rey will need no introduction to anyone who has ridden a Mountain Bike in the past twenty five years. The GT Bicycles veteran has multiple World and National championships under his belt but it his consistently high media profile many will know him for best. Images of Hans’ spectacular mountain bike trials shows and adventures are amongst the most iconic in the sport and have graced numerous magazine covers and posters. Hans kindly took the time to answer 20 questions for us…

1) Retrobike: How’s life in 2012?
Hans Rey: Life is good in 2013!!! I’m still living the dream, I’m as busy as ever riding bikes and having fun. I would have never dreamt that I would have such long and good career. I try to stay relevant to the times and my age, inspire people to ride or live their own dreams all along while making sure the sponsors get what they are looking for. I’ve done some great trips to Haiti (MTB Ayiti Event), Kenya & Uganda, Southern French Alps with Dan Atherton and the Lofoten Islands above the Arctic Circle in Norway.


Orange Mountain Bikes Factory Tour

October 10th, 2013

Orange Bikes Factory TourEngland has a historical north-south divide. But not these days surely? Not in the age of homogenised pursuits like Saturday shopping, the cinema the night before and the pub the morning after? Must be just the same up there as we are down here, must be.

No. They are not. They are hard. Maybe it’s the relentless economic climate that nurtures the south and freezes out the north. Being overlooked and neglected has made them tough. And they laugh about it. Pride themselves on it. Shandy drinking soft southerners. Being British has always been built on an element of banter within, but there is truth in the soft south, hard north divide. Maybe it’s as simple as the bleak weather. Maybe it’s deeper. Whatever it is, I am most definitely a southerner, kind of soft and am driving north into the rain and cold to see a little handmade British global success story. (more…)

20 Questions with Demon Frameworks

September 7th, 2012

Tom Warmerdam is the man behind the uber small scale frameworks that is Demon Frameworks. Making custom designs and now a signature series available at Mosquito Bikes in London, Tom’s tiny workshop in Southampton, England has never known it so busy. Winning the ‘Best Road Bike’ category at the 2012 NAHMBS earlier this year has just gone to put Demon on the radar of the bike world globally and so I went down to sunny Hampshire to catch up with Tom and get to the heart of what he’s all about. For more on the subject, this month’s Peloton Magazine no 14 (out now) has a feature on the workshop tour I received when we hooked up recently.

Retrobike: Hi Tom, tell us, how’s business in 2012?

Tom Warmerdam: Hello Retrobike. It’s picking up speed. The future’s bright, the hook up with Mosquito Bikes is awesome.

RB: Tel me, who are your heroes? Biking or otherwise…

TW: My grandfather the cabinet maker. He made things with his hands and it always stuck with me from an early age, watching him, he was amazing. His copper plate etchings were beautiful. My dad, he’s probably the greatest supporter of the things I have chosen to do. Bike wise, I always liked Hetchens- intense, awesome. Gary Woodhouse, Brian Curtis, Cliff at Royce. There are so many more though.


20 Questions with Middleburn

March 7th, 2012

In the latest of our industry interviews, we visited a small outfit in the south of England producing some of the best known British bike components of the last couple of decades, Middleburn Engineering. Chances are you will have come across their chainrings at some point over the years in your retro chainset buying experience, but there’s a lot more to these guys than just cogs…as we found out when we nipped down last month for a cuppa and a chat with Matthew Starey, head honcho at Middleburn.

There is also a companion article to this twenty questions in this month’s Switchback Magazine, check the Switchback issue 3 preview here.

1) Retrobike: Hi Matt, how’s business at Middleburn in 2011?

Matthew Starey: Hello Retrobike! Going the right way thanks. We’ve got some big changes, our machine shop moving is the main thing. Getting everything in under one roof.

20 Questions with Royce Engineering

November 16th, 2011

Royce EngineeringIf you’ve ever had a Royce hub or bb you’ll know just how high quality a British made bicycle component can be. If you haven’t been lucky enough to be a ‘Royce user’ I can highly recommend it. Even if just to see your own satisfied grin reflected in the shiniest of shiny finishes the bike industry knows.

Here in our latest in the series of bike industry interviews, Retrobike goes behind the shutters of Royce Engineering down in the New Forest. And gets inside the very interesting mind of Cliff Polton, engineer, cycling and pedal car enthusiast and mouse trainer*, who has been at the helm of Royce Engineering for 20 odd years…

* please see question 18.

1) Retrobike: Hello Cliff, how’s business in 2011?

Cliff Polton: Phenomenal. Enthusiastic!

2) RB: Why the name Royce?

CP: It’s got a nice ring to it, sounds like a quality product.


20 Questions with Paul Price

February 24th, 2010

Paul Price Paul Componenet..of Paul Componenet Engineering (nice parts since 1989) fame.

1 ) Retrobike: What’s going on at the mo at Paul Comp? How’s business?

PP: Business is very good. We’re buying new machines and expanding the building to meet worldwide demand.

2 ) RB: What do you guys get asked for most these days? Hubs? Brakes? Small plastic horses? (Love those product shoots.)

PP: The Chain Keeper has been a huge success, and we have several new mounting styles in the works. The market for brakes and levers is still very good too. The Racer after a few years is finally getting some momentum.

3 ) RB: I know you are just stoked to be in the shop and working away at a project, but do you still find the time to ride enough?

PP: I ride almost every day, at least every other day. Ten years ago I didn’t ride for a couple years and business was in the crapper. Then one day I woke up and gave a finger to the world and went for a bike ride. Things have been getting better ever since.

4 ) RB: The world’s gone a day left to run. Where do you ride? On what? And with who? (and which colour brakes do you fit?)

PP: We are at the base of the Sierra Nevada’s’ so I’d head up and get as high in elevation as possible, and away from as many people as possible.

5 ) RB: Following the XTR years that had a far reaching and damaging effect on high end aftermarket guys like Paul Comp back in the mid nineties, I read that you and the others got through that by leaning out and aiming where the big companies weren’t looking. How’s that working out now?..given that niche is the new mainstream for some of those big hitters.

PP: So far it’s good. There are still small enough spots where we can excel and they won’t bother us. Our main strength is speed though. I can go for a ride, think up a new part, get back to the shop and have the part made by that afternoon for testing the next day. That has actually happened a few times, but usually it’s a week or so.

6 ) RB: Desert Island Discs scenario. Marooned on a desert island. One luxury. Bike? Wine? Another Human? Choose one.

PP: I love bikes, but women are just a touch above for me.

7 ) RB: It’s not about the bike. Those that get it, all know that. But it sort of is though isn’t it? Does it matter what you’re riding as long as you’re out there? Or Is there a specific best friend on two wheels that you always reach for?

PP: I have about 16 bikes in rotation right now. I’ll add another this year. I love riding them all. One bike is designed specifically for a single local dirt road that’s my favorite morning ride. But it’s also fun to take a bike where it ISN”T supposed to be. Like a crit bike on a fire road, or a cross bike on single track. I try to put myself in as many different situations as possible-this where the inspiration for new parts comes from.


20 Questions with Charlie Kelly

January 7th, 2010

Charlie Kelly RepackWelcome to the latest in Retrobike’s 20 questions series. This month the spotlight falls on Charlie Kelly (aka Repack Rider), a man who genuinely needs no introduction.

Retrobike: Hi Charlie, how’s life? What’cha up to?

Charlie Kelly: I have a piano moving company. My daughter is about to start her second year at the University of Oregon, and I am still married to my first wife, named Mary. I work a lot, and most weeks I can only get out on the bike on Sunday, so I try to make it count. Fortunately I have some great places to ride.

RB: Ok, many will know you from the early days of MBUK. How did that MBUK connection come about back in the late eighties? Through FTF?

CK: I don’t remember how I got started with MBUK, but I was friends with John Stevenson and Tym Manley. I know I have copies of the photocopied MBUK that preceded the slick version. I wasn’t too hard to find in those days. In the ’80s I had the advantage of being the only functionally literate mountain biker. Now I understand there are three more. I was writing for several US mags as well as the Flyer, and I was friends of Richard Grant and Richard Ballantine, two English cyclists who were the among first in England to understand the concept.

RB: Early on, important question…what’s your favourite (music) album of all time?

CK: Since I spent a long time as a roadie for the somewhat obscure Sons of Champlin, it would be treason if I didn’t cite one of theirs. “Loosen Up Naturally,” 1969.

RB: ‘Fat Tyre Flyer’ – your publication and the only mountain bike magazine until 1985, is still the best Mag title I have heard of to date. You reportedly loved doing it, any dreams of a re-launch? Surely there’s space on the shelf as the other titles grow ever more similar. ?

CK: A magazine is a life sentence, and I have already paid my debt to society. I don’t think the cycling experience itself changes much from year to year, even though the equipment does, and writing for the major publications I found that there was about a three-year cycle and the same articles would repeat, because the mags are for new riders. There are lots of products for mountain bkes, but I’m into people, not widgets, and I think “bike reviews” are bunch of…what is that word you chaps use…BOLLOCKS. Did I use it correctly?

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An Afternoon With U.S.E.

December 14th, 2009

Rory Hitchens U.S.E.Pulling up at U.S.E HQ it dawns on me, over the years we’ve known each other, I had never taken up Rory Hitchens’ offer of popping by anytime for a tour round (they’re only 5 miles down the road). Right, better turn round and pick up some cakes then hadn’t I? Pulling up at U.S.E HQ for the second time in half an hour, I am greeted by a flurry of bike business activity. “We’re moving into the unit opposite” a huge pile of Exposure Lights boxes said as it crossed the road on the small industrial estate that is so often the type of place you find an industry legend like U.S.E.

Am I going to be met with an air of confused derision at my longing to unearth a pile of anodised purple loveliness gathering dust in the loft?
Probably. This place has after all ridden (pardon the pun) the waves of varying bike trends over the years, from the early days when you could “make something new a whacky colour and people would buy it” through first the ti, then carbon explosions and onto the successes of the growing night riding/ racing market and cordless light set ups. U.S.E may well have a fair few of the old faves still in production, but they are also firmly ‘up there’ with products as innovative and lovely (in a CNC’d kind of a way) as the Olympic winning TT bars and the Exposure Lights LED light range.

As it turns out, I am met by an ever enthusiastic Rory wearing an even more enthusiastic flouro green and pink race jersey from back in the day. Good start I think to myself. He still gets it.

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2008 Retrobike Calendars Are Here…

October 15th, 2007

We at Retrobike Towers are proud to announce that the 2008 Retrobike Calendar is back from the prnters and ready for dispatch.

Be one of the first to get your mitts on our somewhat ltd edition 2008 2008 desk calendar featuring 12 smashing pictures of retro machines in action, some just posing and a calendar so you can make note of any retro meets that may pop up in future, all bound together in a neat CD case that’ll stand happily on your work desk, home mantlepiece or bike shop counter.

They’re a snip at £11 and available in the retrobike shop.

We haven’t got too many, so don’t delay, grab your’s today!

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