Category Archives: Factory Visit

Retro bike Factory Visit Factory Tour
Intrepid retrobike reporter Augusts brings a unique insight through words and imagery into various bicycle and component manufacturers through the Factory Visit series. Retrobike has visited various manufacturers around the UK all of whom have strong links to their heritage whilst still producing a product relevant for the 21st Century.

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…)

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…)

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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