Have you ever thought – “Hey, all these UK micro bike brands are just some bloke in a shed ordering frames from China and then making up some marketing bull to flog em”?
Well I did too, and just for a laugh I thought that if they could do it then so could I! I didn’t fancy having the hassle of customers though so Spanner Bikes is a very exclusive company producing bikes just for me. You’re very welcome to do the same for yourself though, that’s why I’ve subtitled this site ‘Be your own brand’.
Think of it as being like Open Source software; this is Open Source bike design.
In the middle of 2008 I started looking around for a new hardtail frame, I loved the idea of treating myself to a titanium one, but didn’t fancy the idea of paying over £1000 for it. I also found that each frame I looked at wasn’t quite what I was looking for, maybe the geometry needed a tweak or the cable guides were in the wrong place.
Checking out the forums there seemed to be an emerging trend of companies in China who were willing to deal directly with customers overseas. They had a history of making frames for other brands and used experienced welders working with tubing certified to the same standards as anyone else making a titanium frame (or so they said!).
Now I’ve had some experience in working for a company that produced bits for bikes and I know there are some places I wouldn’t trust to make something for me – Russia or any of the ex soviet countries for sure. They have a very flexible attitude to materials quality and they sometimes struggle to produce things to spec.
China, like Japan, on the other hand has a very strong manufacturing culture. I went to an exhibition on the Terracotta Army (the 8000+ life-size clay warriors that were buried with the First Emperor of China over 2000 years ago) each assembled piece bore it’s makers mark along with that of the foreman that had inspected it! Now that’s the sort of attention to detail I like, and they were just making figures that were going to be hidden away underground!
Some people have a big thing about frames being made in America which is strange when you think about all the other stuff that comes out of the USA – American made car or motorbike anyone? Hmm, maybe not.