Inside Endura's Factory Where 'Scottish-Proof' Riding Gear is Made

Dec 3, 2018
by Ross Bell  

What relevance does a kitchen table have to the Endura story? Well, it was on the kitchen table of Jim McFarlane's Edinburgh home that the first garments were cut and stitched to satisfy his own needs as he put himself against the clock in time trial races. From that kitchen table to the sprawling HQ now on the outskirts of the city with over 100 employees, Endura has come along way since those rather humble beginnings in 1993.

Endura emerged from the ashes in an area once caught in Scottish industrial decline. A stone's throw from the offices and factory are the scars from shale mining that once boomed around West Lothian, the piles of dirt or 'bings' left behind now rather aptly make for a two-wheeled playground. Being Scottish born and bred, it was only natural that Endura's garments took influence from the elements and weather that they were conceived in; the words “robust” and “functional” were reoccurring while wandering the factory floor.

It's true after all, waterproof doesn't necessarily mean Scottish-proof.

Traditionally, Endura left their products' functionality to do most of the talking, taking a slightly more back seat approach compared to brands with 'louder' marketing pushes, something that which manager Ian Young admits has been a big challenge in recent years. A quick scan of social media threads and their website suggests a very different approach these days, with ever-changing content featuring the likes of the Athertons, Danny MacAskill, and Nairo Quintana to name a few. Mountain biking is more fashion conscious than ever with the image of a company and how it is perceived deciding whether it sinks or swims, Endura is far from resting on its laurels.

In the past year, the company has had perhaps the biggest milestone in its 25 year history, or rather its biggest in terms of the company's future. Endura was acquired by Pentland Brands Limited, placing them under the same umbrella as names like Berghaus, Speedo, and Canterbury. Quite often, when a company is absorbed by a larger name its personality and ethos are lost, but Endura's founder Jim McFarlane and long-standing Product and Marketing Director Pamela Barclay still have a tight grip on the reigns and the day-to-day business, only now with the added security and backing to expand Endura's reach into the cycling market even further.

It looks like there are some exciting years ahead for all involved at their Livingston base.

Endura never ventured far from its Edinburgh roots. Over 100 employees work out of their headquarters in Livingston.

The jersey on the left was made for the Orange Mountain Bike Team in 1995, while the jersey on the right belongs to Trek's flamboyant racer Kade Edwards.

bigquotesEndura is 25 years old this year, having started in 1993. It was Jim McFarlane that started it and he's still involved day-to-day as director of the company. He started it by making products for himself; he was into time trialling and had been out in Australia. When he came back to the UK, he tried to buy some kit and then realised there wasn't actually a whole lot of bike kit on the market at the time so he decided to make his own. He had no experience but just thought he'd like to try it. He started cutting out patterns on his kitchen table and it just grew out from there.Ian Young

Endura make a lot of custom kits for cycling clubs, including the British Army. These are designed and manufactured on site in Livingston.

New products are first conceived as sketches and computer renders from the design team.

An early 3D print of Endura's yet to be released lightweight enduro full face.

The development stages of the new lightweight full face. The model in the center of the right image helped with nailing the styling and colorways, while on the far right is the first sample of the final product they received.

Endura have also been hard at work on their next generation of pads that feature the use of D3O's impact protection.

Raw material ready to be cut into the shapes of the many panels that make up each garment.

The old material cutters that had to be worked by hand. The same employee who used these in the old factory is now operating the high-tech cutter that has replaced them. Apparently, the automated cutting table can cut more material in 2 days than a team could achieve in a week on the traditional cutters.

bigquotesThe core of Endura has always been to bring functionally innovative products to market, and it's about improving rider experience rather than selling with marketing spiel. We'll never be a “marketeer” brand, we'll always be about performance and that has been a challenge in recent years as the whole market has moved towards the kind of 'you need to be shouting loudest' to get noticed approach.Ian Young

Prepping the material for the chop before the automated table takes over.

All of the information for each panel to be cut is fed from the computer to the machine, utilizing as much of the material as possible to minimize waste.

The panels in green are already cut, the yellow is the one currently in progress, and the grey parts are the remaining panels awaiting their turn.

Endura use a technique called dye sublimation printing that transfers hi-tech inks from printed sheets straight into the fabric of each jersey.

Another printed sheet is cut before being placed on drying racks.

This is where the blank panels meet their future design fresh out of the print shop.

bigquotesTraditionally, our products were heavily influenced by being Scottish and the challenging weather conditions we experience here. That’s had to change considerably as the brand has grown in various markets outside of the UK. We can't just make Scottish-centric products and expect them to sell in Southern Italy. In the early days of exporting, the US market was growing quickly. America has a wide diversity of climates, meaning that the Scottish based products hit the mark in some states which was great, but you go to Southern California and no one needs spray baggy shorts or heavy waterproof jackets. Evolving the range to cater for that wider market was challenging; there was a period when the product count went a little nuts so we've really focused on filtering that down to provide a good balance of breadth and depth of products with global appeal and commercial viability. That's the balance. All that said, we still see a particular strength in robust, functional products for challenging weather conditions, and that definitely comes from our Scottish heritage.Ian Young

The ink is transferred from the sheets to the material by a mix of heat and pressure.

Each of the panels can then be peeled off before heading to be stitched into a full garment.

Silicon grippers are injected on pre-assembly.

This room produces over 50,000 garments each year for various clubs, teams, and even a few rainbow stripes for the likes of Rachel Atherton and Kade Edwards.

Each post has a different requirement. Some employees may be stitching together a full garment while others focus purely on difficult areas such as zips.

bigquotesOver the last 2 to 3 years, our marketing has changed a lot. With a lot of new brands coming into cycling, there has been a shake-up in the market with many investing heavily in high-quality marketing alongside strong product development. If you are focused only on product and functionality as a brand you get totally left behind. People's purchasing patterns are changing; buying and researching online has made it so much more important for the brand to talk to the end consumers, whereas before a lot of “marketing” efforts had been focused on selling to the dealer and they'd be doing the talking to the end consumer. That shifted a lot over the last 10 years. 3 years ago we were way behind the curve, but now we’d like to think we're up there. We've always had strong, top-level athlete relations, and since the start Endura has used these riders to input new ideas and test products in development. Now we are working more effectively to show the consumers who they are and how they help develop our kit.Ian Young

Fresh World Champs jerseys heading out to road World Champ Alejandro Valverde.

Next stop: A shop shelf before their life on the trails can really begin.

MENTIONS: @rossbellphoto @endurasport

Posted In:
Industry News


  • 54 3
 So - it seems the Endura stuff is actually manufactured in Scotland? How come it doesn't cost a zillion times more than similar products from high price companys made in third world?
  • 37 4
 You haven’t been to Scotland have you*

*joking. Interestingly, Sweden was classed as third world and it was originally a term from the Cold War, as it referenced political, not economic status. I.e Sweden was non aligned or neutral
  • 8 1
 @howsyourdad: lol

it is bloody expensive though
  • 16 0
 I have a bunch of Endura kit - all [well] made in china.
  • 25 1
 The article shows custom printed kit done in small runs being manufactured in Scotland. Doesn't show the off the shelf kit or mentions where that's manufactured. Given the company was threatening to up sticks and relocate to the Czech Republic if Scotland voted for independence back in 2014, citing trade terms with the EU being the reason, it will be interesting to see what they do if/when Brexit is done and dusted.
  • 57 1
 I like and own a bunch of Endura products, but this article is misleading, verging on dishonest. Picture after picture of products being manufactured in Scotland and not one mention that the VAST majority of stuff is made in China. This is not a "for or against" post about China, just an observation on an article that is written to leave most readers with the idea that the premium price they pay for Endura products is due to where they are manufactured.
  • 15 0
 @smithcreek: Pinkbike's headline authors strike again.
  • 1 0
 @km79: I hope they move here! I love their products, and I'm sure, the quality woulden't suffer. But I just don't get where they would get the workers from. Due to the massive industrialisation and growth all industries here have a very very hard time finding the workforce. And most are solving this by hiring Romanians, Bulgarians or Ukranians. So why not relocate there directly instead?
  • 3 1
 @smithcreek: people in the comments keep telling everyone else how their Endura stuff has fallen to bits. They likely struck a deal of some sort to do an advertorial.
  • 4 1
 @smithcreek: another marketing manager that thinks consumers are absolute idiots that won't look further or think and ask questions. Mostly made in China, no green or social commitments, just making maximum profit so shareholders can get maximum profit untill they shit they investments somewhere more profitable.
  • 4 4
 @km79: well once Brexit is done and dusted Scotland should go for a revolution against GB, get their independance and stick with Ireland to the EU. Scotland in or out of a Celtic aliance would be more than welcome in EU brother ! And don't tell me its not possible, Scotts like the French or the Irish have a long history of freedom fighters and if the French are managing to finally wake up these past few weeks you too can do it ????
  • 15 3
 @km79: There are 2 reasons i wont buy endura kit anymore..

1 is the quality. Its crap. Ive had numerous pair of endura gloves, amongst other things, and they never last more than a handful of rides before the stitching rips apart or the breathable fabric tears. Overpriced garbage IMHO

The second is down to the bosses comments during the Scottish Independence Referendum. His utter disregard for the Scottish workforce, who make his products, was nothing short of disgusting.

This article tries to portray the company as proudly Scottish.. They arent.
  • 1 0
 @Lornholio: I don't believe this piece was actually produced by a pinkbike author. Not enough spelling mistakes and incorrect information published.

This is a paid advertisement. And that's ok as it helps do things like the advent contest.
  • 1 1
 The MT500 one piece suit is £400!!! For some f*cking waterproofs! Yeah well cheap!....
  • 1 0
 Had to take a second look; thought it said “scotch-proof” and almost had a heart attack ...
  • 2 2
 The labels on my endura shorts definitely don't say made in Scotland. Absolute garbage.
  • 6 3
 I've owned a lot of shitty gear in my lifetime. Living and riding in British Columbia definitely takes its toll on gear, but never, ever, have I had anything fail as comprehensively as Endura gear. This is complete garbage, made in China cut-rate trash. The "seam tape" de-lammed after literally the first ride, the zippers failed not long after, the stitching came undone in short order. Read the reviews, this stuff is garbage and the company should be ashamed of themselves selling this fictitious advert to the masses. Your embarrassing product is made in China, at least be honest about one thing. Endura suuuuuuucks beyond words.
  • 1 3
 @Balgaroth: Yesssss man! Truth speak
  • 3 3
 @deadmeat25: "waterproofs". This embarrassing shit will last you a handful of rides at best. Absolute garbage.
  • 3 0
 @myfriendgoose: clearly not the experience I've had.
  • 3 0
 @km79: dude, Brexit will go on for the next 20 years. It's the new cold war
  • 4 2
 @myfriendgoose: Check out us both getting down voted by some rip off Endura c*nt employee...

Dirtlej are better and £100 cheaper...
  • 24 0
 Amazing looking new helmet
  • 1 0
 yes! when and where can I read about this???
  • 19 0
 Proframe replica factory.
  • 6 0
 right! everyone passing comment about the Leatt helmet last week, this one is waaaaay more identical to the proframe
  • 18 2
 Affordable, good quality clothing. No frills also, with lots of clean designs. Two thumbs up for this company.
  • 1 7
flag carbonbootprint (Dec 3, 2018 at 22:17) (Below Threshold)
 You are an idiot if you believe this.
  • 4 0
 @myfriendgoose: Am I saying I'm "believing" something? I'm just saying I like their stuff and it looks pretty good.
  • 6 0
 Love my Endura equipment. Their Humvee shorts were an instant classic for me 4 years ago. Since that... no other short (nor bib/chamois) has been used.

MT500/Humvee series for all the year and some Merino bits for the cold/wet. Where they need to improve (IMHO) is on their protection... there POC still rocks.
  • 3 1
 Not as big a fan of the new Humvees but I swear that if you took a direct hit from a nuclear bomb while wearing the older ones they'd still look in good nick, even if the wearer did not.
  • 1 0
 @Denning76: Yup! the older one (Humvee Mk1) was more sturdy and survived to several 'high speed rock gardens' while wearing and me needing several stitches.
  • 3 1
 Hummvee Mk2 seems like crap to me. I got four pairs of Mk1 Hummvees, two pairs of shorts, a pair of long trousers and a zip-off (which make for a less baggy and less long shorts, both great for riding on road). I regret not stocking up on a pair or two of shorts more. These should last long enough before Endura dumps that botched up Mk2s and re-releases the original design.
  • 7 1
 Endura please note- d3o isn't washable, and mtb gear has to be washable. Even if I remember to remove the pad every time, it's covered in mud. Please go a different direction.

Also: "Looks like a proframe"
  • 7 0
 decent kit ... but funny how all my endura kit has made in China on it ... a far cry from Scotland, maybe its just the small run stuff and custom kit made there.
  • 7 0
 That helmet reminds me of another one that's currently on the market.
  • 3 0
 I love the photo of the boxes on shelves. So abstract!

I bought and returned one endura shirt...very strange cut....seams all over the place. Didn't get while they were so highly regarded. Like a lot of other things in mountain biking, there are many claims of innovation/superiority. But imho, most companies still haven't figured out how to make shorts that don't fall down.
  • 6 0
 That helmet looks like the Trek Session
  • 3 1
 Am I the only one who thinks Endura kinda sucks in terms of quality? I'm not saying the stuff isn't super comfortable etc., I'm just saying that nearly every seem I had pretty much has fallen apart on my shorts. I think I have Humvee Light.

Every pocket has ripped at hole at the bottom so I can't use them, and the butt pad thing delaminated really badly.

I really like the shorts, but they have not lasted well at all. Warranty?
  • 2 1
 @VTwintips maybe in your choosing lies the root of your sin... Humvee Light? They need to be resistant, rude and mean... not light.

The chamois has easy solution... grab another. In fact I have three shorts and 6 different chamois. They're cheap no need to get stingy on those.
  • 1 4
 They are a garbage company for garbage people. Fuck fuckin Endura. Trash.
  • 1 0
 @Topabajo: It was the cover on the outside of the shorts. Not the chamois. Chamois is cheap to be fair, but I have a few nice ones that I use instead. I don't expect a nice throw-in chamois for shorts that are like 90 bucks, if a nice chamois is also 90 bucks anyways.
  • 1 0
 @myfriendgoose: Goose, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying my Endura shorts couldn't endura' much.
  • 5 0
 I think it is only the bespoke stuff that is actually made there
  • 5 0
 Very empty factory, was it a bank holiday?
  • 2 1
 As it seems that only tailored clothing is made there... Any companys that manufactured biking gear in Europe? Best sustainable Like Vaude (but they manufacture in Asia).
I really dont wanna buy Made in Asia biking equipment...all the syntethic fibres and colours... No thanks
  • 1 0
 Northwave manufacture their top stuff in Italy I believe
  • 2 0
 Maloja is manufactured in Bulgaria, I guess they put "made in Vietnam" is it is more legit Smile
  • 1 0
 Castelli makes a lot of their clothes in Italy and Rumania. And Loeffler (austrian company) manufactures almost everything in Austria.
  • 1 0
 @mrwulf: For that price they better be Smile
  • 1 0
 Do they still produce the club kit under the brand name TAL? I never understood why they did that.
Also never mentioned one of the best bits about endura. If you break a zip or damage your gear you can send it back and they'll put a new one in/fix it for you.
  • 3 1
 I've also had endura kit that didn't do what it said on the tin.3 waterproof jackets that leaked like sieves.Ive found more reasonable brands that are making more waterproof jackets and at a fraction of the price.
  • 3 0
 Interesting, I was hoping for a picture of the pregnant man with chicken's legs they use to size their products. I am disappoint.
  • 3 0
 Im gonna sell my fox proframe as an endura helmet or the new leatt, im sure no one is gonna notice the difference.
  • 3 0
 love my endura humvee shorts!
  • 1 3
 Wait until you get them wet
  • 2 0
 I'm using Endura on and off road - I'm very happy by the quality and functionality of their products. Chapeau!
  • 1 3
 Paid informant!
  • 1 0
 Looks like the Scottish factory make to high end team kits and small runs, and stuff for us plebs in South East Asia. keen to try there jacket for next winter
  • 2 0
 If ya taking a Scotsman's money ya better 'ope ta fook your supplying good gear, Endura stuff lasts forever.
  • 1 0
 Nice to see an article about where the Endura factory pro riders and teams get thier jerseys made. Tomorrow can we get the dirty pics of where all "our" Endura gear is made?
  • 3 0
 Cancelled post
  • 2 0
 Would love to see a half shell from them some time.
  • 2 1
 I had that same orange back in the mists of time, I think it's a c16r, project 2 style 4pc forks being the giveaway?
  • 2 0
 That one's ^^ a 'Prestige', later to become a P7 in the C16r era. Had a C16r with F7 fork too, raced it downhill for two seasons with a Marzocci DH4 and Magura Racelines Haha! Still got the frame somewhere...
  • 1 0
 I had that Orange tricot from 1995, loved it, and wear it a lot, should have it somewhere...
  • 2 2
 Using the same pair of MT500 shorts for 4 years and it is. Still like new..and functionality brilliantly designed.. Nothing even comes close.
  • 2 3
 I call bullshit
  • 3 2
 use their MT500 mkII waterproof jacket and shorts. expensive but work.
  • 1 1
 NORONA is much better... tried both of them...
  • 1 0
 Is it legal to make proframe replica???
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 What happened to the MT500 Burner Pant II, I don't seem to find it?
  • 2 1
 no comment
  • 2 4
 Maybe the worst company currently making MTB gear. Endura is wearable garbage. Rather wear a bin liner or adult diaper. Both feel about the same as MT500. Goofy shit.
  • 1 3
 Good that in Scotland and not in Taiwan?
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2000 - 2020. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.018205
Mobile Version of Website