Through the somewhat muffled blur of earplugs and protective eyewear, the Renthal factory floor appears bewildering, but also enthralling to an engineering and manufacturing mortal like myself. The place is a hive of activity. A constant hum from the CNC machines is the factory’s chorus whilst the purple glow of a plasma cutter makes light work of a chunky aluminum sheet. Fatbars are bent effortlessly into shape, motorbike sprockets are counter-bored and their teeth cut. The ‘heavy industry’ feel to the buildings and their contents are satisfying, following the journey from raw aluminum billets right through their birth and into adulthood as they head to the warehouse and distributors, before beginning the next chapter of their life on the world’s trails.
What would later become the Renthal brand we know was started by Henry Rosenthal for his own personal moto-trials demands on the UK national circuit. After bending the steel handlebars on his bike and realizing the market’s offerings were of the wrong material, he took matters into his own hands. People began to sit up and take notice of his custom bars and, before too long, other riders were asking for their own set. In 1969, alongside fellow motorbike and engineering enthusiast Andrew Renshaw, they embarked on the manufacturing of trials handlebars, giving the foundations to their company. The ‘Renthal’ name of course coming from the chopping and conjoining of the duo’s surnames.
Motocross was the next entry into Renthal’s portfolio along with a move into the US market in the 80s, the disciplines of motocross and supercross then took off with Renthal surfing the wave. The green light for their bicycle story illuminated in 2007, three years before they hit the market in 2010. Seeing the crossover between moto and mountain bikes, they first embarked on gravity disciplines with an aluminum handlebar which garnered immediate accolades with Specialized’s Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan taking gold at Mont Saine Anne World Champs. Their ‘Fatbar’ evolved new iterations including a carbon version, as well as bringing chainrings, stems, and grips to their offerings. The moto market is still the heft (75%) of Renthal’s income, although the bicycle products are continuing to see a steady growth as they expand into new markets and consolidate their ‘core’ products. Bear in mind their bike side is still rather youthful...
We took the trip to Renthal’s factory on the outskirts of Manchester, UK, to get a behind the scenes snoop:
Renthal are proud of their racing and competition history. Taking pride of place at reception, there are plenty of big names with championship success: Hill, Graves, Ragot, Rude, Gwin, Hart, and Ravanel to name but a select few...
There is, of course, a large amount of waste, this is all recycled. For the first part it's environmentally friendly, but for the second part, it helps put money back into the business with the waste sold off.
A Renthal chain ready for breaking into correct lengths.
The bars get subject to two different grades of blasting which gives them their hard wearing finish.
These are almost like templates, allowing engineers to check the finish of their batch of components - they aren't used to check tolerances.
With the main bulk of machining done, the clamps need to be remounted for the rest of the excess material to be removed.
The final few steps are assembly and packaging before they are shipped out.
Next stop the trails...
For more photos, view the full album here
: @renthalcycling @rossbellphoto