Previously, we took a look at 10 little-known German
and 10 continental European
manufacturers making exciting stuff.
Now it's time to cue the national anthem, fiercely defend the monarchy, and put the kettle on. We're off to Britain.
BETD Goldtec herald from Newcastle Under Lyme (not the Geordie one) in the UK.
Not the most well-known company, but highly regarded by people in the know, BETD are actually an engineering company offering their services to much more than the bike industry. But it’s bike parts that are at the heart of BETD. Brompton Engineering and Technical Design making up the BETD.
Their derailleur hanger collection is touted to be the biggest in the world with over 400 CNC machined hangers that in most cases, offer an upgrade over the standard hanger, not just a replacement.
Hubs are also a mainstay of their products with offerings for MTB. Their track and fixed hubs that they have enormous popularity with velodrome enthusiasts and bicycle couriers. Simple methods, like machining the bearing seats all in the same machine operation to ensure proper bearing alignment are details that are hidden away to the naked eye but mean their products continue to work as intended ride after ride.
Having spent a bit of time in their machine shop witnessing the bosses running a CNC lathe for hub axles, it’s brilliant to see that they know and can get involved at the shop floor. There is a humbleness and pride about what they do. Proudly manufactured in the UK isn’t just a marketing piece, it’s a nod to the fantastic array of skilled minds and magic fingers that reside in the UK.
Keeping things British, they also purchased and took over Middleburn when the brand announced it would close its doors. Lusted after cranks and chainrings are still available to purchase and are still manufactured in the UK to some of the highest standards of any a component manufacturer.BETD's website
Based out of Staffordshire, Works Components focus solely on headsets and chainrings. This clear focus seems to have paid off with their products being used by the likes of Aaron Gwin and the Intense Factory Racing team, FMD Racing, UR Polygon and the YT Mob.
Headsets to suit all headtube dimensions all with options to adjust head angle by 1˚, 1.5˚ or 2˚ and reach adjust headsets available too. Works Components do an excellent job of labeling which headset fits in what frame and also the dimensions for the cups and assembled system so you can anticipate any changes in setup to account for the new headset.
They might all be anodized black and spend most of their time hiding away inside a frame, but the options Works Components deliver give endless opportunities to change your geometry and therefore, riding experience.
Chainrings are also available in most of the major fitments, sad how there are now a million, and in round and oval options. There are also various colour options available.Works Components' website
Burgtec gained notoriety from their pedals. The Penthouse flats could take an absolute beating and developed a cult following. They also forayed into hubs, although the wild camo anodized units aren’t available anymore.
Their racing history starts with Dan Critchlow, one of the main men behind Burgtec, who raced World Cup DH for the likes of Yeti, Intense, Chain Reaction Intense and Morewood. The Macclesfield massive lead Burgtec to quickly being associated with riders like Josh Bryceland and Sam Dale, with the duo being local to the brand. Nowadays these guys still fly the flag for them but recent race seasons have seen Burgtec products on the Santa Cruz Syndicate’s bikes. It seems that the brand really does stay true to its passion for racing mountain bikes.
Their product line has grown since the early days and now encompasses everything from socks to saddles, bushings to bars and stems to seat posts. Their hallowed Penthouse flat pedals still stand proud in their range with added options for pedal body and axle material.
Macclesfield can have some pretty tough conditions and I honestly thought growing up there that parts of the forests there would never be dry. So Burgtec’s products are built to last.
This seems to be the theme with the British brands. While there are many British brands that push the limits of weight and manufacturing, most British brands make products that just crack on with the job in hand and continue working, day in day out, no matter the weather.Burgtec's website
Unite are relatively new to the industry, only being established in 2016. But they’ve already got a solid line of products and the foundation of a good name in the UK.
Racer Andrew Cooper founded the brand on the Welsh border hills. With endless riding in either direction right from their headquarters ranging from trail centre madness to dark and dank forests, their products get a hammering when they are out for testing.
Their pedals look well thought out and their chain guides include clever details like a single spacer to cover all three ISCG tabs, so you’ll never be fumbling around under the washer for that missing spacer. It also seems that there will be a stem and set of bars on the way soon.
Unite offer out their manufacturing and design competencies to external brands and without disclosing individual brand names it appears they manufacture for brands all across the globe.Unite's website
In 2006, Superstar was started with a simple vision, to cut out the middle man and sell high-quality parts direct to the customers at a sensible price
Superstar have grown from a guy selling brake pads from his bedroom to a company spanning 3 warehouses with a fleet of staff. Their product range has expanded greatly since the days of bedroom dealings and while there are a few bits and pieces that are made outside of the UK, the majority of their parts are machined in the UK. All their wheels are also built in-house.
Another focus was to make parts that are durable, however when the inevitable time does come to do some maintenance, they’re serviceable too. And all those service parts are available to buy.
There are other little efforts to improve the brand experience too with a 45-day brake pad trial period, in case you’re not happy with the pads, free wheel truing for life for the original owner, with crash rebuild deals available as well.
Machining everything in-house requires Superstar to own a lot of machinery. And it looks like they’re geeks too so, if you like watching machines turn chunks of metal into recognizable bike parts then they have a bunch of little videos on their YouTube channel that show behind the scenes.Superstar's website
Brooks likely wins the award for the oldest brand we’ve looked at, started in 1866 by John Boultbee Brooks. Mr. Brooks arrived in Birmingham with £20 in his (likely) tweed pocket and established a company manufacturing leather harnesses and tackle for horses.
It wasn’t until 1878, when Mr. Brooks’ horse died that he tried out one of those, at that time, new-fangled bicycles. To his surprise, the seat was excruciatingly uncomfortable and with all his knowledge in leatherwork, the first Brooks saddle was conceived.
Since then, the bike saddle has continually been a part of Brooks whose history passes through each and every single landmark in the bicycle history. With forays off into luggage, cycling shoes, and clothing they have continued to craft leather saddles in the UK. Now, owned by Italian saddle giant Selle Royal the company DNA still shines vibrantly through in their products as Brooks still continue to make their almost trademark leather saddles with their distinctive shape, springs, and rivets.
Brooks continue to offer classic saddle designs and incorporate materials such as carbon fibre in certain models. They also Brooks' website
EXPOSURE & USE
USE, or Ultimate Sports Engineering, is the company responsible for the design and production of USE components, Exposure cycle lights, and Exposure marine lighting.
The company started in 1990 and is nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Their first component offering, the suspension seat post, brought USE quite the success in the industry. Since then they’ve gone on to produce components involved in both Olympic gold medals and King of the Mountain awards in the Tour de France.
Exposure makes bike lights in all sizes and outputs along with all the necessary components to attach the lights to yourself, your bike, or even chain systems together to precisely tailor their products to your needs. They even create dyno hubs, which generate power, removing the reliance on a fully charged battery.
USE also produce components including seat posts, bars, stems and dropper post levers. Their stems use a wedge system to clamp the bars and steerer, something seen in a few different stems over the years. The design leads to a smooth external shape, with the absence of the traditional clamp bolts, along with a low weight.
Additionally, they have a smorgasbord of road and aero components, if you’re not just bound by the MTB world.Exposure's website
Another long-established UK brand is Fibrax, who produce moulded parts for predominantly for the cycle and automotive industries and have been around since 1902. Since 1970, they have produced in the Welsh town of Wrexham.
While lots of the brands in these articles have focused on the more jewellery like pieces that adorn our bikes, we can’t ignore the mechanical items that we take for granted like gear cables and housings. Yes, the electronic revolution is upon us, but it will be a mightily long time before we let go of our need for companies like Fibrax who provide the connection between our hands at one end of the bike and our moving components at the other end, especially when it comes to stopping.
Their line covers all the gear and brake, mechanical and hydraulic, items you would need from connectors and fittings to reels 400m long of outer cables. There are disc pads and rim brake blocks on offer too with rotors and cleaning solutions as well.
It doesn’t matter how fancy or expensive your mech is if you rig it up with a shit cable. You’re only as good as your weakest link.Fibrax's website
While a big majority of components we’ve looked at start life as a bigger entity to be whittled away to almost reveal the useful component hiding inside, RaceWare build their component up from zero.
Additive manufacturing is the bigger term for this method and RaceWare use 3D printing to generate mounts for lights and cycle computers and the odd bit of electronic drivetrain parts you may have on your bike.
Their history is in the additive manufacturing industry, so even they were able to offer quite the catalogue of parts in a short time frame from their inception in 2012.
Lots of their parts use SLS or Selective Laser Sintering whereby a high-powered laser fuses small particles of material into a three dimensional part. Once the laser has made one pass over the part a fresh layer of powdered material is drawn across and the process goes on again until the complete part is finished, one layer at a time. The sintering part meaning that the powdered material is compacted by the use of heat but not to the point of melting it to a liquid.
RaceWare not only manufacture from plastics, such as nylon, but titanium and carbon filled nylon too. They also offer customisation with printing in different colours and text being available to print on your product.
It’s hard to compile a list of UK manufacturers and not mention Hope. While they have probably grown larger than "little-known", they are still one of the best UK manufacturers out there.
Hope came about in 1985 with mates Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp departing Rolls Royce Aerospace to start their own venture as toolmaker IPCO, Instant Precision CO, crafting fixtures and jigs for aerospace companies. Both men were avid motorcycle trials riders and as is often the case with bike brands, it’s their passion that eventually came to be the driving force of their future. Unhappy with how current cantilever brakes were performing they set out, with fellow employee Owen Hardisty, to making their own.
After making enough disc brakes and accompanying hubs for themselves and their mates, they set up Hope Technology to sell the brakes and hubs to the masses.
Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper I’ve always lusted after Hope’s components. And even today they still continue this theme to craft components that I and others desire. Being a bit older, I now not only lust after them for their beauty but also for their performance, which has seen at least one of their parts on each and every one of my bikes.
A guided wander of the Barnoldswick factory only elevated my respect for this UK brand with their shop floor being a buzzing hive of machines and people, all working hard to create the best components possible. Their offices are just above that shop floor and it was a delight to see individuals high up in the hierarchy, in the shop, programming laser printing machines or monitoring the progress of mould machining for their carbon frames. There’s even a wicked pump track out the front.
What was even better were the corridors in between the various workshops that were filled with mountain, road and motor bikes. Each one smattered with their CNC goodness.
Hope’s philosophy really embodies the UK way of doing things. Make something that lasts with the minimum amount of weight to make it reliable.Hope's website
While not a comprehensive list, we endeavoured to show the lesser-known British brands out there making cool parts. We know there'll be some that we didn't get to that you guys know of, so let us know your suggestions in the comments. We're always keen to discover more brands doing it in-house.