This article contains paid promotion on behalf of Fairlight, Parcours, Ribble, Gtechniq and Orro. Read more about sponsored content on road.cc here.
As anyone over the age of 50 will tell you, the UK manufacturing industry is not what it once was. While it's true that a substantial portion of the bike industry's carbon frames and components, computers and fabrics are imported, there's plenty of bike tech being developed right here in the UK.
In this article and video, we're celebrating what Britain is capable of with a whistle-stop tour around five great British brands, designing, developing and sometimes even manufacturing right here in the UK...
Where better to kick off than with one of the few bikes to earn an elusive 10/10 review score on road.cc. It’s no surprise then that the Fairlight Strael 3.0 did enough to pick up not only our editor’s choice award in 2022, but also win the road.cc Recommends bike of the year/
Fairlight is about as British as they come. The design-led business bases itself in London, and has a strong collaborative history with Reynolds Steel. In fact, all of Fairlight’s bikes are steel, and all the tubing is custom-made for its designs.
Delve a bit deeper and you’ll find plenty of proprietary and unique details. To give one example, the machined dropouts on the Secan 2.5 have been co-developed with Bentley Components.
Fairlight places a strong emphasis on fitting, distinguishing itself as one of the few brands to provide two head tube sizes for every frame size: one standard size and a taller option.
The close-knit team of 11 see their bicycles as tools rather than trophies, designed for transport, recreation, exploration and enjoyment. The Fairlight website states that bikes should be ridden hard, used and cherished. That’s definitely something we can get behind!
Whether you want a dynamo fitted, some fitment advice or just a nosey at the bikes, you can head over to the Fairlight website.
Another sector where the UK is thriving is bike wheels, and one brand that continually impresses us with its engineering expertise, testing transparency and affordability is Parcours.
Parcours was launched in 2016 with a mission to make bicycle aerodynamics more accessible. Over the past seven years, the team has developed a range of products which deliver tangible and proven performance benefits, while still offering products at accessible price points.
Since the brand's inception, the Parcours range has been developed to include a full complement for road, time trial and gravel, many of which have received excellent reviews on road.cc. The team continually seeks to refine, develop and test the product range, with new-generation wheels launched as new technologies emerge and evolve in the bike industry.
Parcours has been at the forefront of bike wheel development for some time now, working with the best to push the limits of wheel design and leading the charge when it comes to wheels getting wider and more stable. This was most recently shown through Parcours' #thinkwider aero range, which was launched for the Ironman World Championships in Kona 2022. The brand's technical partnership with Classified Cycling produced the world's first Powershift-enabled Disc wheel earlier this year, doing away with a front derailleur thanks to Classified's two-speed system hub.
The Parcours Strade wheelset, that Parcours calls the “ideal all-round road wheelset”, perfectly highlights what the brand is all about. Weighing in at 1,520g and with a 49/54mm depth profile, the Strade wheelset offers a balance of aerodynamic performance and class-leading handling stability. Aerodynamically optimised for a 28mm tyre and with an internal rim of 22.5mm, the Strade uses Parcours signature #thinkwider differential rim profiles for the front and rear, developed in partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s Sport Engineering Department.
The front rim has a wider, U-shaped profile to cater for the higher yaw angles seen towards the front of the bike, while the rear rim uses a slightly narrower, more V-shaped profile, which performs better at the lower yaw angles seen as the air flows back towards the rear of the bike.
When it comes to wheels, it’s safe to say that the UK and Parcours are bringing the fight to the very best in the business. This British innovator is well worth a look, not only if you're looking for an excellent wheelset, but also if you're interested in making aero gains and want to see proven data on how it can benefit your performance.
Next up, we’re taking a look at a British powerhouse of the bike industry. Ribble recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, making it one of Great Britain’s oldest bike brands. Ribble has come a long way in those 125 years, from the early safety bicycle to radical aero machines made of carbon fibre.
We recently got the chance to head up to Ribble’s flagship store in the heart of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire to have a chat with its CEO, Andy Smallwood, about how things have evolved and what’s next.
He told us: "From a product development point of view and an innovation perspective, it's great to see every single bike that we now sell is designed and developed from the ground up by our own internal teams, culminating in amazing, super fast technologically advanced bikes.
"Every single bike is hand-assembled in Preston in the UK, which enables us to offer a unique level of customisation as you can design the bike you want with the spec you want. Then crucially, you can then personalise it with one of about 4 billion different colour iterations".
Another way that Ribble sets itself apart is its unique showroom experience, bringing its retail website to the real world. Here you have the opportunity to engage with a team of experts who are dedicated to ensuring you find the right bike for you.
If you want to see more on how Ribble designs and makes class-leading bikes, you can check out this video here.
So, we’ve ascertained that the UK is still right up there with the best when it comes to bikes and wheels, but it doesn’t stop there. Every week here at road.cc we’re writing tech news of British brands coming up with innovative and new products and ideas to improve our riding experience.
One such product that springs to mind is the ceramic bike coating that we went to see being developed and tested in Northamptonshire earlier in the year. Ceramic coatings are by no means a new idea, and Gtechniq has been producing them for over 20 years for the automotive and marine sectors. For cycling, Gtechniq is still a relatively new player in the market.
After seeing first-hand how this stuff chemically bonds to the bike’s surface, and the quantum physics and research into surface tension that goes into making dirt hate your bike, we're pretty sure there's nothing like this currently on the market. What's more, all this research and development is happening right here in the UK.
Is there anything more satisfying than watching a water bead run off the surface? This means that your bike is going to stay cleaner for longer, and Gtechniq says that the extreme dirt-repellent coating will offer up to 24 months of protection. You can take a look for yourself at just how well this stuff works by heading over to our video.
If you’re looking for gifts for a cyclist who literally has it all, then we'd highly recommend taking a look at the Gtechniq range. It’s quite literally bottled science that will make cleaning and maintaining your bike just that little bit less arduous.
One thing that the UK seemingly exceeds in is value for money. Take the Orro Venturi, for instance. It boasts impressive specifications, is hand-assembled in Sussex, and is specifically designed and tested for UK roads.
While around £6,600 is a significant investment, you could easily spend double on today's top-tier bikes, and not find any meaningful performance advantage.
We've been reviewing Orro bokes on road.cc for several years, and they've consistently impressed us with their design, attention to detail and of course, their performance out on the road. But, why has the brand decided that the UK is the place to build them?
Ian Wilson, Orro’s Chairman, told us: "After realising a long-term plan of moving to a new purpose-built factory, reshoring is about who Orro are. It’s exciting that the staff are under one roof because of not only the general community feel, but also the ability to control standards.
"We are happier with the fact that we build our bikes here. They feel more like our own bikes than something that’s built overseas.”
Orro’s CEO Paul Butler added: "The company could have created a brand the easy way using a load of open mould frames with their own colours and decals, but we're proud of the fact that we’ve done it the hard way.
"This is 100% us. These bikes are 100% developed on Sussex roads.”
This online exclusive Orro Venturi features Ceramic Speed BB and headset, Supercaz bar tape and GP5000S TR tyres, along with the Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels and latest 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace groupset.
Did you know that so much cool bike tech was designed and tested right here in the UK? Let us know in the comments section below...
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…