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MADE IN: UK, London PRICE: €60 COMPANY FOUNDED: 2010 WEBSITE

Unique handlebar grips that can be colour adjusted based on your bike or requirements. Made by a small group of designers who came up with the design, made it and probably even packaged it before sending it out to you. Made out of natural leather and you can choose the colour not only the leather but the laces as well.

They even put some thinking into the packaging. The envelopes are designed to reduce packaging, and all writing on them is hand stamped by the makers.

MADE IN: Germany, Meinerzhagen PRICE: €18 – €60 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1925 WEBSITE

IXXI rear LED light is charged via mini USB cable and lasts for 15 hours. I like its simple rubber housing and capacity indicator. Very simple, sturdy and reliable – exactly what I would expect from German engineering.

We love these type of companies – there is no trickery in origins of its innovation and product manufacturing. The company was founded in the German city of Meinerzhagen in 1925, where it remains to this day. It has expanded its facilities but kept its company’s DNA is all about product quality and other important brand values: fair employment and working conditions. It can hardly be any truer “Made in Germany” product story, especially if you consider that the company is still run by the same founding family.

INTERESTING STORY:
Because the company has used 13 forced laborers during WW2 ( a common practice during that time), Dr. Rainer Muller works on projects aiming to compensate any surviving forced laborers and other victims of the Nazi regime.

In addition to rear lights, the company also makes reflectors, bicycle lights, dynamos, rearview mirrors (for bicycles and motorbikes) and chain guards.

Among company’s innovations include bicycle parking lights, first approved dynamo LED bicycle headlights, world’s first daytime running lights for bikes and the strip lighting technology.

Literally, the entire manufacturing process is based on site. Starting from metalworking and plastic molding (up to 200,000 parts are made per day) all the way to the testing and packaging. With such volume, it is not surprising that big part of production leaves the factory as unbranded parts which are going to other well-known manufacturers like BMW, Honda, Triumph, KTM and others.

MADE IN: Italy (we are almost sure) PRICE: €375 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1933 WEBSITE

It is as classic Italian as it gets. Founded by Tulio Campagnolo who was not your ordinary racing cyclist. To gain an edge on his competitors, he started innovating and testing it out in the field. It all started with the concept of a quick release for wheels, which then was extended to derailleurs and the rod gear for gear changing. To this date, the company has gained 135 patents on cycling technology.

Its headquarters are located in Vicenza, Italy. But there is very little information on the location of their factories and innovation centers. Hence we had to rely on third party information and online forums reporting origin labels on the products themselves. The company has remained a leader in group set technology. For seconds shaving athletes they have extra light carbon sets, and for those with lots of dosh (and who are of the geeky type), there are electronic ones too.

We used Veloce groupset, which was great during my Triathlon training, London Triathlon itself, trip from London to Paris as well as British Coast to Coast ride. One note that I would probably have to make – it is significantly louder than others. Although it “sounds quality” for many, others might find it a little annoying. For my cycling mates, I make a grand entrance each time they hear me coming.

INTERESTING STORY:
Campagnolo did not just stop on the bicycle parts, in 1950’s the company manufactured wheels for sports cars like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborgini.

In addition to group set, Campagnolo also makes many other parts suitable for road racing, triathlon, cyclocross and track: wheels, hubs, individual cranksets and even bottle cages.

If you wish to learn more about the technology and innovation by Campagnolo, here is a list of things you can look into:

Campagnolo innovation list

MADE IN: Barnoldswick, England PRICE: €180 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1989 WEBSITE

For this bike, I used Pro 2 Evo hub, which was upgraded from Pro 2 hub, by adding stainless steel cartridge bearings and a 17 mm outside diameter axe to prevent any potential flex. So far everything just works like a dream just the way I like it – it works, and I do not need to check on it, etc.

Hope Tech is a success story of the company that was started by young engineers trying to make cycling world a better place. Disappointed with the quality of the disk breaks on their mountain bikes they set out to use their skills from working at Rolls Royce Aeronautics to make better bicycle parts. The company just grew from strength to strength by gaining customers worldwide, at first as subcontractors and later under their own Hope brand. Today they employ around 100 people and are based in a purpose built factory that is operating 24 hours a day to meet all the demand.

Hope Technology events for femaleINTERESTING STORY:
Hope Tech is a company with unusual values and ethos that maybe should be followed by others. Their main aim is not about making a profit, but making better quality bicycle parts. The founders and majority of their staff are passionate cyclists who use the parts they make on the field. New products are designed by the same people who are exposed to the cycling and in the competing world on a daily basis. Furthermore, the company itself has become a hub for organising cycling competitions and sponsoring the professionals across all cycling disciplines. This image shows one of their regular events designed to encourage more females to cycle.
It is fun to read their blog sharing the adventures and challenges they are facing while in the field, you can follow them here: http://www.hopetech.com/news/

Since the break disk days the company has widened its products offering significantly, they also make the following products for all types of bikes:
. Hubs – 14 options to choose from.
. Controls – headsets, stems, and grips all available in a range of colours.
. Lights – LED lights that use AA batteries and Hope energy cells
. Wheels – rims or fully assembled aluminum or carbon wheelsets.
. Drivetrain – full sets or every single part imaginable.
. Clothing – mainly in green brand colour that can also be associated with their sponsored professionals.
. Accessories – from shifters, seat clamps to even a green bike wash liquid.

One of the other Hope parts that was used on this European made bike is a stem, if you wish to read more about it click here

It seems that the only part that is not currently made by Hope is the actual frame, but there are some hints that potentially there are some in the pipeline too.

I could go on and on about this company, but you can check their website to learn more. With Hope Tech there are too many to list, but since this post is talking about hubs, there is one with an interesting concept which makes hubs ‘future proof’. The idea is simple – make them suitable for all widths of frames. Hope achieves that by simply inflating the drum. Here is the one of those hubs, in different states.
Hub with adjustable width





Thanks for the comment Alex, great movie, I am adding it to this post:

Hope Pro 4: Behind the Hubs from hopetech on Vimeo.

MADE IN: Barnoldswick, England PRICE: €60 – €100 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1989 WEBSITE

Hope Technology has started from a small team of two and now employ around 100 people. All of their products are designed, tested and made in the UK. It is a great example of quality being driven by passion. The founders and the staff at the company are keen cyclists and hence use their experience to develop better, more reliable and more innovative products. To ensure timely deliver and quality all of the parts are made in one place on purpose.
This approach has clearly worked of them. The company has not only increased its production and also expanded the variety of parts manufactured. Today 50% of their products are exported worldwide and the new factory is already working at full capacity, 24 hours per day.

INTERESTING STORY:
The company was founded by 2 young engineers from Rolls Royce Aerospace (Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp) who were disappointed by the quality of some parts on their mountain bicycles. They started with disk breaks, which impressed other bike companies who ask them to become their supplier. As off 2000 the company moved away from supplying others and only make products for Hope Technology now.

I created a visual collage about the history of the company, from publicly available images:
Hope bicycle parts, made in England

Since the break disk days the company has widened its products offering significantly, they also make the following products for all types of bikes:
. Hubs – 14 options to choose from.
. Controls – headsets, stems and grips all available in range of colours.
. Lights – LED ligths that use AA bateries and Hope energy cells
. Wheels – rims or fully assembled aluminium or carbon wheelsets.
. Drivetrain – full sets or every single part imaginable.
. Clothing – mainly in green brand colour that can also be associated with their sponsored professionals.
. Accessories – from shifters, seat clamps to even a green bike wash liquid.

It seems that the only part that is not currently made by Hope is the actual frame, but there are some hints that potentially there are some in the pipeline too.

Colourful bicycle stems, made in England

MADE IN: Nevers, France PRICE: €40 – €125 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1984 WEBSITE

Look is a leader in clipless pedals, known around the world. The company is employing around 420 people worldwide, but all of their development, design, and manufacturing takes place in the company’s birthplace – Nevers, central France. Its continuous investment in the development of bicycle pedals was recognised in 2009 when the company was awarded for being “the most innovative small and medium size firm” in France. As well as IF Design award in Germany in 2010.

For example, they recently patented new fixing system for their S-Track pedals, which offer double the surface area (of around 460 mm2) instead of the most common (around 200 mm2) in the world of MTB.

INTERESTING STORY:
The company is the actual inventor of the clipless pedals. They came up with the concept and technology in 1984, and keep developing new types of pedals to this day.

The company does not stop at just making pedals. There are other interesting as well as innovative products too:
. Keo Power – a pedal that measures the power and cadence.
. Carbon bicycle frames – they were one of the pioneers in this from the beginning.
. Innovative aero brakes system – hides in the front frame to reduce wind resistance.
. Adjustable Aerostem – an aerodynamic stem that allows adjusting the angle from -13 to +17 degrees.
. ZED crankset – they claim it offers the best weight/stiffness ratio available due to their carbon monoblock construction.
. E-Post – another patented technology that allows customising its level of vibration absorption, based on the discipline and retraction needed.
. Carbon – they make their own carbon which can offer different qualities, based on what you are trying to achieve.
. A-Stem – a bizarre stem that simply extends from the bikes top tube, thus giving a number of useful benefits.

They even make clothes and bags now; I could not verify where they are made though.

MADE IN: Bury, England PRICE: €60 – €510 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1990 WEBSITE

This light is from their dynamo light range as I connected it to the SON Dynamo on my front wheel. Its performance has been outstanding for my needs, I have never had a bicycle light that would lit up the entire road that way.

Exposure lights as a company started from manufacturing of seat posts. Now they are split into two separate divisions ‘Exposure Lights’ specialising in bike, marine and diving lights and ‘USE Components’ that make seat posts, handlebars, wheels, and apparel. All made in England.

INTERESTING STORY:
Exposure lights sponsor Sean Conway – the endurance swimmer, who was the first man who swam the length of Britain from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

Judging from the Exposure Light Facebook page, the team is very active in outdoor sports and cycling events. Which just confirms my personal theory that amazing products are made by people who actually use their own products and care about improving them further.

There is an overview of different Exposure lights and what sets them apart from MTBR

MADE IN: Jargeau, France PRICE: €9 – €20 COMPANY FOUNDED: 1880 WEBSITE

What I like about this mudguard:
. It can be fitted without any tools as it has a great screw-in system that I have not seen before.
. Small but nice touch – a reflective ring at the back, for those dark winter evenings on the road.
. Green credentials – “50% of resin comes from vegetables in France, ” and it is easily recyclable.

TWO INTERESTING STORIES:

Zefal pump business started when Edouard Morin bought a company from Mr. Sclaverand – an inventor of ‘French’ valve, also known as ‘Presta’ valve.
Company was branded Zefal in 1920, it’s name stands for: zef – wind in slang and al – aluminium. Aluminium wind it is then.

Zefal is a well-known company in France, but maybe a little less elsewhere. Having said that, it is a world leader in pump manufacturing, and 70 % of their production is exported worldwide. In a way, it is a great story as the company was, essentially, started around their pump business. Over time they innovated, patented and then used that to create pumps.
Today the company also specialising in bike accessories like pumps, bottles, mirrors, smartphone holders and locks.

Here is their video on manufacturing process

Do note that Zefal has two manufacturing plants: one in France and one in China.

MADE IN: Smethwick (saddles) and Manchester (bags), England          PRICE: €110 – €230          ESTABLISHED: 1866

Brooks is a well-established name the cyclist world. They carved their space with their distinctive design and heavy duty leather material which moulds to the rider’s curves over time. There is a science behind it, which explains that leather fibres break down in places of most stress. Which, in turn, allows the seat to adjust to each cyclist’s bum, the trick is that you need to cycle between 100 and 1000 miles for it to fully take effect. If you are buying one, it is for a long haul – standard guarantee is two years, which is extended to 10 years once you register on their website.

The saddle in the picture is the C15 racing model from Cambium family. It is designed for long distance riding, weights 405g and differently from the majority of other saddles it also has natural rubber components.

Brooks saddles are famous for being very comfortable, even before you go through ‘adjustment’ process. Also, different ranges address different issues a cyclist might be having with their saddle; it is worth visiting their shop to learn more from the team.

For the racers and weight-conscious cyclists, it is worth mentioning that these saddles tend to be heavier due to the material used – natural, thick leather. The alternative would be their titanium range which addresses this potential issue.

The company is not just a saddle maker. Their products include:
. An impressive range of specialised bags and backpacks, and not only for cyclists.
. Leather bar tapes
. Leather grips
. Multi-tool sets
. Front and rear lights

TWO INTERESTING STORIES
In the drive to develop more and more specialised bags, Brooks, at some point, even designed a bag for carrying golf clubs on a bicycle.

B17 saddle has been in the production, completely unchanged since 1890’s. The same design and manufacturing process are being used today, the only difference – these days you can order one online.

If you are considering getting one for yourself, you might want to watch this video which explains the difference for Brooks’ six lines of saddles. Then you will only have to choose one of the 40 models within them.

A VERY BRIEF HISTORY
Disappointed by the comfort level on his bicycle Mr Brooks uses his knowledge in leather works and to design and file his first patent for a comfortable bicycle seat, in 1878
Leaning on his knowledge Brooks has developed a very wide range of bicycle bags in 1880’s
The first factory ‘Criterion Works’ built to make luggage for the wider audience, but this division was later sold, as the company decided to specialise in bicycle and motorbike bags.
Over the time Brooks merged with Lycett, The Leatheries and Wrights Saddle Co.

INTERESTING FACT:
Ever wondered what ‘DT’ stands for? ‘Drahtwerke Trefileries’ in German and French mean ‘wireworks, so full name stands for ‘wireworks made in Switzerland’. Not a bad name for a company that is making a lot of their products in Biel, Switzerland.

From worldwide locations we managed to identify the following specialisations:
Biel, Switzerland – factory, product testing and design.
Poland – rims and as well as a wheel-building centre
Germany – aluminium rim profiles
Taiwan – carbon products

History of DT Swiss growth can be summarised in the following:
around 17th century United Wireworks company was started
1994 management buyout of its spoke business
1995 launch of Star Ratchet hubs
1999 start of nipple production
2001 first bike shocks produced
2003 they moved into rim making
2004 assembly of complete wheels (Italian and Swedish steel is used for the spokes)
2006 manufacturing of forks

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