Let’s Take A Ride
Ribble Cycles draws on its Lancashire heritage and the latest technology to develop award-winning bikes for all abilities. Stephanie Sparrow reports
Ridden in Rome, road-tested in Rivington and hand built to order on the outskirts of Preston, Lancashire-based Ribble Cycles has developed a global reach.
From Tokyo to Tockholes, competitors, commuters, off-road enthusiasts, and leisure riders are relishing Ribble’s products. Whether it’s the stylish lightweight electric bike range, or the award-winning race bikes, the 120-year old brand demonstrates that it caters for all interests and abilities.
Founded on Water Lane Preston in 1897 overlooking the River Ribble, Ribble Cycles grew to become synonymous with premium road bikes, and by 1992 was the Olympic partner of the British cycling team.
In 2017 under new ownership, with fresh investment and a new leadership team Andy Smallwood joined as CEO. Bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, Andy’s vision is to establish Ribble Cycles as the number one British premium bike brand and a global player, through world-class product and by revolutionising bicycle retail.
“I knew Ribble of old and that there was a heritage there,” says Morecambe-born Andy. “I also felt that the British bicycle industry needed a premium brand that would fly the flag for the UK.”
He has revived the brand, now based at Walton Summit, by developing a new passion and belief throughout the business and focusing on the British craftsmanship of personalised, high-end yet accessible bikes, backed up by the latest research and development into materials and aerodynamics, rather than mass production.
“Customers are attracted to the market-leading technology, product design, and to our Bike Builder and CustomColour online tools which allow them to design and specify their bikes before they are hand-built in our workshop,” he says.
As commercial director David Stacey explains, the online tool allows customers to select from five ranges (electric, road, cyclocross, mountain bikes, time trial, triathlon and track) specify their frame size, and then choose component options such as saddles or wheelsets.
“This is your bike, your way,” says David.
Alternatively, customers can visit the Walton Summit showroom in Bamber Bridge, where the friendly team will find the right bike for you.
“No comparable bike brand offers that level of customisation and personalisation,” says Andy. “We have a team of experts here in Walton Summit, with each bike hand crafted from start to finish by one mechanic.”
The bikes are then delivered direct to customers’ home or can be collected from the Ribble showrooms at Walton Summit, Birmingham Mailbox and Bluewater shopping centres.
“Because we sell direct to the customer without the usual middlemen of distributors or bike dealers, we can pass on the savings directly to the customer,” says head of product Jamie Burrow. “Not only do they get a world-class product but great value for money as well.”
Andy, Jamie and a team of 80, including mechanics and designers (all passionate cyclists) have developed and launched a range of 26 bikes within the past two years.
Their hard work is reaping rewards. For example, the superlight electric bike Hybrid AL e was one of The Guardian’s “Top gadgets of 2019”, while the Ribble Pro-Cycling Team rode its products to great success last season, topping the domestic race league.
Andy and the team at Ribble are keen to nurture the local cycling community, whether this means ensuring that all the bikes are available on Cycle to Work schemes, or organising weekly Ride Out nights for all ability levels from Walton Summit (starting again in April) to indoor coaching on static bikes for younger riders.
“At Ribble Cycles we are passionate about cycling and offering cyclists of all abilities and disciplines the best performing bikes at every price point,” Andy says.
363 Leach Place, Walton Summit Centre
Preston PR5 8AS