electrical bike Contained in the bespoke Yorkshire bike store nonetheless in gear after 84 years
Ellis Briggs Cycles have been making bicycles for greater than 80 years and their craftsmanship remains to be in huge demand, as John Hayes discovers. Photos by Bruce Rollinson.
Monday, 14th September 2020, 11:45 am
Image Bruce Rollinson
The epic climbs and descents of the area’s Tour de Yorkshire bike race could possibly be an ideal analogy for the biking business. At the moment having fun with a renaissance, thanks largely to lowered visitors ranges in the course of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, no person is bound whether or not that is the beginning of a wholesome transportation revolution or a passing fad bolstered by gymnasium closures (now reopened) and furloughed employees with time on their fingers.
Paul Gibson, as the present proprietor of Ellis Briggs Cycles, a enterprise primarily based within the West Yorkshire city of Shipley since 1936 and famed because the oldest customized metal framebuilders within the UK, has an perception into the ups and downs of the bike enterprise.
In accordance with Gibson, Ellis Briggs’s longevity might be attributed to the enterprise adapting to shopper developments all through the many years. Through the warfare years, the fledgling enterprise fought for survival promoting kids’s garments and enamel paints alongside their bikes.
Image Bruce Rollinson
Later, the corporate was in a position to capitalise on an curiosity in street racing whereas serving in Italy and France. Through the 50s, Ellis Briggs’s status was bolstered by the biking success of workers together with Ken Russell who received the 1952 Tour of Britain race.
Within the 60s, when automotive gross sales soared, Ellis Briggs turned its consideration to serving the American market which more and more regarded to Europe for high-quality bikes. Then all through the Eighties and Nineties, each the BMX and mountain bike developments stored the shop busy.
Into the brand new millennium, with elevated competitors from mail order and on-line retailers, Ellis Briggs turned its again on conventional bike gross sales and targeted on constructing bespoke metal frames.
“Our clients are sometimes forty years-plus, typically they’re into their sixties and even seventies,” says Gibson.
Image Bruce Rollinson
“They are usually individuals who’ve been biking a very long time and by no means stopped, or typically they are often individuals who cycled rather a lot of their youth after which restarted and needed a motorcycle much like one they maybe couldn’t afford once they had been youthful.”
Whereas racers will sometimes look to carbon frames, Gibson means that his clients are extra targeted on “café rides” and touring and worth the consolation of a metal body.
“Numerous carbon frames, particularly on the extra entry-level finish, are usually a bit overbuilt and provides a fairly harsh trip,” says Gibson.
“A metal body tends to take a little bit of the sting out of using on our roads, taking a little bit of the excitement out of the vibration and the potholes.
Image Bruce Rollinson
“Metal is mostly materials to make a motorcycle out of it. It does all the things, it’s light-weight, it’s robust, it’s sturdy, and it lasts a protracted, very long time in case you take care of it.
“It’s simpler to restore, simpler to make alterations to. If you do purchase a metal body, you principally preserve it, so it’s a good funding.”
It sometimes takes Gibson between one and three weeks to construct a body. The portray, which he outsources, can take as much as six weeks after which one other couple of days to construct up the bike.
Whereas the bike business has seen many modifications since Ellis Briggs first opened within the 30s, the best way it builds frames has remained largely the identical.
Image Bruce Rollinson
“The body itself, the geometries and issues have modified however it’s principally the identical course of,” says Gibson.
He realized his craft from Andrew Poudziunas, a person who he describes as each an inspiration and the true definition of a grasp craftsman. It took fairly a little bit of persuasion on Gibson’s behalf earlier than Poudziunas was able to go on his expertise.
“I left faculty and bought a job at Ellis Briggs initially as a motorcycle mechanic,” says Gibson. “I turned fascinated with framebuilding and so simply ‘nattered’ to Andrew till he lastly gave in and began instructing me. Most body builders at this time are self-taught and don’t have the expertise of being educated by a grasp body builder like I used to be.”
Gibson is more than pleased to go on his information and gives framebuilding programs all year long. “I do about six a 12 months,” he says. “They’re a few week-long and I match them in once I can. Whereas a novice can’t be taught all the talents required to construct a body in every week, the programs give individuals a style of what goes into constructing a motorcycle body.
“I principally information them by way of the method and anytime that they aren’t fairly as much as the usual, I assist them. By the tip of the week they arrive out with body that they’ll construct up into a good bike.
“It’s only a actually good expertise. They actually find yourself appreciating all the things, how a lot work has gone into the body, the end and all the things else, plus you find yourself speaking about bikes for every week.”
Speaking about bikes is one thing Gibson by no means tires of. “They are saying in case you handle to discover a job that you simply take pleasure in, you’ll by no means work a day in your life,” says Gibson. “It’s simply one thing I take pleasure in.”
A hand-built bike body from Ellis Briggs is actually a thought of buy. Nonetheless, potential clients may be shocked at simply how reasonably priced a bespoke bike body from Ellis Briggs might be.
“Relying on what degree of elements the shopper would wish to placed on, builds begin from £2,500 to £3,000 and upwards,” says Gibson.
Nonetheless, in case you suppose you may wish to see an Ellis Briggs bespoke bike body underneath your Christmas tree, you may need to be just a bit bit extra affected person as a result of there’s a ready listing. “We’re on about eight months in the meanwhile,” says Gibson. “Subsequent season is what you’re looking at in case you ordered one now.”
Whereas dedicated to the standard facet of the enterprise, Gibson additionally has his eye on new developments, together with the rising reputation of eBikes.
“The electrical bike is one thing that I want to get into sooner or later,” says Gibson. “They open up a variety of alternatives. Say you’ve bought a husband and spouse they usually wish to exit on rides collectively however one in all them is a stronger rider, typically the electrical bike generally is a little bit of a leveller and permit individuals to exit collectively. It’s a bit like individuals used to do with the tandem however not everybody would wish to trip a tandem. I haven’t discovered how I can do it on a basic wanting bike but with out it detracting an excessive amount of from the aesthetics however it’s one thing I preserve .”
Gibson really believes within the energy of the bike to rework lives. “I actually suppose that bikes can change the world,” says Gibson. “I believe it’s probably the most fantastic innovations of the final couple of hundred years actually. It’s one thing that may change the world in so some ways after we pay money for it and use it. It’s laborious to consider any draw back to biking to be sincere.”
When Gibson isn’t constructing bike frames, he can typically be discovered using bikes and feels blessed to reside in a area so suited to his ardour.
“The wonderful thing about dwelling in Yorkshire is which you could exit your entrance door and simply go a number of miles down the street and immediately be in stunning countryside with hardly any vehicles round,” says Gibson. “I’ll trip into the Yorkshire Dales, typically I’ll go as much as Skipton and even into Lancashire…”
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