Brant Richards is a name many of you will be familiar with. He’s been involved with mountain bikes in one way or another since their inception in the UK. Over the years he’s been responsible for numerous designs, many of which we’re happily riding round the countryside. If the snippets we’ve seen so far prove correct, then his latest venture, Pact Bikes looks set to produce some of the most original and interesting things we’ve seen in a long time.
In an effort to find out a bit more about the man whose ‘creations’ many of us ride, we sent him 10 questions, he duly sent 10 answers back … enjoy.
1. You’ve been involved with the bike industry for what seems like forever, what was your first (bike related) job?
I bought my first mountainbike from Two Wheels Good in Leeds in 1986. I used to go in there often and sort of hang out and make a nuisance of myself. John Stevenson worked there. They somehow rang me up one weekend and said they had a Saturday job so I went in for a tryout, and inspite of turning up in ripped jeans, 1hr late, they kept me on. I found out years later that they only called me because my mum had rung them and asked if there were any jobs going!
Two Wheels Good was a pretty incredible place at that time. Stevenson was shop manager, and it was him who rang MBUK when we first saw their bike reviews and features to tell them that they were pretty rubbish, and we could do better. Which is how I ended up being a journalist.
As well as the writing, we had a race team with Deb Murrell riding for us, as she shared a house with John, we had a frame building shop upstairs where I spent many hours making weird stems and bars and frames under the guidance of Andy Morris. We re-rolled rims like we heard Bontrager did. We organised club meetings in Fat Freddies Café in Leeds, as well as rides and races which were attended by industry stalwarts years before they had industry jobs – like Tim Flooks (TF Tuned) and Harvey Jones (Wiggle), Steve Wade (Orange).
It was really weird and special looking back. It’s rare that you’re given a chance to be involved in a sport at such a crucial time for it, and I consider myself very fortunate in lots of ways.
The journalism paid for beer on my way through university, and by my final year I was making about what they were claiming engineering graduates would earn. So I just carried on freelancing. I designed and had Dave Yates make a frame for my girlfriend at the time, which she sold for a bit – a low standover women’s bike called a Smart Tart with an internal headset to drop everything low – that must have been in 1992 I guess. Then the journalism carried on through MBUK to editor of MBR, Editor in Chief of Front Magazine, then onto Bikemagic. When I fell out with the Bikemagic guys over a review I wrote that they wouldn’t run (of a Whyte PRST-1), I ended up offering to make a website for Dave at Planet X. When I visited him, I found the singlespeed sample he’d had made a year or so earlier, and over some tea and biscuits, On-One was formed. And so it began.
2. What’s the one design you’re most proud of?
The On-One Summer Season always makes me smile, as it was a rework of an existing model, and did at the time push the sticky flaps of the performance envelope with it’s super slack head angle. The Ragley TD-1 was a lot of fun too, and it was a very great delight to me that Steve Worland really liked his. Seeing the World Cup DH race where the Nukeproof Scalp DH bike premiered was extremely exciting. As was watching Julie Dibens win a World X-Terra race on a prototype On-One FS softtail. So I couldn’t call it really.
|In a secret facility, in a land far away – perhaps.|
5. Any thoughts as to why steel hardtails continue to remain popular in the UK?
They are incredibly popular still, in spite of the the EN regs that came in, with tests that literally tore nice steel bikes apart, but were passed with flying colours by cheaper lumps of alloy was the deathknell for many nice steel frames. Well, the EN Regs and the lengthening of suspension forks, and also bigger wheels. Quick sum – on a 26in wheel with a rigid fork the crown race is 725mm from the floor. With a 29in wheel and a suspension fork, that’s 845mm. Add in the extra bracing force due to the extra traction and the sort of energy you can put into the bike is massive. There’s at least 1.5 times the load going through the bike with that extra length, and those old springy tubes just can’t cope with it. Charge did some amazing work recently with their Skinny Duster though. That bike was alive!
6. Can you confirm or deny that Luxy bars are set to make a return?
I really hope we can get it rolling again. It’s looking probable. They won’t be Luxy bars, as that’s a Ragley brand, which stays with Hotlines, but they have given me their blessing to release the shape again.
|The Summer Season – slack before its time.|
8. Pact Bikes is your new company … is it something you’ve wanted to do for a long time?
9. Will 2015 be the year of 650b+?
10. What do you think about the ‘new standards’ the industry seemingly continues to launch, have any in the last 5 years actually made bikes better?