by Dave Anderson
January 17, 2014
Straight out of, erm, Penistone comes hot news of a new collaboration…
Today Cy Turner and Mike McDermid are proud to announce the official launch of their new company, Bicycle Manufacturing Limited. Based in Pensitone, South Yorkshire, it is our aim to provide competitive manufacturing of all bike frames and parts, in all common materials, plus some new technologies, right here in the UK.
Mike and Cy have been working on this project for nearly 2 years after it became clear to Mike that, using the latest automated techniques and equipment combined with high skilled hand made production, it would be possible to be competitive on price with Far Eastern supply on high end products with a flexible, high quality UK operation. Mike’s experience with all areas of manufacturing are extensive, right up to designing carbon composites for F1 and Le Mans cars, (Williams F1, Wirth Research, Red Bull Racing) as well as some of the top names in the Aerospace and bike industry. Cy brings 10 years of experience running a bike company, as well as the latest bike designs and a ready made first customer for Bicycle Manufacturing Limited in his Cotic brand.
All Things Being Equal
Cotic, like just about every bike brand in the world, sources frames and parts from the Far East. Some of the reason for this is price, but in most cases it’s also to do with expertise. The Taiwanese and Chinese have factories and companies that just build bikes. Not aircraft, or car parts, or motorcycle frames as well, just bikes. They have expertise and make it very easy to source parts. They’re very good at what they do. When we figured out that, if done carefully and correctly, we could be competitive on price for mid-to-high end products using the processes Mike had in mind, we were suddenly in a situation where the price was good and cutting edge manufacturing and material expertise was in the UK. So, all things being equal, Cy decided he would prefer to make some models in the UK. The pricing is similar, but the flexibility of production and the speed of development for new product tips the balance in BML’s favour.
From now on, all Cotic droplink full suspension frames will be manufactured by Bicycle Manufacturing Limited in the UK, achieving the same retail price as the first batch of Cotic Rocket frames sourced from Taiwan.
A key advantage we can offer is reduced development time. Our UK operation will be able to turn around prototypes and proving samples much quicker than Far Eastern suppliers seem to. In Cotic’s experience, a wait of up to 6 months for samples or prototypes is common from its Taiwanese suppliers. Bicycle Manufacturing Limited will be able to turn things around much more quickly.
We have invested in a state of the art CNC machine and welding equipment. When the frame jigs on the market were found wanting in terms of production capacity, speed and accuracy, we spent several months designing the process and manufacturing jigs for exactly how we wanted to make frames; the most accurate, fastest, most efficient way we could. Even the heat sinks and argon purge – usually just used for building titanium frames – are bespoke. We have designed our own automated cutting system for tubes. If a part or machine can be sourced off the shelf, but can’t do the job to our standards, we design and make our own. This ensures that not only is our output of the highest quality, but also that we’re as self sufficient as we can be. We are therefore less reliant on sub-contractors, and more in control of the process, quality, price and delivery time.
Over the next 12 months we will be developing our carbon fibre facility. With our carbon technology and manufacturing, we will offer much lower cost carbon prototyping than is usual for ride testing layups and stiffnesses. Mike’s motorsport experience means we are not hemmed in by ingrained practices and single minded approaches, so can offer innovative material or manufacturing solutions to any design problems you may have.
We can offer production expertise in steel, aluminium and titanium fabrication, right up to in-house production of carbon molds and carbon prototyping using the latest carbon technology.
Cy brings years of designing in steel, pushing the edge of what’s possible in bikes in this material. Mike learned to build aluminum monocoques at Mountain Cycle, built custom frames in titanium, and provided carbon design for F1 and leading bike brands. We have all the bases covered.
A big advantage with using Bicycle Manufacturing Limited for carbon fibre production is that there’s no need to get a third party to design the layups. We can offer a one stop shop for carbon manufacturing, because we can design the layup schedules and then manage making the parts in the same building. This not only reduces potential errors when moving from design to production, but also makes your and our Intellectual Property (IP) and technology much more secure. The F1 connection pays dividends for smaller brands looking to produce in carbon as motorsport is all about making small numbers of parts as efficiently as possible. This means using molding approaches which just aren’t available in the Far East and massively reduce the investment required to get smaller runs of frames going.
The plan for the next few months is to concentrate on establishing the production line building the Cotic droplink full suspension frames, using the experienced staff we have already hired. Once this production is up and running we will be in a position to start working with new customers on making their frames. The final piece of the jigsaw will drop into place later this year when we complete the carbon facilities. At this point we plan to start taking on apprentices to become part of our production team, giving local people valuable skills and spreading the benefits of this business as far as we possibly can.
Cy Turner, Managing Director and co-owner of Bicycle Manufacturing Limited, Managing Director and owner of Cotic Bikes:
“I’m so excited to be able to repatriate some manufacturing to the UK, and to Yorkshire in particular. Whilst my engineering training and biking experience allows me to design bike frames and parts, my lack of practical manufacturing experience has always been a stumbling block to my ambition to bring some manufacturing home. Meeting Mike has been brilliant, as we compliment each other perfectly; he brings all the in depth manufacturing knowhow I lack, whilst I have the commercial experience of running a business, building a brand, and all that goes with that. We meet in the middle over our shared passion for bikes and engineering, and we’re both learning so much. I’m able to play with ideas much more freely and gaining some manufacturing skills I’ve always wanted, and Mike’s finding that being a business owner isn’t quite as scary as he thought and doesn’t have to involve wearing a suit.
Another important point for me was making the effort to get some manufacturing up and running again in the UK. We do have the skills, the desire, but it takes effort and investment and some self-confidence to pull it together. We’ve done that here, we’re creating jobs and I’m hoping we will inspire more people to do the same. It’s not easy, but the clear message we want to send in setting up Bicycle Manufacturing Limited is that it’s also not impossible. If we learn one thing from the banking fiasco of the last few years it’s that we have to spread our economy and wealth away from London and we as a nation have to start making things again. We have to train people to do properly skilled jobs, doing something fulfilling and productive. We can be competitive with the best in the world.
I’m extremely proud of my adopted home of Sheffield, and to have some of the Cotic frames made right here in South Yorkshire by a company I helped found makes me very happy indeed. It’s the start of a great new adventure.”
Mike McDermid, Engineering Director and co-owner of Bicycle Manufacturing Limited:
“Supplying Cotic presents a problem; as a small dynamic company with a reputation for designing incredibly well conceived products you have to offer more as a supplier than “we can build X or Y for you for this price”, and thats what Bicycle Manufacturing Limited set out to initially do.
You get a sense with Cy, of wanting to push development but being held back by the way things get done overseas and this was one of the key drivers in setting up a manufacturing concern here in the UK.
As a project started just over a year ago, we have achieved a lot in such a small time frame and the support from Cy has been immense. I can honestly say without it I might have gone back to doing something less interesting!
We discussed a lot of things, we did a lot of figures and came to the conclusion manufacturing on Sheffield home turf isn’t just possible, but very beneficial.
Cotic and Bicycle Manufacturing Limited seemed a natural fit as there’s a massive degree of common ground, Cy brings rationale to balance what appears to most outsiders as my direct engineering approach. I grew up in Sheffield and saw the decline of engineering here. Whilst my career has taken me worldwide designing some pretty amazing things I’m now looking forward to bringing some manufacturing back to what was once one of, if not the most, important manufacturing cities of the last century. There are exciting times ahead.”