What do you do if you’re a startup British bike brand with big backers and a head full of ideas, but not the capacity to turn them into the perfectly executed machines you’ve designed on paper? The basics are there, but you’re getting flack for your welds and your paint finish?
And what do you do if you’re an established British bike brand that’s still small scale but has such a great reputation for quality and finish that you’re operating at maximum capacity?
Sounds like the perfect opportunity for some mutual back scratching, doesn’t it?
Indeed, Shand and Trillion cycles think so, as they’ve just announced that they will be collaborating. Here’s the official blurb:
‘Shand and Trillion have agreed to collaborate in the design, manufacture and sale of bicycles. Strengthening the iconic, UK cycle industry, and harnessing the combined capabilities within each business this new collaboration is considered entirely mutually beneficial with Shand, recognised for their long standing heritage, expertise and quality while Trillion, part of Liberty Vehicle Technologies, provides a significant design and engineering technology expertise. Both brands shall continue independently, focusing on their own, individual, market sectors and operate from their respective operational headquarters in Leamington Spa and Livingston.’
While that is quite an exciting announcement, it smells more of lawyers than the lovers of bikes we know are behind Shand and Trillion, so we caught up with Steven Shand for a little bit more information. We’ve also been in touch with Trillion, so we’ll bring you an update later once they’ve got their answers to us.
Will you be making all Shand and Trillion frames in Livingston?
Steven: Yes. Trillion will carry on with a focussed range of mountain bikes which we’ll be manufacturing.
Will Trillion frames be available in the same range of (glorious) custom paint options as Shand frames?
Steven: Yes, no, maybe. We’re really not sure about this. It’s certainly possible but it may have cost implications. The paint system we use for the Shand bikes is quite laborious (expensive) and we’re keen to keep the price of the first Trillion (the Prime) below £1000. I’m leaning towards the thought that a more durable but less flashy powdercoat finish may be more appropriate for this type of bike. The first Shand-built Trillion that we showed at the NEC used a Shand colour and paint system but honestly, we’re not sure on this yet. I know Russ and Matt (Trillion) want to keep the high-end finish, we just need to work it through to see what works. Maybe it could be an additional cost extra? Not sure.
Will there be any impact on capacity or lead times for Shand frames (or is that job advert you have part of that equation)?
Steven: It’s no secret that we struggle to keep up with orders and we’re consistently selling more bikes than we can make which only increases the leadtime. That’s not really sustainable. Part of a wider plan (which includes the link with Trillion) has meant we have seen some investment into the business which will enable us to increase our production capacity to better meet the needs of Shand (the brand) as well as creating extra capacity that can be used by Trillion (and possibly others). We are actively recruiting for more than one post right now and would hope that we’d start to see benefits of this increased capacity before the end of 2017.
Are there any plans to take your Rohloff and belt drive expertise to the Prime for the ultimate UK winter bike?
Steven: We’ve talked about it but with the Prime being such a new model, I think it’s important that we get the basics nailed down first. There are other Trillion models in the pipeline which may suit the Rohloff a little better but we also need to be mindful that we don’t have too much of a crossover between the brands which may start to make things confusing. But this is where I get quite excited as the Trillion brand can start to take on some of the direction that might not have fitted into the Shand ‘Adventure Bike Company’ ethos. It’s an outlet for some interesting work and with Matt and Russ driving the product development in a direction that isn’t really part of my core knowledge, it’s really quite exciting.
With Trillion’s backers owning a steel mill on Scotland, could we see an entirely made in Scotland bike?
Steven: Hah! Maybe. But actually, what not too many people are aware of is that Liberty actually own a tube company called Accles and Pollock that have been making steel tubes for bicycles for over 100 years. Rattrays of Glasgow who were Scotland’s only real volume bicycle producers (before us!), were using A&P tubing in some of their Flying Scot models back in the middle of the 1900s. I’d love to bring the Flying Scot brand back and keep it being made here in Scotland. That would be a great story and if we could use A&P tubing (perhaps sourced from a Scottish mill!) then that would be even better. It’s a very protected brand though so I suspect that may need to go on the back-burner for a while.
It certainly sounds like Steven is excited at what this collaboration means for Shand. And we have to confess that we’re pretty excited at the prospect of what we might see as a result of this collaboration. With Shand’s focus on the adventure side of things, surely Trillion are going to be looking at bikes that are for short sharp playtimes, adrenaline, and fun…if they can get all that wrapped up in a steel package that look good and holds up to UK weather, we can see Trillion attracting plenty of interest in future.