Trillion And Shand – The Future Of British Steel?

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Last week we brought you the news that Shand Cycles would be building Trillion’s new Prime hardtails – and whatever else Trillion might develop in future. While Steven Shand was able to live up to the ‘one man and his shed’ reputation (though the truth of the set up is a little more sophisticated) and answer our questions without referring to anyone else, Trillion’s big business backing meant that a few more corporate hoops had to be jumped through before we could get answers.

shand cycles, framebuilding, steel, scottish, made in britain, hardtail
Not quite one man and his shed.

Hoops have been jumped and people in suits appeased, and we now have answers from Trillion to complement Steven Shand’s answers. So let’s see what Matt, Trillion’s ‘Product Creation Leader’ has to add to the picture.

The new Shand built Trillion Prime
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.

Matt: Agreed, it’s all still very much on the table in terms of which route we choose long term. There’s a few tricks that we can play with the different processes to add durability and still meet the price point but our primary concern at this stage is to ensure that the customer receives a superior quality finish expected at that particular end of the market.

shand trillion prime
Updated brace and super neat welds
The prototype – OK it might collect mud, but it does look cool!
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 lead time. 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 [Shand’s] 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.

Matt: Steve is pretty on the money with this one. It’s definitely something we’ve all discussed but all agree that Prime isn’t the platform to explore this on. There’s more in the pipeline which may suit the benefits of the Rohloff hub more but we’ll have to wait and see…

So can you [Trillion] give us any hints about what else is in the pipeline? Will you be sticking to hardtails, or is a full suspension bike in your future?

Matt: A good question and we are seriously looking at this as a development from the current platform. We have an awful lot of engineering expertise at our finger tips through being part of Liberty Vehicle Technologies who supply components to Formula 1 and combining that with the knowledge of the team at Shand is a really exciting prospect. We are keen to try and leverage this combination to do something unique in what is quite a crowded marketplace with some already very well established and respected custom frame builders. Our overall goal is to help further encourage the revival of frame production in this country so would prefer to not be overlapping offerings with guys that are already walking the walk. As a result, the next models take more of a ‘technology leadership’ approach to ensure that our engineering background translates into a meaningful benefit to our customers whilst making full use of the facilities that are pretty unique to us a UK steel bike builder.

Trillion has previously shown steel commuter bikes, road bikes, and even a titanium road bike. Are these early models being taken forward, or is Trillion now focussing solely on mountain bikes? And will it be steel all the way, or is titanium still an option?

Matt: Part of the behind the scenes activity at Trillion has been exploring how the brand sits alongside such a well-established entity as Shand in a way that complements the offering rather than duplicates. Taking this into consideration alongside the organic popularity of the Prime frame in London and our associations with the Fort William DH World Cup event meant that tackling the ‘bounce’ portion of the mountain bike market naturally lent itself to Trillion. Having this more focused approach on the identity of Trillion really helps us to hone in on giving that particular portion of the market the time and care required in the form of relevant marketing, customer support and demo events. We aren’t ruling out pursuing some of the models originally seen under the original reveal of Trillion as a larger group but the likelihood is that the road bikes are more likely to fall outside of the Trillion brand in the future. As for material, there is a wider desire to explore what Titanium can offer us as a material, not least because of our links with Accles & Pollock, but as yet the specific intent and applications are still very much initial discussions.

shand cycles london bike show drop bar rohloff belt drive gearbox steel
Shand will be sticking to adventure bikes.

What is the structure of this collaboration? Does Shand own Trillion, does Liberty Vehicle Technologies own both, or is it a sub-contractual arrangement purely for manufacture purposes? Or something else entirely?!

Matt: More details will follow shortly but the broad structure is that Trillion and Shand both sit within the Liberty Cycles Division. Each will keep its own respected brand identity because they each serve slightly different markets and we want to encourage that. This approach will allow us to share expertise and knowledge in an attempt to really push the potential of both the brands moving forward. From Trillion’s perspective, the experience with manufacture really helps us to overcome some production hurdles and from Shand’s side we can share our technology and engineering resource as well as providing a customer contact point in the heart of the Midlands. I think it would be fairly safe to say that we are both incredibly excited to see what the future holds with the new shared capabilities.

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.

ST: We at Singletrack Towers have been told that the big corporate ‘Liberty’ structure behind Trillion is especially happy to have joined forces with Shand, as Liberty already has strong links with industry in Scotland. Indeed, with their aluminium and steel plants in Scotland, plus Scottish power generation links, our inclusion of the Shand Drove in our Zombie Apocalypse bike test looks prescient. A quick rebuild of Hadrian’s Wall and Scots could be enjoying a Liberty backed bicycle utopia while the rest of the world fights the zombie hordes!
zombie apocalypse btr shand olsen rob ross wil hannah
Zombie Apocalypse? Move to Scotland!
As Steven was obviously excited by the opportunities this partnership presents, we thought we’d give Trillion a chance to give their side of what the deal means to them:

Matt: I think I speak for both Russ and I when I say that we are both very excited about the news. Much of our time over the last year has been spent experiencing the start-up learning pains that Shand went through many years ago which has consequently meant that we haven’t had as much time available as we would like to be pushing forward things like future models and demo events. Having access to Shand’s well valued industry experience gives us the opportunity to refocus our attention on looking after our customer base and really charging ahead with Trillion and seeing how far we can take the brand.

Trillion = Ten to the power of 12.

It all sounds to us like a recipe for some interesting new bikes. UK designed and built mountain bikes for the UK market with input from a company experienced in making adventure bikes to stand up to the rigours of round the world touring? Mmm…we’re thinking winter hardtails, mud-resistant bottom brackets, suspension bikes without grit collecting nooks and crannies…And for the more minded adventure cyclist and #dirtydropbargoodness market, there will sure be benefits resulting from the supply chain access this will give Shand. The only problem we can see is: if Shand moves into titanium, would you still want one of their glorious paint jobs?

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