Solitude Cycles have announced that they’ve ceased trading.
I think it’s sad that a small, obviously popular, independent bike company has closed it’s doors.
To be honest I’ve never really understood how Solitude worked and it’s existence puzzled me. For those that didn’t know, Solitude was a design shop. You got Alex to design and spec your frame, he got the frame built for you by Lee Cooper then Alex arranged the paint (I believe Lee did some of this) and delivery/fulfillment of your order.
I’ve seen Solitude frames and they’re nice but I’m not sure why people went to Solitude rather than Lee directly. I have no idea if Lee was building and supplying Solitude frames at a significantly reduced rate or not. Obviously from Lee’s point of view he’s not having to deal with lots of customer questions/input and can get on with building while Solitude handles the customer facing part so I guess there’s a saving to be made there. But surely there can’t have been that much of a saving to pass on to Solitude to allow them to run/support a business?
So, were people going to Solitude to get a better design than Lee could get them?
I can’t really work it out. On his blog Alex hasn’t mentioned any financial problems that’s put the stoppers on the project, only that he wasn’t doing it full time and now can’t afford the time he needs to put into it. So on the surface it seems like the relationship worked, everyone got paid, customers got their bikes and everyone was happy. I guess that makes it even sadder that he’s wound it up.
I should note that I don’t know either Alex or Lee personally and wish them both well. I can’t help feeling that we’ll see Solitude again at some point though!