What ever happened to those 29ers?
If you’ve been following what we’ve been up to over the past couple of years, you’ll have heard mention of, seen pictures and maybe even touched one of our production 29er mountain bikes. Unless you actually bought one, it would have been a fleeting glance though.
If you look at our range of production bikes now you’ll notice the 29er is conspicuous by it’s absence. I’ve been getting emails and calls asking about our first production mountain bike over the summer and I guess I should try and clear up what happened with this model.
The short story is that we’ve put it on hold for the immediate future.
The long story is that since we’d built a lot of mountain bikes in the past, mostly full custom 29ers and ‘world tour’ type off road bikes, it seemed like the obvious step was to introduce one into our production range. One thing about what we do at Shand is to try and stay authentic and make sure the bikes we build are bikes we understand and bikes we would, and do, ride ourselves. Now I’m pretty old school, not having full suspension since an old Kona about 15 years ago, it was always going to be a hardtail. I also have pretty limited experience with longer travel, slacker geometry, so for our first production frame I was always going to lean towards a short travel, lightweight race bike.
So we designed something round those parameters and ended up with a cracking, lightweight, fast offroad bike. We’re huge fans of Reynolds 853 so it made sense that we’d choose that for the main triangle. We had Reynolds make some nice curved downtubes for fork clearance and to minimise front end height which can be a problem with those big wheelers. We went for an oversized seattube to make it dropper post friendly, 44mm headtube for tapered forks and a direct mount front mech.
All sounds good so far. The problem was, we were building it using our normal fabrication methods and applying the same high end painted finish that we do to the rest of our bikes and all of this is labour intensive in the extreme which means in order for it to be a viable product, we’d have to charge close to £1000 for the frame. Now while lots of people really appreciate a beautiful paint job and lovely smooth fillet brazed joints, does it make sense on a mountain bike that’s going to be used and abused? I’m not sure.
You can buy a Cotic Solaris for £500. That’s an 853 hardtail, similar tubing to what we were using, dropper post compatible, 44mm headtube, blah blah blah. And by all accounts it’s a great frame, ok, it’s made in Asia and isn’t finished as well, but for a workhorse like this, does that really matter? Is ours twice as good as that? Well, the answer is no, it’s not. That makes it really hard for me to include it in our range. The ones we sold, we sold for £850 in order to be at least a little more competitive and to be honest, I don’t think we made any money.
The other thing that made it difficult is that we couldn’t think of a good name! It was at various times, The Spunk, Fat Boab, Yer Maw and I’m sure a bunch of others that I’ve forgotten.
I’d like to think that we’ll have a production mountain bike in our range at some point but I suspect it’ll be tig welded and powdercoated. We’ll wait and see.
I’d be interested to hear what you think about a UK built mountain bike, if you’d pay a premium for something not imported and what sort of things would convince you to buy a Shand over something else.
Sometimes we suck.
Like a lot of things that have been going on at the moment, I’ve been trying to finish this posting for far too long. The fact that I started it weeks ago and have been bouncing about trying to finish it and feeling like I’m getting nowhere, encapsulates a lot of what’s happening here at Shand right now.
Ok, I’m going to come right out and say it.. deep breath… we suck at delivering bikes on time. There, that feels better. Actually, it doesn’t. And saying it doesn’t make it any better for those of you waiting on bikes or have had to wait too long. But it needs to be said.
A little history to put things in perspective. Shand have been building bikes for 10 years. But the makeup of Shand now bears little resemblance to the previous decade. For the first 4 or 5 years, I was building made to measure full custom bike frames, mostly in my spare time. Never more than about 10-12 per year. It was a hobby, a sideline, something that never really made any money. The next 4 or 5 years, I was much more focussed, I started to care about processes and not just developing the bikes I was building, but also developing the way I built bikes. Everyday was a school day.
Fast forward to now. No longer is it just me working away in my home-workshop in the middle of night, but there’s 4 of us in a nice big space and it’s a proper job for all of us. We’ll probably build more bikes this year than I built in the first 8 or years years put together. We’ve spent money on marketing, tooling, people and space. All so we can build the volume we need to in order to make this a sustainable business. And everyday is still a school day.
And here’s the rub, it’s bloody hard. Having a great team of four dedicated individuals fully committed to building the best bikes we can, feels so different to beavering away on my own. Compared to the past few years it feels like we’ve turned into some kind of huge corporation and I need to keep reminding myself that we’re still a tiny dot in the bicycle industry landscape.
Since we relaunched the brand about 18 months ago, things have gone crazy. The sales volume has soared, the feedback about the bike we’ve had from customers has been great. We’ve been featured in magazines, films, national press, local press, we’ve won awards and we continue to be bowled over by the feedback and reaction from people who, heartwarmingly, genuinely seem to want to support a small British bicycle company, either by buying bikes (or t-shirts), speaking to us on social media, sending us quirky letters (yes letters, in post, with stamps on), or just sending us emails to say ‘Hi, love what you’re doing, keep it up’.
And here’s the but. The orders roll in and we come in each day and build bikes. Somedays, it’s great. Other days it sucks. Tools break, deliveries go missing, ideas we had prove to be duff, we make mistakes, we get ill, our kids get ill, we run out of coffee. We screw up, our suppliers screw up and sometimes our customers screw up. Everytime something like this happens, we fall behind in our schedule. Because we’re so small and we’re working at the limits of our production capacity, once we lose the place, it’s almost impossible to catchup. When you’re only building 10 bikes a year, and you fall behind, a couple of calls to the 2 people next on your waiting list takes care of things. When you’re at our level and still building customers bikes to order, we can have 20 or 30 people on our list that are potentially impacted by delays rather than 1 or 2. And this is the part that we (well me specifically) suck at. Communication. Most people buying a bike from us have chosen us for the exact reason that makes delays and late deliveries more likely. We’re small.
We need to be better. We realise that. So we’re taking steps to make us ‘not suck so much’. We’ve got more real live people taking on customer communications. We’re putting processes in place to try and mitigate against the almost inevitable supply chain issues. We’re changing the way we take orders and estimate delivery time as well as actually reducing leadtimes. We’re developing new systems for the building of bikes that will enable us to be more efficient. We’re being more pro-active rather than re-active. We’re streamlining our product offering. As boring as all this sounds, it makes me really excited, it feels like we’re moving forward in the way we want to rather than conducting forest fire management.
It’ll take a little time but we’ll get there. I’m looking forward to having time to get out and ride my bike instead of calling customers to explain their bike is going to be late.
Howdy, the time has come to let go of one of our Skinnymalinky demo bikes. It’s a medium, currently built with Ultegra Di2 (including hidden seatpost battery and stem mounted controller), Wheelsmith/Son Archetype wheels, Ritchey Classic finishing kit (including painted to match bars). Oh, no pedals included.
It’s the exact bike in the pictures in this Fickr set.
You can see the geometry here.
It’s currently set up for me, I’m 5’10 and pretty normal proportions and fits perfectly. I’ll happily swap out the stem for a different length/rise to make it fit you.
I love this bike and have been riding it over the summer. I’ll be quite sad when it goes but I need to be riding some other bikes in the winter. According to Strava, it’s done about 1000km.
We’re looking for about £2100 for it. Which I think is a bargain.
We’ll put some new bar tape on as the white (blame Russ, it was his idea!) is a bit tatty. If you’re interested, drop us an email or give us a call. If you’re local, I’m happy if you want to make an appointment and come and ride it.
I had a chance to look at these up close at Eurobike and I like them a lot. They’re essentially paddle shifters similar to MTB shifters and look like a great alternative to twist shifters currently available for drop bars.
Fitting neatly under the bars they work by using one side to shift up and the other to shift down. Cable tension adjustment is also possible via the shifters and the up- or down-shift can be fitted to either side of the bars.
Shifting felt smooth and positive, but as the shifters were not connected to the Speedhub I guess more tension would be experienced on the shifter than was felt on the display bike.
Speaking to the guys at Tout Terrain they said they should be available at the end of the year and will be marketed under a separate brand called Cinq5. They also mentioned that they will only be available initially in a silver finish and not anodized like the ones shown here. Looking forward to trying them out!