Coming in the week that Theresa May looks set to trigger Brexit, catapulting the UK into a glorious future of self-sufficient manufacturing and export of British design, the timing for the launch of new brand Ironbridge Bicycles could not be better.
Ironbridge Bicycles is a new brand of hand-made bikes, designed and built in the UK. A collaboration between Bicycles By Design and framebuilder Swallow Bespoke, the name is a reference to Ironbridge, Shropshire - a world heritage site held to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
Ironbridge is "synonymous with design and manufacturing excellence since the 18th Century," says the brand's launch statement, "and this UK hand built heritage continues today with the work done by Bicycles By Design and Swallow Bespoke, epitomised by the new Ironbridge Bicycles."
Three models have been announced, each named after a significant date in British manufacturing.
First up is the 1779, named after the opening of the Iron bridge, the first in the world. Described as a gravel/touring/bikepacking frameset, it features a fully fillet brazed frame for derailleur or internal gearing. It will be available in belt or chain options, with disc brakes.
Next is the 1851, after the date of The Great Exhibition which showcased British and manufacturing achievement. This one's for gravel/CX/road riding, with three joints fillet brazed. It's designed for 1 x 11 or derailleur options with discs.
Last but not least is the 1952 - "the 1950s being the heyday of British bespoke cycle frame production, and the area telephone code for Ironbridge" explain the brand. This is a pure road build, fully lugged and available for caliper or disc brakes with level or sloping top tube.
We've only seen one model so far, but it's got some lovely detailing. The patriotic paint job may be a bit over the top, but check out the decorative bridge on the seat stays, representing the famous Iron bridge itself:
The homegrown theme continues with the use of Reynolds 853 steel tubing for the frame, while Lancashire brand Hope provide the chainset and wheels as well as most of the finishing kit. The model pictured also features German tyres from Schwalbe and an Italian stem from Deda - a conciliatory touch, we feel.
Pete Bird and Robert Wade from Bicycles By Design commented, "It's so amazing to be launching a new brand, Ironbridge, drawing on our heritage and skills and aimed at the customer wanting a traditional but contemporary high quality hand-made British frame without the expense, involvement and waiting time of a bespoke frame.
"It is an exciting collaboration between ourselves and other small frame builders and industry partners to evolve a model of working to sustain our businesses post bike boom and post Brexit to access customers in the UK and export markets."
The bicycles will range in price from £2,900 to £5,000 (frames £1,690 to £2,250), and will be available in 15 sizes and colours. Each bike will be hand built and delivery is expected within 12-14 weeks of order.
The new Ironbridge range will be launched at Bespoked in Bristol in early April. For more information, check out the website at www.ironbridge-bicycles.co.uk, where the current holding page will be updated closer to launch.