An Indian tycoon plans to revitalise Britain’s bicycle industry with the launch this year of a new range of bikes manufactured here in the UK.
Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House group bought the Trillion Cycles brand last year.
The entrepreneur, who sold bicycles in Turkey during his gap year before reading economics at the University of Cambridge, told Telegraph.co.uk that its first bike will be launched at next month’s London Bike Show.
That debut model will be a single-speed commuter with a steel frame – a material Gupta is entirely familiar with, having spent £500m on UK businesses including parts of the Tata and Caparo steel firms.
Carbon fibre and titanium frames are also in the pipeline, with a price tag of up to £10,000, made in Leamington Spa.
He said: “My first job was my gap year in 1990 was selling Victor bikes internationally which my father’s company made.
“Because of my father’s business I was practically born with a bike in my hands - this is me coming full circle.”
“This is not a vanity project,” he continued. “We have an engineering plant at Leamington Spa to make the bikes and will increase the UK content of them as our manufacturing businesses expand the capability to produce the parts.
“Britain was once the home of the bike manufacturing industry - Raleigh was the biggest bike manufacturer in the world a century ago. In just one of its plants in Nottingham it had 10,000 staff."
The heyday of Britain's bicycle industry has long passed, although London-based Brompton and Stradford-upon-Avon business Pashley remain significant homegrown manufacturers.
“Apart from a few high end companies, bike manufacturing has all gone now," Gupta said.
“While we plan to make premium bikes as well, bikes are the sort of engineered products we see in our end-to-end strategy.”
He believes that Brexit will provide opportunities for British manufacturing businesses, and that his business model can capitalise upon that.
“Our company is looking at bikes as an example of the full circle of the sector in the UK,” he explained.
“We are producing the steel from which components for products can be manufactured, and then taking them all the way to the finished product.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.