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Brexit and the bike industry: we ask UK brands, retailers and distributors how the new rules are affecting them

When it comes to Brexit, is it all doom and gloom? We have responses from Hunt, Mason, Muc-Off, Specialized, Sigma Sports, Pacenti Cycle Design, Bob Elliot and Cotic

Back from the festive hols, the bike industry has been up against it dealing with the latest Brexit implications. The free trade deal between the UK and the EU, which was announced on Christmas Eve, took effect from 1st January. Since then… paperwork. There’s been a lot of that. And there will continue to be.

> Brexit: New VAT rules see EU cycling brands stop online sales to UK shoppers

But there have been issues other than the nuisance of admin and delays. For distributors this regards negotiating who is paying the extra exporting costs, and for bike manufacturers with what it means for a product to be labelled as “made in the UK” or “made in the EU”.

Even if a bike is assembled in the UK, for it be classified as British within the terms of the trade deal, it needs to consist of at least 70% British materials and parts. If it doesn’t, then the bike is subject to 14% duty tariffs, and 4% for framesets, when selling from the UK into the EU. This works both ways, so products coming into the UK from Europe which don’t meet the required % of European origin are also then subjected to these tariffs.

If a frame is Asian made, with components such as Shimano and Sram also not originating from the UK/EU, it is likely impossible to reach the required percentage.

We spoke to brands in the bike industry to find how the new trade deal is effecting their businesses, how their processes will adapt, and the general attitude towards dealing with the complications and changes that come with the new rules.

Mason Cycles

Mason Cycles, the Brighton-based brand with Italian-built bikes, says: “We had anticipated and made potential plans for a dip in sales to the EU when there was a possible 14-15% duty applicable to our bicycles - which is a significant price increase for any customer. However, with the recent TCA/Trade Deal we have seen that it is possible to export/import bicycles with 0% duty and tariffs.

“As we have our frames made in Italy and several other Italian/EU made parts are used on our bicycles, they fall within 'Rules on Origin' regulations and we're able to export with these preferential rates (0%).”

Mason Resolution 2.jpg
> Review: Mason Resolution Force AXS

This means that Mason’s UK and EU customers won't be paying any more for a Mason bicycle than they did before Brexit, with only small delays, of 1 to 2 days, said to be expected for EU deliveries.

For consumers differences should be minimal, which is what we like to hear! But the Brexit arrangements will bring an end to the ease of relations between Mason Cycles and their EU business relations.

> Video: Fairlight Secan vs Mason Bokeh Comparison Review

Mason Cycles says: “Previously our EU production connection was simple. We could organise stock and prototypes to and from our suppliers with nothing more than an email needed. Accounting for this was straightforward, too. This was a key factor in allowing us to build the relationships and work so closely with our friends in Italy as we could exchange ideas (travel) and samples (shipments) with virtually no barriers. Now, none of this will change but it requires more admin.”

As a smaller bicycle brand, the extra workload could also bring its own challenges—but Mason is using this as an opportunity for development.

> Review: Mason Aspect Ti
Mason Aspect Ti-1.jpg

Mason Cycles says: “We're working hard to give all EU customers stress-free deliveries and paperwork is intrinsic to this, i.e. it needs to be accurate and present with every delivery. We're a team of just six employees, so really we try and limit 'paperwork' to the minimum.

“One way we're achieving this is making sure we adhere to best practises for all our internal processes. In this case, it means that our export documentation and logistics records systems are fully automated, accurate and handled electronically. This yields benefits for all of our sales channels and we anticipate company-wide operations improvements.”

Mason Cycles adds: “We know that with these situations, what may at first seem like barriers or challenges to business actually are the best opportunities to improve your business, learn, and to become more robust and efficient in all aspects of the business.”


For other British based bike brands, with framesets built outside of the UK and Europe, the situation is trickier.

Even though fully assembled in the Peak District, Sheffield-based brand Cotic has Taiwanese frames for many models in their range including their do-it-all Escapade, and these could be subjected to expensive tariff fees.

2021 cotic escapade

The brand has had to stop shipping to customers in the EU until the duty situation is understood.

> Review: Cotic Escapade

Owner of Cotic, Cy Turner, sent an email to customers stating: “What we are currently trying to ascertain is whether our EU customers who have bought Taiwan produced frames or bikes assembled using the majority of Taiwan sourced parts might need to pay some import duty.

Cotic Escapade - riding 3.jpg

"This is because the rules regarding items being of “UK origin” are a bit unclear, and the ‘value add’ by Cotic possibly doesn’t add up to a significant enough percentage of the value of the end product supplied to qualify for zero rating. I am currently going through the full trade agreement to try and figure it out, and we are in touch with our industry body to get to the bottom of this.”


Over to wheels. The West Sussex brand, Hunt, asserts that from the perspective of customers “not much will differ” and delivery to the UK and UK markets remain completely unaltered.

> Review: Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc Wheelset

Hunt admits shipping to Europe is fairly backed up currently, but says “this is just a case of bad timing and was due to the more recent surge in Covid-19 cases—this isn’t something we see as a Brexit problem”. Hunt anticipates shipping times to return to normal fairly quickly.

Hunt says: “We’re currently absorbing the applicable taxes/duties associated with European orders, to ensure that the pricing we offer on our website reflects that which the customer will pay.

“There will be some impacts in terms of paperwork and customs declarations, but that responsibility lies with us. We are handling all the paperwork to make their life for customers as easy as it was before Brexit.”

Hunt, who are supplying wheels at the WorldTour level to Qhubeka Assos for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, has no concerns about continuing to deliver products that perform to the highest level. “We don’t see product development changing at all, just a few extra documents to fill in when we take wheels to the wind-tunnel in Germany or do any other product development on the continent,” Hunt says.

> Review: Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide Wheelset

The British brand adds that rethinking international logistics is already a constant process for them as a growing business. Hunt says: “To better serve stateside riders directly we opened our US office in Colorado last year, and so there is plenty of experience we can draw upon from this process to continue trading in the EU. We’re always evolving our business as we continue to grow, and part of that process of course involves looking closely at logistics, which enable us to minimise complication and delay in meeting riders’ needs.”

So doesn't look like any problems here...

Pacenti Cycle Design

Turning to another wheel brand. Pacenti Cycle Design, producers of the Picco 46mm Disc Clincher wheelset which we rated 9 out of 10 for their excellent build quality and stunning performance, is also taking the new rules in their stride. Starting to see a trend here... albeit an unexpected one.

Luke Humphreys of Pacenti Cycle Design says: “As a company building our wheels in the UK by hand, we only have one main supplier from Europe, Sapim spokes. We get several large orders per year and this import is still relatively easy. We took note of what our courier companies required from us and are well prepared."

> Review: Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset

In terms of exports, Pacenti says: “We ship a lot to Europe and this will cost a little more going forward however we will simply increase our carriage charges slightly to cover this.

“We have always been a get on with it type company and that won't change, as a business, you adapt to grow or survive and we will do both in 2021.”

Bob Elliot & Co

Let's look at how things are shaping out for distributors...

For Bob Elliot, negotiations are still taking place with suppliers in Europe with regards to sorting out the new icoterms (international commercial terms) for importing. Director Paul Elliot explains: “This decides who pays for what and when. We are currently agreeing terms with all of our suppliers to make sure that all the fees are being paid at the right time, by the right people.

“Some of the European suppliers are putting us on icoterms whereby they pay for transport and for all of the exporting process. But others are asking for us to go and collect from them which has never been the case. If that does start to happen and we have to pay for freight, then we could see some pretty large price increases on those brands.”

That said, the Chorley-based industry wholesaler reassures that this doesn’t mean they will stop a brand.

“I don’t see any major fallout with my suppliers—we’ll sort something out with them all,” Paul Elliot says.

He adds: “We will try to absorb the costs wherever we can to protect our customers but if we do have to increase pricing for whatever reason then we will do that with minimal effect—whether this will stall sales, only time with tell.”

“The timing with Brexit, a rise in Covid-19 cases and everyone being off over the Christmas, has not helped. But we bulked our stocks up in November and December in preparation. This means that pricing remains unchanged at this point, as it is stock that landed with the original pre-Brexit arrangement. It also means that we have no urgency to have goods dispatched from Europe, so we are quite relaxed while we continue with the negotiations.”

Bob Elliot says they are getting responses everyday and expect to have agreements sorted with all European suppliers in the next week or two. Is it possible for it to all to go this smoothly? We'll check in later...


Muc-Off Ultimate Tubeless Setup Kit.jpg

For Poole-based Muc-Off, the no tariff deal that was approved on Christmas Eve was “a positive result”. But, at this stage, the specialists in bike care say it is difficult to assess the impact in the short to medium term.

> Muc-Off launches new Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug kit

Mike Cook, Global Sales & Business Development Director at Muc-Off, says: “As a UK-based manufacturing business, we’re not worried about our ability to keep producing the products our customers know and love us for. We certainly don’t foresee any delivery disruption to our UK-based customers."

> Review: Muc-Off Inner Tube Sealant

For products sent across the channel, Muc-Off says: “We could face some logistical issues and we’re conscious of the potential for increased haulage costs into Europe. We’ll be crossing our fingers that this doesn’t impact demand from our European network—but it’s too early to say.

“We’ll continue to work hard to keep offering the same high-level of service and products that keep our customers stoked, regardless of the challenges Brexit may throw at us down the line.”

Sigma Sports

Sigma Sports_Oakham

For the UK-based retailer Sigma Sports, international deliveries have not been disrupted thanks to an ongoing partnership with Global-e, a third party commerce solutions company.

Sigma Sports says: “We have been in a fortunate position that we already worked with a shipping partner called Global-e for our international customers and this has meant things have been moving quite smoothly.

“They take payment for customers in their own local currency, that might be cash on delivery or by bank transfers.

“It appealed to us as it was a simplified process, even before Brexit was on the cards and with Global-e handling shipments its meant we have experienced a fairly smooth transition.”


Specialized has issued a statement saying: “Technically the Brexit deal does not affect our main supply chain from our Asia suppliers. The area where we may be affected is the sharing of inventory with markets within the EU. Inventory is sometimes moved between markets to where the demand is, but this is not the primary method for supply. We are already working on establishing the new process to be as seamless as possible but there will be some disruption.”

Is the Brexit disruption not as bad as we initially thought; or is the bike industry just grtting its teeth, dealing with the extra paperwork and being as resilient as ever? Of course we hope for the best, but time will tell...

Add new comment


Malcolmc01 | 3 years ago

Purchasing from the EU has become more difficult and expensive from the pov of a consumer. I am looking to buy a new Canyon (Aeroad) and did some comparisons in January of UK and EU prices. We seem to be suffering a £550 Brexit 'dividend'. Of course global shortages mean that the bikes are unavailable anyway.

Canyon Endurace 8.0 CF SL Disc
UK price 2019 = £2249 (my current bike)
UK price 2021 = £2949
EU price 2021  = €2699 / £2400 (a reasonable price increase)
(€ - £ exchange rate 0.89)

Ihatecheese | 3 years ago

It's been far more hassle purchasing and receiving parts from abroad. Be it the 20% Vat or various administration charges on shipping bills. The shop just stops selling to the UK, Or simply the weeks of delay if the package gets pulled even with all the appropriate documentation. 

No positive just negative experiences here.

With this new post EU reality we could start making frames and stuff in the UK, Then we move up to the 20k+ superbikes after paying staff fair wages. 

ktache replied to Ihatecheese | 3 years ago
1 like

I did manage to get some gloves from Bikester easily.

Parts don't seem to be a problem either.

Took a little bit longer (of course) but it would seem they are accepting the problems.

I think some of the European megasites still aren't, which is a big shame, as they are quite good for difficult to source in the UK parts, but as I said a while back, hopefully once it all calms down a bit they might start shipping again.

We now have to accept the extra charges.


Ihatecheese | 3 years ago

It has been a nightmare buying parts from EU shops since brexit. Either the shop will not bother with the UK, or the shipping is caught in a few weeks shipping VAT balack hole at the depot figure out how to charge the correct duty for it. That's with legitimate bike firms. Ebay stuff has been ok. 

TheBillder | 3 years ago
1 like

It seems as if international trade volumes are getting back to normal: Obviously that takes time to filter through to customer experience. What are people seeing now?

I've just bought some tyres, and noticed that Tredz have a new (to me) stock status: no longer just In or Out, but now "In stock at the distributor". This adds quite a long delay: 14 days on one of the tyres I was keen on. Fortunately other sites had what I wanted for more normal delivery times.

TheBillder replied to TheBillder | 3 years ago

Today the FT says that there has been a significant fall in trade: "UK-EU trade falls sharply as Brexit disruption starts to bite". Citing French customs stats, it says that exports from France to the UK fell by 13% in January. Trade the other way fell by 20%, but overall international trade in France rose.

The full article is behind a paywall but the front page is on the BBC review of the newspapers:

Awavey replied to TheBillder | 3 years ago

is that the FT whose former editor was offered the Légion d’Honneur for his editorship of FTs positive role in the European debate, and on his last day in the job tweeted in agreement that it was the FTs job to pour scorn on the Brexit decision... ?

but maybe the current editor isnt quite so pro EU thesedays, the article states and quotes economists who say its unclear how much of the decline is due to Brexit, and how much due to the global pandemic, and that EU trade has been in decline with the UK for a while anyway, larger businesses seem to have adapted to Brexit as they preplanned, whilst smaller businesses havent because they didnt, which I think is exactly what we are seeing and peoples experiences so far.

And dont forget France introduced quite stringent Coronavirus restrictions in January worried about the spread of the Kent variant from the UK, that make cross border haulage trade quite difficult from the UK at the moment, you could argue thats a Brexit impact because the French wouldnt be able to do that if we were all in the EU block still, but equally you cant say its solely Brexit because the restriction is there because of a global pandemic, which isnt a Brexit thing.

Rubble | 3 years ago
1 like

Would be good to hear from a bike company that manufactures frames in the uk, either brompton or enigma would be good.

Ginsterdrz | 3 years ago

The whole export thing is VERY messed up at the moment but don't listen to the 'official quotes'. It's not in their interest to undermine their own businesses. Some are honest. Speak first hand to a none management company employee and you'll get a truer picture.
Every item dispatched at the moment is on a case by case basis - additional paperwork, time and distraction causing delays and backlog - completely unsustainable as we send out hundreds of items a day.
Will it improve? Who knows! There is no plan, direction or lead from the government, just the usual: "YOU'VE GOT ALL THE TOOLS, GET ON AND MAKE IT WORK." Totally useless.
What WILL happen is price increases.

james-o | 3 years ago

"Even if a bike is assembled in the UK, for it be classified as British within the terms of the trade deal, it needs to consist of at least 70% British materials and parts."

Incorrect sorry - at least 50 or 55% UK parts to quality as UK origin and duty-free trade, depending on e-bike or non-e. EU parts count as UK content as a reciprocal deal. Better news than 70% anyway.
The information was late and not easy to find, though the terms for origin of content by product type or tariff code were clear in the FTA that was available shortly before new year. 

Chris Hayes replied to james-o | 3 years ago

It's an interesting but moot point. It's unlikely that any bike would be classified as British manufactured on either basis - most frames and all major components are imported (unless you're Brompton - and the n for a Brompton is 1, not +1).  

Take my Factor 02 - a company registered in Norwich: frame and fork (Factor, Taiwan - with carbon tubes from China); handlebars, stem, seatpost, bottlecages, wheels (Black Inc - Taiwan); bearings (CeramicSpeed - Denmark); tyres (Continental - Germany); grouset (Shimano - Japan) nothing from the UK apart from some retail or design profits. 

I dare say that it would be the same for other 'UK' brands which source their frames in the Far East and perhaps even the ones that do actually build their own frames and source frame materials (steel, Ti, alloy tubes) here rather than importing them from Columbus (Italy....with steel from France)... that would still probably be < 55% of the value of a finished bike. 

Sriracha replied to Chris Hayes | 3 years ago
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This being so, what is it that we are shedding tears over. The British bicycle industry you just portrayed is but a hollow shell, a Trojan Horse for foreign industry and employment. They coat it all in a veneer of "British" and take a profit margin, whilst offering employment to assembly mechanics and logistics. Meanwhile the skilled engineering and manufacturing end of the supply chain is off shore.

I had thought the EU was supposed to prevent all that in the first place.

Chris Hayes replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago

It is a veneer and mirrors the hollowing out of other sectors via outsourcing and offshoring.  The State has done the same, which goes a long way to explain the mess were in - not a party political point, by the way. 

Companies iniitally outsourced manufacturing, kidding themselves that they had uptiered from engineering to design.  Soon outcompeted by cheaper, better products first from Japan, Taiwan and now China, they have nowhere to go apart from the last bastion of the charlatan: branding.

But there are no tears to shed.  I'm a Gen Xer and cannot recall the UK equivalent of Shimano or Campagnolo, unless they were the crap brakes I had on my Raleigh as a child... and I have a scar on my chin to prove they were crap! 

The EU, however, is not about free trade, the left-wing German press have always called it Festung Europa: it is more about an internal market of which we are no longer part.  There are plenty of stories about EU trade policy imposing external tariffs on goods to protect their own....Spanish bananas anyone?

Geoff Ingram replied to Chris Hayes | 3 years ago

Bananas from the Canary Islands are significantly more tasty than South American ones -and much more expensive even in Spain. And they make you faster!!!

Simon E replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago

Sriracha wrote:

The British bicycle industry you just portrayed is but a hollow shell, a Trojan Horse for foreign industry and employment. They coat it all in a veneer of "British" and take a profit margin, whilst offering employment to assembly mechanics and logistics. Meanwhile the skilled engineering and manufacturing end of the supply chain is off shore.

A hollow shell or Trojan horse? Hyperbole. British companies - and many others - source from all over the world.

Nobody is claiming everything they sell is made from raw steel from Port Talbot on a lathe in Lancashire (except maybe Hope) though I'm sure I read that some brands still use Reynolds steel tubing drawn in Birmingham.

The UK has been overtaken, it has happened across most industries. Triumph, BSA, Norton et al stood still in the 60s and mocked the Japanese upstarts. But the Japanese worked hard and soon left the leaky, unreliable British bikes trailing.

British cars in the 70s were a sick joke. After Minis and an Austin 1300 our first VW Golf in 1979 was a revelation and my dad vowed never to go back. The only vaguely decent cars to roll off a Rover production line were rebadged Hondas (and still not as good as a real one).

The once mighty Raleigh could not compete with the Taiwanese framebuilding industry while Campagnolo could still succumb with continued shrinking market share for their groupsets, even though production is outsourced to eastern Europe.

British bike companies like Mason, Cotic and Islabikes are not mass production factories, they openly state that they are designers who choose to work with high quality suppliers who happen to be in Italy or Taiwan. No-one can mass produce a bicycle here because it's too expensive. The same economics apply to computers, cameras, smartphones, TVs, cars, trainers and many other industries. Japanese companies have long moved production to other countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia as the costs of doing so at home have climbed.

Rubble replied to Simon E | 3 years ago
1 like

>> British cars in the 70s were a sick joke.
what do you expect with a labour government and  40% corporation tax ? why would any decent manufacturer want to setup shop in a country with such high tax ?

HarrogateSpa replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago

People who voted Brexit may well have an agenda - to rubbish the economic activity disrupted by leaving the EU as not worth it in the first place.

But there must come a point where even ideological Brexiters have to face reality and accept that it doesn't make sense to lose what is left of our manufacturing and exports, while making life more difficult for services.

james-o replied to Chris Hayes | 3 years ago

There will be a few bikes that class as UK-made under 50/55% rules but at 70% it becomes much harder. 


Chris Hayes replied to james-o | 3 years ago
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I can't think of any 'standard' bikes.... but assuming that there are we'd be talking a Saffron handbuilt frame with a commensurate groupset and wheels ...otherwise I think we're struggling.... 

...Now you've made me spend 20 mins perving over their website....there's some stunning stuff on there if you haven't seen it.

james-o replied to Chris Hayes | 3 years ago
1 like

You could have a 'made in the UK' bike under the new rules, even on an Asia-made frame. You'd just need to be careful with the origins of the parts and the % rules by product type. Sure, it wouldn't be easy and that's related to where manufacturing has been based for some time. But there's been a gradual increase in cycle parts manufacturing and assembly in Europe for a while now and there are options for the companies who find an advantage in working this way.  

Rome73 | 3 years ago

So not much change, some inconvenience, adapting, small price rise, change in import / export / courier methods, more 'paperwork'. But NO ONE said; brilliant, Brexit has improved everything, it is so much easier being outside the singe market etc. So tell me, what was the point? 

HarrogateSpa replied to Rome73 | 3 years ago

As you say, not a single benefit.

Gove & Johnson could have told us over the last 4 years: 'Brexit will make your lives & businesses less convenient, and it will increase costs and paperwork, but it might not be that much worse for some people'.

That would have been honest, not dishonest, but it's not much of a sales pitch.

Rich_cb replied to Rome73 | 3 years ago

You do realise that there's a world outside the EU?

In exchange for a slightly less convenient trading relationship with the EU we now have the freedom to forge much closer trading relationships with the rest of the world.

That's the point.

Ginsterdrz replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

Air Freight from outside EU now tripled: £30 parcel now costs £90. Multiply that by 100 parcels.

To put a container on a ship from the Far East to UK was $1000 now $7000.

In simple terms: you've got a world market now but boy you're going to pay!

Rich_cb replied to Ginsterdrz | 3 years ago

Shipping rates have increased everywhere. Air freight rates are a reflection of the lack of available shipping capacity.

open_roads replied to Ginsterdrz | 3 years ago
1 like

Freight charges have risen inside the EU as well though - so in practice there's very little impact as prices will rise irrespective of point of origin or final destination.

HoarseMann replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

Rich_cb wrote:

You do realise that there's a world outside the EU?

Like this?

AidanR replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

There was a world outside the EU before. Tell me how we're forging a closer relationship? All our deals so far have exactly or very closely replicated existing EU deals with those countries.

Rich_cb replied to AidanR | 3 years ago
1 like

It's literally been 9 days.

We've rolled over most of our deals and now we've got a deal with the EU we can start improving our existing deals and forging new ones.

If we've managed no new or improved deals in 5 years or so you'll have a point but until then criticism is a bit premature.

AidanR replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

And what is our competitive advantage in negotiating trade deals over being in the EU? We've already demonstrated the weaker hand we have compared to the EU.


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