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Grounded in innovation: A Q+A with Muc-Off for our Built in Britain project in aid of CALM *RAFFLE NOW CLOSED!*

As donations keep rolling in for our exciting Built In Britain raffle, Muc-Off’s Steve Fearn tells us more about the company and its connection to the other great British bike brands involved in the project

*Update, 1st June: the raffle has now closed and the winner will be announced shortly*

Hopefully you’ve all seen the news and got your donations in by now… but just in case you somehow missed it, in association with Muc-Off we’re giving you the chance to win your own dream, custom road bike for the price of a £5 donation to CALM!

Donate £5 via JustGiving here by 30th May for the chance to build your dream bike

muc-off bike protect

The lucky raffle winner will get a custom Brian Rourke frameset painted by Gun Control Paint, with some awesome Pacenti wheels and plenty of goodies from Muc-Off to keep their steed clean and running efficiently. It really will represent the best of British, and we can’t wait to see the bike come to life. To find out more about why Muc-Off wanted to put this epic project together, we spoke to its global communications manager Steve Fearn… Wait, I thought Muc-Off made bike cleaners! How come you’re heading up a project to build a dream custom bike?

Steve Fearn: This project is British, it’s bike parts and it’s performance… British engineering at its best! We see a lot of ourselves in the other great brands involved in Built in Britain, and even though we’re very much global now, our routes are in the UK.

Muc-Off’s predecessor X-Lite was founded in 1991 by Rex and Marilyn Trimnell in a garage. X-Lite manufactured the first twin-crown fork before the Muc-Off name was coined in 1994, and so Muc-Off has always had innovation at its heart.

Muc-Off LOPS

Although cleaners are still a huge part of our product portfolio, we now do so much more. From lubes and protectants through to technical apparel and pro-level componentry - for example our innovative LOPS (Lightweight Oversized Precision Shifting system) which you may have seen at the Giro. Of course, we’re also delighted that the project will be raising money for the leading mental health charity CALM, building on our other recent charity work with COVID relief, as well as our environmental efforts with our Project Green initiative.

Can you explain more about Muc-Off’s humble beginnings?

muc-off 4

As our CEO Alex Trimnell puts it, basically there weren’t any proper bike cleaners on the market before Muc-Off began. When X-Lite started selling bar ends, Rex noticed that the anodising was affected by repeated cleaning with washing products such as Fairy Liquid. He got so fed up of dealing with returns, he developed his own cleaner in the distinctive pink colour. The name Muc-Off was suggested over the Trimnell dinner table and the rest is history! 

How has the company evolved over the years?

muc-off 3

There are plenty of key moments in Muc-Off’s history; our move into motorcycle and car care in the early 2000’s, the launch of our biodegradable range and the Team Sky [now Ineos Grenadiers] partnership that began in 2014 really stand out. Our product testing and R+D really stepped up a notch when we started working with Ineos, with our Hydrodynamic Chain Lube featuring on Tour de France-winning bikes. Now our customers get the same products that Ineos riders are happy with themselves, and we’re still driving our ‘Clean, Protect, Lube’ message to make sure they understand that caring for your bike with the right products really makes a difference.

Five Tour de France wins later it's been one heck of a ride, and the pandemic has presented plenty of challenges; but like the great British brands involved in this project, we’ve emerged strong and our Antibacterial range which was developed in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic is testament to our resilience.

So, what with everything the UK and the world has been through in recent years, this project is a celebration of Britishness if you will?

Yes, it’s been a real struggle just getting stuff moved around recently and every business in every industry has found it tough going in one way or another. People have found comfort and solace in bikes and exercise during the pandemic, we’ve seen that in the huge rise in sports participation, particularly here in the UK.

Muc Off Nano Tech bike cleaner

Our big thing is allowing people to get the most from their experience of riding a bike; be that with a really smooth operating drivetrain, simply having a nice clean bike, or even just saving themselves 2 watts of efficiency with our hydro lube. It’s all about making riders’ lives more enjoyable and getting the most out of what they do, which has become more important as we’ve seen people turn to their bikes in the last year. Anything we can do to support that we genuinely want to do.

How does Muc-Off relate to the other great British brands involved in this project?

muc-off machine

We are heavily grounded in innovation as a business, the small business attention to detail that brands like Pacenti, Gun Control and Brian Rourke are known for. Just because we’re a big company – well sort of big, we had 40 employees this time last year –  we once were that size and still operate our business like we used to in many ways.

Alex is still incredibly involved with product development and his passion runs through everything that we do. That’s reflected in our products, and in the things we’re going to be supplying these brands with for the work they’re doing to build the bike. Our core values are still very similar to these great independent brands that we’re championing.

How much of a challenge was it to diversify for the pandemic response?

muc-off camo facemask

A need was identified for antibacterial face masks and effective hand sanitiser. Hospital staff were also struggling with the PPE they were issued chafing their skin; so we supplied lots of free chamois cream to local hospitals. Other areas we were able to help were providing Anti-fog for key workers'  who battled with their glasses or visors steaming up and we supplied free repair and maintenance for key workers equipment as well as free sanitisers when there was a shortage.

muc-off 2

It all started when we had a load of chain lube bottles that we worked out could be repurposed as sanitiser bottles. Given the shortages, producing sanitiser just seemed the right thing to do, so we just needed to pivot to start delivering. It’s our size and dynamism that allowed us to do this; a huge corporation wouldn’t have been able to act so quickly. Being a smaller, agile business meant we were able to make a big impact quickly.

It’s definitely given our brand a footprint in new areas, and selling products like hand sanitiser in big stores up and down the country has made us more of a household name outside of cycling. We’ve also seen a whole new raft of cyclists coming into the market in the last 18 months though as outdoor activity increased, so everything has grown hugely for us.

What’s next for Muc-Off?

muc-off chain

As mentioned already, Muc-Off is grounded in innovation and performance and may have some very exciting things in the pipeline to make you go faster for less effort… so watch this space! As an extra sweetener, we’re also going to be adding a Muc-Off Optimised Chain to the prize list for the lucky winner of the dream bike to make them ride faster and more efficiently. Essentially it just smooths everything and massively reduces friction, which is going to make the finished bike ride even sweeter.

It’s a fantastic prize, and we’re really excited to be supporting the project in aid of CALM.

So there you have it, Muc-Off has added an Optimised Chain to the already epic raffle prize pot! If you haven’t already made your donation to CALM to be in with a chance of having your dream bike built, be sure to do so here before our closing date on 30th May. Best of luck to all!

Small society lottery number: 21/00531/LOT

This content has been added by a member of the staff

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BethSnow | 2 years ago

Hi team! Any idea when the raffle might be drawn? Thanks.


Jack Sexty replied to BethSnow | 2 years ago

We already picked our winner a few weeks ago - if you donated many thanks!

Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago

Fun times. I once managed to build a totally UK-EU branded Retro MTB, mostly UK sourced with shifters from Sachs (French pre-SRAM acquisition) and chain from Rohloff and Mavic rims. 
Drivetrain from Goldtec and Middleburn and Royce, Hubs from Hope and finishing kit from X-Lite and USE. Frame from Orange and Forks from Pace.  Tyres from Continental.

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