First and most importantly how are you and your loved ones doing?
We’re doing well thanks – it took a lot of adjustment at first however everyone seems to be settling into this new pace of life. I find it hard to remember a time before lockdown now!
Do you see what is going on in other countries, a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in the UK?
That’s a very big question! You could debate that all day long and still not arrive at any conclusion. We work with lots of independent bike shops all over Europe (Germany, France, Spain etc) so we’ve had an interesting insight into how this situation has affected the bike industry in many different countries. It’s not been easy for anyone however it’s great to see many of them making the best of a bad situation and carrying on with business as best they can.
When you look at the photos from the Rough Stuff Archive and the bikes they use do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away for simple exploration?
No – definitely not. The commercialization of gravel and bike-packing has just meant a development in the products available on the market. There’s a frame, bag and tyre now available for every situation imaginable! However, just like the guys in the RSA, you can still grab whatever bike you want and head off on an adventure. It’s always easy to look at the past through rose tinted glasses…
Since we first met at the original Brother in the Wild you guys have come a long way, what do you see as your long term goal?
To keep doing what we love! If my brother and I can still be designing, building and riding bikes in 10 years’ time then we’ll be more than happy.
How do you see the gravel/adventure scene in the UK going in the future?
Well it’s obviously booming at the moment, not just in the UK but across the globe; and that’s a great thing. It’s so cool to see people really getting behind the more adventurous side of cycling as personally it’s what I’ve always been interested in – and we have so much good riding available to us here in the UK. A spike in interest like this will always calm down after a while, however I can’t see it disappearing… gravel is now engrained in the bike industry just as road cycling or mountain biking is.
How many cups of tea or coffee do you drink a day?
1 cup of tea when I first wake up, then a couple cups of coffee throughout the morning. I might have a tea in the afternoon if I’m flagging but any more than this and I’m too wired to do anything.
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
Yes! Luckily we relocated to Kent a few years back so I’ve been exploring the North Downs which are a short ride from Brother HQ. I’m so grateful to have this on my doorstep.
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
I’m currently using 2 bikes on a regular basis. The first is a Mehteh built up as a classic gravel bike – 700c wheels with 42mm tyres and some prototype steel gravel forks which we’ll be releasing a little later this year. That’s my go to bike for long days in the saddle on mixed terrain, it absolutely flies on tarmac and light gravel.
For the rough stuff I’ve got a Big Bro built up with massive wide bars, 27.5” wheels and some 2.8” Schwalbe G-Ones. It’s my mountain bike but also makes a great beach cruiser which is good to have as I live on the coast.
What are you currently working on
Well it’s our 10th anniversary this year and to celebrate we’ve just launched some limited edition frames with a crazy black and gold paintjob – they look pretty cool if I do say so myself! We’re also launching our 2020 zine soon, should be getting that back from the printers this week and then sending it out to shops and customers.
You held gravel/adventure rides last year in Europe, do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change?
Yeah we’ve been heavily affected by this as our ‘Brother in the Wild’ bikepacking events take place in the UK, Germany and France. The UK event was meant to take place last weekend actually, so we’ve postponed this until September. However I don’t think it will change the scene… once we’re out of all this mess I reckon demand for these events will be higher than ever. Personally, I can’t wait to get out on some big social rides again and I’m sure lots of people feel the same.
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
I’ve really enjoyed the slower pace of life. Having less plans has meant more time to myself, to just be at home and read or write. It’s been really healthy and I hope to remember some of this when the madness of normal life inevitably returns.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
Stopping at a country pub for a mid-ride pint.
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
Hmmm… not yet… however I just bought myself a traditional steel and flint fire starter which I hope to master over the next few weeks. I’d love to be able to start a campfire without the need of a lighter or matches.