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October 20, 2017

Small business survey: Independent Cycling Businesses

As South Australians slowly come around to the idea that two wheels are actually better than four, a fledgling industry of independent cycling businesses are beginning to find their feet.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Andrew Beveridge (Rogers Bespoke and Hey Reflecto)
  • Jessica Clark (Tenet Supply)

Rogers Bespoke
Est. 2013 / Founders: 1

As a new-generation pioneer of bike building in South Australia, James (JR) Alderson has been faced with a constant stream of challenges since launching his business – Rogers Bespoke – three years ago.

Roger that: James (JR) Alderson

In a state unaccustomed to this kind of trade, everything from sourcing parts to finding an appropriate workshop has been difficult. But now, things are beginning to turn around.

Rogers Bespoke was originally established in Port Adelaide, where James shared space with a Porsche mechanic. This year he made the move into his own workshop in the Western suburbs – a space he is designing himself to make the production of each frame as smooth as possible.

“And obviously being able to come in here and not being restricted by the hours of production like I was previously – this should be far better,” he says.

Additionally, the years of hard work JR’s already put in are now yielding a steady stream of customers, and the Rogers Bespoke client base is growing and diversifying.

When CityMag visits the workshop – the two frames JR is working on are both destined for homes in Sydney. Interstate orders now make up a big chunk of the business.

Every piece of the build is done by JR

“You’re only as good as what your portfolio is and it takes a long time to get there,” says JR.

“It kind of clicked two years ago at the Tour Down Under.. that year I’d released a few more bikes and had a bit more exposure. As I was explaining to people who I was, they said, ‘yeah – we know who you are’. These were people from Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland – and I sort of thought, ‘this is actually getting somewhere’.”

And since JR has found the security that comes with brand recognition, he is also beginning to evolve his offering.

A Rogers Bespoke frame is a high-end product, and has always been entirely custom-designed and built by JR in consultation with each customer. Now though, he is introducing a standard Rogers Bespoke frame – something that will allow him to streamline production and create a stronger brand identity.

“With the standard model I can use all the same parts,” says JR. “I can use all the same headtubes, for example – so now I’m getting all my headtubes machined locally rather than sourcing them from overseas.

“But it also helps the brand continuity as well – obviously there’s lots of different bikes you can make… but if you can consistently build similar looking bikes then everyone can go – oh, that’s a Rogers.”

And there’s little doubt that within the next few years, more and more people will be thinking, ‘that’s a Rogers’ as they watch cyclists zip past on roads across Australia.

Hey Reflecto
Est. 2014 / Founders: 1

Lisa Penney’s delightful smile is as eye-catching as her vest

One of Lisa’s new Hey Reflecto designs

Lisa Penney needed a solution to a problem, and when she solved the problem she also ended up launching a business.

“I love cycling,” she says. “I think everyone should ride everywhere. And I’m obsessed with clothes, and I guess that’s why I’m obsessed with not wearing a workman’s vest on my bike.”

Lisa started making reflective riding vests that had high design values as well as high practicality, and Hey Reflecto was born.

In the three years since she started the business, she has been working tirelessly to perfect the product.

“The reflective material is stuff that I got made,” she says. “I tried hundreds of them – to see which materials wore better and which ones were the strongest and this one is the best. It’s really good because it can be seen from a lot of angles too, even a hundred metres away.”

Tenet Supply
Est. 2017 / Founders: 2

Victoria Paterson

Vic’s designs for Tenet Supply are modern and clean

If ever a garment needed a perception overhaul, it would be the lycra cycling jersey. Tarred seemingly irreversibly with the spectre of the MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra), the jersey is more often a point of derision than one of pride.

But graphic designer Victoria Paterson is a passionate cycler who knows that for some purposes lycra is the best material. So, along with her partner Lewis Guerin Hanlon, she decided to re-invent it.

“We know there are people of all different sizes, shapes, genders, that love cycling,” says Vic.

“There was nothing made in Australia that was available and there was nothing that really spoke to us in a modern design sense – and we just though, ‘we can’t not do this’.”

Vic designs patterns for the jerseys, and then works closely with a local manufacturer to have them made in Australia – a decision that upholds Tenet’s strong environmental and ethical ideals.

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