Two videos this week are both about hand made goodness, one frame building and the other leather goods. It’s interesting that the term hand made is often only thought about as meaning low volume and yet Orange Bikes (not a small bicycle company) make all their bikes by hand here in the UK. I really like the lack of pretence with the orange bikes video, and how open they are about things like how frame alignment is tweaked – any frame builder will know that’s how you get a frame straight, but most consumers probably don’t appreciate the simple yet very effective methods used to tweak a frame back into alignment. I admire their openness and honesty, and it has to be said – Guy Martin makes me laugh he’s just so funny and likeable.
The second video has a very different feel but is just as honest and interesting to watch, it talks about the notion of craft and quality but also about scaling up their business to meet demand. Still made by hand and still high quality, but they make more, and employ more people.
The natural progression of being an artisan maker of things is to either generate a long waiting list for your goods or to train others to do what you do so that you can meet the demand, both directions make sense but there’s something really nice about the notion of the success of one maker enabling the development of others.
A dimly lit workshop in the centre of Halifax is an unlikely backdrop for an art studio, twisting and manipulating aluminium, forming complex shapes to create a pure simplicity – the bike frame.
Proper engineering is a dark art in a world of sterile outsourced manufacturing. A black box of production, it was about time someone gave an updated snapshot into the people and processes that bring an Orange bike to life.
Cockney, Francis and Toddy bend and join aluminium using timeless skill and modern ingenuity, but getting them to explain what they do is no easy task. In steps TT legend and engineering ambassador to the people, Guy Martin.
A man of mechanical dexterity and dubbed the modern day Fred Dibnah, Guy phrases the questions nobody else would think to ask. Not afraid to state the obvious, he disseminates each step and shows exactly how a Five goes together. Banter in the workplace? Just a bit boy…
Guy gets a TIG welding assessment, Vaughan lets him loose with a gun, and wielding an Allen key he gets candid on DH “cock measuring”.
The usual factory video? Produced and innovatively shot by the legends at Cut Media, this is no ordinary tour. Finally available to watch in its entirety, settle down with a brew and hit play…
Brothers Chris and Kirk Bray have been producing leather goods for the last ten years. They launched Billykirk from Los Angeles in 1999, learning their craft from a third generation leather maker. A simple leather strap kick started the business, a decade later their collection has flourished into other offerings that consists of bags, belts, shoes, wallets, hats and other accessories.
Since expanding and moving their operation to the East, they’ve employed a group of Amish leather makers to produce much of their line, while wrapping up production in their studio. We visited the brothers over the summer to observe their operation first hand and to discover the beauty behind the process.