With such a rich history stemming back to the foundations of mountain biking, Pace Cycles is soon to open a museum celebrating nearly 25 years of manufacturing. Mark Sutton talks to MD Adrian Carter about how dealers can benefit from the company’s move to it’s ‘spiritual home’ in Dalby…
Pace has moved to what it calls its ‘Spiritual Home’. Where does this connection with Dalby stem from?
When Pace were developing the original and iconic RC100 mountain bike way back in 1987 most of the development and testing was done in Dalby Forest. Those with long memories may remember the piece the BBC filmed on the bike, all shot here in Dalby. Back then Dalby’s main focus was timber production, with motorsport being the only significant recreational sport. I’d been racing motorcycles in the forest since a kid and went on to be the race director, organising National Championship motorcycle enduros here.
What’s more, every bike we’ve ever designed has had most of its development done in Dalby and the surrounding forest complex, so myself and Pace have been wrapped up with this beautiful area for a long time.
A ‘Pace Museum’ is in the pipeline – tell us a bit about this project and when it’s due:
Over the past 23 years, or more, Pace has developed quite a range of products, from the earliest full-suspension bikes and forks through to the earliest threadless headset, not to mention cycle clothing and components. Many of the prototypes are simply stored away and it just seems such a waste given the current interest in retro parts and the brief history of our sport. So once we’ve got our offices and Service Centre presentable, that will be the next project, dusting off the old samples and creating an area so riders can come in and see our contribution to the roots of our sport.
What made you finally decide to move to the forest?
We’d had the opportunity in the past, but the timing just wasn’t right for us. With a significant manufacturing operation making forks, the forest basically couldn’t accommodate such an operation. Having sold that part of our business to DT Swiss some years ago, the size and structure of the business is different now and more in line with the mountain biking developments in Dalby.
Tell us about the trail building work you did in the Dalby area when the firm started out:
After years of planning massive off road motorcycle courses in the forests here, I knew almost every tree and twig, so I could immediately see the potential for developing mountain biking here.
So, through Pace, I organised the first Dalby mountain bike race in 1989 (Mountain Bike Club), Northern races (NEMBA) and National Champs. Then the Forestry Commission approved our ideas for the design and construction of a substantial trail network. So Mike Innerdale, the recreation ranger and I planned out some trails and I lifted the Black, Red and Blue grading system as used by ski resorts worldwide.
However, then we saw the great work Daffyd Davies was doing with the Forestry Commission in Wales, so organised a workshop in Dalby with Davies and a guy from International Mountain Biking Association USA. We got our heads around sustainable trail construction then, with full support from the Forestry Commission, set to designing up a whole new mountain bike trail network.
Lots of investment and work later we have the award-winning trail network seen today, not least of all the new World Cup Course, of which we’re immensely proud. It’s been a great team effort between funding bodies, land managers and volunteers, most notably Singletraction.
Can dealers interested in stocking Pace swing by for a go on the demo fleet – how would one go about organising this?
We understand it’s difficult for dealers to carry a full range of demo bikes for their customers, so we’ll have each model and size available here in Dalby as a test fleet – the Pace Demo Centre, if you like.
Dealers can book in their customers for a ride with us (or indeed try them out themselves) then we’ll direct the sale back to that dealer. Dalby’s very much on the ‘circuit’ as riders try out each trail centre, so customers are usually quite happy to visit us here in North Yorkshire. The benefits of this are that the buyer gets to sample the bikes on the very trails the design ideas were conceived on.
What aspirations do you have for the Pace brand in the coming years?
We’ve reinforced the Pace brand with more credibility and access by our move to Dalby and over the next few years we see great potential to expand that.
For example, the Tour of Britain had a stage finish here, so, in the near future, we see potential for adding more road-specific products into the range. Dalby and the North Yorkshire Moors are equally attractive as a road test venue.
What can the suspension service centre offer the retailer? Which brands can you handle?
We’ll be rolling out a rebranding of this area of our business as the Dalby Suspension Service Centre – currently providing a service to the dealer for the Pace, Scott and DT brands, with more to follow in 2011. We have direct access to many suspension manufacturers and our service centre is the longest established in the UK, so we can give our dealers the best technical support.
What’s the Pace Bike Park and how long has it been running?
It’s a mountain bike skills area right in the centre of the trail network at Dixons Hollow and was used as part of the World Cup XC course. It’s built into a bowl and is a great place for parents to watch over their kids as they try out the bumps, tunnels, jumps and other features.
It also has some low-level ‘Northshore’ and a new pump track. Steve Peat came along to open it three years ago and it’s been a great success and showcase for what Pace and the forest has to offer.
What new products can we expect to see from Pace in 2011?
We’re continually adding and upgrading the products in our frame range and the latest is a very tasty 29er, branded the RC129. Hopefully, this will be out early in 2011, followed by a new 5.5inch travel trail bike.
Keeping the products fresh and timely is the most important thing of course – but it’s also great fun designing next year’s products.