Sturmey Archer talks becoming "more accessible to enthusiasts"

Spurred on by the 2001 acquisition by Sunrace, in the past decade Sturmey Archer has a renewed focus on the quality associated with the Brit-born label. We speak with UK rep Bill Nichols and Sturmey expert Alan Clarke about navigating the modern market...
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Now in its 110th year, Sturmey Archer has seen a lot in its time serving the bicycle business. From cycling’s first heydey, to the birth of mountain biking and of course the major downturn in domestic manufacturing, for which it and many others were forced to carefully consider their options.

Sturmey Archer’s European general manager, Alan Clarke told BikeBiz: “Prior to its demise in England, the Sturmey-Archer range had become outdated and quality was reduced. The range is now much improved with products applicable to 21st Century bicycles. Alongside a new range of singlespeed high-end cranksets, they have introduced (or re-introduced) the type S3X three-speed fixed gear hub, dynohubs, fixed/freewheel hubs, single freewheels and now also the two-speed range of kick-shift hubs.”

With these new products comes the return of the old Sturmey logo, revived as part of a drive to keep the firm’s heritage alive. Some may be aware that Sturmey has a dedicated URL, solely to recount the proud history of a brand, which among other things, has produced some of the most memorable advertising the industry has seen.

“The company is conscious of its great history, which has been made available in pictorial form on sturmey-archerheritage.com. Apart from technical information about all old products; the site is also a great history of British advertising during the last hundred years,” said Clarke.

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The Sturmey of today benefits from Sunrace’s policy of constantly making improvements. In the wake of the acquisition the popular three-speed AW hub saw over 50 tweaks to its design.

Another perk was a fresh pair of eyes looking at what people on the ground were asking for. If any sign was needed that this has paid dividends, OEM manufacturers such as Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, GT, Raleigh and many more are now regularly calling on the firm for components.

The firm has become a whole lot more accessible to enthusiasts too, reacting quickly to market trends.

“The last decade was pretty exciting. The next will be even more so. Sturmey Archer is increasingly become the hub gear of choice in the commuter, leisure market and Sunrace is now being chosen for OE fitment by some of the largest in the industry. Our presence in the e-bike market is already significant and will only grow. Much of the development here is too confidential to discuss at this point,” says Clarke.
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”Not everyone wants, or needs, multiple gears, so we also have our HBT range of single speed flip/flop hubs for the fixie market with fronts to match, each available in five different colours with cranksets to match.”
Since 2008, Sunrace has invested in developing its road racing product and OEMs in this market are now said to be considering the product’s perks against the likes of Shimano and SRAM. Furthermore, aftermarket compatibility with Shimano has made the product more saleable as a service spare.

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“Supplying the aftermarket was an important part of the SunRace strategy to obtain OE acceptance, because getting product into bike shops was the best way of convincing people of the product quality,” says Clarke.

“Sunrace established stocks in the Amsterdam warehouse with the aim of fast, ex-stock deliveries. This made it easier for aftermarket customers to buy Sunrace because their investment was small. New Sunrace aftermarket packaging was introduced in 2009 too. As they were new in Europe, they have taken time to find the best distribution throughout the EU and this process continues to this day.”

Sturmey Archer and SunRace products are now available through The Cycle Division, Raleigh, Hykeham Wholesale, Ison Distribution and Greyville Enterprises.

For further information, trade members can contact UK agent Bill Nichols on billnichols1@btinternet.com. Retailers can also download set-up and maintenance material direct from www.sturmey-archer.com.

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