Building from raw Fabric - BikeBiz

Building from raw Fabric

As the brand turns five, Neil Cousins, Fabric’s sports marketing and events manager, discuss global expansion and improving the riding experience
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When Fabric was first founded back in 2013, its goal was to fight the status quo in saddle production and incite change in the way they were being made. The company felt it had already developed the stitched cover saddle as far as it could possibly go with Charge Bikes, designed primarily for comfort.

“We wanted to push further with a three-piece saddle concept – rail, base and cover – that is free from frustrating movement restrictions,” explains Neil Cousins, Fabric’s sports marketing and events manager.

“After much back and forth with the factory, they finally created exactly what we were looking for, and the Scoop was born. It was a great saddle – receiving rave reviews – and from there we decided to develop a range with a focus on simplifying the product while expanding the range to suit a wide range of cyclists. This is where Fabric began – a new brand and a new direction.”

Fresh thinking
Five years on, the company now has a presence in various cycling product markets including lights, pumps and grips, and continues to grow its distribution reach, having recently announced a dual distribution deal in the US and Europe with QBP and Sports Nut GmbH respectively.

“This is a really exciting time for us and will help get even more folk on Fabric,” says Cousins. “We have always looked outside of the bike industry for inspiration and manufacturing ideas, and it’s through this fresh thinking that we strive to bring improvements to every rider, from seasoned pros and first-timers to lifelong enthusiasts.”

So, what specifically does Fabric do that its rivals perhaps do not?“We look outside the traditional processes of manufacture and design to create products that are better by design,” explains Cousins. “We are in many categories now, and whether it’s pumps, tools, lights or water bottles, we apply the same design and manufacturing principles to each category.

“It’s all too easy to get stuck with the same cycle-specific vendors and ideas, but that can lead to technology sharing over a certain amount of time. Our pioneering three-piece saddle design is now used by many other brands, and so in order to progress, we continue to explore different and better ways of designing and manufacturing that bring real benefits to riders that use them.

“For example, our ALM saddle was a joint venture with Airbus, which was a printed Titanium railed saddle in its initial design,” Cousins continues. “Along the way, however, we ended up with a high-end carbon manufacturer – which incidentally make no other bike-related products – to create these in full carbon, making them lighter than the original concept. The air-cushioned Cell was developed and is made at a sports shoe factory. It’s not easy going outside the regular cycling factories, but it’s worth it in the end.”

Unparalleled access
Moving forwards, Fabric is expanding its saddles even further, with a focus on widening the Line range as well as working with the 50-01 team to develop an entirely new product for MTB.

“Working with a team like 50-01 allows us unparalleled access to the world’s best riders to design a new saddle for progressive MTB use,” says Cousins. “We’d also like to expand into a few completely new categories – we have a really exciting project in the works with a range of bicycle luggage, for example.

With such a wide range of products available, how does a relatively young company go about maintaining focus across all categories, and identify particular areas of innovation?
“While our product range is fairly wide, it’s absolutely manageable,” says Cousins. “We have specific product managers and designers covering all categories. The hardest thing is visiting shows overseas with an ever-expanding sports bag full of display products!

“Saddles remain our main focus. We’ve received great reviews for all our products, and the saddles seem to have set the benchmark around the globe, but we won’t rest on our laurels. We always have other projects outside of our existing range getting a good deal of attention, especially as we’re looking to expand further, but many of these may not go to production. We’re always seeking to discover new technologies and improve the riding experience.”

 

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