Rebecca Morley catches up with Peaty’s to find out how it all started, the benefits of being a rider-owned company and being eco-friendly
With 17 UCI World Cup wins, four UCI World Championships and 52 UCI World Cup podiums, it’s fair to say Steve Peat knows a thing or two about cycling. He is also co-founder of Peaty’s Products and brings decades of experience into the product development process.
“It all started with a run of bad luck for me, Bryn and Tom, who were on the SPS team at the time, as the tyre sealant we were using would dry out quickly and ball up in our tyres, costing us some vital race results with punctures not sealing,” says Peat.
“The final nail in the coffin was when a newly fitted tyre on the back of our uplift truck blew off, spraying sealant over the back of Tom’s truck. By the time the lads had reached a hosepipe to wash it off, it was too late. The aggressive chemicals used in the sealant formula had damaged the paint beyond repair.”
Peat says this got them thinking: “Why is it so aggressive and damaging to paintwork and metal? Why does sealant dry out so quickly in the tyre? What is this doing to the environment every time we wash out a tyre or puncture on the trail and,” Peat continues, “are there any safer and longer-lasting alternatives?
“Micro-fibres and micro-plastics have a huge and adverse impact on our environment and, given tubeless sealant will always inevitably be washed out into our trails and watercourses, we were determined to find alternative particulates which were biodegradable. Over a few beers, we got to work on a formulation and before long we all ended up in a garage filling sealant into sample pouches with catheter syringes.”
So what is the vision for the brand? Peat says it is something for “real riders”, as it likes to say it is a rider-owned company. “Obviously with my background, people know I like to ride, but that is what we always come back to when we’re in meetings for new products or anything else for that matter.
“Can we improve what is out there? Are our products capable of helping the best riders in the world stand on the top step of the podium? Can we make it as eco-friendly as possible without compromising performance? Is it user friendly and gimmick free?
“These are the questions we always ask ourselves when looking to launch something new. The fact that we all ride and use and believe in the products we make is huge for us. We like to have fun while we do this so I feel we’re in a great spot to carry this philosophy on for many years to come.”
Peat says there’s a really talented mix of at Peaty’s – with experience in product design, environmental science, commercial bike industry experience and logistics that combines together with a ‘by riders for riders’ approach and it’s the reason why the brand has been able to grow so quickly. “I would say my vision for the future is to carry on riding bikes and making cool products that are genuinely needed,” Peat continues.
“We’re big believers in doing what we can to make our products as eco friendly as possible, without compromising the performance of the product. A lot of people just think the product won’t work if it’s biodegradable, so it’s important for us that the product still works really well. For us, being eco-friendly isn’t just about making products compostable, using bamboo and hemp, it’s about creating products that people value, and don’t want to throw away after the first use.”
Towards the end of last year, Peaty’s collaborated with premium component manufacturer Chris King to launch ten new colourways of its tubeless valves. Made from 7075 aluminium that gives the consumer a lifetime warranty, the tubeless valves were designed to feature a built-in valve core removal cap for ease of use when topping up tubeless sealant.
“Our Chris King collaboration on our tubeless valves are made from the best 7075 grade aluminium we can get our hands on,” Peat continues, “and are so good we offer a valves for life guarantee on them – if someone breaks them we’ll replace them for new, no questions asked. For plastic parts like our bottles, we only use recyclable plastics and encourage refilling and reusing packaging as much as possible. In the case of our sealant range, we have designed the packaging with the ability to refill and re-use in mind: 120ml can be easily refilled from a 1L bottle, 1L bottle can be refilled from a 5L tub and so on.”
Peaty’s also ensures its formulas are readily biodegradable, where possible, and uses recycled paper/card in the packaging of its products. For example, its conversion kits and starter packs are made completely with uncoated cardboard and single colour printing so they’re as easy as possible to recycle.
“We’ve also recently developed a cardboard trigger holder so we can move away from using plastic shrink wrap packaging on our bike cleaning and degreaser bottles,” explains Peat. “Depending on the environment, typical shrink wrap plastic can take 400 to 1,000 years to biodegrade, cardboard takes around three months. We’ve even given the design away for any other company to use for free because patenting the idea would only prevent people from moving away from shrink wrapping – the definition of a single-use plastic!”
Peaty’s is distributed in the UK by Saddleback, joining its brand portfolio early last year. “We’ve been with Saddleback for 12 months now and they’re a really cool bunch to work with,” Peat says. “They’ve got a really focused brand portfolio that specialises in elite performance, and that’s exactly where we position ourselves so it’s a great match. The sales reps struggle to hold down a beer but we’re working on that!”
Peaty’s is only a couple of years old, and what started out with an idea on tubeless sealant has really exploded quickly, Peat says. In 2019, the brand launched 15 new products alone and it is now distributed in over 35 countries around the world. “We sponsor some awesome riders and teams and in 2019 we had four of the top 11 elite men on the EWS circuit using our products,” Peat says, “an EWS stage win (Ed Masters) and a big win at Red Bull Hardline (Bernard Kerr), so we know our products perform at the highest level of any cycling discipline!
“We also launched a cool collaboration with Chris King on our tubeless valves, launched a new POS programme to support the IBDs, launched a new website and put a lot of effort into growing our social following. It’s a lot of work but I feel it’s put us in a good position heading into the new year and we’ve got loads of ideas to follow up on.”
For 2020, Peat says the plan is to ride bikes, spread the brand’s products to the wider world of riders, work with athletes and teams, and keep an eye on the greener side of what it does and actively work to try and make other people or brands also start to head down this path. “I don’t think we will save the planet anytime soon but all these little things add up and if we all can pitch in a bit, we will be better for it,” Peat says. “Whilst we’re serious about creating cool products and building our brand, Peaty’s is fun for me and I want it to last and build healthily while we can all still ride bikes.”