Workshop eyes trade boost by taking bikes to Far East

Dave Baillie who's hand made bikes are being exported to Tokyo
Dave Baillie who's hand made bikes are being exported to Tokyo

Cyclists in Japan’s capital city will soon be pedalling around on the finest examples of local craftsmanship – as a bike workshop prepares to send its first exports abroad.

Vernon Barker Cycles, in Dronfield, has signed a deal to provide custom-made, steel bicycle frames to a shop in Tokyo supplied by the Peak District clothing firm Mamnick.

Dave Baillie, who runs the business alongside colleague Mike Andrews, said he’s now hoping for a flood of extra orders sparked by the popularity of cycling in Tokyo.

“I gather Tokyo is a bit of a cycling city and there are a lot of people on bikes, so there is a good chance of us selling a few more frames,” said Dave, who lives in Crookes.

“We’re very hopeful.”

Currently Vernon Barker’s customer base is mainly limited to hardcore cycling fans, but Dave is now hoping this will change.

“Custom-made frames are made to fit, it’s a bit like having a suit made – people can specify unique details,” he added.

“Usually our customers are local, and this is the first time we’ve exported anything.

“We’ve made six handmade frames this year, and ideally we want to be able to produce one a week.”

Vernon Barker himself – who set up the company 35 years ago – is now semi-retired, but still acts as a consultant.

Prices for handmade frames range from around £900 to £1,300.

Meanwhile the luxury Mamnick label – named after the road which ascends Mam Tor near Castleton – was set up two years ago by designer Thom Barnett. So far it has produced men’s shoes, shirts and accessories made in Sheffield and Derbyshire – as well as novel gifts such as a stainless steel chip fork.