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Building bikes suitable for commutes and adventures
Geography teacher Richard Delacour left his job at the age of 46 to cycle round the world – but instead he has ended up running his own business, making bikes for other globe-trotting explorers. He had been passionate about bikes since childhood and spent his teenage years tinkering.
He said: “Someone said ‘if you go into business, you have to do something you like’.
“I have always made bikes for people and I thought there was a business idea.” The final spark for his business, Oxford Bike Works, came after a visit to a bike builder who is now his main competitor.
“I came back from the fitting and I was so fed up with the experience. I thought I could do better myself. “I thought, ‘this is my new challenge. I don’t need to go around the world on my bike. My challenge is going to be running a business’. “I have been taking bikes apart and building them up for years – for myself and for friends. Every bike I ever had, I have made myself, rather than going to a manufacturer.” He used a small inheritance to invest £40,000 in product development and stock. He spent months searching out the right components before launching the business earlier this year. Now he is poised to break into his chosen niche market. While there are plenty of super-light, super-expensive bikes for budding Bradley Wigginses, he believes there is the gap in the market for a bespoke service for commuters and cycling adventurers. He has created a workshop and fitting room in an annexe of his home in Steventon, with a cellar for storage. He is reluctant to take on an employee until sales grow. At the moment it’s a family business, with his 16-year-old son Eddie lending a hand, along with cycle-mad friends from the European School at Culham. He said: “It’s more expensive than a standard bike, but it’s pretty maintenance-free.
“If you are riding on an expedition, you need the same bike as if you are commuting every day to work carrying stuff. I’m targeting commuters, and that’s a growing market.” He has set up a website for his firm, oxfordbikeworks.co.uk, but said that most of his customers want to visit in person.
“To spend £1,000 on a bike, you have to know that you are going to be able to use it every day.”