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How to start your own bike company
Mason Progressive Cycles’ top five tips to riding something with your name on it.
“Honestly, if I'd known how much work it would involve I don’t think I would have done it,” Dom Mason admits about the stressful birth of his new company, Mason Progressive Cycles. After working for years behind the brands of others, Dom decided to take the plunge last year and abandoned his day job for a world consumed by bikes.
As we sheltered from the cold in a cafe near Brighton’s famous seafront, it became impossible to ignore how impressive Dom’s achievement is. Both of his bikes, the Definition and the Resolution, offer a level of detail and finish that entire multi-national R&D departments might miss or neglect.
Starting Mason Progressive Cycles hasn’t been easy, as a one-man operation it’s taken over Dom’s life, but the two bikes sat before us are the machines he unwaveringly set out to create in the first place.
It’s been tough, but here Dom shares his top five tips to starting your own bike company.
1. Think about the brand
I’m really happy that people have said the bikes look like they’re one cohesive thing, not just a collection of parts. I always had to think about ‘the brand’ and how the bikes were going to come together. It’s important not to just think about the product.
2. Do your research
Before you jump, do your research. Talk to as many people as possible! Especially people who have done something similar. I rang a lot of people like Rapha, Vulpine, Isla Bikes, as many people as possible to see how they did it. Just one bit of advice from someone’s experience can change your direction altogether and for the better.
The Resolution, below, is manufactured from Columbus steel and is designed to munch mile after mile of asphalt. Steel gives the Resolution a spring in its step. Its geometry is aimed at all day rides with plenty of balance and poise once up to speed.
3. Be prepared to compromise
I’m really focused and everything has to be 100% right. A friend of mine, Cy from Cotic Bikes, told me not to let the great be the enemy of the good. You can strive so hard on one aspect that you can forget how important it is to physically have the product out there.
The Definition, below, features the same geometry as the Resolution but rather than steel is crafted from alloy. The difference in material produces a punchier ride ideally suited to daily use out-accelerating buses and exploring new lanes at the weekends.
4. Narrow down your niche
It’s a far better idea to identify what’s not being catered for and tackle that as opposed to just taking on the world. If you can stand out in a small market and fight hard, it’s a lot better than being swamped in a big market and becoming invisible as a result.
5. Be prepared to make mistakes
I’ve made some whoppers! Big mistakes that have cost us money and time. You’re doing something completely new so it’s important to remember not to make them again. Otherwise, that’s just stupid!
Dom could have made life easier for himself. It’s not the hardest thing in the world to get your name stamped on a frame in Taiwan, but that’s not why he’s done this, that’s not why Mason Progressive Cycles exists. Both of his bikes drip with details aimed at allowing real world riders to get more out of their real world rides. They’re the sort of bikes that demand to be ridden every day, no matter what the weather is doing.
Starting a bike company, properly, is no easy thing, but what Dom’s proven here is that when you dive straight in and take on every single detail, it’s worth it.