Four years ago, former BMX rider Ricky Feather left his factory job to learn how to build bikes. Today, the 27 year old behind Feather Cycles has customers who come from all over the world to purchase the handcrafted road bikes he makes in his workshop in Yorkshire.
Feather learnt to ride when he was three and spent 15 years as a BMX rider. When he was looking for an escape from his factory job, building bikes was the answer. “I’d always ridden and as I was a metalworker – starting the company just made sense,” he said.
Despite working as a welder, building road bikes was a new skill Feather had to learn. Completely self-taught, he used internet research, manuals, and trial and error to build bikes for himself.
After posting images of his bikes online, Feather began to get interest in his work and his ability to offer customised bikes, specific to people’s needs. “The bikes are built around the customer completely to measure,” he said. “They are built to perform in the way the rider wants them to perform.”
Feather describes his work as “traditional building methods to craft modern bikes”, which he thinks sets him apart from other companies. “There were other people building custom bikes but they seemed stuck in the past – not to put them down,” he said.
“A lot of the new stuff appeals to me but I like to do it out of steel instead of using more modern materials. You can get that traditional feel out of a bike, but using modern components to make it fast and lightweight.”
Today Feather builds around 25 to 30 bikes a year with some of the more challenging projects taking up to 18 months to complete. Yet his customers are returning and coming from around the world: “There’s one at the painters that’s going to Australia. I’ve sent one to Indonesia and I’ve got a customer coming from St Lucia to pick his bike up.” Feather told us.
Although he often builds bikes people keep as their best, he enjoys making ones that he knows get used. “My favourites are bikes that I know are going to get ridden – for every type of riding on the road, an all-rounder that people will take on adventures”
And knowing he’s always learning is the motivation Feather needs to continue: “It’s a pursuit of perfecting a craft and wanting to do better with every single frame you build.”
This article was first published in the June 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!