In 1949, Maurice Woodrup parted ways with his legendary business partner, Bob Jackson, and went into the bicycle frame business for himself. Woodrup Cycles was born. Sixty-three years later, now run by Maurice’s son, Steve, and his grandson Anthony, the family-run enterprise is still going strong. Steve, as well as being a respected frame-builder, has always been a racer at heart and judging by the trophies he keeps on display in the shop enjoyed a fair bit of success on the race circuit. Grandson Anthony is ‘a born mechanic’, who oversees the running of the business.
The company’s most senior frame builder is Kevin Sayles, a man of passion who has clocked up over 41 years’ experience in turning out finely crafted bicycle frames and who wouldn’t have it any other way. Kevin has an unmistakable passion for carving lugs, which is evident all around the workshop. Ask him and he is only too happy to show you the lugs he’s carving now, the lugs he carved over 20 years ago, the extra-special hand-carved lugs he has been saving for the right frame and the right time.
What prompted you to become a frame builder?
S – It’s what I grew up with basically. My dad was a frame builder and so it was sort of a natural progression. When I left school I went into engineering at first, got myself an apprenticeship, but by the time I was twenty I’d become fed up with it and started working with my dad. After a while I was made a partner. As my parents got older I took over completely. Now my son Anthony is a partner.
And Kevin, what got you into frame building?
K – I suppose it was getting my first Maurice Woodrup bike in ’68 that inspired me. I fell in love with bicycles and wanted to be a frame builder even before I left school. My first port of call was here of course but there were no vacancies, so I had to go elsewhere. I landed a job at Bob Jackson’s in ’71, then five years later, around Christmas of 1976, I left there and came here. I stayed here until ’99 when I went down to Somerset and was there 11 years building for Thorn and two years ago came back here. This is my 41st year as a frame builder.
Extract from Matthew Sowter & Ricky Feather’s book, Made In England, to find out more about Woodrup Cycles, visit the site here.