Unite Components | Industry Insider

April 27th, 2017

By Andrew Dodd in Features,Tech

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Words | William Harrison | Photos | Sandy Plenty

Unite Components are a flourishing new company to hit the mountain bike scene. They pride themselves in their attention to detail and precision machining. At less than a year old, Unite have progressed rapidly to meet worldwide demand.

We recently visited their base to see for ourselves just how the business is growing.

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Andrew is not only very proud of what he does at Unite – he’s completely at home. Photo | Sandy Plenty

When we say it’s rural, we mean it. Nestled in the hills of the Welsh border, we’re serenaded by the birds, cattle and tractors on arrival. Apart from the deep murmur of machinery, there’s nothing to hint such majestic work could be taking place within twenty feet of us. On entering the workshop we’re hit with the evocative smells of raw metal and the bustle of machines all at different stages of production.

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Love the smell of a lathe in the morning. Photo | Sandy Plenty

The workshop itself is like a timeline, with aged vices and grinders making way for modern computers and CNC machines. It’s an Aladdin’s cave and a refreshing reminder that they make their products right here. Company founder Andrew Cooper has made this space his own and he should be proud of it.

History

In some shape or form, biking has been in Andrews’ blood his entire life. He was passionate about anything with two wheels and keen to improve his own skills from a very early age:

“I started riding at three years old and began cross country racing at seven. I got into downhill when I was twelve and went on to enduro motocross after that”

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Racing passion still runs in Andrew’s blood today, as he is back on the mountain bike at an elite level and competing nationally. Photo | Sandy Plenty

The Idea

It’s not surprising to hear Andrew’s inspiration comes from Cesar Rojo; a designer well known for his unique, handcrafted mountain bikes. From raw materials to manufacturing and packaging, the whole process at Unite Components has a high standard- that was clear as soon as we walked in. In fact, design quality has been integral to the plan from the very start:

“The whole business idea formed around the wish to improve the quality of mountain bike components. Prototyping and design started eighteen months before we brought products to the market. Too many manufactured parts are created from cheap materials with strategies to cut costs. I worry about making a good product first whilst building the reputation that our work won’t let people down”

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Product Testing. Photo | Sandy Plenty

Unite have done their very best to be able to fail-safe their pledge and it turns out they go the extra mile (or don’t go the extra mile as the case may be) as they only ever use UK suppliers to source raw material.

“This means we can guarantee metals will be consistently high grade, durable and failsafe”

Unite aren’t just concerned about the pre-manufacturing phase. They were quick to establish that care is given to the minor details post-manufacturing too. Products are checked personally before packaging- even machine marks are minimised to give a product a cleaner and more refined look. Turns out even the hard anodising is UK based but that wasn’t without blood sweat and tears:

“It took five suppliers and over half a year to find a company who could work to the standard we were looking for”

 

It’s clear Unite are sticklers for quality. We believe there’s a lot to be said from businesses establishing a close relationship with their suppliers and it’s clear they have developed that.

Unites’ first product was the compact chain guide, which they started developing back in 2015. This was because Andrew recognised a gap in the market.

“We wanted to work on making a longer lasting, easy fitting and more chemical resistant guide. I’m an engineer and to me simple means cheap, reliable and light; that’s exactly what every customer wants!”

In order to do this they pioneered different materials.

“Unlike the polycarbonates used in other chain guides, we went for a material called Delrin. That’s because it’s hard wearing, super tough and has a higher chemical resistance than polycarbonate so it won’t crack after you’ve been washing it for months”.

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Photo | Sandy Plenty

Looks like they’ve done their homework.

Andrew also channels a lot of focus on real-world design. “I think we’re unique in a sense that we have an equal blend of riding and manufacturing experience. Bigger companies might be tempted to employ designers with impressive credentials, but who don’t necessarily have the experience of being on a bike. This is a strength of ours as it means we can recognise any problems and know how to find the solution”.

Future intentions and plans

Unite Components | Changing Of The Guide

Photo | Sandy Plenty

With a growing sponsored rider list and a host of UK dealers on board, Unite have every intention of continuing to grow. Plans and prototypes for future products are already being developed and their range now includes chain rings, chain guides, headset spacers, linkage bolts and top caps.  All products are available through a selection of UK mountain bike shops (which you can check out on their dealer page) or alternatively you can order directly from the website.

Some might think it’s a tall order for a rural welsh business to compete with big brands already on the market. With dedicated suppliers, manufacturing, engineering and biking experience we reckon it’s a space worth watching.

A few cool facts you should know about Unite Components

  1. Product designs are drawn up in-house at Unite Components with the latest computer software.
  2. Thanks to the lightweight but strong high-grade Aluminium and Delrin, chain guides, E-mounts and chain rings weigh in at only 50g, 42g and 40g respectively.
  3. A rare, protected species of bat live in tunnels underneath the ground floor of the factory and they won’t leave- perhaps the CNC machines sent them batty?
  4. Before Unite Components was established, the family company manufactured parts for Bentley, Volkswagen and BMW. They were even part of the process for manufacturing F1 wheel weights.
  5. Unite Components make sure their chain rings are hard anodised to increase durability.
  6. The recessed chain ring design and wide tooth profile helps with durability, chain retention and mud-flinging!
  7. Unite go by the hashtag #madeinwales

That’s a wrap!


If you fancy taking a peek at Unites’ product range, visit www.unitecomponents.com.

 

Fancy one of their new chain devices?

If you’re feeling lucky, you can be a part of their current free-giveaway competition by heading over to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unitecomponents/

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