We take a look at the words of Bob Chicken, speaking during the early-’80s recession, warning against too much manufacturing being done in the Far East and complaining about a dearth of cycling coverage in the mainstream media...


Taken from an address to the Gravesend Cycling Club some 25 years ago, Bob Chicken said:

“Connected with the cycle industry as I have been for 40- odd-years, I have witnessed a massive change in the industry – regrettably detrimental to British manufacturers.

When you consider that only 30 years ago we had over 20 actual bicycle manufacturers – we are now reduced to a maximum of only five of any consequence. Today some 60 per cent or more are based in the Far East. It is small wonder that people are starting to think in terms of Fortress Europe to reverse the trend and reduce the growth of unemployment that Europe is facing today.

I know I am known as the ‘Spoke in the Wheel’ for those supporting the invasion of cycling product from Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries. Certainly there is now a change in the wind and if this is sustained I can see a growth in financial investment coming back into the European bicycle industry. For all of us this won’t be a bad thing. New cycle frame design and materials – quote Dynatech by Raleigh for example – are appealing, effective and lightweight, justifying selection
by cyclists generally.”

On another occasion, in the same year but at an unknown location, Bob Chicken said:

“The difficulties now felt by many cycling clubs due to the economic recession and slump will hopefully be reversed during the present year. Let us hope that further ground is made by local authorities in providing safer road areas for cyclists generally. In recent years we have been blessed by the appeal of off-road cycling and whilst this side of the sport is not appreciated by the purist road men it has assisted in keeping cycling at the fore and brought pleasure to thousands of cycling enthusiasts.

We must not, however, forget that the epitome of cycling remains in time trialling and road racing, without which the sport would surely die. The irony of our sport is the lack of publicity provided by the media generally – the least of all major sports and totally different to the media attitude and coverage given to our sport by all our fellow European Community members in news print, radio and television.

Such support from the media brought good sponsorships to cycling from national and international companies alike. Assistance of this nature has never been comparable in the UK. Major sponsors have been very thin in number and currently are virtually nil. I personally have endeavoured to gain such sponsors as those on the Continent, but without success.”

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