Clarks Cycle Systems is fielding an increasingly strong components line-up, introducing kit that is keeping up with the market’s heavy-hitters on the test rigs, but far outperforming rivals on price. Mark Sutton asks the firm’s managing director Tony Wright how...


Little known to many in the trade, Clarks Cables, as it was formerly known, was once a main supplier of braking equipment to the automotive industry. Today, under a new name – Clarks Cycle Systems – the firm has exclusively dedicated its time to the bicycle business.

The change of name came at the turn of the millennium, yet the firm’s history dates back to 1943. The modern company is now situated in Tamworth, Staffordshire, having moved premises last year following the re-branding.

At the reigns of the stopping-specialist now is Tony Wright, who has repositioned the company with the ethos of delivering quality, well designed products to market at aggressive price points.

Despite being one of the market’s toughest companies to beat on price, the brand hasn’t been short of innovative achievements in recent years. In 2008, Clarks released the S2 hydraulic brake system, which has been received well at OEM and aftermarket level, with key features such as sintered pads as standard, braided hoses and reach adjustment at highly competitive prices.

For 2009, the firm is releasing the new ‘Skeletal’ hydraulic system. The brake boasts wholly unique bite adjustment, reach adjustment, styling with great control and stopping performance, plus it’s a lightweight package too, placing it firmly among the best of the rest. This system will again be available in colour options with coloured PTFE hoses, which are also going to be available as an aftermarket product themselves.

It’s not just investment in its product pushing the firm forward either. Two strong personnel appointments were made during 2008, with the hiring of product designer Paul Toon, along with the recruitment of highly experienced sales and marketing exec Denise Huang, who operates from Taiwan.

As the world economy began to slump, like many others, Clarks had to work hard to keep a firm grip on the market share it had gained. Wright explains: “We noticed the periods October 2008 to January 2009 were very hard with all bicycle production halted as the global recession hit manufacturers in Asia. Being a global company we are always aware of currency fluctuations, but we believe the opportunities are there for growth within the OEM markets with our strategy and by supplying a full range of aftermarket parts we can reinforce our position within the industry.”

So going forward how does Wright plan to further expand the brand’s potential: “This year Clarks has begun advising dealers of promotions on a monthly basis through magazines and this will be supported by our website, which is being modified to include all product ranges, distributor sections, podcasts showing fitting guides along with a blog and a forum.”

A range of mechanical brakes are also currently in development, which will mainly be sold to OEM customers. Like all other Clarks product, the new gear will be tested in facilities here in the UK, as well as abroad.

“Independent testing both in institutes in England, for instance on the ‘effects of heat’, have given us huge quantities of data we use in product development, along with bench mark testing at source to determine a product’s longevity and effectiveness. Our research results show us favourably against our competitors. This solid foundation is the basis for improvement, innovation and success at Clarks,” comments Wright. The firm is seeking further dealerships to carry its ever-growing portfolio too.

Wright adds: “Clarks has always been a reliable company to deal with and bicycle dealers are invited to make contact with us or our distributors if they are interested in carrying any of our product ranges.

“As our range expands we are looking to further support our customers with regular product-based promotions and incentives, along with a detailed catalogue of spares and replacement parts which will allow dealerships to further service their customer’s needs through our comprehensive range.”

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