That's the guiding principle behind Tim and Judith Johnson's self-confessed "tiny" bike shop in Alsager, Cheshire. The shop has sold eight Maverick American MTBs (and they're not cheap) and Tim Johnson tied up a one-shop distribution deal with Independent Fabrication at the recent Interbike show. Sideways Cycles is also a sponsor of Singletrack magazine's art exhibition: "I was cheesed off that no suppliers were supporting the event so we volunteered," said Tim.

Think different

If one way of thriving in a world of me-too retailers is to offer exclusive brands, Sideways Cycles does it in spades. Tim Johnson went to Interbike to seek out kit no other UK IBDs will have on offer:

"I’m fed up with selling stuff that everybody else discounts to death," Johnson told

When Frank Scurlock of hot micro-brand Maverick American did a UK road trip seeking five, top-end IBDs, in August, only two were willing to walking the walk. One of them was Sideways Cycles (the other was John Atkins Cycles).

The exclusive deal with Independent Fabrication was signed at Interbike.

"I researched the brand as I was looking for another unique product to sell. I wanted someone with a good reputation, with no current UK presence and a product line that fitted well with my general customer base.

"Independent Fabrication were easy to deal with, courteous and quick to respond, they also knew about me (always a flattering one that) and had the exact products I was wanting: ultra-high end steel and titanium mountain bikes, with total flexibility and a pedigree and heritage that goes before them."

Independent Fabrication was once distributed in the UK by Evolution Imports. It was born from the demise of Fat Chance and latterly the absorption of Merlin into the American Bicycle Group umbrella and, says Johnson, is a "small company that is dedicated to producing the finest things they can – I’m happy with anyone that does that. The fact that the employees own the company, pleases me greatly too, as no one works harder than someone doing it for themselves."

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