Timeless: BikeBiz visits iconic component brand Renthal

Based on the outskirts of Manchester, Renthal is a component brand that has stood the test of time. BikeBiz visited the iconic brand’s HQ earlier this year.

This piece first appeared in the September edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

Renthal is a name that will be familiar to anyone with a background in off-road bikes, both with or without a motor.

Founded in 1969 by motorcycle trials enthusiasts Andrew Renshaw and Henry Rosenthal (whose surnames provide the ‘Ren’ and ‘Thal’ of Renthal), who found themselves frustrated with bending steel handlebars.

The pair began experimenting with aluminium trials handlebars for motorbikes, and soon had established themselves in a popular name in trials, motocross, and since 2010 in the mountain bike market.

Mick Andrews was the first Renthal supported rider

A modern business

Today Renthal, distributed in the UK by Ison Distribution, remains a mainstay of the mountain bike scene, both at elite and enthusiast level, and its gold handlebars are synonymous with MTB performance.

Ian Collins

Ian Collins, cycle brand manager for Renthal, said: “Renthal has always prided itself in developing the very best products, by using the world’s fastest racers. This philosophy clearly transferred to mountain products. In the very first year in the cycle market, Renthal gained their first World Championship downhill title, with Monster Energy Specialized rider Sam Hill.

“Fast forward the clock to today Renthal Cycle products are now distributed into 45 countries, through 49 aftermarket customers. The product range has also expanded considerably, now consisting of 54 handlebars, 18 stems, 14 grips and seven chainring fitments.”

Earlier this year BikeBiz visited Renthal HQ in Bredbury, just outside of Manchester, to see how the business operates.

Now comprising three main buildings, the Renthal HQ is home to production, R&D, quality control, and the commercial departments of the company, with 80 permanent staff based there.

The largest of the three buildings is production, where swaging, heat treatment, CNC machining, shot peening, CNC handlebar bending, plasma cutting, rumbling, broaching, gear cutting and more are carried out. Renthal’s R&D team is also based here, with a state-of-the-art testing laboratory at their disposal.

Renthal’s most recent Cycle World Champion. Loic Bruni

Model years

A key aspect of Renthal’s business is its approach to model years.

Collins said: “Renthal isn’t a brand that follows the model-year product introduction. Rather, launching products, as and when they are available. There are currently a number of updates in development for existing products.”

Best-known for its handlebars and grips, and stems Renthal has been looking to expand its product range in future.

Collins said: “The next product will be a category diversification, with an all-new product for Renthal. We can’t say too much right now but watch this space for an announcement of the exciting new product, in late 2023.”

Shot peening is a cold working process used to produce a stress layer and modify the mechanical properties of metals

Covid fallout

Like most brands in the bike market, Renthal has had its struggles through the Coronavirus pandemic and its fallout.

Collins said: ”Business has not been normal since 23rd March, 2020, when the first Covid lockdown commenced. Since then, it’s been a roller coaster of challenges, the latest of which is an industry experiencing very high levels of inventory. This problem is not particularly of Renthal product or that of any single brand, but a general issue across the board.”

Consumer demand remains at a good level in most regions, according to Collins, but there is still an issue: “The issue is the market for parts and accessories is of a given size. When there is so much stock of all brands in the market, this has a diluting effect for everyone.

“We are definitely seeing the tide turning and our distributor customers are placing more regular orders, as those inventory levels return to more normal levels. This increase in order intake frequency intake is bolstering the outlook that consumer demand is still good.”

In other news...

Opinion: Cyclescheme update promises ‘positive and fair experience for all’ yet it offers neither for bike shops

Opinion: BikeBiz editor Daniel Blackham reacts to Cyclescheme’s update to its retailer agreement Last Week, …