I really, really hope Brexit doesn’t happen – but if it does, here’s my best estimates of the worst case of how it might affect you:
UK Customers: The exchange rate has already dropped quite a bit since 2016, and it may well fall further after Brexit, making imported things more expensive. At least to start with, the UK government have said that they will not impose any import duties, but delays at the ports may affect delivery times.
EU Customers: The exchange rate change may work in your favour, making things cheaper – though of course many of the things I sell are imported or partly made from imported parts, so that might offset it. You will no longer pay UK VAT, but you will pay the VAT of your own country, so that will even out. You might have to, in addition, pay import duty of around 10%. For the first 6 months at least, I will refund you the cost of that import duty – call it my own little backstop. Shipping delays may affect you too, of course.
Non-EU Customers: You probably won’t be affected much by this mess – the exchange rates might work in your favour also, shipping problems might affect you less because most of that is air freight not through the ports. You will carry on not paying UK VAT, but you will have to pay the import duty in your own country as usual.
I’ll make a simple guarantee for everyone: The price when you order will be the price you pay.
It doesn’t really feel like half a lifetime since I quit a perfectly good job as a Mainframe Systems Programmer with IBM, to make a full-time hobby of running an unusual bike business! It seemed a pretty rash thing to do back then.
I recently found my first (and only) business plan. It makes some interesting reading, in some places ridiculously optimistic – I estimated £100 for tools and £100 for parts! Some other ideas didn’t work out, but the basic idea of a business specialising in niche and unusual bikes has surprisingly worked. Back then, the internet was young and the idea of online selling didn’t really exist – now, of course, none of us would manage without it. One of the biggest differences comparing that old business plan to now is that I just didn’t anticipate we’d have customers all over the world.
Back then, we started out doing repairs like any normal bike shop – that picture up there is Andrew, my mechanic – but over the years the normal bike shop things have died away and been replaced by much more manufacturing and unusual bikes. Life is quite tough for a lot of bike shops at the moment, so I’d like to think this was a clever and prescient move, but really it was mostly accidental!
So, thank you everyone who’s been a customer over those 20 years.
To say that this is not what we wanted is an understatement – as a company, Kinetics imports from Europe and exports to Europe all the time, we are European. Working together benefits us so much more than turning away would. We have many friends in Europe, and European friends who have come here to work and live.
The future is uncertain, but remember that the community of people who love bikes is more important than any political squabbles. Much more unites us than divides us.
As I’m sure most people have noticed, there’s a wee referendum going on in Scotland on September. BikeBiz magazine, the trade paper for the UK bike trade, published an article about the issue with quotes from some Scottish bike businesses which I thought was a bit one-sided so I wrote this piece, and BikeBiz have kindly amended the article.
I’ve got a very comprehensive library in the shop, free for browsing (and occasionally borrowing) – but if you can’t make it into the shop I’ve done the next best thing and listed a bunch of good bike books: Continue reading “The Kinetics Library”
The oldest derailleur in the museum at the moment – this Champion from the early fifties has a sliding coil spring to move the cage, operated by a toggle chain like a hub gear. Because of this, it’s Rapid-Rise, like the latest Shimano mechs 😉 Continue reading “Other derailleurs”
The first indexed gearing system to appear on a significant number of bikes – the first version in 1975 used two pull cables, the second in 1976 (this one) used a semi-rigid push-pull cable. The parallelogram is not spring-loaded, and is held in position by a spring-loaded ball on a notched arm.
The problem was that Shimano thought that indexing would only be for non-enthusiasts, so it was introduced as a cheap derailleur – the weight and build quality didn’t do it any favours, and it was dropped in 1982. Continue reading “Shimano derailleurs”
Probably Suntour’s most innovative and beautiful derailleur – and the company’s first glorious failure. The 1983 Tech has a completely enclosed linkage instead of the open parallelogram other mechs use. The cable routing was clever too – straight along the chainstay with no loops of cable.
That clever linkage would be the downfall, though – it wore and broke very quickly, and was very difficult to fix – so the Tech only lasted for a year.