Fine Art Inspired Cycle Kit in The Outdoor City
05 April 2016
An interview with James Clarkson, cofounder of Curbar Cycling, on how he and David McLeavy apply their love of fine art to design cycling clothing.
It was roughly eight years ago that David and I met at Sheffield Hallam arts school. Three years ago, I bought a road bike and David helped me get into road cycling, showing me some of the best roads in the Peak District. Since then I’ve been hooked. David has been road cycling since he was a teenager, being from a family of road bikers and a member of Hull City road club, whereas I used to be more into extreme sports when I was younger. Since starting road cycling I haven’t looked back and now cycle between 150 – 200 miles a week, go on annual cycle trips to Mallorca and run my own cycling blog, where I review different cycling products from both large companies and independent businesses.
After working as an artist for 5 years and losing patience with it, I decided to set up my own cycle clothing business with David, something we had talked about a lot whilst out on our bikes over the last year. With our creative backgrounds, we really wanted to apply our love of art and design to designing high quality performance cycling kit. Many of the big brand cycling clothing manufacturers tend to make fairly plain cycling kit that’s not that unique when it comes to styling, and so we wanted to provide an alternative to this. When it comes to day-to-day clothing, people don’t all walk around in the same outfit, they choose clothing that reflects their personality. Therefore, we wanted to give this choice to cyclists as well. We noticed that in the UK, independent cycling clothing is still a developing market, giving us an opportunity to provide something different to British consumers. Over the last five years in America, there has been a huge increase in the number of young creative people making small production custom cycling clothing. A lot of these companies have become really successful and have changed the culture of cycling greatly; we’d like to be a part of this in the UK.
We are both passionate about cycling and cycle in the Peak District four or five times a week. In fact, the name of our company Curbar Cycling comes from a part of the Peak District (a road called Curbar Gap which leads up to Curbar Edge, popular with rock climbers and walkers). It’s a pretty steep climb that feels like it goes on much longer than it actually does. We named our company after this road as it plays an important part of David’s training each year. For him the road is a good way to gage his fitness at different points in the year. Curbar is also a great example of why the Peak District is such an incredible place to ride a bike. There are a lot of interesting stone carvings along the road, a former free standing prison and some very old stone circles on the Edge itself, you really get to experience different parts of history as you ride through the area. From a cyclist’s point of view, Sheffield is the perfect place to be. I have been in Sheffield since 2007 and the more I’ve got into road cycling, the more I love living and working here. I really love that feeling when you pass the last line of houses, as you leave the city centre and suddenly you’re plunged into uninterrupted countryside. I would personally love to live in the countryside but it’s not very practical with work, so Sheffield is great for me as I can work in the city but get out into the countryside very easily. Add to that the uniqueness of the Peak District’s road system which allows you to mix long, short, flat and steep routes which you just don’t get elsewhere.
After a successful pre-order launch, our web shop officially opened at the end of March. Also look out for our web journal, which will offer more information about our kit, roads that we regularly ride and other cycling related content. We are big fans of Sheffield and want to promote where we’re from.
Are you a keen cyclist but fed up of the current cycling kit on offer? Check out Curbar Cycling’s website to order anything from Jerseys to breathable performance socks: www.curbarcycling.co.uk
For springtime cycling kit advice: www.theoutdoorcity.co.uk/ride/curbar-cycling
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