Re: [CR] orbit Information

(Example: Component Manufacturers)

Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 09:38:59 +0000
Subject: Re: [CR] orbit Information
From: "Hilary Stone" <hilary.stone@tesco.net>
To: <LouDeeter@aol.com>, <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>, Sarah Gibson <sadiejane9@hotmail.com>
In-Reply-To: <c5.1454ca55.289f5620@aol.com>


If this is the British Orbit company they have been through several different ownerships over the years. I think they started out in the mid 80s. I first got to know them when we putting together the second issue of Cycling Plus in early 1992 - they were on their second owners and framebuilders by then I am pretty certain. Andy Thompson who built under his own name in the late70s/early80s was involved as a framebuilder in the early days but by then he had left and was working with Isla Rowntree at Islabikes. Frank Clements was now manager/owner - yes the brother of Ernie being kissed on the opening page of CR. The frame we got from them was quite badly out of alignment and they invited me up to the factory. I could then see why the frame was not built in line. Rear triangle alignment was tested on a lathe bed with fittings to hold the BB with a swinging guide to check the dropout position. Fine if the swinging guide hadn't had masses of slop which it did. I was also not impressed by tube mitreing down with a band sander. And the amount of heat input into the frames seemed excessive. Frank mentioned at the time that they had been having problems with 653 chainstays breaking too. All in all the visit did not reassure me. A well known British framebuilder acts as an expert witness for the CTC and BCF and he on several occasions related to me large number of problems he came across with Orbit frames in the early 90s and now with Sirius too. They got into financial troubles a year or two later and were bought by Simon Gershon. Frank was kept on as manager and the frames were now sent up to Sheffield to be assembled into complete bikes. I visited the frame factory a few months after the change but their methods had not changed. Quite quickly Simon realised there was a problem with frame quality ­ and by 1995/6 began to get frames from other sources. He stopped sourcing frames from Dudley completely by 1997/8. The frames used in Orbit bikes have been built in a number of places since and have generally been excellent. Simon I think sold the frame building business back to Frank (or perhaps he had never bought it in the first place but just rescued it financially I don't really know) and the factory began to turning frames out under the Sirius name. They have moved factory units since but a fork on one of their sponsored rider's frames (Glenn Longland, the first rider to ride more than 300 miles in a 12 hour time trial) broke when he was training does not inspire confidence. You would have thought they would have built their sponsored rider's frames properly.

Hilary Stone

Lou Deeter wrote:
> Here is what I have on Orbit in the Used Bike Buyers Guide. Not sure of the
> source, but I think I got this from an ad in a European cycling publication.
>
>
> ORBIT:  England. Peartree Lane, Dudley, England. Reynolds 531 and 653.
>

Sarah Gibson writes -
>previously i have seen mention of the orbit marque on this list. a friend
>came up with one and was looking for info about the company. info any of you
>could provide would be appreciated.

Russ Fitzgerald wrote:

I don't know if either of them are CR members or not, but my memory is that Patrick Moore from the iBOB list had an Orbit tandem frame fail spectacularly on him ... fork crown, I believe. This would have been three or four years back. While it is admittedly a small sample, I would exercise caution long enough to give it an extra-careful inspection before riding it ...