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Ben Serotta in London

Ben outlines Serotta’s history

You can’t help getting a buzz meeting someone who has their name on a bike,
and the name Serotta can be used in the same breath as legendary bike makers
such as Ernesto Colnago.

We met Ben Serotta at a reception and talk organised by CycleFit.co.uk
at the gorgeous Covent Garden (The owner being a cyclist) in Central London
on Friday March 30.

In his talk Ben took us through the history of Serotta, relating that as a
boy he spent many hours tinkering with his bike and when it came to deciding
a career he told us that he had ‘unfinished business with cycles’. He contacted a number of bike builders and was given a chance by Whitcomb in East
London to learn the magic of welding and bike design unpaid.

On his return to the USA he began Serotta Cycles in 1972 and which has grown to 52 people with a range of bikes that are the cutting edge of technology
and cool.

A major turning point was when Huffy Cycles contracted Serotta to build the
team bikes for the original 7/11 Tour de France team and for the USA Olympic
squad in the late 1980’s. Ben lightheartedly pointed out that Huffy were a bit
surprised to find that the team wouldn’t be riding a Huffy supermarket bike,
but needed bespoke cycles.

L-R. Cyclefit’s Phil and Julian
with Ben Serotta

Since then Ben Serotta has developed Serotta Cycles as a premium brand, he
isn’t afraid to pay his suppliers more if it means a better bike and is willing
to place faith in customers to pay the price because they know it means quality.

Talking to Ben Serotta you get the strong impression that this is a man very
much at ease with his company whilst ever looking forward, and to this end the
company is to take almost all aspects of production in-house, an expensive undertaking
especially in regard to composites.

At present the rear stays on the stock Fuerte range are sourced in the far east.
Ben said that by controlling the process within the company they can maintain
quality keeping within strict parameters. He commentated that many mass produced
identical like carbon tubes/frames will differ in weight and strength
greatly, this isn’t to say that they are bad quality, just that they don’t fulfill
Ben’s criteria.

Serotta made us wince when he described how many bikes they destroy in testing
and R & D, as nothing can be taken for granted when selling bikes to the
public. Serotta Cycles offer stock and custom bikes and can ‘tune’ tubes to
suit. This involves using the right thickness, weave and material for the job
intended.

In tandem with the growth of the business Serotta began to have great misgivings
about the human interaction with the bike. So much of how bikes should be were
developed from incomplete data based on elite athletes, which made very little
consideration regarding weight, type of riding and strength of the rider. This
led him to reconsider all aspect’s of the relationship of rider to bike, and
with the help of physicans and riders he developed the CycleFit system.

Cyclefit is a tailored fit that starts with an interview and runs through a
series of checks resulting in a bike fit suited to each consultation. Many riders
have been using the system to modify their position on present or new bikes.
Serotta takes the system another step as you can use this data to have a custom
build Serotta made for you in almost any material, steel, titanium or carbon.

A number of manufacturers are beginning to cotton onto the idea that riders
are all different and leading the way in the mass market are Specialized with
their Body Geometry system, this is a system that Serotta played an early role
in developing. Serotta doesn’t see this as a threat rather an opportunity to
sell higher quality bikes to a public made more aware of the importance of a correct
fit. To this end Serotta has set up SICI (The Serotta International Cycling
Inst.) to bring together ‘experts’ in cycle science/engineering to discuss cycle
fit education and broaden its footprint.

Ben told us that the bullseye that Serotta Cycles aims for is so much smaller
than other companies, and that whilst Serotta need to develop the brand they
will always want to produce bikes of the highest quality.

Sadly Ben has not welded a frame for many years, but you get the impression
he could at the drop of a hat and that his love of the bicycle permeates through
Serotta Cycles.

It was a pleasure to talk to him and if you want to get a taste of what the
man represents you can’t go wrong by visiting Cyclefit.co.uk,
our hosts for the evening.

Ben Serotta

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