“I wanted to get more involved with the process, to get my finger nails dirty,” he explains. “I wanted to be there and to know the people who were painting and welding and making the final product. Also, I wanted to work with very small workshops; businesses more like a carpentry workshop than a bike factory.”
Every brand must have a unique selling point – a USP, in the jargon – and nowhere more so than in the bike market, where a visit to the annual Eurobike trade show, or even an online search, will reveal the scale of the industry and the breadth of choice enjoyed by the consumer.
“We just had something that no one else is doing,” Mason says. “No-one was making modern frames with progressive geometry in small batches in Italy. They weren’t doing long distance, all-season, endurance, disc brake bikes with mudguard and tyre clearance with that special fork.”
Mason has valuable advice about establishing a brand identity. His belief that a bike brand should have a persona for customers to buy into is so strong that he conceived all aspects of the brand’s identity before designing the first Mason Cycles bike.
“I wanted to get more involved with the process, to get my finger nails dirty”
“I worked really hard on developing the brand before launching the first bike,” he says. “I had an idea that the brand had to be strong before I dropped a product into it. I didn’t want to design a very detailed product with custom tubing and drop that into a vacuum or void. My wife would ask me when I was going to design something, and I would say, ‘I’m doing the brand.’”
Mason’s initial focus on identity rather than product may have seemed counter-intuitive, but he insists it has already paid dividends.
“We had a fork supply problem and didn’t have forks for four or five months, and I’m pretty sure that if we didn’t have a strong brand we might not be here today. People had identified that the brand was good, and that we were operating from a solid platform.”
The founder of any business will cherish the moments that justify the hard work. Mason has several to choose from. Glowing reviews of the first two Mason Cycles models to reach the public domain – the aluminium Definition and steel Resolution – brought reassurance. And the ‘ping’ of an SMS message confirming an order is a sound he is unlikely to tire of hearing.