Closing down: Bob Jackson Cycles

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I find it hard to understand why younger people would not want to acquire the skills involved in frame building.
One possible reason for lack of interest is people not wanting to get their hands dirty, but another possibility is how much they would earn. I don't know if BJ's pay good money or not, but that would certainly be a factor in being a company people want to work for.
Getting decent trainee staff in any hands-on job seems to be very hit and miss these days. I've personally encountered some real dross over the last few years, either lazy and unreliable or totally cack-handed - or worse still, both. It's so bad now that when you do come across the odd decent trainee who doesn't mind grafting, it really stands out.
 

Johnsco

Active Member
One possible reason for lack of interest is people not wanting to get their hands dirty, but another possibility is how much they would earn. I don't know if BJ's pay good money or not, but that would certainly be a factor in being a company people want to work for.
Getting decent trainee staff in any hands-on job seems to be very hit and miss these days. I've personally encountered some real dross over the last few years, either lazy and unreliable or totally cack-handed - or worse still, both. It's so bad now that when you do come across the odd decent trainee who doesn't mind grafting, it really stands out.
I can't really disagree with anything you say, SkipdiverJohn.
Why a young person wouldn't prefer to learn a skill in frame building as opposed to being a "deliveroo", beats me.
In my recent experience in engineering inspection, I found the majority of young people set-on pretty useless.
Their idea of learning the trade appeared to be yapping to their mates on mobile phones all day.
Some of them hadn't an ounce of work or common sense in them.
But then .... We did get one "star" apprentice who restored my faith in young people ... Bright, intelligent, industrious ... What a change.
So - There is hope yet.

PS ... I use to be an instructor in an engineering training centre (in another life).
 

Shreds

Active Member
There are some amazingly good young ‘uns out there and they are not massively expensive either. So they can be had. It just needs those (including some on here) to stop buying imports and recognise true quality that lasts not just the latest fashion or colour.

Those who would pay 13k for a Specialised CF should do like designer Paul Smith and go to their local framebuilder (Mercian in his case) and keep the money where it can be used to train up more skilled talent.

My best five bikes are all handbuilt in Britain.

We should all do the same and support them!
 

newfhouse

Regressive elitist lefty
I can't really disagree with anything you say, SkipdiverJohn.
Why a young person wouldn't prefer to learn a skill in frame building as opposed to being a "deliveroo", beats me.
In my recent experience in engineering inspection, I found the majority of young people set-on pretty useless.
Their idea of learning the trade appeared to be yapping to their mates on mobile phones all day.
Some of them hadn't an ounce of work or common sense in them.
But then .... We did get one "star" apprentice who restored my faith in young people ... Bright, intelligent, industrious ... What a change.
So - There is hope yet.

PS ... I use to be an instructor in an engineering training centre (in another life).
I suspect that many of the old hands in any trade or profession have always held a similar opinion of apprentices and trainees. When I recall my early days in my own engineering field I think of how long it took to gain respect, and also remember those of the same intake that didn’t stick with it.
 

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
Making steel frames does not require a great deal of capital investment, the tubesets and lugs are available off the shelf and you do not need much more than a jig and a welding torch to put them together. I would suggest the reason there are so few builders about now is because there is very little money in it.

It's no good looking for apprentices to a trade where a skilled man earns no more than a cashier at Tesco.
 

Aravis

Here for the ride.
Location
Gloucester
Over the last couple of months I've come perilously close to ordering one of Jackson's off-the-peg frames, or at least making a very serious inquiry. I'm not aware of another builder offering a product fitting the same niche - a stock frame able to be finished to a customers own requirements, but costing far less than any custom built frame.

One unnecessary obstacle they created (in my opinion) was not putting a sizing table on their website. Fearing that I'd waste their time with a long telephone conversation establishing basic facts which I ought to have been able to find out in advance, I hesitated many times, and in the end never did make that call.
 

Shreds

Active Member
Theres still just time till Nov 7th .....
You wont get a second chance, but may get the bike that will last a lifetime.
 

Shreds

Active Member
Seems to be not responding......all the orders this thread is creating? :laugh:
 

biggs682

Smile a mile bike provider
Location
Northamptonshire
Over the last couple of months I've come perilously close to ordering one of Jackson's off-the-peg frames, or at least making a very serious inquiry. I'm not aware of another builder offering a product fitting the same niche - a stock frame able to be finished to a customers own requirements, but costing far less than any custom built frame.

One unnecessary obstacle they created (in my opinion) was not putting a sizing table on their website. Fearing that I'd waste their time with a long telephone conversation establishing basic facts which I ought to have been able to find out in advance, I hesitated many times, and in the end never did make that call.
If you are still thinking about it at all @Aravis give Lee Cooper a call or drop him an e mail
 

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I would suggest the reason there are so few builders about now is because there is very little money in it.

It's no good looking for apprentices to a trade where a skilled man earns no more than a cashier at Tesco.
Unfortunately I think this is probably the root cause of a lot of the decline of traditional skilled trades. Doing business "by the book" with conventional premises paying business rates, energy bills, insurance premiums, staff wages, NI stamps & pensions and having various health & safety legislation burdens is not cheap or profitable in many cases.
A semi-retired person with pre-existing engineering skills and a decent home workshop, but not all the business overheads, could probably carve out a niche doing things on a small scale essentially for beer money. Trying to do the same thing as a full-time business on a "legit" basis, might well not be economically viable due to extra overheads.
 

HMS_Dave

Über Member
Location
Midlands
One possible reason for lack of interest is people not wanting to get their hands dirty, but another possibility is how much they would earn. I don't know if BJ's pay good money or not, but that would certainly be a factor in being a company people want to work for.
Getting decent trainee staff in any hands-on job seems to be very hit and miss these days. I've personally encountered some real dross over the last few years, either lazy and unreliable or totally cack-handed - or worse still, both. It's so bad now that when you do come across the odd decent trainee who doesn't mind grafting, it really stands out.
I don't think this is necessarily indicative to our youth today, more of changing times. It seems a bit simplistic to blame youth for not wanting to build a bicycle for their apprenticeship, when motor mechanics don't seem to struggle with obtaining apprentices. It is possible our societies general disdain for cyclists might play a part, it is possible a bicycle mechanic isn't even on the youth's radars. Then factor in the rather small, niche and likely dwindling market for steel frames. Aluminium and Carbon fiber frames are nearly always shipped in and bolting a few components onto it is hardly an inspiring career choice. Saying that there are examples of young entrepreneurs having a stab at entering the cycling world.
 

Johnsco

Active Member
The sad thing is how we let all this skilled work slip thru our fingers.
I'm sure that the BSA, Carlton and Raleigh factories took on loads of apprentices each year.
The place that I worked was not even an "engineering works".
We were a rough-arsed metal processing factory, who happened to employ engineers and other skilled workers to keep the process running.
There was no product design
Our drawing office was maintenance and installation only.
However - We had a state-of-the art engineering apprentice training centre, employing a training manager and two full-time trainers.
A couple of other trainers were brought in to provide electrical and welding modules of a few weeks each during the first year.
We used to set on between 8 and 18 first-year apprentices each year and we offered them a four-year, double-module apprenticeship which was the pride of our area.
They were keen, bright young 16-year olds all of whom were expected to get at least 5 "O"-levels at the time of their job-offer.
Most of them were good. They knew they were lucky to get one of our apprenticeships. We had the occasional slacker - But it was our job to knock them into shape - And we did.
All of this was under the over-sight of the Engineering Industry Training Board (EITB).
We did a good job.
Over the last 20 years, it has been a pleasure to come across a number of my former apprentices, working in senior management positions in various local industries.
So - Where did it all go wrong ?
The great and the good did away with the EITB.
They decided that we didn't need that sort of thing any more.
"Manufacturing doesn't matter. The future is in financial services"
Well - That was a bad mistake, wasn't it ?
Perhaps that explains a lot.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I think we hit the low water mark in apprenticeships a few years ago, and even the free market Tories have come to accept there is a place for them and skills really do matter. It's going to matter even more next year, as employers are going to have to get their act together and not just assume they can ship in any staff they want from abroad because they are too lazy to train anyone themselves. Things do seem to be gradually improving, albeit from a low base, but I can't say I'm bowled over by the calibre of the raw recruits these days.
When I started work, if you were taken on as an apprentice for a skilled job, you were also expected to have a reasonable prospect of getting 5 O levels, with a technical bias (i.e. physics, maths, metalwork, woodwork, technical drawing etc) and you did 3 years day release at Technical College. If the training officer thought someone was worth the investment, they would sometimes offer to pay the college fees for an apprentice to do an extra 2 years day release to get their HNC, rather than the ONC after 3 years.
A lot of money used to be spent on training, but staff turnover of ex-apprentices was very low and I know several who have completed 40+ years.
 
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