Scotland is leading the way in mountain bike innovation as sports buffs turn their love of two wheeled-action into new business opportunities.
A string of new products and designs to improve mountain-bike performance is being developed as Scotland builds on its reputation as one of the top five world destinations for the sport.
There has been some amazing work done and it will definitely keep up Scotland’s reputation as one of the world’s top five mountain biking destinationsGraeme McLean, Developing Mountain Biking for Scotland
Graeme McLean, project manager at Developing Mountain Biking for Scotland, part of Scottish Cycling, has led work on bringing mountain bikers together with academics and business.
Mr McLean said: “The growth of the sport in Scotland has been quite amazing, Mountain biking only came into the UK in 1982 and it didn’t really get proper distribution until 1985.
“At one point, we asked why we were not seeing more mountain bike products coming from Scotland. We know that mountain bikers like the kit, they like the equipment.
“Scottish Enterprise got involved to look at how we could grow and link business to innovation. The project has now grown and grown.”
The Scottish Funding Council is now on board to back the projects with most potential.
It is hoped Scotland’s mountain-bike industry could raise around £13 million in revenues over the next three years.
Business projects include Findra, a performance and mountain-bike clothing firm for women set up by designer Alex Feechan, of Innerleithen, who wanted to get away from the “shrink it and pink it” approach to female sportswear.
Another mountain biker turned businessman is Alan Mason, of Edinburgh, who has developed the SussMyBike app to record data on suspension performance to insure optimum function for riders.
Meanwhile, Scottoiler, which specialised in motorcycle lubrication, has developed an automatic oiler for mountain bikes.
Mr McLean said: “There has been some amazing work done and it will definitely keep up Scotland’s reputation as one of the world’s top five mountain biking destinations.”
Mountain biking in Scotland is already worth around £49.5m a year to the economy, according to research carried out in 2014 by the University of Highlands and Islands and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.
It was one of the first to embrace the sport, with trails created in the Highlands in the 1980s and the first World Championships held at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore in 1989.
Mr McLean said: “Product promotes place and place promotes product. Scotland is already pretty good in terms of mountain biking and this work will really help up to take things forward.”