Back at the beginning of this decade, I met Anthony Revell at a Happy Eater (a traditional British roadside café chain, interestingly with a logo that shows a rotund cartoon chef about to poke his fingers down his throat) and we bombed off to test a couple of his newly launched Revell Bikes race-bikes on a hillside set of trails slash pump track for the old mag. Nice stuff too. Box-section rear end if I remember rightly. Revs knew his stuff here, as he'd been racing BMX for years.
Owners: Dave Wootten & Anthony Revell
Based: California & Southern England
Manufactures: Frames, forks, handlebars, gyros, cables, headsets, stems, seats, seatposts, grips, cranks, rims, sprockets, pegs, hubs, wheelsets, complete bikes.
Team: Morgan Long, Jake Seeley, Pipe Williams, Paul Jefferies, Kareem Williams, John Demers, Ryan Ashley, Leroy Maidment, PJ Alfaro
Founded in 2001 by Anthony Revell, Stolen started out as an offshoot from Revell Bikes, a UK-based BMX / MTB race bike company; since then it has quietly grown steadily each year into one of the best selling brands out there.
A few months later, Revs came back to us with a desire to run a new bike brand more for the freestyle side of things, so after a few ideas and bike names were tossed around our old office over a cup of tea, Stolen Bikes was born and from the outset, it all looked pretty good. A tidy Brit bike company with no airs nor graces, just decent bikes. And you know what? It's grown from there, steadily and surely, from day one to where we are now almost ten years later: a full range of totally dialed complete bikes and more parts than most other companies on the block. A pivotal moment in Stolen's lifecycle came a few years back when Revs paired up with Dave Wootten, a guy who has been around the bike industry for as long as we can remember he did some really interesting developments for Tioga, and then formed Greasy Comb Distribution and things went global. We caught up with Dave at this year's Interbike to walk through the new 2010 bikes, in our Completes Disclosure series.
How long have you guys been making complete bikes for?
We started with complete bikes in 2003, so about seven years.
Do you still have any of the original range still around your office?
Nothing here in the US, but we have one or two OG models in our UK office.
What are your thoughts about those old original bikes, now?
BMX bikes in general have changed so much -- they are a lot lighter and a lot cooler now.
So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?
I do most of the design of the frames and individual parts, and most of the graphics. My partner and I pick the colors and work on spec together, but I am the driving force in this area as well.
Does the team get involved along the way?
The team has very little to do with spec of the complete bikes, but the team helps with the development of the AM products like frame, handlebars, etc. We use AM geometries on the OE frames and parts so in a way the team is involved.
And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?
We have 11 models with 22 bikes, when you consider all the color-ways.
Do you have more or less bikes compared to 2009?
We have the same number of models, but have increased the color options for 2010.
Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?
The Nipper is a 16" wheeled bike geared towards little kids, whereas the Riot is a compact 20" wheeled bike that is designed to eliminate the need for an 18" bike. The Pinch is a great starter bike with the right geometry so it rides like a more expensive bike. Stereo -- the first bike with chromoly tubing and a cassette w/ 25x9t gearing. The Wrap is the first of the Team Series completes. Team Series bikes have sealed integrated headsets, Pivotal seat/posts, 8" bars and you start seeing double walled rims. The Heist -- a great bike in that everything on it is chromoly. Also, bikes from here and above come with the new Stolen / Tioga tires. Sinner/Sinner FC; This bike is one of the most sought after bikes made today -- this brakeless frame comes with removable mounts and an EasyStreet hub on the FC version. The Score is on the come-up. It was never super popular until we showed the 2010 version and now it is really desired, and it now has a 22x8t drive train. As for the Cheater/Cheater FC; this bike needs no introduction. Everything you need is on this bike and uses mostly after-market parts from Stolen and Odyssey.
It gets harder and harder to make the best bike for your money to be an even better bike for your money.
Which single bike took the longest to figure out?
I would say the Cheater. It has always evolved over the past seven versions. It gets harder and harder to make the best bike for your money to be an even better bike for your money. This year the main improvement was to incorporate a 22x8t drive train with a bushing driver.
Which was the toughest detail this year?
We had two tough spec issues to work out for 2010. First was the Thermalite seatposts that are found on most Team Series bikes. It took over a year to formulate the material into something that was light, and dependable. For 2010 we opened extrusion molds to make our own single and double wall rims. This took a long time to work out and we are 100% happy we did it. We have one of the strongest and lightest rims in the market and it is all ours.
Which is your favorite bike, which one are you most proud of?
I would have to say the Sinner series. We got this one just right and the riders love this bike. It is fairly affordable and has everything you need. Adding removable brake mounts and guides to the frame this year set the bar just a little higher.
When did you start working this year's range how long does it take?
We started working on 2010 around December 2008. We finished all the specifications and samples at the end of March 2009.
Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?
I would ride the Sinner FC, but would add some 990 brakes, I cannot ride brakeless, that's for sure.
Have you got anything else in there fixies? Cruisers? Kids' bikes?
No, just freestyle BMX for Stolen.
Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?
Yes, we started working on 2011 just after Interbike. We are about 95% finished with the spec and will commission samples at the end of this month. We just got back from Taiwan and are just waiting on a few new prices to finish. We have a few new frame refinements we are working on, a little bit lighter crank we are testing and we will introduce one new bike model called the Casino.
Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?
I try not too look at other completes too much. I am friendly with the guys at Kink and I think they make a pretty good complete. I am pretty biased so I think I would only ride a Stolen complete, in my mind they are the best.