“It’s an exploration of self-reliance, which is a big thing for us here at Restrap. We like the idea of going out on a bike and having that independence and living the adventure, no matter how small. Even for a night over the weekend, it is liberating – to grab your bike and set off on your route. For us, this is bikepacking,” says Jon Kicken, Restrap’s press officer and customer service manager.
Ten years ago, Natham was handcrafting pedal straps out of car seatbelts for his friends, a job that over time went from being a household operation to separating out into three lines of an emerging business. “Restrap came about as the name of a fixer community in Leeds that makes pedals by recycling seatbelts,” continues Jon, who explains the origins of the name: “Re-Strap” as in “recycled straps”. The seed of an idea that quickly turned to the wider outdoors, with the creation of a line of accessories and equipment for cycle tourism. “Five years later, we had grown a lot within this niche and we decided to market the brand on all our products.”
“Everything is designed with the idea that you will be travelling with the bare minimum – a sleeping bag and a tent and change of clothes. But of course this is like everything, if you need more things, go ahead, there is no minimum amount of objects: if it makes you happy, take it, no problem, although if your priority is carrying the minimum of stuff, you would be surprised how much can fit in our kit,” he states.
Among Restraps products, the “Carry Everything Range” stands out as the star, and the handlebar bag, launched last year and “in high demand” Jon tells us; although the “Adventure Race” and “Race Range” kits are ideal for carrying what you need to enjoy cycle tourism at a reasonable pace.
In the heart of Yorkshire
For cyclists in the know, Yorkshire is not just another English region. Since 2014, when the start of the Tour was held in the area, the region has competed with great cycling destinations such as Flanders, Euskadi or Tuscany – a healthy competition born out of a land “that we love because of the great variety it offers, biking for all types of cyclists and terrain. Leeds is essentially the epicentre, as evidenced by the Tour starting here, or as we can appreciate in the yearly Tour de Yorkshire, a hugely popular event in the cycling world”.
However, there are plenty of other attractive areas: from Leeds they set out for the Yorkshire moors, the rugged Peak Dstrict, The Pennines… – “places that allow us to test our bags both on the road and on gravel to ensure we make the best possible product”
And from Yorkshire to Spain, “a very important market for us, where bikepacking is experiencing positive growth. Here, bikepacking cyclists are not so different from other countries, from long trips, to weekend outings, to those who just want to ride and discover unexplored trails”.
The future is in the hands of “the people who join the adventure knowing that the equipment they have is appropriate. When this is the case, any outing is possible. We like to think about people discovering places, but also discovering themselves through bikepacking: that they try it and enjoy it – and not only that, but that they tell their friends about it, because bikepacking is contagious – once you try it you just want more. Let’s hope it stays that way”.
By Ibán Vega, El Cuaderno de JoanSeguidor