Hi, I’m Dan Stanton, the owner and creator of Stanton Bikes. In 2010 I set about designing my own frame as I was dissatisfied with the other hardtail frames on the market at the time. Don’t get me wrong, there were some brilliant frames, but none of them seemed to be as ‘cross discipline’ as I wanted. XC/trail frames were just that and the same went for 4X racing hardtails. Finding a frame that was equally as happy smashing dirt jumps and 4X tracks as it was trudging loops round the Peak District was like trying to hunt down and capture a unicorn! So I decided enough was enough. I taught myself how to use the basics of CAD (with help from YouTube tutorials) and went on the hunt for a manufacturer!
My first attempt wasn’t too bad. All the parts were in the right place and the threads were the correct pitch. The geometry also gave me a basis to work from and, after a few more attempts, and finding a steel manufacturer that worked with Reynolds steel, I was in a position to bother the guys at Dirt magazine with my first production model.
After a good grilling on the phone from formerDirt staffers Ed and Billy, they agreed to test the bike. On the way down to see them I stayed over night with my mate Jon, who’d helped me organise the whole company side of things (registering as a limited company and all the other boring legal stuff that’s needed) and helped me fund the first shipment. At this point Jon became my partner in this brand new venture (the relationship came about during a night of poker and drinking, but that’s another story) and we spent that evening with Jamie, the owner and editor ofWideOpenMag, and his mates, talking bikes and drinking Bristolian Ciders. At this point Jamie also agreed to test our new Slackline frame.
The morning was soon on us and I was off to Monmouth to see the guys at Dirt for the first time. Needless to say they totally loved the Slackline and took it for three months to test it for a review in their ‘Hammered’ section. I must say at this point that as an avid collector of Dirt mag it was one of the most memorable days of my life when I went to WHSmith to collect a copy and see the review of my frame for the first time! The day got even better when I read how much they liked the frame. Click here to read the review.
Roughly a month later, still buzzing from getting an awesome review, I received a phone call from Ed atDirt. He asked me how I was getting on and whether the order of frames had arrived. I asked him why and he said he needed one to use for the Dirt 100 as it had been selected as the ‘Best All-Round Hardtail’in the cycle industry according to Dirt magazine! I nearly fell over!
Getting in the Dirt 100 really propelled the company forward. Orders came in thick and fast, constantly leaving me a position where I couldn’t supply demand. As the year passed, enough orders rolled in to provide the funding for my ultimate quest: building the Slackline in titanium! Getting the material to react how I wanted was a real challenge, but the tubing really gave me room to be creative with the ride feel. Once the final samples had arrived I sent a bike over toDirt again to see what they thought of my new Slackline Ti. Within a few weeks I had the call again! Ed asked me to send over a frame for the Dirt 100. My titanium Slackline design had won the ‘Best All-Round Hardtail’ frame for 2013!
From this point onwards things were really getting serious. Sales were up and I had to quit my job to work on Stanton Bikes full time. When I wasn’t packing and sending out frames or dealing with emails and invoicing, I was applying my newly developed theories and calculations that I’d acquired through the trial and error of prototyping to the rapidly expanding market. The rise of dropper compatibility, tapered steerer compatibility, 29″ wheels, 27.5″ wheels, plus-size tyres and so on has created some design challenges, but also generated the ability to be more creative and more radical with geometries.
After playing around with wheel sizes and prototyping fresh ideas the Sherpa (29er) and Switchback (27.5″) were born. These models created ripples in the cycle industry as the geometry was considered quite radical and unconventional. The Sherpa, a slack and playful 29er that felt more like a 27.5″ wheel hardtail when pointed down the hill, flew in the face of conventional 29er hardtail geometries and the Switchback, with its super-tight back end, low bottom bracket and very unconventional 64-degree head angle, had people chomping at the bit for a test ride!
After some seriously good reviews for both the Switchback and Sherpa from the likes of Pinkbike, Dirt, IMB, WideOpenMag andWhat Mountain Bike, I decided to send what I considered my most perfect design to date, the Switchback Ti, to the chief editor ofMBUK, Rob Weaver. Before I went to meet up with Rob I put together a no-compromise build that I felt best reflected and supported the ride characteristics of the bike – the Switchback Ti complete with a carbon King upgrade.
I met up with Rob for a blast round some off-piste runs in the Forest of Dean. As soon as Rob threw a leg over the bike he looked totally at home. I’d also like to mention at this point that Rob is definitely one of the fittest and quickest riders I’ve ever ridden with; my head was at least an eight on the ‘red beacon scale’ trying to keep up with him. After the ride, and after I’d gathered myself, I waved goodbye to the MBUK van as it drove off with my beloved Switchback Ti inside. I now knew the drill. Sit and wait and hope they like it – and then when you get the heads up that the bike’s in the next issue, go to WHSmiths and buy it!
First off Rob reviewed the bike and gave it 4.5 stars out of 5, which I was totally stoked on. He then contacted me and said that he felt the bike was worth Super Bike status! I was bowled over by this. I couldn’t believe it – another editor in another magazine considered one of my designs industry leading!
It’s now eight months on from that MBUK review and four years from the first Dirt mag review. Jon left for a job in Seattle a few years ago and subsequently left the business. During the last three years I developed a great friendship with Joe O’Brien, the owner of Capta Media. I’ve employed Josh, a guy I used to work with who’s as passionate about bikes as me. I’ve developed a surprising relationship with one of my friends, Amit, who, when I finally asked him what he does for a living (hanging about in coffee shops) told me he is a digital business consultant. I’ve also had a private investor come on board and help us attain some much-needed resources. Without these friendships and relationships Stanton Bikes wouldn’t be where it is now and on a personal level I don’t think my work life would feel as rich and abundant as it does.
Right now, I still feel we’re only just getting going, starting properly, and my head’s full of ideas. There’s loads of exciting stuff happening behind the scenes: fresh design ideas for new frames, new premises, a new website (that you’re now viewing), Stanton-branded components on the horizon and much more! My goal is to push this company forward with industry leading designs and unprecedented quality. I really hope you stick around for the ride. Thanks for reading and (now for the shameless plug) if you want to keep up to date with everything, scroll down and subscribe to our blog and mailing list.