On a trip to London, Podia decided to pay a visit to titanium specialist Pretorius who have featured in Podia Machines galleries before.
(See Clarence’s Pretorius here) Based in the fashionable area of Shoreditch in the east, Pretorius have taken a slightly different approach to bike making than some of their contemporaries.
It’s founder, Jean-Claude originates from South Africa and after chasing a career as a professional rider in Europe, he turned his attention to creating a bike brand in the fast growing London market. Pretorius have been open since 2010 and have been located in their current premises since 2012.
While most of Pretorius’ contemporaries create a workshop complete with welding rigs, jigs and all other manner of tools, Jean-Claude went down a different route. Specialising in titanium frames, he went about finding the very best sub-contractors to produce the frames he had in mind. Working through various iterations of geometry and tube sizes, he partnered with a workshop in Taiwan to build to spec their stock frame sizes and an Italian producer for full custom geometries. Their fully custom, eye-catching paintwork or bead blasted finishes are all done locally.
Back in East London, Pretorius has been busy creating a community of cyclists that all share the same passion. The premises that it occupies resemble a clubhouse more than a shop or workshop. A coffee bar and seating area take up about a third of the space, next to a workshop, where all the new bikes are built and client’s machines are taken care of.
We visited just after Jean-Claude had returned from one of the group rides that run from Pretorius every weekend for anyone who wants to join. Having been on one of these rides a couple of years ago, it is amazing to see how it has grown; three groups, each with around 15 riders now make up the Saturday morning ‘Training Ride’ which start and finish at Pretorius. Once there was a mix of all kinds of bikes waiting outside, now the majority are a titanium Pretorius. The green and pink of the shop kit is everywhere around.
We get the sense that Pretorius are on the cusp of bigger things. Up until now it has been a relatively small family affair, where Jean-Claude is joined by his wife Eryn, who is a bike fitter, product tester, racer and determines all the geometries of the frames, the custom builds, as well as all the design work. Her sister Leah runs the whole outfit behind the scenes and Jean-Claude and Eryn’s son Moser completes the family picture. How long this will stay only as such a tight family unit is to be seen…
Currently, Pretorius produces around 60-80 bikes a year and it is about to take on a clubshop manager and workshop manager to help keep this momentum going.
We really like what Pretorius is doing and can’t wait to see how the brand develops in the future. All the best from Podia!