Interview: Ruth and Rich Hallett of trail 42

There are some great start-up companies developing in the mountain bike scene right now, and few share the passion and devotion of the friendly couple behind trail 42, a brand-new clothing company coming out of South Wales.

I say brand-new, but it’s been in the pipeline for quite a while and the duo of Ruth and Rich Hallett have been putting in the hours behind the scenes now for a number of years. They’ve sourced the best materials and factories, they’ve toyed with different cuts and colours and most impressively they’ve questioned over 300 mountain bikers to find out what they want to see from a lifestyle clothing brand.

Ruth and Rich Hallett at the Forest of Dean. Photo © Andy Lloyd
Ruth and Rich Hallett at the Forest of Dean.
Photo © Andy Lloyd

We recently spent a sunny afternoon with them at the Forest of Dean after they had spent the day with photographer Andy Lloyd (Alpictures) having photos of their products taken whilst adorned by a group of happy volunteers from all over Britain. The word is getting about then, and we predict that a couple with all their priorities in place can surely only prosper.

ABOUT RUTH AND RICH So can you tell the Bike Magic readers who are you, where are you from and where did you grow up?

Ruth Hallett, grew up just south of Bristol overlooking the Mendip Hills.

Richard Hallett, spent most of is childhood in North East Hampshire, Fleet.

What do you do for work? Is this (trail 42) a full-time occupation/project already?

Ruth: I’m a freelance Project Manager (4 days project management, 1 day plus every spare minute on trail 42).
Rich: I’m full time on trail 42 and looking after our 6-year-old daughter.

What is your history in bikes? How long have you been riding for?

Rich: I spent my younger years bombing around my local woods on mainly second hand wrecks sourced from jumble sales and then moved on to motorbikes in the late eighties and went on to dabble in some motocross for a while. I eventually discovered a love of riding MTB in the early nineties and have enjoyed it ever since.

Ruth: I have always ridden, got my first mountain bike (a Marin Muirwood) at the end of the 1990s but after moving to London I stopped riding for a while. I rediscovered mountain biking about 3 years ago.

Where did you start riding?

Ruth: Started riding as a kid but I wouldn’t let my dad buy me a pink shopping bike. Always had choppers and BMX bikes and then a road bike to cycle to school on.

Rich: I was lucky to grow up with access to woodland right on my doorstep and a large area of army land to explore.

Where do you usually ride bikes and how often are you out on the trails?

Ruth: I mainly ride with the girls a couple of times in the week and at the weekend. Ride in the Wye Valley, Bristol and up in the Forest of Dean.

Rich: I do a bit of downhill on a Sunday morning and then get out once or twice in the week in the Wye Valley or up the FoD.

ABOUT TRAIL 42 When did the idea come about and why?

Rich: We really wanted to do something together and we both love mountain biking. We were on holiday last year when we decided trail 42 would give us an opportunity to ride more! We have been looking for a business that combines our skills.

Ruth: I was constantly frustrated that I couldn’t find stuff I liked, what better way to address that than design and make your own!

What do you make?

We have a small initial range of technical t-shirts, trail flasks, post-ride hoodies and post-ride earthenware coffee/tea mugs and cake plates. We have loads more products in design and development, which will become available as we grow.

Where are your products being made?

Clothes are being made in a fair wear foundation accredited factory in Turkey. Flasks are made in Germany, cups and plates are handmade in the UK.

What is the goal of your company? What are you trying to do differently to many other brands?

To produce good quality products which are sourced as ethically as possible. We want our products to have great detailing and to have some fun with the designs. We are putting as much effort in the women’s range as the men’s and hopefully making realistic sizing.

Are you strictly a bike company or are you approaching/including other sports?

We are definitely starting as a mountain biking company. We both mountain bike a lot and this is a great excuse to spend more time riding and hanging out at mountain bike events.

Was it a big move to have one of you go full-time on trail 42?

Rich has been a freelance graphic designer and looking after our daughter. Now she is at school he has just spent less time doing graphic work for other people and more time doing design work for trail 42 so it has been quite a gradual process really.

Many people will see your approach as similar to the founding of howies, do you agree with that?

Possibly but this wasn’t a deliberate intention. We are just doing what we feel is right. We want to make sure our products are good quality and sourced as ethically as we can. We are definitely focused on mountain biking and want to create a range which is equally balanced between men and women.

Has it been hard to get the company up and going? How much development work have you put into the design and cut of your Ts and have you enjoyed that part of the process?

There has been a lot of hard work; sourcing suppliers, designing products, making sure all the details are right. But it has been a fun process too. It is great when you have an idea and finally you get to see the stuff you’ve designed on a great rider being photographed. We are really looking forward to the buzz of people buying our stuff and seeing it on the trail.

What’s the long-term goal? Global domination..?

To have a bike café at the edge of the woods, selling homemade food, great coffee and our products including our own range of bike components … that’s the dream!

When will your products be available?

They will be available from Peddleabikeaway in the Forest of Dean from Easter weekend and then in a few other select independent bike shops across the country. Our ecommerce website will go live before the summer.

OTHER STUFF

Favourite place to ride?

Ruth: Afan.
Rich: I can find good stuff everywhere.

What bikes do you have?

Ruth: I love my disco black Orange Five Diva and I have a Diva hardtail too.
Ruth: Of course I have a Five and I have just recently built up a Cotic BFe, which is great!

Best bike riding trip you’ve been on?

Of all the places we have been our favorite place is in the Cumbrian Mountains. We love going to visit Stuart at Forest Freeride, he has a cute little bunk house at the end of a winding track up a secluded little valley. The riding is amazing, the views are stunning and company is great.

Will you be at any races/events this year and where can people meet you?

We will be at Wentwood this weekend, Bespoke Bristol in April, York Cycle Show in June, The Devil’s Bash at Llanwrtyd Wells in July and I’m sure others throughout the year.

Anything you’d like to add?

If people have any ideas of things they would like us to make they can complete our on-line survey and keep up to date with our progress by signing up to our newsletter, both can be found on our website www.trail42.co.uk

Thanks for the interview.

www.trail42.co.uk

  1. chris-m

    It’s a real shame that all of their products couldn’t be made in the UK (or all in Wales), but that is, I suppose, the way of the World and wouldn’t help them be financially viable.
    .
    Also, it’s good to see that they are looking for ethical sources too. A very good move, IMHO.
    .
    The best of luck to you both. It’s flaming hard to find a niche in the cycle business (that hasn’t been done), so if you’ve found one, grab it and make it your own. Kick some ass!

  2. Ruth Hallett

    We have really tried to source as locally as possible; it isn’t all about price but about capability. It has been difficult to find UK manufacturers but we have a few more UK made products in the pipeline. Ultimately, we want source as much as possible within the UK and will look to bring some more processes in house as we grow. We always look to the UK first but where this has not been possible we have tried to work with good ethical manufactures in other countries.

  3. christian

    I have one of their t-shirts it is ace!

  4. The butcher

    Can you make me a bikemajic skin suit for xc racing, with sprinkles of pixie dust that makes me float up the hills…….?

    1. James McKnight

      Surely you don’t need the pixie dust Butcher? I’ve heard your banana sausages make an athlete of a slouch any day.

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