Maxim Bikes is a small bike company from Wales fronted by one passionate bike rider, Laurens Curteis.
Focused on producing the bikes that he wants to ride, Laurens has come up with a limited, but solid, range. We recently had the Leela all-mountain bike in the office, a beast that will get you up the hill and then take on everything in its path on the way down. Far from being a ‘poncy’, lightweight trail bike by any means, the Leela is more of a bike that can take just as many beatings from the hillside as it can deliver to it. It’s burly, it’s not ground breaking technology-wise, but it is a bike that will appeal to ‘core’ riders looking for an affordable bike and keen to support an upstart company. We took the Leela to the Alps on our summer holidays and sure didn’t have any peeps from it.
You can see the full geometry and information about the Leela on Maxim’s ‘Decoded’ site here.
For us the more interesting story behind the bike is in the company itself – the thought process that lead to Laurens starting his own bike brand, so we’re going to let Laurens do the talking. Here we have Maxim Bikes – straight from the horses mouth:
Maxim Bikes: The idea behind the company and the Leela all-mountain bike
Words: Laurens Curteis
Photos: Ben Winder
I’m 22 years old and from Llanrhaeadr in Mid Wales. Mountain biking was introduced to me when the Athertons moved to the area about 10 years ago. I still remember the first time I saw them shuttling downhill runs on the ‘Bank’; I was doing a short route with a friend on some old forestry tracks and Affy (Dan Atherton) was like, “hop in the truck we’ll give you a lift to the top.” The Bank is one of the toughest, gnarliest DH tracks around (and features in the Athertons’ section in the film ‘Between the Tape’) and there was no way I was going to get down that track on a burnt-out old Giant hardtail, but it was from watching those guys banging out runs that I got hooked on mountain biking.
The company as it stands consists of just myself. On much of the design work I collaborate with a friend who I’ll hopefully bring on full-time in the next year or so. Ryan Swain was originally also at Maxim and played a pivotal role in setting up the company; he’s still part owner but has decided to pursue other interests for the time being.
The ethos for starting the company was always very simple: we’d seen mountain bikes evolve massively over a relatively short period of time but the companies offering them had become complacent. High quality engineered frames no longer needed to cost through the roof. With an effective business strategy and well-designed, simple but effective frames we could offer a great package at a great price. I started work on the project in early 2011.
The first step was to find a manufacturing partner who could deliver the quality and short lead-time and to whom we could develop a strong working relationship with. We visited factories here in Europe before biting the bullet and taking a trip to the Far East. It was there that we found the perfect partner and we were able to start bashing our heads together and working on some initial frame designs. We collaborated closely with the engineers made available to us in the Far East and also did extensive research here in the UK with my contacts in the industry and at race events to home in on what it was that the UK riders look for in a bike.
Once we had established the initial designs we went into prototyping. That was when I realised we needed a team to test the frames to their limits. We brought on George Belk to begin with, he was able to do a full BDS (British Downhill Series) season on a few different prototypes of the DH frame and give us valuable feedback on the Leela. That process was essential to working towards our first batch of production frames.
I’ve been incredibly lucky with the wealth of mountain biking knowledge in this area. First time riders, Sunday riders, World Cup racers, engineers and bike park owners have all given feedback throughout the process and continue to do so to this day. It also makes a huge difference having 10-15 high level tracks of all varieties, built for and by the best mountain biking family the world has ever seen all within 20 minutes of my house. From long, rugged trail-style descents to full-on DH a bike is really going to be tested to its limit.
The Leela is suitable for riders of all levels of riding. However it certainly excels for riders making the move from ‘I only go downhill’ to enduro. The rider that wants the strength and stability that a downhill bike could offer them but in a more complete package that they can ride all day. It climbs like a dream and descends even better so it’s suitable for all types of trail riding, bike parks, enduro racing, epic all mountain riding, and alpine trials.
People should buy our bikes because we’re an exciting British based brand offering high performance, quality engineered products at very competitive prices.
More information: Maxim Bikes Leela
Price: At £2,499 for a full build with RockShox Sektor RL fork and Monarch RT3 shock, plus a mix of Shimano XT and SLX components, we think the Leela Comp is a decent buy.