Though bike shop closures are nothing new and the industry has lost a lot of well-loved local shops over the past few years, the news of Bob Jacksons in Leeds closing at the end of 2020 was met with great sadness across the world. For a brief period it looked like investors had stepped in to rescue the historic marque, but sadly it seems we are saying goodbye after all.
Bob Jacksons (also known as JRJ) have been building bikes in Leeds since 1935. In the 1950s they acquired Merlin Cycles of South London, and for a short while they merged with Hetchins too, although this partnership ended in the 1990s. Since then they'd garnered an excellent reputation for great value repair work and resprays, keeping many beloved classic bikes on the road.
JRJ Cycles advert from the 1960s
Bob Jackson frames are prized by enthusiasts in the UK but also in the USA and Japan, with their classic British workmanship prized by those in the know. We had a dig through some old magazines and found Bob Jacksons on display at various events around the world, along with a great article featuring British cycling legend Arthur Metcalfe riding a Bob Jackson to victory in the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) back in 1966!
Bob Jacksons receiving praise at the New York Cycle Show in the 1970s
Arthur Metcalfe racing to victory in the BBAR on a Bob Jackson c.1966
Though inevitably Covid has had a part to play in their untimely end, it seems that the deciding factor was the lack of willing younger trainees to take up the mantle of the ageing workforce, with a large number of the current team at retirement age. There is one small glimmer of hope however, as we understand another great Yorkshire brand, Woodrup Cycles, have taken on the name.
Here’s hoping there's another twist in the tale and there's still some future for Bob Jacksons yet...
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