Endura was born in Scotland, in 1993. Founded as a result of director Jim McFarlane's dissatisfaction with the choice of cycle clothing available to him, as a keen amateur rider.
Moving on 23 years, the brand is still based in Scotland; and Jim McFarlane is still involved. Jim can be found pushing things forward on a daily basis; with a no-nonsense approach to advancing performance and function. However, outside of these three constants, there have been some major changes for the Endura brand...
Endura is now firmly established worldwide. It is known for producing an extensive, constantly evolving product range, and working with some of the sport's top athletes; including Movistar Team - the #1 ranked UCI road team in 2015, as well as the Scottish MTB trials legend Danny MacAskill, among many others.
Throughout Endura's rise, from Scottish local hero to global market leader, the brand has followed a maverick approach; launching challenging, progressive products, many of which have gone on to earn iconic status. Always looking ahead, and never taking the easy route; the brand continues to go from strength to strength.
To celebrate the Endura range arriving here on Wiggle, we managed to grab a quick interview with Jim McFarlane - to find out a little more about the brand.
Meeting Jim McFarlane
Can you start by telling us a bit about how the brand got started, and the original products that Endura produced?
I was working in Sydney in the early 1990's when I had my cycle clothing stolen, whilst I was at a work event one Saturday morning. I was stunned by both the expense of what was available, and also how poorly it performed. That was the kernel of the idea, and when I returned to Scotland a year or so later, I started working on the first designs.
Although my personal interest at the time was in time trialling, the opportunity that allowed things to get started was in MTB; where clothing designs hadn't yet caught up with the demands of off-road riding. So the products that got Endura established initially, was the MT500 range of super-tough cycle clothing for MTB riders; it incorporated Cordura/Lycra fabrics, Kevlar stitching, and slip-liners on the side panels - to reduce grazing in the event of a fall. The range still lives on today, but in a much updated form.
What other iconic products is Endura famed for creating?
If I think back, the pieces that spring to mind are the Endura MT500 Spray Baggy Shorts, the Endura MT500 II Overshoes, the Endura Hummvee Baggy Shorts, the Stinger Jerseys (a favourite of Mitch Dall, one of the founders of Wiggle!), Montana Jackets; and, more recently, the Pro SL Bib Shorts.
With a history of strength in the MTB market! How did you make the transition to road; ultimately leading to supplying kit to the world's number 1 road team?
We did it the old fashioned way; by starting at the bottom, and working our way up; proving ourselves at each stage.
In 2010, we started with a local bike shop (PedalPower) and co-sponsored Endura-Pedal Power team. That became Endura Racing a year later, and we invested into that team until 2012 when it became the most successful team to come out of the UK, aside from Team Sky.
We knew we couldn't get into Grand Tours as a Continental licenced team, and so merged with Team NetApp, to create Team NetApp Endura in 2013; going on to win stages in the Vuelta Espana that year, and performing strongly in the Tour de France a year later.
Ultimately we wanted to work in a team that could potentially win the Tour de France, and for us to be a contributor to that, and so we approached Movistar Team; and we have been working with them since the start of 2014.
We have always recognised the benefits of working with demanding riders and teams – even when it is punishingly difficult – in order to help us continually improve. I don't think we would have been signed with Movistar Team had we not been able to impress them with what we had learned whilst working with Endura Racing and team NetApp Endura.
How is in line product affected by these pro rider relationships?
In a word, "directly". We were signed by Movistar Team on the back of proving that our clothing performed dramatically better than their existing supplier. When they performed trials to test it, we have always been very much engaged in listening to that rider feedback, and responding as best we can.
Progress in clothing design works for us when working with Movistar Team; because we, as their clothing partner, consciously decide to take a positive attitude towards any seemingly crazy ideas team riders come up with; or indeed of criticisms of current clothing. That often leads us to interesting places, and after we have developed a successful product for the team, we then generally seek to develop a version of it that is suitable for "regular" enthusiast riders.
Our Pro SL Bib Shorts range is a perfect example; it was developed and tested with Movistar Team, but is now available to Wiggle customers. Similarly, Endura's aero clothing, which has been so successful for Movistar in recent times, may well make it to stores in the not too distant future…
You still run production in Scotland, can you tell us why this is important to Endura?
Lots of reasons, but I will highlight the most important one to my mind; being that it keeps us directly in touch with new manufacturing technology, and means we can develop and test product very rapidly. For example, in the area of aero clothing, Endura has become the world's most advanced aero cycle clothing brand, from a standing start only a little over 3 years ago – That could never have happened without in-house manufacturing using the latest technology.