Sat in the brand’s charmingly-designed Islington shop, Harding explains what initially attracted him and his business partner, Jack Pattison, to resurrecting the Freddie Grubb brand name: “We were very keen to make a connection with British cycling, so we started looking for cyclists involved in the early days of cycling. Freddie Grubb became the obvious choice for us”.
Grubb had been a celebrity of sorts within British road racing, setting a multitude of records on his single speed bike at the start of the 20th century. The Londoner would hurtle along roads that have little resemblance to their smooth modern-day equivalents, weaving through streets with no breaks and a devil-may-care attitude. “More than anything, we liked Freddie the man. He was very much a maverick of British cycling,” says Harding. “We loved his name and every time we mentioned it to people it seemed to have a resonance. It was a name that we thought sounded pretty distinct and British, so we fell in love with it.”
Born in 1887, Frederick Henry Grubb rose to prominence at the age of 23, breaking the British record for a 100-mile time trial, riding the distance in less than five hours. A year later, Grubb would once again underline his credentials as a steely, determined rider, completing a gruelling 12 hours on the bike in Liverpool’s Anerley event, in a ride that forced organisers to extend the route to accommodate the his desire to go further and further. “He seemed a bit of a character and embodied this pioneering spirit that so many Brits are renowned for,” Harding chimes.
Grubb went on to become the first Brit to enter the Giro d’Italia – “which many consider harder than the Tour de France,” adds Harding – before returning home disillusioned with professional cycling. However, in a cruel twist of fate, his decision to go professional meant that he was banned from returning to competitive amateur racing, and so Grubb turned his focus to making bicycles instead of riding them, working in London over the following decades.