Interview: Simon Nash of Green Oil


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Jun 21, 2023

Interview: Simon Nash of Green Oil

This competition is now closed By Matt Skinner Published: August 11, 2012 at 8:00 am Simon Nash is the brain behind Green Oil, producers of the first fully green collection of lubes, greases and

This competition is now closed

By Matt Skinner

Published: August 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

Simon Nash is the brain behind Green Oil, producers of the first fully green collection of lubes, greases and bike-cleaning products for the environmentally conscious rider. Matt Skinner, former editor of What Mountain Bike magazine, talked to him about life on the ecological cutting edge, ignorance and getting your mate on a bike…

On Green Oil’s journey so far

“The whole idea started when I was riding through the River Quaggy, near Bromley. There’s a stretch of it that’s made of flat concrete – it’s not very deep in the summer and is great fun to ride along. Riding there with a friend one day, I felt bad about my oily chain going in the water. This and other river crossings during rides made me think about and look for a biodegradable chain lube.

“There was nothing out there – many on the shelf of one shop were even more toxic than the one I was using, with ‘Dangerous for the environment’ explicitly printed on the bottle, and a dead fish and tree logo in black and orange to match. I realised how bad this was, as every drop of chain oil ends up in the environment after use on the bike. Also, many lubes on the shelf were imported and didn’t even have recycling information on.

“This callous disregard for the environment in producing chain lube annoyed me as a consumer and, as is the case with many entrepreneurs, led to a product idea. In my final year of university I developed the Green Oil chain lube. It uses plant-based oils rather than petrochemical ones, and is 100 percent biodegradable. Since the beginning there has been recycling information on every bottle.

“I really did start things off in a garden shed. The ‘Eco Cabin’ is still there in my parents’ back garden, with a working solar panel that used to power the bottling machine on hot days. I’m really proud of where we’ve got to – it’s been hard work and it’s finally paying off now.”

The story continued…

“The first bottle of Green Oil I sold was in Trafalgar Square, London, where there were big screens and cyclists watching the Tour de France. Soon after, Green Oil received critical acclaim from environmentalists and the bike industry, and I started getting the product into shops. This was when the labels were printed from a small printer, cut with a guillotine and applied with Pritt Stick and lots of elbow grease!

“The bike industry was quite conservative back then, with a couple of big players taking Green Oil on but some smaller shops not quite understanding the environmental issue at hand. This has changed, which is great – now, lots of shops stock the range. I often hear stories of mechanics and bike shop owners suffering from dermatitis and other ailments when they use other, more toxic products.

“Take your average spray lube – they’re so bad for the environment and your health that it actually says so on the tin. Warnings include ‘Only use in a well ventilated area’. Most workshops aren’t well ventilated, so mechanics breath this stuff in. The Green Oil CF3 spray can is a solution I’m really proud of – with many workshops using this, staff won’t suffer lung damage.

“Meeting Matt and Damian, the founders of DMR Bikes, and later of the distributor Upgrade Bikes, has been great. I’ve learnt a lot from them, and their company is growing along with Green Oil, with Upgrade now distributing the range. It was a goal of mine for a long time to scale up and get a distributor on board, and making it happen has been fantastic.

“We now have a range of 11 products, all of which help spread environmental information. We include green living tips – for example, ‘Refuse that plastic bag! Get a reusable fabric one’ – on nearly every product now.

“The Eco Rider Deluxe set includes a pack of seeds – you can grow your own herbs or salad in the tub after use! Green Oil UK are the first company in the industry to use 100 percent recycled plastic for bottles. The contents of your recycling box at home might well end up as a bottle of Green Oil! I’m proud of this ‘closing the loop’. Eventually, recycled packaging will be the norm, as a result of companies like Green Oil leading the way.”

On realising his vision despite problems along the way

“First they laugh. Then they complain. Then they copy. This is the case for all new products and innovation, and I’m really pleased to be changing the bike industry from within.

“Green Oil was turned down when finance was required for a scale-up. However, a bank was found called the London Rebuilding Society, who helped Green Oil UK scale up to meet the needs of increased demand, especially needed with Upgrade on board as our distributor.

“Eventually, every company in the world will be green. The environment isn’t some kind of niche concern – we all live in the environment, so to ruin it is simply stupid. As other companies copy us, it will be important for Green Oil to keep the environmental and technological edge.

“For example, we’re soon to be using a special plant extract, N-Toc, to make our chain lube even more durable to enhance performance. On the environmental side of things, we’ve been using 100 percent recycled plastic for some time now, which is great for creating demand, thereby making it cheaper for councils to provide recycling schemes and divert plastic from incinerators and landfill.

“However, the packaging market usually demands just white or clear recycled plastic. Lots of coloured recycled plastic is still wasted, therefore. For this reason, we’re phasing in multi-coloured recycled plastic bottles, made from numerous sources. The conventional company owner would say, ‘We need consistency! We can’t have bottles coming out different colours for every batch, that’s unprofessional!’ However, nature is random, and having the bottles in different colours makes it more visible that the bottles are made from recycled plastic. And more interesting on the shop shelf! Look out for our random coloured bottles later this year!

“The ‘eco market’ is becoming more mainstream. Looking after the environment we live in and not exploiting others in product production is an increasingly universal concern. Many supermarket coffees, and Cadbury, now carry the Fairtrade mark, for example. So many positive things are happening – look at how many companies and households are now fitting solar panels. What Mountain Bike is printed on FSC certified paper, ensuring the forests it’s made from are protected. Just two years ago, Green Oil was one of two or three companies to use 100 percent recycled plastic in its packaging – now, big brands including Method and Ribena are on the case, and all milk bottles now contain at least 10 percent recycled content in the UK.

“The environment was probably only on people’s agendas from 1992 onwards. A lot of damage has been done, but we will reach that point of sustainability, with big businesses and small now seeing this.

“In the future, using petrochemicals and PTFE on a bike will be as unacceptable as using CFCs in a fridge, or asbestos in house insulation.

“I’m really proud of what’s been done in raising these issues, and taking market share in the cycling industry.”

On whether green products can perform as well as ‘nasty’ ones

“Ten years ago, many green products weren’t as good, but this has now changed. Electric cars will come in a big way this year. Less than 2p a mile to run, they outperform the fossil-fuelled car in acceleration and cost, and are fine for journeys of less than 100 miles. Ecover products for household cleaning outperform the toxic ones regularly, and green products are often built to last.

“Of course, the Green Oil range works exceptionally well, winning awards for performance and innovation irrespective of the green side of things. On one forum, someone wrote something like, ‘I use Green Oil because it works so well, the fact it’s green is just a bonus.’ Another writer followed further down with, ‘I use it because it’s green, and fortunately it works well too.’ Our products are for performance and the environment.

“Our Bicycle Brush, for example, is the best in the industry – we don’t use plastic bristles like other companies, which wear out in order just to sell more brushes. If everyone buys one of our brushes but doesn’t then buy a new one for 20 years because it’s built to last, resulting in lower sales – well, that’s fine with me.

“At Green Oil, we’ll keep working to produce products that perform as well as other more polluting products. We currently use more than 21 different plants to produce the range, and development continues to ensure that the performance edge is maintained.”

On his favourite colour

“Red or green. Green for obvious reasons, but it’s also my eye colour. Red evokes energy and always gets noticed.”

On the major obstacles to overcome to increase ecological awareness

“Ignorance. I met two American oil and gas investors by chance this week. One thought wind farms were bad for the environment because they kill birds, and that climate change wasn’t man-made. Of course, if you read anything in this area, you’d know the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says otherwise [stressing that sites need to be planned sensibly, with regard to birds] and that 99.9 percent of scientists agree that harmful climate change is manmade, will cause harm and is in no way inevitable. I suppose with their work it’s easier to believe otherwise but, fundamentally, ignorance is the issue. If everyone knew about the environment, they would act to preserve it – after all, we live in the environment and the eventual effect is on us.

“Some newspapers first portrayed climate change as not happening, then happening but not man-made, then man-made but too late to do anything about. Unfortunately, more people read tabloids like these than read papers on climate science. If every politician, business leader and citizen knew that climate change could wipe out their profits and loved ones within 50 years, they would probably act more quickly, and green products would be more mainstream. It’s starting to happen, but is taking too long right now.

“With bike products, people know they get the stuff on their skin and into the local environment they ride in – the beautiful woodland, moors or the grass in their back garden. It’s then easy to make the connection. Similarly, with organic skincare products or food – people care about their body and health, so choose these. For example, buying recycled paper, many people don’t see the forests being illegally trashed to produce their cheaper ‘normal’ paper. They don’t see the climate impact either – the drought in the southern hemisphere or the inevitable impact on their children in 20 years. The connection is more difficult to make in people’s minds, because it’s less immediate. This can be solved through education.

Simon Nash – the T-shirt colour says it all about his eco-friendly company ethos

“Sometimes, it seems that when it comes to the environment the public blame the government for not doing enough, the government blames corporations for the pollution and the corporations blame the public for consuming the products and services they produce that lead to the pollution – ‘We’re just making what people want…’ People need to take individual responsibility for what they purchase and how they live. Encourage others, go one step at a time, but don’t wait for the fall of capitalism, the next election or some imaginary scientific breakthrough to solve everything. There is no silver bullet.”

On how Green Oil’s products are born, packaged, distributed and recycled

“Basically, for a new product, first I write down what I want it to achieve, and its qualities. For example, with Green Oil chain lube, one factor is ‘sticky enough to stay on the chain, but not so sticky that excessive dirt sticks to it’. Another would be ‘petrochemical free and biodegradable’. Then to the research stage, with chemistry books and sometimes online research.

“Next, a range of different plants are used, mixed and experimented with, all sustainably sourced and, where possible, certified organic. Several prototypes are made and tested, and the best chosen through testing.

“This is a very basic summary of how product development is carried out. Needless to say, all Green Oil products are developed in-house – we don’t just buy wholesale lubricants or cleaning chemicals and rebottle them. Our formulas are unique, and perform extremely well. Being a rider myself helps with this – we’re not some chemical company just cashing in on the bike industry.

“With our reclaimed wood display rack, I created it on paper first. Then I handbuilt a prototype from reclaimed wood. Then our display rack company made a scalable prototype. They make the racks for us using reclaimed pallet wood, which diverts it from landfill. As you may know, the UK imports more than it exports physically, so we have an abundance of pallets. Some lorry yards burn these, which is a disgrace, so it’s important to reuse and recycle pallets where possible.

“Ideas for the company come about from practical problems. With Clean Chain, one issue was other degreasers being runny, and having to take the chain off the bike to clean it. Clean Chain was developed as a gel, so you can degrease the chain while it’s still on the bike.

“With the Bicycle Brush, other ‘claw’ brushes had a spiky bit, then a brush head. You would have to hold the spiky bit to use the brush head, with spikes digging into your fingers. Polypropylene bristles wearing out quickly and the plastic from them going into the environment was another problem I had with incumbent brushes. The Green Oil Bicycle Brush was developed to be used as a claw brush and general bike cleaning brush, and to have a decent fat handle. It also needed to have strong durable bristles that were biodegradable. You can use it to scrub the sprocket hard, and the chain vigorously. Being able to make it from sustainably sourced wood instead of plastic was a bonus. They should last 10 years or more, but when it does die, you can put it in your compost bin! Even the print is eco-friendly.”

On how the products are made

“When I first started, I had one heated mixing vessel, and a 50-litre mixing vessel with a beer tap attached. I found this beer tap in an abandoned sports club when out riding a year before, so it was a fateful find! I would handfill bottles myself, cap them and hand-apply the paper labels. Then I purchased a small bottling machine, with labels still hand-applied and dried in the sun – we used recycled gummed paper, where the back was moistened to make it sticky.

“Plastic for the bottles is sourced from UK council recycling centres. These are the places that plastic bottles end up from your home recycling boxes. Different plastic types are separated – we use HDPE, or ‘high density polyethylene’, the stuff milk bottles are made from. The plastic is ground up into tiny pieces, and taken to the factory. This is then melted into new bottles.

“After a long period of filling bottles through a hand lever beer tap late into the night in the old Eco Cabin, we now have a factory to make the products. Basically, after some processing, all the different elements are mixed in huge 1,000-litre metal vessels, tall enough to stand inside. ‘Padals’ are used, which are like electric fans on long sticks to mix the ingredients.

“When the Green Clean bike cleaner is made, this makes a huge pile of bubbles, often around a metre high! The liquid is then emptied into an ‘IBC’, a 1,000-litre cube on a pallet, basically. This is then taken over by an electric forklift truck to the bottling machine, where the bottles are filled, capped and labelled. It’s a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! This is in Wales, with admin, product development and other stuff carried out in the Brixton office.

“For the Green Clean bike cleaner, we use reclaimed inner tubes to hold the trigger spray on. Trigger sprays tend to leak in transit, so that safety cap keeps it tight, with the sprayer attached with a band. Inner tubes are collected from bike shops, including Bromley Bike Co and Brixton Cycles. They’re then cut by hand into thousands of bands. This is done at the office, which makes the place smell like fish – that powder inside the inner tube is apparently ground up fish bone! This absorbs moisture to stop damage to the inner tube material. Good recycling from Taiwan’s fish industry!

“The Green Oil products are taken by courier to Upgrade Bikes, our UK distributor – 100 percent recycled cardboard boxes are used. This behind-the-scenes stuff you don’t see is kept as green as possible too. We only use recycled paper in the office, biodegradable and reclaimed packing material, and the stock cupboard here is made from recycled wood and is as big as a Tardis! Green Oil’s environment ethos isn’t just a marketing thing – it’s something I really believe in, and these values are spread throughout the supply chain.

“So, once the products are made and delivered to the distributor, bike shops call Upgrade Bikes to order, or speak to their sales rep about ordering, and then receive the goods to go on the shop shelf. Then, hopefully, you out there see Green Oil products on the shelf and purchase them!

“At the end of its life, you can get your Green Oil bottle refilled at selected bike shops for a 10p discount, or give the bottle back to us at a trade show for 10p in cash. These are then refilled, possibly relabelled, then sold on. This hasn’t been as popular as expected, but it’s good to do, and was inspired by beer and other drinks in Austria – every bottle is a deposit bottle there, as in most other parts of Europe.

“Green Oil bottles can also be recycled. We use the same type of plastic for the label as the bottle, so it’s easy to recycle beyond the recycling box. There’s no foil in the label to contaminate the recycling stream, and we explain on every bottle that the cap has to be removed first – these are made of polypropylene, a different, less easy to recycle plastic. The Eco Sponge and Bicycle Brush are biodegradable at the end of their lives, and Green Clean bike cleaner [bottle] can be refilled with the Clean Chain degreaser and rain water from your nearest water butt.”

On what’s next on the horizon

“We’re rolling out a rebrand as we speak, with brighter colours, so this will make the Green Oil range more visible, to stand out on the shop shelf. World War Two poster characters feature on every bottle, in line with our revolutionary spirit. The Green Oil range looks so good now you might even put them up on a windowsill or mantlepiece to show your friends!

“New products will be out in the future, though I don’t want to give too much away yet, as work and research is ongoing. One thing I’m looking into is a ‘Green Oil inner tube’. This will involve a big workshop of people constantly fixing inner tube punctures. Bike shops find it uneconomic to fix punctures for people, so simply throw old tubes away, replacing them with brand-new ones. If these could be collected, fixed on a production line and sold for half the price, a lot of money could be made, and inner tubes diverted from landfill. It’s just an idea at the moment, but something for this year or next perhaps.

“We’re currently phasing in the rebrand. I designed the original labels myself – the cog on every bottle is actually the one used on my old cross-country bike. In any case, the rebrand says what the brand is about – higher performance, British manufacturing and the environment.”

On the effects of the global economic climate

“When the economy was good, every penny made from fossil fuels should have been spent on renewable energy and green British industry. Low-cost flights, big cars and other short-term investments were made, and only now, with less money around, are solar power, the electric car and other green industries starting to grow and receive government funding. Unfortunately, there’s less money to help fund these growing industries now.

“The closure of Vestas [the UK’s only wind turbine factory, on the Isle of Wight, in 2009] the other year was tragic. The government failed massively – I remember one minister saying in his defence, ‘It’s not our fault, it’s not a lack of government subsidy which is the problem, it’s demand.’ Of course, the government should have been creating demand by getting more wind farms built, so it was their fault. With Germany getting half its power from renewables, France half from nuclear and China having more wind energy production than the UK, we’re lagging a bit on this front. However, the government is doing a lot to support solar power at the moment, which is great.

“Fortunately for the bike industry, things are good, despite the recession. Firstly, lots of people use bikes to get around – it’s cheap, healthy and green, especially compared with driving. Recession does not change this. Secondly, riding is a hobby for lots of people, and people need hobbies during the hard times as much as any time.

“Adding to this, you might not be able buy a mansion in the Cotswolds or a Tesla sports car, especially now. But you can afford £7.99 to buy the world’s greenest bottle of bike cleaner. Even, spending £2,000 on a bike isn’t much compared to a car of the same class. The latter may of course take some explaining to your other half before you get your credit card out, though.

“When Sustrans won the People’s Millions a couple of years ago [2007] it was great – £50 million of lottery funding to spend on building cycleways and promoting cycling throughout the UK. Then the press said, ‘Well, Mr Brown, it’s actually the government’s job to provide cycle lanes…’ And the government matched it the £40 million funding. This government and the last are certainly on the side of the cyclist. Then we have the Ken/Boris/Barlcays Bike Hire scheme, and similar hire schemes outside of London.

“My great grand father had a bike hire shop in London apparently in the previous cycling boom, probably a little different to electronic docking stations and card reading machines of today. This gets people on bikes which is good, especially for encouraging those not committed enough to buy a bike just yet.

“Anything that promotes cycling is good for the industry in the UK. Things I would like to see are ramps on train station staircases to wheel your bike up and down on. More cycle lanes separated from the road are necessary too – even raised curbs on existing road based cycle lanes to keep cars out would be good, and cheap to implement (hopefully David Cameron is reading this!).

“Bringing back guards’ vans on trains for bike storage would be good, as would proper bike storage at more train stations. This false perception that cycling is dangerous needs to be dealt with by the government – there are more than 20,000 serious injuries, and around 2000 deaths by car on the road every year. The number of cyclists killed or injured is tiny compared to this at around 150 a year. This excludes people like us doing silly things off road of course, but still…”

On what the UK government is doing to promote and develop a green economy

“The government has done a lot of good – a commitment not to expand Heathrow Airport is very important to keep emissions down, combined with HS2 to replace road and airplane journeys with train trips. Especially as so many flights from Heathrow are to Paris, Scotland and Manchester, which are all accessible by train, with a tenth of the carbon footprint.

“Thousands of houses have fitted solar panels as a result of government incentives, and government support for the electric car is a great thing. However, on the other side you have Boris Johnson wanting to tarmac the Thames estuary for an airport, fuel duty has been reduced (cheaper petrol probably means more car journeys) and sales of 4x4s have gone up recently. People need to play their part too of course, but whilst the government has done a lot of good, it needs to do more.

“For example, how many times have you been offered a plastic bag when buying a magazine and a chocolate bar? Easy wins like a plastic bag tax should be implemented. This would annoy people for about two weeks, after that they would just pay 50p or start remembering to take their own reusable bag. The ‘voluntary’ approach works only to an extent, just as with crime or building standards, you need enforcement at some point.

“It’s a cliché to say governments are wasteful, but train fares are increasing beyond inflation, which is terrible. Trains cost about £1 million each to replace with new ones and railway maintenance is a large cost too. If you go to Victoria train station in London and look up, you’ll see the brand new roof they spent many thousands of pounds on to let in natural light. However, hundreds of lights bulbs are still left on in the middle of the day, even in the brightest sunshine. Network Rail basically forgot to fit a light switch and the light sensors don’t work – so your train ticket and taxes are paying for this climate changing waste of electricity, to no one’s gain. This is similar at other stations around the UK.

“Similarly, those strip bulbs used on the Undergound and at other train stations stations around the UK are inefficient. These can be replaced by T5 bulbs, which are thinner, or even LED bulbs – which save a lot of carbon and a lot of money.

“Essentially, the government is encouraging businesses to work with the Carbon Trust to save money and reduce emissions, which is great. However, taxpayer-subsidised bodies like Network Rail and Transport for London, even the Post Office are not yet encouraged to work with the Carbon Trust – and subsequently waste a lot of money, and electricity, with the cost to us all.

“Royal Mail phasing out the use of bikes seems unwise and a step backwards. Especially with one photo I saw of their old bikes in a huge, damaged pile. The government should probably have done something about this.

“Things like reduced corporation tax and reduced rate of VAT for environmentally responsible products would be a good thing, though ambitious perhaps. Seeing the government’s ‘green investment bank’ come to fruition would be good. In 10 years renewable energy and other green technologies will be where the money is made. You can’t leave everything to market forces, and new industries require government money to get going as a general rule.

“If I were the prime minister, I would tax internal flights and use the money to ensure trains were always 10 percent cheaper. The Post Office, Network Rail and so on would be legally obliged to work with the Carbon Trust to save tax revenue and emissions. I would make it a sackable offence to waste public money – including by leaving lights on at train stations. Every train station would have to fit a small ramp to wheel bikes up on staircases. Petrol prices would be kept at a level to ensure public transport was always cheaper, and money from this also used to subsidise cycle lanes.

“Cycle lanes would be separated from roads by a small bump or curb, and people could initiate pedestrianisation / ‘cycle-lane-isation’ of roads by petition as in Holland. All companies making more than 10,000 units of a product per year would have to put proper recycling information on it in the same format as on Green Oil bottles, with none of this ‘Plastic – check local recycling’ nonsense. Mountain biking would also be on the National Curriculum!”

On the biggest dead end trends of the past

“Compact derailleurs – Shimano’s higher end derailleurs used to be compact so not to catch on rocks and get caught in the wheel during a crash – Deore LX and XTs were really compact which was great. For some reason this has been phased out, which is a shame – to cynically sell more derailleurs, perhaps, with the compact ones lasting too long?

“The Rohloff internal gear hub could have been more popular, along with the similar versions from Shimano and Sturmey Archer for off-road use. I thought these would take off in a bigger way than they have.

“Belt drive bikes, which negated the need for a chain, seem to have disappeared. This is good for us as a chain lube company, but the idea seemed quite good: supposedly they were more durable once fitted.

“No one ever seems to have made a genuinely puncture-proof tyre, despite claims. Perhaps it will come – but again, most businesses are set up to sell products that wear out unfortunately. I know a company, Velo-re, which makes belts from inner tubes and tyres, one of which I’m wearing now, so its not all bad I suppose.

“Little suspension systems in the stem never took off. I saw one of these more than a decade ago now; it was a good idea, but probably only worked because suspension forks were too expensive at the time. A stem-based system was much cheaper to produce of course.

“Those oval gear sets to counteract ‘bob’ on full suspension bikes were interesting – though now dampening technology that can tell when you are riding up a hill has negated the need for these. However, oval cogs have sprung up in track racing. Rather than countering bob, they are supposed to make the most of your leg in its strongest position – you are putting less power in when your feet are in line for example, and more when one leg is stretched out and pushing down, so you use the flatter part of the cog for this. Anyway, interesting stuff.”

On the most important bike innovations

“Cheap metal, suspension and carbon fibre. Not so long ago, the best a kid could hope for would be a Raleigh Max. This was a higher end bike, with an aluminium frame, alloy rims, but no suspension. Any cheaper bike and you would have a heavy steel frame, plastic pedals – and the bike would weigh a ton. Now, suspension is cheaper, as is aluminium and its alloys. So bikes are lighter, and you get front suspension at a much lower cost due to technologies and price reductions in that part of the industry.

“At the lower end, this weight loss is often negated by having full suspension set-ups (I’m talking about very cheap bikes here), which make the bike heavier than a 1920’s bakery bike. But, if you spend the same amount of money now on a bike with just front suspension, it would be 10 times better than the equivalent-cost bike of 15 years ago. We didn’t even have the ‘love groove’ in saddles back then – fortunately Specialized and those that copied their design have saved the gentleman from impotence due to saddle pressure on the groin!

“Carbon fibre has improved massively. As an environmentalist I have mixed feelings – it’s very difficult to recycle, unlike any metal. However, the top end, full suspension carbon fibre bikes are now strong enough, super light and will hopefully last a lifetime. When carbon fibre first came out, it was known for randomly snapping.

“On the non-mountain bike racing side of things, the real innovations are likely to come out of triathlon. One of the world’s fastest bikes, the LotusSport Pursuit is now resigned to the National Cycle Museum in Wales – banned under UCI rules, which seem to discourage innovation. Fortunately, they don’t control triathlon, which is increasingly popular. Triathlon bike innovations can’t be held back in the same way, so watch out for some interesting designs in this area soon.”

On conquering trail demons

“Follow someone better than you! In terms of improving, or mastering a jump for example, riding with, or following someone more advanced helps you learn, and gives you the right speed to hit the jump at. If doing something scary, I find it best to keep the fingers off the brake, and tell my brain its going to happen either way. This can stop you from chickening out, and from putting the brakes on just before the jump or drop.”

On the trends to watch in 2012

“Outside of cycling, E-ink computer screens – imagine having the soft tones of a Kindle for word processing and other work stuff! In 2012 a fuel price increase will lead to cycling taking off in a big way. Electric cars will be big in 2013, with a petrol car ban in London around 2025 to keep the air clean…

“But back to cycling, lots more cycle lanes in the UK will be created through 2012 and beyond. We will get London and other cities ‘Dutched’ in just a few years. Electronic gear shifters will be more common, especially if you’re willing to spend the money. After all, where else is there to go with high end bikes, once they’re made of Unobtanium and fairy dust?

“More commuter-based bike GPS will come in, with screens like the car GPS navigation systems, and the ability to switch to the more map based program for XC riding. Eventually E-ink screens will mean crazy battery life for bike GPS. Bamboo bikes will become more mainstream, though the majority of bikes probably won’t be made of it. Green Oil’s products will be in the vast majority of UK bike shops by the end of 2012.

“Obesity is a massive burden on the NHS. Stress at work is a problem. Climate change is another issue, and cycling solves all three. So overall, the one to watch for 2012 is – your mate who doesn’t yet ride a bike. They’ll be on one within two years!”

On what keeps him in the saddle

“I commute every day by bike – so one motivation is getting to work!

“For off-road riding, I like it because it challenges you, it’s social and you get to see the countryside. It’s a great feeling going fast off road through singletrack. It’s satisfying building a jump and riding it. Some of my best memories have been from riding with friends, and the best scars too! Discovering new places is fun, and a good motivation to get out there. I used to ride a lot in Lordswood, Southampton, and there would always be new trails built, new sections to find and hidden away jump spots.

“Apparently being among trees and nature generally refreshes the mind, and it’s physically impossible to be depressed during vigorous exercise. Using the woodlands we have for riding in stops them being cut down too. So, if everyone in the UK was into mountain biking, the world would definitely be a better place.”

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On Green Oil’s journey so farThe story continued…On realising his vision despite problems along the wayOn whether green products can perform as well as ‘nasty’ onesOn his favourite colourOn the major obstacles to overcome to increase ecological awarenessOn how Green Oil’s products are born, packaged, distributed and recycled On how the products are madeOn what’s next on the horizonOn the effects of the global economic climateOn what the UK government is doing to promote and develop a green economyOn the biggest dead end trends of the pastOn the most important bike innovationsOn conquering trail demonsOn the trends to watch in 2012On what keeps him in the saddle