A near-death experience inspired former factory-worker Ricky Feather to follow his dreams and become one of the world’s most respected young bike builders.

A near-death experience inspired former factory-worker Ricky Feather to leave his dead-end job and follow his dreams. It was a gamble that paid off. Without any formal training, Feather has built a career as one of the world’s most respected young bike builders.

“My parents had me when they were seventeen and so neither of them had the time or money to go into higher education. As such, I never really saw university as an option. I left school when I was sixteen and became a welder in Leeds, making everything from oil pipes to JCB parts.

“I worked with a good bunch of lads but it was crap pay and the job was going nowhere; all the companies I worked for, bar one, have since gone out of business. What kept me going was my love for cycling. I was a sponsored BMXer and enjoyed riding a fixed-gear most nights. But my big wake-up call came in my early twenties when a colleague accidentally operated an industrial press while I was reaching inside it. My head became trapped and I was very nearly killed.

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“It was then that I hatched a plan to combine my welding skills with my love of cycling by building my own bike frames. I taught myself how to do it online and built my first road bike a couple of months later. After I sold that one, I started making more in my father-in-law’s garage. It started off very slowly but a couple of years later I won a number of awards at the Bespoke Bike Show, including best in show. Things spiralled out of control and I ended up with a two-year waiting list with orders from around the world. I’m still working through that list now.

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“Do I plan on expanding? Coming from a factory background, I enjoy grafting and getting my hands dirty, which is why I still make every bike by hand. So I won’t be growing the business anytime soon. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now; I make a pretty good living, have the time to ride almost everyday and I love my job.”

Check out Feather CyclesKeep track of our Millennial Hopes and Fears online special.

This article originally appeared in Huck 55 – The Freaked Out Issue. Buy it in the Huck Shop now or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue. 

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