Talking Shop: Ken Jones of Onimpex

Exclusive: Talking to a racer, organiser, event sponsor and one half of the Onimpex company who are the agents for Bioracer and Vittoria – Ken Jones.

One of Merseyside’s most well known ‘names’ is Ken Jones of Onimpex who are agents for BioRacer clothing and Reksin as well as Vittoria cycling shoes as worn by the likes of Lucy Martin and Dan Martin who are no relation to each other as far as we know!

The Bioracing branding at British events as seen here at the British Cyclo-Cross Championships in Derby. It’s there because local distributor for the clothing brand puts back into the sport what they get out. This weekend at the Derby round of the National Trophy, Onimpex/Bioracer are again a valued sponsor of the event.

Ken’s association with the bike goes back to when he was 13 and he remembers the days of the Liverpool mafia when riders from clubs in the area were on top of cyclesport in Britain and also dominated places in the GB team. After a break from the sport, Ken returned to it later in life and has now spent 17 years working in the cycle industry.

His first foray into the cycle business was with James Middlemore , a sprinter and tandem rider from the 70’s who was the first importer of Shimano equipment and Ridley bikes. Then, some eight years ago, a new partnership came into being as Onimpex was formed with Chris Spencer partnering Ken in the formation of the new company.

Such a homely bunch even the team picture is outside the house … Ken is second from the left and the veterans are joined in 2012 by an under 23, Dan Wheelan.

During the early days of Omnimpex, they were importing frames and other hardware but recently they decided to concentrate on clothing instead of hardware. Onimpex is the British agent for Bioracer and one of their latest clients is the Chorley CC, a club that has returned to the sport of cycling after a break of many years. It’s said to have disbanded around 1953 but the club was reformed in 2011 and have chosen to use Bioracer clothing for their kit, one of many using the Bioracer brand. Herbalife were one of the most well known British teams using Bioracer in 2011 and will do so again in 2012.

Onimpex also sponsor the VeloCity 3-1 Youth team with Bioracer kit and also had their own team of veterans in 2011 and will in 2012, be bringing in an under 23 rider to keep the old fellas in the team on their toes. “My aim is provide a  club or team with quality clothing at a value for money price” Ken explained.  There is no minimum order with Bioracer which means it isn’t just clubs and teams that are getting in touch but also corporate sponsors getting involved in cycling whether its racing, sportives, charity rides or just riding and wanting to look the part as a group.”

Right: Onimpex have provided many winners jerseys for major events including this one for Zak Dempster who rides for Endura Racing in 2012, winner of the 2011 CiCLE Classic at Rutland.

Ken says that when a club shows an interest in using Bioracer for its clothing, he’ll provide the personal touch by painstakingly going through all the important types of fabrics and designs available for each part of a typical season. “We also design their kit in house and offer this service free of charge”. Not having a minimum order level is also attractive to the customer says Ken.

Bioracer, explained Ken, have since 1984 been leaders in club clothing in Europe and innovative in both design and the fabrics they use. Within the Bioracer company are many former professional riders able to apply their experience on the bike to the design and making of the clothing needed by the modern rider.

“They know the importance of how it needs to be comfortable whilst competing or just riding for pleasure” says Ken. “It’s experience we all know you cannot buy” he adds.

BioRacer have also launched a new ‘Race Proven’ kit  which is another addition to their range. “It’s very special” says Ken. “It’s fit and fabrics combine to achieve a combination of speed and comfort in the world of minimum gains. We are working together with quite a few clubs who have members still chasing the dream.”

One of the key things about cycling kit is the padding used in the shorts. Anyone who has ridden for a long time on a bike, sitting on a narrow, hard saddle, will know the pain that you’ll get if not properly prepared with appropriate clothing. Ken was keen to point out the ‘Airstream’ chamois that Biorace launched two years ago has proved to be very successful amongst professionals.

“It’s made from a form of memory foam but with specific air flow to the parts of the groin that need cooling. It is much denser at the sitting bone area than the perineum as well”.

Bioracer though produce much than the standard kit and can clothe a rider for any weather and from head to toe with accessories that will match their club kit. They also produce unbranded kit as well as replica kit of the clothing they supply to nations such as Holland, Germany and Belgium to name but three nations using Bioracer.

The padding for cycle shorts and the Bioracer Airstream.

Related Link: How the clothing is made, a feature by the NettApp team


Giving Back …
While it’s clubs and teams that provide Ken with most of his business, it’s events that the same clubs and teams can ride that Ken gives back to. In 2011, Ken and Bioracer sponsored the Percy Stallard series for veterans (LVRC) and the Geoff Bewly Cyclo-Cross in Liverpool. Onimpex is also sponsoring the National Trophy event at Derby.

If that isn’t enough, Ken, a rider in races when time allows, also organises a cycle race in the North West, the Onimpex Classic under the rules and regs of the TLI. Two events on the same day with NEG out riders and events suitable for younger riders as well as veterans. The TLI, says Ken, is an easier and cheaper form of racing for those who just want a race.

With licence fees a lot less than an organisation such as British Cycling, £16 in 2011, and entry fees around eight pounds, the aim of organisers within the TLI is to provide races that riders don’t have to travel a zillion miles for and also pay out much higher fees to enter. The key for the TLI says Ken, is for the organisers within it to also organise races on the weekend as well as the midweek ones.

Reskin… a second skin for open chaffing wounds

While talking to Ken, he put on the desk a piece of Reskin. This simply a piece of skin like material that can be reused and washed. One side is sticky so it can be applied to the skin and the other a soft skin like material which can protect open wounds such as those that cyclists get from chaffing. Now for the tech speak … ReSkin® is the latest innovation from BioRacer that solves this chaffing problem by combining a specially perforated type of Lycra® with a specially createdsilicon glue has resulted in a skin-friendly product with outstanding qualities.

If you’d like to know more about Reskin, Onimpex and BioRacer clothing, click here.

Our thanks to Onimpex for their valued support in helping VeloUK serve the sport of cycling …

Interviews from VeloUK

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