Be­hind the scenes at bril­liant Bri­tish stand-maker abba

The Bri­tish-built gear that pre­vents your ma­chine from top­pling to the work­shop floor

Motorcycle News (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Abba’s world-renowned mo­tor­cy­cle stand is one of those in­ven­tions that is so sim­ple and yet so bril­liant, that you won­der why no­body had thought of it be­fore.

The stand was the brain­child of abba founder Alan Bur­dett and it was dur­ing his time as a frame straight­ener and ac­ci­dent re­pair­man in the late 1980s that he be­came frus­trated by the lack of de­cent stands to en­sure bikes were se­cure while he worked on them.

“Get­ting the forks or head bear­ings out of big, heavy, bikes such as the GSX-R1100 was a night­mare,” re­mem­bers Alan. “Pad­dock stands were no use and one day I had a GSX-R sus­pended from the rafters by a bit of rope and its owner turned up. He looked shocked but I ex­plained there was no other way of do­ing it, which is when the penny dropped.”

Thanks to his back­ground in frame straight­en­ing, where the jigs con­nect di­rectly to the bike’s swingarm pivot point, Alan knew where his new de­sign of stand had to lo­cate. A few months later he had a work­ing pro­to­type and with its patent se­cured, he pro­duced his first run of stands.

“I had to demon­strate its prin­ci­ple to peo­ple at first as it was some­thing com­pletely new due not only to its lo­ca­tion on the bike, but also the way it lifts the bike for­wards,” re­mem­bers Alan. “But as soon as any­one saw it in ac­tion they in­stantly un­der­stood.”

Keep­ing costs down by build­ing the stand him­self, Alan’s in­ven­tion soon caught the eye of M&P Ac­ces­sories and the firm placed the first mass-or­der of 25 stands from Alan’s newly formed com­pany, abba. “I picked the name abba, an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of Alan Bur­dett Bike Ac­ces­sories, as ev­ery­one re­mem­bers

it; they al­ways say ‘as in the pop group,’” says Alan.

Through­out the 1990s abba’s stand grad­u­ally gained mo­men­tum, but it wasn’t un­til a change of lo­ca­tion and a new in­ven­tion that the firm’s suc­cess re­ally took off. Re­lo­cat­ing to a larger premises in South Wood­ham Fer­rers, Es­sex, not only gave the firm the abil­ity to in­crease pro­duc­tion, it also saw a new ad­di­tion to the stand be­ing de­vel­oped.

“We in­vented the front-lift arm, which al­lows a bike’s front to be sus­pended in the air and can be retro-fit­ted to any abba stand, in 2011 and sales spiked,” says Alan. “It was a log­i­cal evo­lu­tion , god knows why we didn’t think of it be­fore.”

Nowa­days abba build around 8000 stands a year as well as over 30 other prod­ucts, such as wheel chang­ing and work­shop equip­ment, and ex­port to a world­wide mar­ket. Ev­ery part of the abba stand is built in their Es­sex base with all the raw ma­te­ri­als sup­plied by Bri­tish firms be­fore be­ing pack­aged in-house and dis­patched. It’s a Bri­tish suc­cess story in ev­ery sense.

“Pad­dock stands are there to re­move tyre warm­ers, to make your bike eas­ier to work on or even to just make your bike look good,” says Alan. “An abba stand is a uni­ver­sal piece of work­shop equip­ment that you keep for life and up­date its fix­ings when you change your bike.”

Heavy-duty kit like this re­quires some se­ri­ous weld­ing by abba crafts­men

Abba’s founder Alan with his two sons Steve and Paul It can take up to 10 tonnes of pres­sure to bend 6mm steel

They build around 8000 stands a year

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