Thomas Barnett is the founder of Mamnick, a British-based company who manufactured the Kings of Pain Bottle Opener for Rapha this summer.
Tell us a bit about the origins of Mamnick, and the ethos behind the company.
I was frustrated at how difficult it was to find a shirt that I liked for an honest price; something that wasn’t mass-produced and didn’t shout its designer label at you. Finding a well-made shirt in a quality fabric that fits well isn’t easy. That’s where I started and since then I’ve designed and manufactured shirts, jackets and a few leather and steel accessoris.
I had lots of ideas, and had designed clothing and other products in the past without going into manufacturing. The challenge was getting my ideas to market. I like a challenge so I established Mamnick: The name comes from the road that goes up Mam Tor in Derbyshire, one of my favourite places to ride the bike.
You produced the KoP Bottle Openers using Sheffield steel, tell us something about that.
My Grandad worked in Sheffield’s famous steel industry and I wanted to dedicate some part of Mamnick to him. That’s how the ‘Made in Sheffield’ collection came about. The chip-fork/bottle-opener really helped put the brand on the map and I feel proud to be making things in Sheffield’s finest export.
The inspiration for the bottle opener came from the days when riders would raid cafes, do you think pro racing has lost its soul somewhat?
I don’t know. Like many sports nowadays, money talks and many of the riders seam to be media-managed with sponsorships on the line and reputations to uphold. Many of the interviews seems drab and rehearsed… you know like “the team rode great today”. That said I still love watching the classics and the big tours. I always will. But it would be good to have some charisma every once in a while. I like Wiggo’s dry humour.
You’re a keen road rider and have interviewed a lot of interesting riders for the Mamnick Journal, who’s your King of Pain?
I have several, probably one from every era of the sport. I’ve always loved Anquetil for his form on the bike and his suave appearance off it. I’m also a big fan of the 90s and 2000s with Frank VDB being one of my favourites from that era. It’s a shame that everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon regarding riders of that period. I love the look of those times in the pro-ranks; the time just before helmets came in. It’s all gone downhill now aesthetically for me. That’s not to say the modern-riders aren’t cool; you just have to look harder.
What’s your favourite ride or route?
I live in Sheffield and the Peak District is on my doorstep. Ride northwest and you’ve got Strines, which is great, especially since the Tour has just passed through and many of the roads have been resurfaced. Head south towards Cromford and Matlock and there are some great little roads and villages with ace food and beers. We’re lucky up here, there’s so much to choose from whether you’re doing a couple of hours or an all-day adventure.
If I had to pick one (to answer your question), it would be an all day ride on the lanes taking in the Goyt Valley, a cafe stop at Longnor or Cromford and finishing with a couple of well earned pints near home.
Are you happy with the final product – the bottle opener – will you use it out on the bike?
Of course (although I would say that). I love the compact nature of the thing and how something so small and light functions so well, it’s practically indestructible. It was also nice to make something using the electro-blackening process, I’ve been thinking of doing something with it before but the bottle-opener worked so well and seems to fit in with the Rapha aesthetic perfectly.