SLING CYCLES – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ADVENTURE
ORIGINS – THE SLING TRAIL
During 2020, between COVID lockdowns, employees of Sling Aircraft rode the 35km Sling Trail in Johannesburg South 157 times. A circular route, starting at the Sling factory, the trail incorporates 10 km of tar road and 25 km of dirt, split into several sections which include fast gravel, single track, loose rock and stone, mud, sand and downhill. Over its course, the route gains 321 meters of elevation.
During these rides, with different riders on different bikes, there was lots of banter about the merits of different bicycle styles, the ideal machine for the various surfaces and whether, overall, a road, gravel, XC, trail or downhill design would be optimal.
The bicycle is a winner!
Branko Brkljac (Stores Manager) and James Pitman (Chairman) in particular, spent an inordinate amount of time fantasising about designing the perfect machine to deal with the mixed conditions. Mike Blyth (Director), Jarryd Wilson (Aeronautical Engineer), Armin Neerings (Chief Draughtsman), Andrew Pitman (Director) and Bertus Janse van Rensburg (Sales Manager) all had their say. Finally, in the spirit of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who came to aircraft design as bicycle makers, the team could resist the temptation no more. Consensus was reached and soon two spanking new, freshly manufactured Sling Cycles ‘Tagati’s’ were standing in Hangar 8, Tedderfield Air Park.
James explains that his days as Chairman and co-owner of Sling Aircraft are a lifetime away from his previous work as a commercial lawyer and corporate advisor. Helping to run an aircraft development and manufacturing business brings with it a new set of challenges – but they come also with opportunities.
Sling Aircraft has become a much loved and globally familiar product. Almost all manufacturing work is performed by the factory itself.
The business employs many experienced metal workers, and a comprehensive quality system is in place. Aircraft and bicycles go together – and not only because pilots need transport on the other end of the flight.
Following a brief chat between James, Mike and Andrew, the Sling Aircraft owners, it was agreed that, providing it doesn’t interfere with aircraft manufacturing activities, Sling Aircraft would use its established infrastructure to add a cycling product – the Sling Cycles Tagati.
Sling Cycles – Built like a Plane
Oscar Bravo Foxtrot (Obf) – One Bike Forever
James emphasises that while the Tagati is not a downhill or extreme mountain bike – it is almost everything else! Call sign Oscar Bravo Foxtrot, the Tagati really does meet the “One Bike Forever” objective. Although it comes standard with the recommended Campagnola Ekar accessories and Selle Royale seat, it can also be fitted, on request, with a Gates Carbon belt drive and Kindernay or comparative internal rear gear hub, for reduced maintenance as well as a host of different groupset combinations.
For aircraft owners, the Tagati can be bought with a ‘frame-break’ for tight packing – fortunately unnecessary for the Sling TSi and Sling High Wing aircraft – both of which take 2 extra-large frame Tagatis (unfolded)! Fittings for almost any desired pannier, carrier or bag, bottle cages and the like complete the package.
“Coming soon – we’re just kicking off!”
We’re not only passionate about bicycles, we’re also passionate about our people and environment.
Sling Cycles comes out of Sling Aircraft, which employs 240 people, most of whom live within a short bicycle ride of Tedderfield Air Park. Over the years, Sling Aircraft has been actively involved in several community outreach programs, including The Children’s Flight, Race for Rhinos, activists in local rights marches, multiple sponsorship efforts for both local and international pilots in training.
Also included are educational tours for our local scholars as well as family day flights and festivities for our own staff and family members.
Titanium bicycles last forever and can provide an ideal commuting platform. “More riding, less driving” is good for the soul, the body and the environment. We intend, through progressive contributions, to contribute to a better world!