Ron Kitching was a keen cyclist, a keener businessman and keenest of all he was a professional Yorkshireman who made Geoff Boycott look like a dilettante southerner, or perhaps worse, a person from Lancashire - although he may not have chosen to use the word ‘person’.
Ron Kitching first opened a bicycle shop in Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1938. In 1948 he published his first catalogue, called ‘The Rider’s Agent’. By 1953 he had formed a separate, new, wholesale business, also based in Harrogate, and found a new business model - importing European cycle components and clothing. He later switched his focus to importing Japanese components.
For many years Ron Kitching employed the incomparable Beryl Burton in his wholesale business and sponsored her for much of her career. Throughout his life he was an active, intelligent and outspoken participant in the British racing scene.
Like Holdsworth, he structured his wholesaling business around a distinctive annual catalogue, which he decided to call ‘Everything Cycling’. His catalogues frequently featured a graphic illustrating how Harrogate was clearly the very epicentre of the United Kingdom. Like the Holdsworth(y) ‘Aids’ catalogues, the Ron Kitching ‘Everything Cycling’ catalogues became sacred texts of the British cycling scene, but for very different reasons:
Neither of these factors could protect the business from two body blows. The first of these was that he was the business and the business was him, and he was not getting any younger. The second was the decimation of SunTour by Shimano. SunTour had come to form the backbone of Ron Kitching’s sales and when it died he had no response. The business got into financial trouble in the early 1990s and its remains were reborn as the excellent Zyro business in 1995. Needless to say Zyro is still based solidly in Yorkshire.
Ron Kitching was born in 1916 and died in 2001.