Saddle Maker Tabor Holds On To Production In Europe
AGUEDA, Portugal – It is one of Portugal’s traditional brands, Tabor leather saddles. Founded in 1965, Tabor is now part of Ciclo Fapril, but still holds on to the tradition of producing leather saddles in Portugal.
Though Tabor is already an old name, it was relaunched just two years ago after Ciclo Fapril acquired the company at the start of the century. Tabor is a niche product in the extensive range of sheet metal cutting Ciclo Fapril produces for a wide variety of industries. In fact Ciclo Fapril is made up of seven companies who all operate independently on their own markets. “We re-launched Tabor brand as it still has a strong brand name, known for the typical Portuguese ‘pasteleira’ bicycles. During the sixties, seventies and eighties of the past century, Tabor was in its heyday also because they produced motorcycle parts” The Northern part Portugal used to have a strong leather industry producing shoes, upholstery for car seats and saddles for horse riding. When Tabor was started in 1965 is was already a joint venture of no less than five saddles manufacturers. Fortunately, all traditional tools were still intact when Ciclo Fapril bought the old company. At the moment Tabor is based in one of Ciclo Fapril’s factories which was completely modernized only recently, like so many other companies did in Portugal.
Image of handmade saddles
Today leather saddles are mainly sold in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and in Finland. Although the market for leather saddles is relatively small in units and distributed in a small number of countries, Tabor still sees the potential of this product. “We are aiming at a share of the market, based on our traditional production. Our first step is to gain market confidence as the brand has been away for some years. Next to Europe we are aiming at the North American aftermarket but we also hope to find some OEM partners. Handmade and produced in Europe are two of our main selling points and very important for our image. Unlike others and in line with the Portugal Bike Value project we will not relocate our production to low cost countries outside Europe. Our owner Ciclo Fapril is one of the initiator of the Portugal Bike Value project and co-investor in the Triangles bicycle frame factory so our future strategy is in line with the project’s philosophy. For the same reason we have studied the market of plastic gel or foam saddles but there is hardly any space left for new suppliers in this market. This option is not closed for us, but we first want to concentrate on production in Europe.”
Tabor regards its products more than just a saddle. “For us it is a piece of art, just like a Ducati is not an ordinary motorcycle, priced between 65 euro for the city saddle and 90 euro for the heavy duty. People riding a bike with a Tabor saddle are not just cycling, they make a statement.” Tabor is trying to reduce its ecological footprint by only utilizing leather which was tanned vegetable instead of using chromium VI.