Renthal is a manufacturer and designer of motorcycle accessories, including handlebars, chainwheels, grips and other items for the off-road, street, and ATV markets. Currently, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, and Suzuki all specify Renthal handlebars as standard for their performance off-road motorcycles. Renthal's manufacturing and engineering facility is located in Bredbury, near Manchester in England.
Renthal was formed in 1969 by friends and motorcycle enthusiasts Andrew Renshaw and Henry Rosenthal, who are today, still the company's Technical and Commercial Directors respectively. The company name is a portmanteau of the founders' names Renshaw and Rosenthal. The first handlebars were based upon a prototype that Rosenthal made for his trials bike from H14 aircraft aluminium that was World War II surplus material. These handlebars performed quite well when compared to the steel bars they replaced. In fact, when building the first set, they broke the tube bending machine while being formed. With a great deal of effort, the two founders made their own specialised tube bending machine to handle the aluminium and started small-scale production.
Making motorcycle handlebars was initially a part-time job while Andrew studied for a degree in mechanical engineering and Henry finished his business studies at a local university. Initially Renthal only produced handlebars for the trials market, but the two soon realized there was much more demand for this type of product in the ever emerging motocross market. With increasing sales and demand, full-time production began in 1975 in Stockport England, the very same place where the company resides today in Northern England.
Growth was steady through the 1970s and 1980s and in 1990, Renthal opened its first US office and warehouse for sales / marketing with the help of a young American entrepreneur by the name of Jim Hale. Armed with a new US office and a factory working at full tilt, the Renthal brand gained popularity through the 1990s along with the popularity of motocross.
In October 2000, the Renthal factory in Stockport England was destroyed in a fire caused by a faulty aluminium particle extractor, which removes particles from the air during the machining process. A spark within this machine had caused it to catch fire and act as giant blowtorch straight through the roof of the factory. Before the machine could be shut down, the factory was destroyed. Some parts of the fire were so hot that it melted stacks of handlebars and sprockets. Nobody was hurt during this incident and plans were made to immediately start rebuilding the facility in the same location. With support from employees, the goodwill of the suppliers, and even support from some of its competitors, the company was still able to meet its responsibilities to clients and race teams that year. What replaced the original factory was a completely new, state of the art manufacturing and design facility. Renthal's 41,000 square feet (3,800 m2) factory now houses machinery available for manufacturing, quality control, R&D, and storage. This includes five Yamazaki two- and three-axis CNC turning centres, seven Kitamura machining centres, one Kardex Shuttle 500NT automated vertical storage system, and a number of other custom specification machines. These custom specification machines include bar bending machines, a fatigue tester and drop test rig created to fatigue aluminium handlebars.
In 2004, Renthal began supplying the first aluminium 7/8" handlebars to be fitted as OEM equipment on a Japanese manufactured off-road motorcycle. For the 2004 model year, every Honda CR and CRF motocross bike came with the Renthal 971 "RC" bend handlebar. Soon after this, many of the other manufactures followed suit and began fitting Renthal handlebars as stock on their off-road models.
Renthal also produces chains, sprockets and grips. The Intellilever unbreakable clutch and brake levers for current motocross bikes along with brake pads are just a few new items added in 2008. Also new is a hybrid bi-metal rear sprocket called the Twinring Rear Chainwheel which utilizes an aluminium centre section mated with a steel outer ring. By combining these two materials, you get a chainwheel which is lighter than an all-steel construction but is more durable than the traditional all aluminium rear sprocket.
In 2009, Renthal introduced new products for the road racing market such as adjustable clip on handlebars and Kevlar-infused dual compound road race grips. The road race Kevlar grips utilize a unique mold from the MX grips in that they have open ends for bar end weights and a smaller inner flange
Renthal has always had ties with the manufacturers of motocross motorcycles and ATV's such as Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, and KTM. In 2004, Honda became the first manufacturer to fit Renthal 7/8" aluminium handlebars to their motocross bikes. This was also the first time that aluminium 7/8" handlebars had been fitted to a motocross bike which typically came with very cheap to produce steel handlebars. The benefits of using aluminium over steel were numerous for motocross use. The two most important benefits were greater strength and greater flexibility which helped reduce vibration and fatigue.
In 2005, Yamaha followed suit and decided to also fit Renthal 7/8" handlebars to their motocross model range of YZ's, YZ-F's and WR off-road models for only that year. By 2006, every manufacturer had chosen Renthal handlebars (except yamaha which switched to protaper) over the steel handlebar which they replaced. Kawasaki's line up of motocross bikes from 2006 include a Renthal 7/8" handlebar. Since 2006 Suzuki have been fitting their motocross models with a Renthal 1 1/8" Fatbar which is an oversized tapered handlebar. The Austrian manufacturer KTM has been using the oversized Renthal Fatbar on their motocross bikes since 2002. For 2008, Kawasaki has chosen to fit the Renthal Fatbar on every one of its new KFX450R all-terrain vehicles.
In addition to supplying the OEM's with alloy handlebars for many years, Renthal also supplies a few select manufacturers with its grips and chainwheels for various applications and uses.
Renthal has had ties to professional and amateur racing since the early days of the company. It is a company philosophy that believes through racing involvement at the highest level, product R&D and evolution will continually move forward and reach the consumer product range.