As promised in this post an interview with the R&D manager of a bike manufacturer.
1. Is there still room for improving the bikes with the strict regulations of the UCI?
Indeed the regulations of the UCI are making it hard to come up with new innovations. There is however still the opportunity to innovate in the field of aerodynamics and weight within the limits set by the UCI. Since some new components on the bike weigh more (high rims, electronic gears, battery, etc.) it is still advantageous to develop the lightest possible bicycle frame. Also in the area of stiffness and comfort of the frame (absorbing shocks) there are still innovations possible.
2. How does Ridley try to differentiate themselves in comparison with the competition? Because of the strict regulations of the UCI it must be very hard to be creative in the design of new bikes?
The UCI is indeed making it very difficult to differentiate ourselves, but with the necessary creativity it is possible. The integrated brake of the Noah Fast for example is a unique design. Also with the new time trial bike that is in full development there will be some innovations that are unique compared to the competition.
Moreover the biggest part of the end-users doesn’t take part in races of the UCI we have to question ourselves if all the new bikes we develop need to comply with the rules of the UCI. For triathlon for example the rules of the UCI don’t apply.
3. How long does the design/development of a new bike take from idea until a finalized product?
This strongly depends on the type of bike. A new frame that isn’t too complex can be developed in a year and a half (including the production of the mould for the frame), the development of a new time trial bike, including wind tunnel testing, etc. can take up to 2 years.
4. What are the most important evolutions in the world of bike manufacturers?
The weight of the bike and the aerodynamics are still two points which most other brands try to outperform the other. They also try to integrate comfort zones in the frameworks to absorb shocks of the road as good possible. Also in the field of brakes there are coming some new innovations. The brakes are more and more integrated into frame and fork and gradually there are more and more bikes with disc brakes coming to the market. What gears are concerned, there is a trend towards the electronic gear shifting.
5. The frames of the bikes are made in China; did you notice a raised interest in the cycling sport these last few years in China?
Not only the Chinese bike market but the whole Asian market has known a serious growth. Given the large population there is huge potential and therefore it is important that we take advantage of this growth.