Not reinventing the wheel but maybe the handlebars
Sign up for free to receive the latest news straight to your inbox
There are many items that a visitor from the past might not recognize if they came to the modern world, but a bicycle is probably one of the few items that would seem familiar to them.
A mode of transport that can trace its lineage back to the 19th century, it still has two wheels, handlebars and pedals. However, the reality is that the modern bicycle probably has more in common with an F1 car than the Tretkurbelfahrrad (the first bicycle created with pedals by Philipp Moritz Fischer).
In fact, during a recent meeting with Fraser Hamilton, Commercial Manager at Ribble Cycles, to talk about innovation ahead of TheBusinessDesk.com’s Disruptors event – which will take place virtually on November 24 – it was interesting to hear that it is one of the essential components of the bicycle that they have set out to reinvent – not the wheels but the handlebars.
“Our new ULTRA handlebars are part of our Ultra bike, our new aero bike, a high performance machine with the brief just to make it as fast as possible.
“It took us about two years, but we actually changed the shape of our handlebars to improve aerodynamics. “
The new design includes what it calls “two bumps” – a wake-generating design that creates a drag reduction zone (DRZ) that acts similarly to the cone of an airplane or an F1 car. to quickly move the air around the bike.
“What’s different is that we actually tested the bike with the rider in a wind tunnel at Silverstone,” which he says most manufacturers don’t, preferring to just test the product unmanned.
“In fact,” he adds, “the bike is faster with a bottle cage and a bottle cage than without because in reality people will ride with a bottle, so in the real world we need it. be quick with that. “
The result of transforming such a key element into a bicycle?
“Well, when we brought out our new handlebars, people were like, ‘Wow that’s weird, why did you do it like that’. Our response has been that no matter what it looks like, the results we see are actually improving.
“We put the bike in front of our pro team (pro bike racers) who are naturally fast racers and their feedback was amazing. After two and a half hours of riding they were in awe of knowing that if you can put less effort to get a faster time, that’s the difference between second and first place.
However, the innovation underway at Ribble isn’t just about speeding up – although there may be an underlying theme of speed – it’s also about increasing accessibility and activity.
Hamilton continued that it wasn’t just in racing bikes that the company was innovating. We produced our Ribble Endurance SL E electric bike which is the lightest electric bike on the market, which means users don’t have to lug something heavy around stations or near the office.
But what excites Hamilton the most is the connectivity of the electric bike. Connectivity is a buzzword, my watch talks to my phone, which talks to my computer, which means that as a user I am always connected and can be offered more personalized service by these products .
Now imagine if you could connect your bike to your phone and watch so that the bike would know when you are having difficulty through a heart rate monitor and could start the electric motor to help you.
That’s what Ribble Cycles did and Hamilton says it’s fantastic for encouraging people who may be nervous about getting on two wheels, especially if that nervousness is the result of health issues or riding. a fear of fitness level.
“Having a connection between the smartphone and the e-bike offers all kinds of opportunities, from using mapping systems to diagnostics on the bike itself. But one of the interesting avenues is that you can use our bikes with a heart rate monitor and there is a famous cyclist called Sean Yates. He was riding our Endurance SLE – or electric road bike – and he had heart disease, which meant he would have problems when he hit certain BPMs (beats per minute). He used the system to let the bike know that when it hit that BPM number, assistance would kick in.
“This smart thing not only makes the bikes more accessible to those with health concerns in order to help them be more active.”
He added that he sees these innovations as crucial for cities of the future, as all metropolitan areas seek to reduce car use while still moving people by public transport quickly and easily.
“[These innovations] This means that people can consider riding a bicycle instead of a bus, as they know that the bike ride will not cause too much strain and therefore two wheels become a viable alternative.
It is clear that innovation has a key role to play in all businesses as they seek not only to ensure that they continue to evolve, but also to meet the challenges facing society this decade and beyond. of the. And while Ribble Cycles may not be reinventing the wheel – just yet – they certainly aren’t afraid to challenge the norm in search of better bikes!
All Ribble Cycles bicycles are available for purchase online or at their Lancashire, Birmingham or Nottingham stores.
Ribble Cycles is one of the sponsors of the upcoming Disruptors conferences. The next free event will take place next Wednesday (November 24).
Disruptors Midlands is a free, one-day virtual event that will showcase companies already leading the charge towards innovation and the next generation of entrepreneurs and businesses aiming to transform the regional, national and global economy.
The event is supported by main sponsor Deloitte as well as sponsors Adamson Jones, CurveBlock, Freestyle, Innovation Nottinghamshire, Ribble Cycles, Bespoke M&A and WeLink.