head of product @ ribble
Monday 14th March 2022
For obvious reasons, bike manufacturers will keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to bike design and development. Fortunately for us, ex-pro and now Head of Product at Ribble Jamie Burrow was a bit more open when we put a few tech questions to him and in particular, the birth of the Ultra SL R.
Hi Jamie. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Ex-pro to Head of Product at Ribble. Did you ever picture yourself during your racing days ever being the person behind the bike rather than on it?
I’ve always been interested in bike design and I come from a cycling background with both parents being former British Champions and British record holders – So, I was taught from a very early age how to assemble a bike and I’ve always maintained that curiosity about how a bike works. I have always searched for the small changes in design that can make a huge difference to performance even throughout my riding career. Whilst I didn’t actually envisage at the time going into designing bikes, with my riding experience and design knowledge – I’m not at all surprised. It was a natural transition to continue my passion and focus on designing bikes.
We’ve always wanted to build a bike up from scratch but still need to educate ourselves a lot more whilst investing in the right tools. How complex can the journey be getting a bike from the design paper out onto the road?
Interesting! So from idea and initial concept through to the design process, then sampling and testing – it all really varies from model to model and its end-purpose. For example with our Ultra SL R we set ourselves the brief to create the world’s most aerodynamically optimised bike which took over three and a half years of extensive R&D, rapid prototyping, wind-tunnel and real world testing where as our single speed required less R&D!
What is the most common issue you and your designers face when creating and building your bikes?
I think its fair to say that it is usually us that create the challenges – as we work hard to continually innovate and constantly challenge the cycle market!
We assume you can take your pick of Ribbles to ride when you fancy getting out but do you look into and test competitors to either judge where your R+D is sitting or just to grab inspiration?
Ribble has been on an incredible journey and as mentioned above, our award winning range has been innovating and leading the way. We are on our own path so tend not to focus on our competitors and what they are doing. Design evolves all the time – especially with the advancement of new technologies and processes which allows us to focus on what we do and why, and how we can implement those performance enhancing changes into our designs. We like to future-proof and to set the trends!
How important is the feedback from the riders on those test rides? Do they have much influence early on?
Feedback is vital and rider in-put from the get-go - is an important part of the process. Products would not make it to production if we didn’t listen, in corporate and constantly challenge.
The Ribble Ultra SL R that the Ribble Weldtite team will be riding this year looks immense. Not sure there is a question here! What has been the first impressions back from the team?
All super positive. DS Colin Sturgess passed on that the team are getting used to the no bar tape on the handle bars but the bikes are real head turners. And Cam Jeffers brought in his first win at the weekend on the new bike – so yes, all super positive!
Excluding the Ribble fleet, what has been the best bike you have raced on?
A custom made tube to tube frame by Sarto!
Final question. We’ve seen over the years things like Canyon’s ‘hover bar’ to the Infinity Seat to Zipp’s 454 unique wheel design. Bike designers are always looking for a new edge (obviously within UCI rules etc) so what do you predict will be the next new or unique development in bike design?
Integration and the use of additive manufacturing – that is all I can say for now! You’ll just have to watch this space!
Thank you for your time Jamie and hope the Ultra SL R brings home the wins this season.