Steel returns to pro cycling
The perfect day for me on the bicycle would be something similar to today around 12 to 15 degrees, not much wind, clear skies. You don’t get too dehydrated because you’re not sweating too much. And that’s my perfect day. Steel itself is the material that we work most with at Genesis. We’re a materials brand essentially, but for the kind of product that we’re doing and that we’re known for, steel is really where it’s at. We work with steel of all grades, up to 953 for the team bikes. At Reynolds our speciality is tubular metals, and Reynolds started back in 1898 as the result of a patent and we primarily work in steel and titanium alloys here in the factory in Birmingham. What we do here at Reynolds is to actually take large fat pipes, and turn them into very, very thin walled tubes, and the strength is still there to give it fatigue life and what Reynolds has managed to do over the years, is take the strength to weight ratio by about a factor of four since the 1900s. We compete throughout the UK, and also Europe as well, some big races like the Tour of Britain
and the Ride London Classic. It’s a really strong brand that we have, an image that we have in the UK now as well. We’re very well recognized through the races that we do and the steel bike is a big part of that as well. The racing world tour teams are racing pro continental teams and I’d race the Volare over everything and I just had an absolute ball. I think the most important thing in bike riding now, with technology being so advanced is, what you’re really looking for first, is the ride quality versus the lightest or the most greatest thing that you can spend all your money on because you want to go out and ride it again the next day. We do what’s called cold working. One is we take weight off where it’s not required and the others we actually increase the tensile strength of the tube as well so, for a typical tube, compared with what’s called plane gauge equivalent, we can reduce the weight of that round tube by over 40% and actually increase the strength, so the strength to weight ratios could be well over 50% or 60% higher after we finish the bottom process, and for bike tubes this has been something we’ve been doing for well over 100 years. 953 stiffnesses is off the scale. Carbon is a great material but steel is also, and I think lot of people sort of forget that. We’re very much that materials have great applications depending on what race you want to do, or what kind of riding you want to do, and with the steel bike it gets used a lot in the Criterium racing in which, you know, the Tour Series is a really big scene in the UK, where we get the most air time. It’s highly competitive as well. We won it a couple of years back and a lot of the riders like using a steel bike just through its acceleration out of the corners. The stiffness, kind of a feedback, that it gives. What will happen for each of these riders is that they will have a preference in terms of how their bike performs. Carbon fibre will clearly work for the bulk of the people there, but steel has an advantage in terms of its a very consistent material to reproduce. From frame to frame what they’ll feel is the same type of thing and when you’re training you want something that’ll work like that, and a steel frame can be actually made to be very very stiff. All bikes were made of steel and then aluminium came along and then carbon quickly after that, and it was sort of a double blow. Steel kind of went to the bottom of the pile, and then we introduced this along with a couple of other brands that are doing some great stuff with steel as well, but we’ve brought it to a level where we were racing that people weren’t doing that with steel and it was kind of the feedback that we got was that people love to see that steel bike because it, kind of, reminds them of why they got into cycling in the first place. The heroes of cycling, kind of, that Eddy Merckx era, Greg LeMond all won Tour de France on a steel bike so, you know, it’s that real interest and “well actually I didn’t know that you could still do that with steel.” Any areas where we can get that ‘marginal gain’, as such, a phrase that’s used in cycling quite widely at the moment it’s those little little areas. So kind of tube by tube and we’ll take it as far as we we can possibly push it. So the pinnacle for us would be to see a Tour de France winner on a steel bike. We’re not a million miles off at the moment, in terms of the products that we’ve got and how good it is. It’s just that final step, so we’ll sit down with our engineers, and with Reynolds, and see what we can work on and hopefully in 5-10 years time it’s something that we’ll be able to see.