Naild: The Darrell Voss Introduction
Words by Drew Rohde // Photos by Dennis Yuroshek & Darrell Voss
After years of secret meetings and test sessions with bikes camouflaged in bubble wrap, Polygon and NAILD have released their collaborative effort to restore mountain bikes to their do it all roots. The official unveiling to this long project was a media event in Oakridge, Oregon where the first production-ready bikes would be shown to attending media and Polygon athletes, Mik Hannah and Kurt Sorge.
In one sense, the media launch was the culmination of a major life investment from Darrell Voss, NAILD’s founder. On the other hand, this weekend was only the beginning of what is sure to be a major jolt to the bike industry and a kickstart to Voss’ new brand. The R3ACT suspension system NAILD developed has been 20 years in the making and I was lucky enough to be a part of the documentation and testing for the last three years. During that time I was employed by decline magazine, however since the publication’s untimely closing, much of the work I’d taken part in was unpublished or unread. Seeing as how I truly believe this suspension platform is revolutionary and going to elevate more than just chainstays, I felt compelled to republish this story here, on The Loam Wolf.
When Sasquatch heard Darrell was coming to Oakridge for the weekend, even he got scared and ran away.
Darrell Voss is a big man, and I’m not only referring to his six and a half foot stature. So when Darrell called saying he wanted me to help document the development of a revolutionary new suspension design, I didn’t really have much of an option.The pressure was on. Voss owns several patents and has a direct link to technologies still in use today yet he prefers to stay behind the scenes. Make no mistake the fact his initials aren’t blasted all over chainstays or glowing in the industry limelight isn’t because he shouldn’t be there, but because he prefers to remain anonymous, instead letting the equipment do the talking. Voss is passionate about bikes, consumer fun and trail access yet he also seems to ooze a strong distaste for the “magical fairy dust” sprinkled around by engineers and marketing companies alike. At times during our journey together I chuckled at how a seemingly cynical and unassuming genius could actually still be so motivated to deliver a product driven by his love for bikes. Throughout the course of this project he’s remained focused on producing bikes and technologies that “puts butts on bikes,” as he puts it. The bulk of Voss’s extensive career has been spent creating performance products that are affordable to the everyday rider, and with Naild he hopes to change the need for expensive or electronic shocks for a more affordable bike with superior kinematic design.
Voss started his bicycle industry love affair in the early 1980s as a BMX racer and soon transitioned to designer and engineer. From his early days as a racer and shop employee until today, Voss amassed nearly two dozen patents for bicycle related technologies, and one sweet nickname. Big Bunny, as his old friends know him, is the alias he earned by his impressive bunny hopping skills. Before making a name for himself behind the scenes he was the talent.
I’ve known Darrell for quite a while as his current role with SR Suntour kept us in contact fairly regularly, however nearly three years ago Darrell and I met for the first time to discuss his new project. We went east to the California desert and rode with Eric Carter and several engineers that flew over from Asia to unveil the first phase of this new class-killing bike. Before we get into the new technology Naild is working on, I’d like to introduce just some of the technologies Voss has been a part of bringing to our world.
One of the first carbon prototype frames. How do you think this bike would look without a shock?