Q & A With RICK REED
Obviously you guys take shoe and product development seriously and spend lots of time creating your products. How far along were you in the process of these shoes when you initially launched the brand?
The goal from the start was to launch with the initial Session series of durable flat pedal shoes, then later drop the premium line. This was for numerous reasons, but while we already had a pretty solid idea of where the premium line was headed, it was extremely valuable to obtain real world feedback from the Session series. We were able to have a greater rapport with so many riders by that time. So once we were certain the Session series was performing to expectation, we knew we could solely focus on the next generation. Secondly, getting the athlete team solidified was very beneficial; having their input in testing and development was really helpful. And right up until the end, you’re always fine tuning fit, testing durability, deciding on what abrasion resistant heel is best, and so forth.
Was there much feedback or input that came to you guys after the brand launched and first reviews starting flowing in that caused you to reexamine or evaluate these new shoes?
Not necessarily reexamine, but it certainly fed into final decisions on aesthetics, fit, and fine details.
Are these shoes just clipless versions of your current offerings or are their notable differences that make them better suited to their users?
The clipless shoes share the same gender-specific lasts as the Powerline and Skyline so the fit is similar, and construction techniques with the welded uppers, custom toecap protection, high rise EVA, etc. But after that, the clipless shoes went through a different route of testing to get to the final product. One specific example is our relationship with the Athertons, especially Rachel, who was crucial in getting the cleat box dialed so there wasn’t any hangups getting in or out, pedal contact was where it needed to be, etc. That was a really important step. Even for the long term durability factor, when you have World Cup athletes who can run a prototype for a long time without significant wear or failure, you know you’re headed in the right direction.
Who were some of they key athletes or riders involved in these shoes?
Probably answered mostly above with the Athertons. We work on different shoes with different athletes, so it depends on their riding styles and personal preferences. We all ride in the office and our backyard of Lake Tahoe is pretty hard to beat for testing. We also have a great team of local riders who are literally out there every day, so we don’t have to look very far.
So you just launched five models, in addition to signing a lot of high profile athletes, securing global distribution and becoming an official Whistler Bike Park partner, all in the past few months. You probably don’t want to hear this question but, what’s next?
Hopefully a lot of feedback from happy customers! We live in the mountains, live that lifestyle and we are in this to improve the ride through the best possible product. We do more than just bomb down hills, believe it or not. So we are working on other shoes at different ends of the riding spectrum, I guess you’d say. We all own more than one bike. But we are 100% focused on bike footwear. It won’t be all that long until you see another new release from us, but I can guarantee it won’t be five shoes next time! Oh, and a trip to Whistler! That’s what’s next!
What does it mean to be rider-owned?
It means a lot. I think we’ve all been there, doing the punching the clock thing for someone else’s success. It’s highly motivating because it’s totally up to us to make the right decisions to succeed. There’s no one else to point blame to when something goes wrong. I think our customers appreciate it too. You get what you see. We try to be approachable and be involved in the bike community. We have so many great ideas and we have the right connections to make them happen so I’m looking forward to that. We are just getting started.