Who was first? This questions often pops up in regard to mountain bike history in Europe. Just as in the US, the MTB’s motherland, there’s not just one name that fits the description. In the US it’s not all about Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and the like, who can be acknowledged as the founding fathers of the sport and culture of mountain biking.
Part 5: Gerrit Gaastra – Idworx Bikes
The mountain bike soon took over a lot of your time, correct?
Yes, I got my first mountain bike in the early 1980s, for which I earned a few laughs. Later on, I raced enduro motor bikes during my studies in Canada and trained on a mountain bike in 1986. In 1989, I raced my first MTB-design, a Koga ‘Ridge Runner’, at the North Shore, while working for Koga’s North American corporation. Additionally, I worked as a freelance writer for European bike mags. The Canadian attitude towards technology is something that I’ve kept till today; technology must work! In the early 1990s I was part of Shimano’s Skunk test team and raced MTB Worldcups as an amateur.
Perfection is very difficult to achieve in life, but that’s exactly what you’re working on every day. It must be a huge effort?
Yes, it makes life difficult for me. A bike that’s close to perfection takes a lot of time and money. Every single problem requires a special technical solution – that’s why the components we use feature sophisticated design. The specially hardened KMC chains we use are a prime example. Everything is customized according to our specifications, to make the most durable part. As a consequence of our attention to detail, we have high customer expectations, which makes for an additional challenge. For instance, trekking bike riders hate squeaking brakes and for three years we have been trying to find a solution to that…Furthermore, most parts manufacturers aim to produce at low costs – quite opposite to us. So that requires a lot of persuasion!
Electronic drivetrains and shifting are progressing. A good thing for a lot of riders?
I think bike electronics offers some benefits, but at the same time everything gets a bit more complex and batteries need to be looked after. For racers, electronics is an interesting option, since it can help them save seconds of their race time, plus professional athletes don’t have to service their bikes themselves.
What is a typical Idworx-solution?
That would be our steering stopper, effectively reducing the risk of damaging the bike’s top tube and braking cables, should the handlebars be over rotated in the case of a crash.
You’re racing Enduro-Cross-Country. Can the mountain bike learn from moto bikes?
Yes! We even develop enduro motorbike parts. For instance, the flexible handlebars that were first introduced in motocross, don’t make sense for an enduro motocross, but they can reduce fatigue on a cyclist’s wrists. That’s why we sell them as an option for our trekking bikes. Additionally, moto bikes are pretty inspiring, when consulting bicycle development, whether it’s tires for Schwalbe or an E-Enduro for Bulls.
Once you’re left with nothing to perfect in the bicycle world, can you imagine to optimize other products?
Yes, I can imagine working on some moto bike stuff, as well! But on the other hand, there will always be a lot to do in the cycling sector. Having your own ideas, a smart overall bike concept and fine tuning all parts gets more and more important. The moto bike can learn from the bicycle, too. Just look at motorbikes’ frame sizes: There’s only one frame size for all, which as a tall rider, left me tinkering with my enduro motorbike to get everything dialled in properly. Thank god the bicycle industry doesn’t take the easy way out, when it comes to frame sizes.