The core people behind the 535 suspension platform are die hard mountain bikers. The kind of people with work stands in their living rooms, who don’t know what a season it is and who like it best when the tires are about to lose traction. Within this group everyone has their riding strength. And at the intersection of the respective discipline lies in all mountain riding, the holistic kind of mountain biking. That’s why this group of riders is more than capable to make the best all mountain suspension there is.
VALENTIN WENDEL / PROJECT ENGINEER
Valentin has his roots deep in the world of cross country racing. But contrary to many old school XC riders, XC to him always meant to tackle any trail, up and down, only with the saddle up, and the bars slammed. He first threw a leg over a mountain bike when their silhouette was of sleek steel tubes, canti brakes and the colourschemes, well, colorful. Today his bikes range from the out and out race bike to the almost DH worthy enduro sled. Only the riding has stayed the same: Fast up and down, no talking, no stopping, just dancing the trail.
Being responsible for the low weight, right stiffness and absolute safety of the structural suspension parts, «Vali», as we call him, spends a lot of hours getting the best out of our CAD and FEA software. But he also has a past as a machinist and shop mechanic. So he knows firsthand how things are actually made and is no slouch when it comes to wrenching. Skills he uses on a daily basis when defining the tests our products have to survive and while executing them in the lab.
MARCO GIARRANA / PRODUCT DESIGN
Design and technology was what pulled Marco into Mountain biking. When his neighbor got himself a new fancy carbon full suspension bike back in 1995, Marco inherited his old full suspension aluminum bike. From there travel numbers of Marco’s bikes grew and grew, he ventured out into street, trials, DJ and DH riding. Until the road bike popped up as a training device and the bikes slowly shrinked in travel and weight. Leading him to where he (most often) is these days: Finding short loops that are purely single trail to go as fast as possible on and leaving no rootgap or manualable roller untouched.
As a product designer Marco defines concepts that give the rider products with the best technical function, and whose appearance is a function itself. Bringing together these visual functions with engineering and production requirements is his task day in, day out, and a tough job. But within the team everyone knows and respects each other’s job. It’s this respect that finally delivers the best products, and that’s our one and only goal.
JÉRÔME HOFFMANN / PROJECT ENGINEER
Jérôme got hooked on off road biking from his family early in life. Born in eastern France, where the quota of native world class mountain biker is as higher than anywhere else in the world. With twenty years of putting knobby tires in the dirt, he has seen it all, from suspension stems to elastomer friction devices. Over the years he kept updating his bikes and pushing his riding. Today he is mostly found on a 160 mm bike with wide tires and big brake rotors. Taking it easy on the climbs and going all out on the downs. Some call it Enduro, others simply mountain biking. To Jérôme it’s the latter, because that’s what the French have been doing for the last twenty years anyways.
Bringing everything a product has to be into one beautiful and functional shape, that’s what «J» does, day in and day out when rocking the office chair. 3D modelling and incorporating all clearances for tires, brakes, frames, making sure things can be assembled consistently and keeping weight and stiffness in check is no easy task. But big tall «J» has a relentless approach to it, the same he takes on when grinding away those long alpine fire road climbs to reach the real trails. And most often he sports a big smile, again just like on the bike.
SAM ZBINDEN / PROJECT ENGINEER
Sam has been around a long time in the MTB world. From digging his own DJs to Slopestyle riding and competing when it was still called freeriding, to racing downhill, Sam likes to go fast and big. And since MTB is not at the end of the going big and fast echelon, he also owns a Moto for the dirt. Sam is now found most often doing runs on our local mountains on his enduro bike with a DH setup. Day after day after day, come rain come shine. And 99% of the time he is riding one of our forks and shocks with prototype detail improvements. Because you know, if you have the urge to go faster, you have it. Forever.
As the specialist of all things damping and spring, Sam is the brain of the 535 platform internals. At work he goes through loops of brainstorming and drawing ideas on paper, wrenching up functional prototypes, riding them, refining parts in CAD, verifying their function in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software, checking their strength in FEA (Finite Element Analysis) software, getting real prototypes done, assembling them while eliminating detail issues, test riding them again. And so on. A man obsessed with riding, riding fast and making the perfect tools for it.