Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sunny day in Vancouver

Here's a pretty crappy picture [from my phone] of what it looks like out my window... its cool I can see all the mountains; it used to be way better but they keeping putting up buildings and its killing my view.
Its 4°C outside, its sunny, and looks like the snow line is quite high. Its days like this that I need a "mental health" day to recover from work and go for a ride, but I need to catch up on all my "home" work thats piled up since my Asia trip so all I can do is sit here listening to old Blink 182 and look outside as I procrastinate about getting back to answering some of these emails. Thats another thing about
working in the industry, a lot of times you're not on the clock and work whenever... its kinda cool cause you can take advantage of the days when conditions are perfect for riding or snowboarding or whatever you feel like doing... problem is you barely ever take advantage of them cause there's always something pressing or some deadline to catch. If you're one of those people that just wants to punch out and put the work away at night, don't get in this industry... maybe its just me but most people [peers] I talk to are completely buried in work. Anyway... I'm still procrastinating - damn!
I better get to it or I'll be up again until 3am, like I keep finding myself at least a few times a week.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Taiwan Day 2

So it looks it looks like everything is in order with regards to the Wildcard and there are a few technical things to get sorted but we should be able to get something produced within the month; although without the custom Easton tubeset, they'll need awhile because the tooling won't be done for months... it sucks but "leadtimes" are something you have to live with - they seem to be getting longer rather then shorter as you would think improvements in manufacturing would cause the trend to go in a more positive direction.
Within this post you find pics of the factory which is super clean compared to some I have actually worked in back in Canada. Being an operations guy I was pleased to find books on Lean manufacturing, Just in time, 6 sigma and other manufacturing process in their library and as the factory is an IS09000 certified facility I am sure they're up to date with the contemporary manufacturing process used by the top manufacturers in the world; the typical rider may not appreciate all this stuff but it translated into the quality of the product thats produced.
So the workday ends and we go out for Chinese hotpot which is really good but for these little devils in the hotpot. Basically they're these round peppers that if you get in your mouth as soon as it touches your tongu
e it goes completely numb in that location. I've never experienced anything like it and don't know what the pepper is but best to spit it out or else it could wreak havoc... imagine the other end going numb!?! I suppose it adds flavor to the hotpot or why put them in; it was neat to experience the numbness and the metalic aftertaste but once is enough.
Driving home we nearly hit a wild dog which apparantly are all over the place. They wander the streets looking for food and it looks like they have pretty good success cause the next pack of three we saw looked well fed but one had a distinct limp probably due to a car hitting hit. This is just not something you'd ever see in Vancouver so it struck me as a little strange. In fact Taoyuan, a city south of Taipei feels very familiar to Vancouver [which is a very multicultural city with a massive asian population] but there are these little oddities that present themselves from time to time that remind me of its uniqueness.

One of the cool things that I really wanted to do with this blog is give the reader a little taste of what its like to work and toil away in the industry. You guys only get to see the glossy magazine pics and editorials of the tradeshows but don't get a chance to see some of the other neat things that happen in the background. One of the cool things that comes with my position is I have to travel and although it can be a pain in the ass it's also a great chance to immerse yourself in the countries culture far deeper then someone who just goes on vacation to the same place.
The amount of time you spend working in the different country is porpotional to the amount of insight you'll gain into that culture. Its bloody hard sometimes navigating your way through a different language both written and verbal as well as just navigate your way around the country, but inevitably you manage.
For example imagine your alone, you've just gotten off your airplane and are in Frankfurt Germany. There's a train you need to catch in 1 hour - you bought the ticket in Canada on the internet - and you walk from the airport terminal to the train terminal which is near the main building. Upon arriving on the train platform you look for a sign or anything that matches your ticket but you can't find anything. You start staring at these giant maps of Germany trying to make heads or tails and finally you just ask someone and they tell you that your ticket is for an intercity train that leaves from the main station not this one. You need to walk to the other side of the airport to catch a commuter train into downtown Frankfurt to catch the right intercity train - commuter trains use different stations and platforms then the intercity trains. Upon arriving at this new commuter train station you stare at the ticket dispensing machine with all these buttons and a screen you can't read the language so you just start hitting buttons and after about 15 minutes out pops a ticket that your not sure if its what you want or need.
Hmmmn now which commuter train do I need to get onto, so again you need to find someone who speaks English, which thankfully isn't too hard in Germany and you get pointed in the right direction.
They say you need to get off at the station that says Frankfurt Main and the first station you pass says Frankfurt Main but it can't be it cause its in the middle of nowhere so you stay on the train only to pass another station then another and you keep thinking the clock is ticking and where you're gonna buy a new train ticket cause you're obviously going to miss the train to Friedrichschafen you bought a ticket for earlier.
Ah finally you roll into something that looks like it could be the main station and its confirmed by the sign, so you exit the train to behold all these platforms and signs all over the place. How the heck are you going to find your train in this mess. Eventually you figure out to go to a whole different level, find what looks like your train, you make the correct transfer in Ulm to a new train and bam after a bus ride you're at the Eurobike show.
Traveling with someone can be an adventure, traveling alone can be a whole other level of adventure, but traveling alone where no one speaks your language and you can't even read the language can be just plain scary.
This is a similar scenario that plays out with virtually all manufacturers at some level by CEOs, product managers, engineers, sales people, and others doing business in the global market. Whether its tradeshows, developing new products, or figuring out production issues its all part of the game. Its really cool if you can get time to get a ride in at the sametime too.

Taiwan Trip

So my flight is tomorrow at 1am on the 22nd of Jan and its Sunday night. I'm watching the Apprentice, thinking about what i need to do to get prepared for my trip tomorrow - find passport, get money exchanged, pack etc.
I just sat down to watch the last half hour when my phone goes off and I check it to find its a message from the airline... in fact its the message that I requested they send me 3 hours before boarding, WTF??? why am I getting this now as I don't leave until tomorrow. I start running the math in my head [its Jan 21 at 10:30 and I don't leave until Jan 22 at 1am] OMFG thats in 3hours... how the heck did i screw that up.
So is it even possible to pack and drive the 20min to the airport, then get through check in, security, and make it to the gate on time? Well I need to try our i'm out 2K and I really need to talk to the factory about the Wildcard prototype.
Good news is I am writting this at midnight at the gate... things went pretty smooth, unless of course when I get home my place is burnt to the ground cause in the rush i forgot to turn the stove off or something similar. To be honest I've cut it a lot closer on other flights where I've been running at full speed across the concourse as they page my name for final boarding for the 3rd time. Being unprepared to go on a trip at this distance is not something that appeals to me but I had no time and no choice.

Jan 23rd, 4pm
After an uneventful 12hour redeye flight I arrive an hour late... we were late leaving cause of some boner named Sergei whatever who dumped his luggage but decided not to drag his ass to the gate. Pilot at the end of the flight said it was due to head winds but he must think we're all idiots as we left an hour late and are arriving an hour late - how is this due to head winds?? I don't believe half the crap they feed you so you don't get all freaked out. Sergei was probaly Russian mafia that was trying to escape but the cops took him down before he boarded the plane or whatever but they're not gonna tell you that.
Its a cloudy day in Taiwan but its really warm... not really, I'm just coming from 2C in Vancouver so 8C seems warm to me now. Driving to the factory I can't believe the balls of the old ladys on those little scooters - well anyone on those scooters - as they dart in an out of the cars splitting lanes and riding on the shoulder when it presents itself. I ride a motorcycle myself and have to say some of these moves are even hairy for what I would attempt - apparantly there are lots of accidents- I can't wait to rent a scooter [they don't allow big bikes like my 600 over here].
Arriving at the factory I drop off my bags at the factory hotel - its actually a dormatory for their customers... I won't mention who has stayed here as although I have nothing to hide that we get our frames manufactured in Taiwan I still think it might be a dirty word for some manufacturers so I won't mention any names.
Actually if you were to tour the factory you'd be really impressed with the high quality of the machines and the skill of all the workers... and no they get paid pretty good... not on par with the US but then again the cost of living is a little different. From my view point they will be where Japan is now with cars in a decade or so - Japan used to produce shit in the 70s but now they're stuff is the arguably the best quality in the world [argue between German and Japanese IMHO].
Taiwan is totally different then China manufacturers who are still on a learning curve for quality but eventually they'll get there. To be perfectly honest I'd love to manufacture in Canada and remember the fun I had when I used to work at the first Syncros in Vancouver manufacturing top of the line components, but times change and the reality is very few of the riders are prepared to shell out $3000USD for a frame that they can't perceive is any different then something of lesser sticker price and to be honest I think they seem to careless when dollar is king. Look at all the Mom and Pops that are going under cause of the Walmarts of the world but even the workers at said Mom and Pops will shop guilt free at the same stores in-turn jeopardizing their own employment... ah yes its a crazy world. I digress though into my global economic observations... back to the trip.
Can't get my camera to talk to this laptop with Chinese characters all over it... how they heck they can read what that stuff says is beyond me and don't get me started on how you could actually write it - its cool nonetheless. Shin [Korean Banshee guy] says you can learn the Korean alphabet on the plane over to Korea but again I don't know about that. As soon as I figure this out I'll upload some pics...
Anybody want me to post about something while I'm over here? I got 1 more day and then I fly back - yup only 2 days- but I plan to stay longer next time and hopefully rent a scooter for some smashem crashem downtown traffic goodtimes [i'll remember to buy health insurance] and go to the top of the 101.
more to come....

The 2 pics are outside of the factory. One is the garden with its fish pond and the other is the outside tea area.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

North Shore Nation

Want to leave a comment?
Even though I set the level to "anonymous" for the comments, it seems that unless you have a google account you can't leave any.
So I started a thread on North Shore Nation. Yeah there are threads talking about the bike on other BBS but a lot will be banter based on speculation. I you want something specific answered or need us to clarify further how a slopestyle bike differs and why anyone would actually want one this is the place to get the OFFICIAL word. Always happy to talk bikes with the mountain bike community of the world.
I won't however be giving out any further information on Project Alpha until I actually have something to show you guys.

Wildcard Geometry

These are not yet set in stone, as we will wait for rider feedback and see if adjustments need to be made to improve feel and performance further, but this will give you a rough idea of what to expect. Just click on the thumbnail to make it bigger and more readable.

I would appreciate comments regarding the geometries, I want to know what you want so that I can supply our customers with the best possible bikes!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wildcard Explained

Well it's been a few days since the blog was found by the mountain bike community - I suppose I knew it would happen eventually. It would have been nice to have a pic of a prototype first though.
Regardless, I've immediately been bombarded with questions and have seen comparisons of the Wildcard to a host of different bikes. Comparisons range from the Iron Horse Sunday to a Turner Enduro bike... ok maybe visually the bikes look similar but you really need to look at the geometry... which of course we haven't provided cause we're not yet at the stage to publish the information on this bike yet.

I've heard others say its just a marketing gimmic and that slopestyle bikes are no different then any other freeride bike... well that depends really on how advanced a rider you are. After all, originally I'm sure people thought that the sport of mountain biking was a gimmic, then freeride was a gimmic, and street... the list goes on... I prefer to think of it as evolution broadening the horizons of the sport.

If you are at the level where you're pulling 360s, can cans, tailwhips, etc I think you'll be able to appreciate this bike far more then someone who isn't into tricks. Look at the seatpost size for cues; the small is 14.5, medium is 15, and the large is 16. The large is for a guy 6' tall - normally a 16 is a small size for most bikes.
Also the weight at 7lbs is about as light as you really want to go... if you could get it lighter and still have the strength that'd be great but really a slopestyle bike should be around 35lbs completely built.
I would like to see Alan and Chris's bikes come in at 30lbs for Crankworx but we'll need to hook them up with brand new gear specifically for the competition and then tear the stuff off right after... if its light then they'll have a competitive advantage, but if its light there is an increased chance of breaking stuff and this increases more every time you uses it after.

When designing a bike its all about compromises and no bike could be great for everything... to be honest this bike will probably not be the best for climbing cause you'll need a super long post that will just be at min insertion and still you might not get the seat at the correct height unless your a smaller rider, if you want a bike designed for climbing check out the pyre maybe?
Its not a downhill race bike... it is too short and slightly low on the rear travel, it will cope fine at speed on relatively smooth terrain, but pinning it through rock gardens is not what this bike is really about, although it will cope, it will not be the best at it.
Its also fairly light and designed for the smoother riders out there, if you want to huck to harsh landings, then get a scream or a chap, this bike is for the styley smooth riders with lots of flow.
The priority for this bike was to make a bike that you can go big, do your trick and then land on a smooth transition.
If you go big and don't do tricks then you might not need the low standover. If you go big and don't land on smooth trannies or you're a hack you might be better off buying a burlier rig.

If however you're a pretty skilled rider, that loves styling it out on trails, competes in slopestyle competitions, wants a full suspension dirtjump bike, or something they can jib the boneyard, aline or Esher Shore with then this will be a great bike for that.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Slopestyle bike, full suspension, turner 4bar, 7lb frame, 1.5 headtube, 6.5 and 5" travel positions, 3 sizes small, medium, large with low seattube [14.5,15,16] length to make the bike flickable.
This slopestyle frame will be almost 1.2lbs lighter then the Transition bottle rocket and have more and adjustable travel. I'm not sure on the weight of the Intense slopestyle bike but because they are using the VPP suspension I believe the chainstays will be too long for a slopestyle bike and there will be a tremdous amount of negative pedal feedback - something that we've really watched when designing this bike to have the best properties for this new segment. Except for the Mountain Cycle I am unaware of any other manufacturer of a slopestyle specific bike. The team model will be [hopefully we are still trying to work the bugs out] powdercoated white on one side and black on the other so when the rider does a 360 the bike kind of changes colors.
We are working on a new custom 7005 tubeset with Easton Sports.

I have been in discussions with North Shore Billet to create aftermarket micro adjustable rocker plates for the Wildcard so the rider can customize his ride and get a greater range of travel settings... moving the rocker postions will also change many properties such as BB height, and tube angles, helping to dial in the perfect slopestyle bike.
You can see the new tube shape design which is similar to the Pyre with the integrated gussetting through the forming of the tubes.
As soon as I can confirm the angles I'll let you know I believe we've got a 67° HA with a 7" fork, basically it was built to be quick, nimble, flickable, with low standover to kickout the legs for can cans, tailwhips and other tricks that you need "leg" room.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Project Alpha

We have a lot coming down the pipe with Project Alpha.

Project Alpha is a complete redo of everything Banshee from bikes, to clothing, to website, to the whole Banshee look. We really want something with more contemporary styling and something that indicates our bikes are not the big heavy beasts they once were.

currently we have a team of engineers working on the following new models: Munro, Scythe, Wildcard, Rune, Rampant.
The Pyre will go through a few small tweeks and version 2 will be released late 2007, expect a lighter frame, with a little less travel as we push it closer to an all mountain platform rather then an enduro.
The hardtails will remain similar for 2007 and 2008 but when we finish the above, we'll look at updating them with the new tubing.
Working with Easton we are developing new custom tubeset that will make all the bikes much lighter and I will be releasing details as they become available on this blog.
The Wildcard will be the first frame we anticipate will be finished, and hope to see a prototype in the next couple of months.
We will then move onto the Rampant as we need to have this model done for Simon our 4X rider in France for its big debut at one of their major races... based on the Pyre VF4B suspension it will have a lower BB, shorter chainstay length, and optimized travel at 100mm to dial it in for racing.

We're currently working on a new more dynamic website, and am still working out some of the details with the contributors to this new site. We'll be working closely with North Shore Nation and this will be our home base if our customers need to find us quickly... I am hoping it will become a great discussion place where we can talk directly to our customers and they can discuss what they'd like to see from us now and in the future - a chance to get back in touch with our roots.
We will be soliciting their direct input on what they want and we'll offer them incentives for their ideas.

There are many other things were working on and as we progress I'll be posting things up. Let me know your thoughts as you know nothing is ever written in stone, and we can always modify things.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Watchout for the Wood Spider

This is an absolute classic... we used to watch these national film board of Canada documentaries in school... this is a little twist on that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Alan and Grant to get first Wildcard protos

Just a little vid Alan Hepburn sent me of a session on one of the new trails they built
Alan and Grant Allen will be the first guys to get the Wildcard...On paper everything looks perfect but with the help of the Environment Vandals
we'll dial it in further if need be.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If only Banshee made Snowboards...

Then this wouldn't happen!
Time for me to get a new board I think!

Introduction and Updates

A lot of you guys still don't know me yet, so a quick introduction. I'm the new designer that has stepped in at Banshee to up the ante and get Project Alpha rolling. I've been a keen biker since I was about 10 when I used to go to local park with mates and go "off road" and really just have fun in the mud! I then got into all day epic style rides up in the highlands of Scotland (I'm Scottish by the way... with a middle name like Maclagan you would never have guessed it), and in the French alps on a couple of happy occasions.

Then started to move more into the freeride scene, started with slightly steeper rootier riding, then a few drops and a few minuscule airs... and well kinda got hooked on that kinda riding, so guess I can say I have been "freeriding" for about 4-5 years now (broken frame count of 9 before I found Banshee), have been a freeride guide in Whistler, and have dabbled in dirt jumping and DH racing.
I graduated from a top UK university (Durham, for those who know it) with a masters in mechanical engineering, and specialised in suspension frame and linkage design. OK enough about me and my background... time to talk about the new bikes...

Well Jay has shown you my most recent creation, the Wildcard. After riding whistler all summer, I noticed more and more people, both the young guns, and veteran rippers, riding bigger lines smoothly and with some serious style, and we knew that we could step up to the plate, and offer these guys a bike designed to help them go bigger and with more style. This bike is all about maneuverability on the trails, and "whipability" when in the air.

The essentials:


High strength and stiffness,

Super low standover

Aggressive geometry

We added to that:

Optimal (progressive) linkage design

Superior axle path

Adjustable travel settings

Desirable aesthetics

Just to correct Jay on the Geometry a bit...

With a 7" fork like the Totem, on the 6.5" rear suspension setting the head angle will be 67 degrees

With a pike up front on 5" setting the head angle will be 68 degrees

When all the details are finished I will post up more detailed geometries for all sizes, so check back soon.

We will have prototypes ready for testing very shortly, and plan to test these bikes to destruction by giving them to some hardcore riders so that we know what, if anything, needs to be changed before they go into full production.

Now that I have designed the wildcard, I plan to start work on the brand new 4X frame, and resume work on our state of the art DH race bike with revolutionary suspension linkage.....

Monday, January 8, 2007


Hey and welcome to the official Banshee Bikes blog. This will be a place for you... You can either post a comment or email me directly on your thoughts.
Keith will be contributing to this blog as well as myself and as things are developed we'll be publishing more information.
One of the problems with our website is its just so static, and I find the blog much easier to get the information to the interested parties much quicker and in a nicely packaged format.
Anyway over the next few weeks and months keep checking in frequently for constant updates... eventually we will incorporate this blog into our website under the "industry insider" blog where me and Keith will be regular contributors, serving up the inside scoop of what its like to live and work in this amazing industry.

This is not an official or authorized Banshee site but rather my own and the views and opinions are my own... so if you read something you don't like you can complain to me.