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HomeMountain BikeRAAW Mountain Bikes - An interview with founder Ruben Torenbeek

RAAW Mountain Bikes – An interview with founder Ruben Torenbeek

No frills. Pure operate. A technique of describing an MTB from RAAW is that it does precisely what it says on the tin. But it surely shouldn’t come as any shock that this German model primarily based in Kempten have a complete lot extra happening. We linked with founder Ruben Torenbeek to speak the previous, current and way forward for RAAW, whereas getting the lowdown on his new life within the MTB mecca of Squamish.

As the primary beer bottles are opened on the ENDURO workplace in Stuttgart, Germany, Ruben Torenbeek is brewing his first espresso of the day. The nine-hour time distinction falls in our favour, as he grins into his webcam, barely bleary eyed. We catch a glimpse of his Madonna seen within the background, trying able to shred. Since Ruben’s one-man-brand got here to fruition in 2016, RAAW have had a hell of a trip, so we’re eager to stroll by its evolution. How did RAAW Mountain Bikes flip into what it’s as we speak? What’s cooking proper now and what can we anticipate to see from the now seven-strong staff sooner or later?

Who or what is basically behind RAAW Mountain Bikes?

Anybody who single-handedly units up their very own mountain bike model should be a bit bit loopy, have a thoughts that’s ingrained with MTB business know-how, and be born with mountains of their blood? Ruben nods his head as we communicate. All affirmative, though his Dutch-sounding identify provides away the truth that he grew up at sea degree within the Netherlands. By the age of 12 he was a fully-fledged cross-country mountain biker earlier than he received a style for trials using and downhill, main him to pin on a quantity at iXS races on an virtually weekly foundation. Up to now, so commonplace. A whole lot of us have an analogous story, proper? However how many people take issues so far as creating and constructing bikes? For Ruben, it was whereas he was learning mechanical engineering and product design that he noticed the potential for turning his ardour into an earnings. After a string of apprenticeships throughout the business to plug the gaps in his information, he ended up writing his college thesis at GHOST, who then employed him straight after commencement as a motorcycle engineer. After slicing his tooth there for a number of years, Ruben moved to SCOTT however shortly found out that he prefers the vitality of following his personal path. What adopted was the belief that there was no purpose he couldn’t undertake his personal method. Let’s be clear: it isn’t straightforward to begin a enterprise and Ruben’s the primary to confess that establishing his personal bike model alone was an enormous ask. RAAW first got here to life in 2016, headquartered in Kempten within the Allgäu, Southern Germany, and he steered solo for a protracted time period. Now it has grown to a staff of seven, primarily protecting buyer assist, advertising, product administration but in addition help with product improvement. And the logistics? All overseen by Ruben from his adopted dwelling in Squamish.

What makes an MTB stand out to me is that in the first place look it seems to be some welded-together tubes, however the extra you delve into it, you uncover simply how a lot has gone into that object.

The function that innovation performs relating to particular person parts on a motorcycle is overrated. It’s the entire idea that issues most and ensuring that it fits the goal customers.

What does RAAW stand for?

Okay, we get it. The large image perspective. However what does that imply for RAAW’s bikes? There’s received to be a purpose {that a} model will get such hype round its fashions. Exhibit A: the Madonna V1, the first-ever bike that RAAW produced, launched one yr after the model launched. It’s a motorcycle made in Ruben’s imaginative and prescient, designed to be ridden exhausting, used properly and beloved – and if sufficient riders cared about the identical factor, then that’d be the perfect end result. The truth that the Madonna is an everlasting a part of RAAW’s younger historical past is an efficient signal. The unique advertising didn’t attempt to gloss over something; it merely said what Ruben thought was so cool in regards to the bike. Maintain on. We’ve to rewind. How did Ruben create a full MTB on his personal – particularly one which rides just like the Madonna? Isn’t a motorcycle the product of many brilliant minds and a complete lot of collaborative innovation? Right here’s the place Ruben begs to vary: Being a one-man staff provides him freedom. It retains the method lean, which means RAAW may be agile in its selections and by no means lose sight of what’s really occurring all through the method. This ingredient – in Ruben’s eyes – is extra necessary than how every particular person part has been innovated. Bikes are a device, he says with a smile, which you recognize as a complete – therefore the holistic method to design.

Ruben is of the view that how a motorcycle handles doesn’t come down to at least one single worth, however requires nailing the appropriate mixture and getting the interaction between all elements of the equation. He’s fast to say he’s received no time for individuals claiming to need a particular head angle, chainstay size or dealing with attribute. FYI: RAAW’s chainstay lengths differ primarily based on body dimension and are engineered for the final word steadiness on the bike. RAAW translate their performance right into a lowered color palette and minimal bling on the bikes. It’s such a stripped-back aesthetic with minimal branding that it verges on underwhelming. However that’s why their bikes are so intriguing, with each displaying sure hallmarks which are basic to RAAW – together with outsized bearings, additional seals and exterior cables. These bare parts are Ruben’s response to an business that he sees as technology-saturated, the place merchandise are heaped with additional options whatever the precise worth it gives to riders. This unbending angle can also be what impressed the identify RAAW – with the second A being introduced in as a last-minute addition simply two weeks earlier than launching after copyright points with a style model cropped up and prevented him from utilizing his pal’s authentic suggestion of RAW.

What’s occurring at RAAW proper now?

Ruben’s face lights up as he displays on the previous yr. His transfer to Squamish is mainly the fulfilment of each European MTBer’s goals. After six years chasing the purpose at RAAW from his homebase, it was time for a change of surroundings and he was enticed by the elegant trails that BC has to supply. The plan, he explains, is to remain there for a number of extra years to get a footing for the model and get the logistics working easily. With a warehouse in Southern Germany and at the very least one future warehouse in Canada, he’s assured that riders received’t have to attend lengthy for a derailleur hanger or any bearings. However earlier than individuals want spare elements, they should know the model. “Bikes outlets over right here aren’t like those in Germany,” says Ruben considerably incredulously, “it’s not all about promoting ebikes and hybrids to inexperienced riders. They’re locations the place you come to supply spares and know-how; locations the place individuals wish to go and hang around and have a drink after laps on the paths.” Additionally a part of the plan for RAAW whereas stateside? It’d be good to get the bikes in a number of store home windows.

RAAW are fairly well-known in sure scenes, significantly in Germany, whereas 4 out of 5 individuals haven’t heard of the model over right here in North America. It’s actually thrilling because it reveals how a lot potential there may be for us.

In additional concrete information, RAAW have entered the race scene by supporting the RAAW // LEVELNINE Gravity Crew within the Enduro World Sequence and the 555 RAAW Gravity Racing Crew within the UCI Downhill World Cup. “Racing is ace,” provides Ruben with a smile, explaining that – although it was by no means his intention – the Madonna cuts a wonderful determine as an enduro race bike given its versatility and performance. For the grittier stuff, RAAW’s latest downhill bike has been conceived from the bottom up for racing. However intentional or not, RAAW will not be holding again in both self-discipline and we’re excited to see the groups’ progress.

What does the long run have in retailer for RAAW?

ENDURO’s takeaway: Don’t anticipate any main shifts within the RAAW line-up within the close to future. The main target goes to be on additional creating the model’s present fashions.

Will we see an eMTB from RAAW?

The reply is brief and to the purpose. Including a motor destroys the simplicity of a mountain bike, which suggests it’s off the playing cards for the small model. It’d additionally warrant vital progress earlier than the model are able to sort out the elevated complexity of ebike manufacturing.

How doubtless are RAAW highway and gravel bikes?

The clue is within the identify: RAAW Mountain Bikes. Ruben is pleased to go away these segments to different specialists.

Will RAAW make a carbon bike?

Ruben’s an enormous advocate for aluminium primarily based on its sturdiness, using efficiency, and the best way it channels RAAW’s ethos, so carbon remains to be off the playing cards – though not totally, as Ruben wouldn’t rule it out to be used on a light-weight, playful path bike.

What’s Ruben’s tackle excessive pivot bikes?

RAAW will not be recognized for leaping on traits. And that’s the case with the present hype round excessive pivot bikes. In Ruben’s opinion, by making that one determination you significantly restrict the remainder of the bike’s design. What use is with the ability to minutely fine-tune anti-squat, scale back pedal kickback and get a extra rearward axle path if the bike’s steadiness – the trait that RAAW care about a lot, bear in mind – is affected with a change to the dynamic geometry every time the suspension compresses? An extended rear finish additionally calls for extra rigidity to realize the identical stability. For these causes, Ruben’s pleased to stay with a basic four-bar linkage with a vertical rear shock because it gives the perfect platform for a design that meets the trip efficiency he’s after.

It doesn’t sound as if a lot will change too visibly – however that’s by design, which means that RAAW preserve the massive image perspective of their bikes and keep true to their roots.

RAAW’s founding ideas are all of the concentrate on sturdiness and performance, and it’s an ethos that has seen them carve out an area in Germany that’s now rising quick past its borders. RAAW don’t deal in hype and – regardless of the growth to North America – wish to keep low-key to maintain that massive image perspective with each bike design.

Phrases: Simon Kohler Images: RAAW Mountainbikes, Rob Perry



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