Two Triangles

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Nathan: Alright George. Who are you? Where are you from?

And how long have you been designing bikes?

George: I’m from Australia and I’ve lived in Canada for

the last 11 years. I grew up in Australia though, surfing and

doing the beachy things. My first dabble getting into bikes

was actually in my grade 11/12 industrial design class. I

designed a frame-building jig for building bikes initially. My

final project was designing and building a steel mountain

bike!

N: Do you still have that Bike?

G: It’s at home somewhere… Mom and Dad probably still

have it. It was pretty rudimentary and basic. At that time the

design of mountain bikes and road bikes was pretty basic, so

it was just what I could envision while living in a small town

in Australia.

N: What year was that?

G: That must have been 1998 or 99. So a few years ago!

That was probably my first dabble in building bikes, but I’ve

always been around bikes my whole life.

N: So when did you get your first bike and what was it?

G: My first bike, I still have at my Mom and Dads house.

They kept it. It was a red Raleigh. It had 16” wheels, and I

think it was called a BMX Racer. I’m pretty sure I actually

have some photos of it somewhere.

N: Oh cool!

G: That kind of started my love for bikes. I grew up in a

biking family. My Dad was and still is a Tri-athlete. Mom

and Dad have always been into cyclo-touring. Dad used to

race road bikes.

N: So did you end up getting into racing?

G: My first race was in BMX. I started off on that little red

bike riding around our local BMX track and then got into

racing BMX on little 20” bikes, but as I got older I didn’t really

like it anymore, so I ended up getting into Mountain bike

racing. During my time getting into Mountain Biking, my

younger brother started getting into DH Racing. I thought

that looked liked more fun, so I started racing downhill with

him. We where racing downhill nationally and, as brother

are, we were very competitive with each other. He was

actually a little more successful than me, so I did it more as a

fun hobby and to try and beat my brother. During this time

I also used to race cross-country. Having a triathlete Dad, I

got into more adventure triathlons, which are trail running,

mountain biking and kayaking…that sort of stuff.

N: Right, so it sort of fit into a whole bigger picture.

G: Right, I had my feet in many ponds! I always had a dirt

jumping bike, a bmx bike and a mountain bike somewhere in

the shed. I was always tinkering on all the bikes, modifying,

building, hacking… all that sort of stuff.

N: Cool, I guess you started designing bikes at a pretty young

age. What goes into designing a bike? What’s the process? Is

it like you sit down and draw on a napkin … How does that

work?

G: There’s many ways! In the beginning, if I wanted a specific

type of bike, I’d start researching what’s out there to improve

current designs. I’d want to make something better. Or

sometimes it will come from a basic Idea that gets drawn on

a piece of paper and then brought into bike CAD software.

But it always starts with wanting to make something better

or lighter or make sure that what we are doing is innovative.

N: Taking the bikes you’ve designed for Landyachtz into

account, what makes the CB1 or CB2 unique and Innovative?

Let’s start with the CB1.

G: The CB1 was definitely an idea that was given to me about

producing a commuter bike that’s perfect for Vancouver’s

weather. We have year round wet, cold, rainy weather, but

we had to make the bike simple and user friendly. So with

that particular one, the frame actually came second to all

the parts that needed to go on it. It needed to have hydraulic

breaks and an internal-gear hub, so building a frame around

those parts by adapting current geometry is what was put

forward to me. Making it best suited to the bike and what it

needed to do. It needed to be a pretty fast bike, but we also

needed it to be robust and have internal gears.

N: So function leads the design of that bike?

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G: Right, function led the design of that bike. With the CB2,

I took a step back and wanted to focus on the design of the

bike first. I wanted a bike with a frame geometry that was

quick, comfortable and agile. After that I realized the internal

gear system, which is worry free but heavy, had to go and

instead specced a drive train that comes from the mountain

bike and cyclocross world. Its simple, easy to use, you don’t

drop your chain… it’s just easy.

N: So what makes that bike different from other bikes on the

market?

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G: I think maybe because we are a smaller company we were

able to adapt to running a 1X drive train as a commuter

system before other people where. It’s now common to see

a 1X on other bikes. So having access to component design,

and coming maybe from my mountain bike background,

I realized that these components are super hard and make

perfect sense on an urban bike that you’re going to mash

around a city.

N: I’ve seen photos of you riding the CB2 down stairs.

G: YES!… It can shred! (Laughs)

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N: With your background in BMX, you’ve also been toying

with and designed a bike we call the Play Bike. What was

the inspiration around that and why is that bike unique

compared to the CB1 and CB2?

G: The Play Bike is project of mine with a bit of direction

from one of our founders, who remembers commuting on

his old mountain bike and how much fun it was being able

to jump off things, ride down stairs and bomb around town.

The idea for that one came from another facet of bike riding

that I used to be into. Fixed gear freestyle was a scene that

always intrigued me, but I never got too heavily involved in.

What I wanted was to blend my dirt jump experience with

the fixed gear freestyle experience. This bike came from that

idea. It has geometry that feels just like a BMX bike that’s

been blown up to the scale of a 26” and 29” wheel bike. It

runs fatter tires, a single drive train, and it has one rear break,

so you can skid the hell out of it! You can jump it off things,

you can take it to the BMX track or the skate park and it’ll

handle all of that.

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N: It’s kind of like your fun everyday bike that you’re going to

take out to bomb around on.

G: Exactly, it’s the bike that makes you relive your childhood

of ripping around on your first bike… yup. (Aussie chuckle)

N: How do you spec the bikes? When you’re picking

components, why have you chosen what you’ve gone with?

G: One of the big ideas we focus on is biking in Vancouver,

so hard wearing is a really key component. Running all

sealed bearing, because we have such wet winters here.

Having simplified components that won’t require too much

work because these are, at their core, commuter bikes. Some

people just want to know that when they grab their bike,

it’s not going to fail them. So hard wearing components,

simple components, and components that are perfect for

wet weather riding, like hydraulic disc brakes. For the CB1,

running an internal geared system, all the gear are hidden

inside a rear hub shell. There is a bit of a weight penalty but

you’ve got everything sealed away from the elements and all

you need to do is give it a little oil once a year and it’ll keep

running!

N: So what’s next for Landyachtz bikes? What’s coming down

the pipeline?

G: We’ve got a few ideas. We’re still dabbling with my

previous experiences and also considering the direction

that the company is going and the riders that ride for us.

We are toying with the idea of developing some bikes in

the cyclocross world and the track world that are also city

friendly.

N: Okay and I guess these are for spring next year?

G: Yeah, a spring launch for some bikes and a fall launch

for some of the others. The cyclocross season is generally

October to December so those will be a later season launch.

N: You’ve got a lot of experience on different bikes and in

different bike cultures. You also started riding in different

scenes in Australia and eventually in Canada. Biking has

been a mainstay in your life. What’s the draw to bike culture?

Can you talk a bit more about the culture around biking?

G: The culture around biking is a really good culture to be

a part of. At its core, we are all riding bikes and bikes are

healthy. It gets people involved in a healthy activity and it’s

addictive in a way too. One of the things that I see every

day from our location on Union street, which is a major

bike route to downtown Vancouver, is when anyone hits a

red light there are like 2 dozen people that roll up behind

them and they’re all stoked because they are on their bike.

There is a sense of community. If it’s a fixed gear alley cat,

everyone is out having fun and supporting each other. If it’s a

dirt jumping event, people are pumped when someone lands

a really sweet trick. Within every scene and style of biking

there is a family and a respect for each other and it can only

get better as more people get on bikes.

N: It becomes a part of your social life, a part of how you

exercise, a part of your everyday, and it fits in with what

you do.

G: Its one of those healthy things that grows on you. Like

when people realize that you own a bunch of bikes, they want

to know more about it and then you can potentially get them

on one and then they get pumped and realize that this is a

really healthy thing and its good for them.

N: And then they want a different bike because they have a

different thing they want to do or try and then another bike

and another bike and…

G: There’s always another bike!

N: What’s the formula?

G: N + 1 🙂

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