We’ve ran through the details of the current Zerode G2 frame that we’re reviewing already but we wanted to also get a few questions answered about how Zerode’s evolution. Inside we take a look at the prototype Steelie that started it all off for the New Zealand company and get a few questions answered by owner / engineer Rob Metz.
When it comes to creating a bike there can be a significant amount of time when it comes to testing and manufacturing. Fabricating (or finding the right fabricators) can take just as much time if not mrs as sometimes the facility may not be able to hold tolerances or meet the requirements of the design.
We peppered Rob Metz with a few questions around how the Zerode came to be. The first Zerode unsurprisingly was a mule of sorts for the company. The steel Zerode ‘steelie’ allowed Rob to figure out how to dial in the Alfine hub into the chassis.
The Steel prototype was more a test bed for the Alfine hub than anything else. I looked at a bunch of internals hubs with a gearbox in mind and the Alfine stood out as the best option. All of the pedaling geometry, suspension design I was very confidant in from the calculations and other bikes I had made. My Friend and business partner rode the steel Mule to 2nd in the NZ DH series in 2008/2009. The bikes was clearly capable of winning races… – Rob Metz // Zerode
James Dodzy - Zerode Steelie prototype
After the Steelie design was proven Zerode had to find a factory to build the Zerode G1. The Steel Mule was made in 2008 and the first G1’s went out the door early 2011. With minimal industry contacts and small quantity requirements it was tough finding a good factory for Zerode to use. This understandably caused some delays from when the Mule was designed to when the first G1 was created. They ends up teaming up with SAPA (Oregon) before SAPA closed their bicycle division.
The G1 was offered in two sizes (S/M and a M/L) with a variety of colors offered throughout its years. Many riders bought and still love the G1. The G1 laid the groundwork for the Zerode G2 that saw numerous updates.
Q & A with owner Rob Metz
Could you elaborate on what made you want to design the Zerode?
I have been making my own bikes for over 15 years now. In the early days I butchered factory bikes to make long travel, slack trail bikes (pretty much where trail bikes are at 15 years later). I then went on a mission to learn about suspension designs, researching well known Moto theory and applying it to MTB, specifically pedalling/throttle response and bump absorption. So I started designing and building bikes for myself around this theory. I had some many people stop and ask me about my bikes and like the way they rode that i thought I should have a go at a production bike. So the Zerode is basically a bike that I made for myself…
After the success of the first Zerode, how did you determine what changes were chosen for the G2?
The G1 took a while to get into production, it’s not easy to get frames like this made on a small scale so I had a few false starts. By the time they hit the market the geometry was a little out of date. The bikes still ride well but the geo didn’t suit everyone or some of the evolving tracks. This was the first area to address with the G2.
Having a couple of seasons of real world testing allowed me to pull a little bit of weight out of the frame without compromising durability. A bunch of broken frames would be a nightmare for Zerode so I need to be cautious and refine the design over time. I also get feedback from a bunch of good local riders and distributors which I try to incorporate into the bike.
What are some of the Zerode success stories that you guys have had since you began?
The fact that a bunch of people have upgraded their G1’s for G2’s is a good sign I have happy customers, I get a lot of emails from people saying they can’t believe how the bike rides and inspires confidence. These are all success stories that make the project worth while for me.
I also have a handful of people around the world win national titles on Zerode which is critical in proving the design to the masses. I did get a lot of satisfaction watching Eddie Masters mix it up with the Pro riders at the world cups this year. I’m a one man band operating out of my garage in Rotorua NZ so funding a world cup team is a bit tricky. Having privateers like Eddie put on a good show is the next best thing to a full blown team.
Mathieu Gallean at the Leogang World Cup 2013 - photo: Daniel Klose
Are there any changes coming to future G2’s that you can talk about? Any sign of carbon in the Zerode downhill market? Any plans to offer a larger size G2 in the future?
The tooling cost of carbon is very hard to justify with my current sales numbers, the economics of carbon just don’t stack up yet. I plan on offering a larger size and will continue to try and pull a bit more weight out of the bike without a doubt. My understanding of physics, testing and experience clearly show that in a gravity powered sport like DH the weight of the bike isn’t the most important factor. I will keep refining the design to remove weight because this is what most people want, right or wrong I need to play ball.
How has the reception been so far with the revised Zerode G2? Any plans for 2014 with teams that you think will be good to look out for?
The reception has been great. People like the look of the bikes and more importantly the way they ride. They are still a bit radical/unknown in most peoples minds so I need to rely of word of mouth and race results to prove performance. I will have teams in NZ, France, USA and riders scattered around the world that will get results in 2014.
Zerode can’t afford to give bikes away so I try to offer as much support to these guys as I can. I do have proposals out there trying to get funding for a world cup team. If I can pull this off it would no doubt it would be a great adventure!
Are there any other details that you think would be good to share regarding the Zerode G2 or future bike developments?
Not really, other than I’m committed to Zerode and will continue to improve the frames within the constraints I have. I have other product I’d like to bring to market but I can’t give too much away at this stage…
Stay tuned as we will continue to post up the remainder of our Zerode G2 review.
If you missed part 1, be sure to check that out to learn more about the Zerode G2 frame set.