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Trek Emonda launch interview – part 2

Trek Emonda launch interview – part 2

How would an engineer write a bike review? Seth Eckert, who has worked on the new Trek Emonda, believes it needs to be a mix of opinion and data. 

This is part two of our interview with Eckert, Trek’s ‘ride test coordinator’.


Part 01

We continue our look into the evolution of the Trek Emonda by talking to one of the people involved in the production process. Seth Eckert previously talked about the quest to make a good bike better and how his company works with both rider opinion and lab data to try and refine the bikes. He continues his commentary in part two of our interview with him at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

The process of “splitting hairs” to refine the ride characteristics of a modern road bike is complex. Before talking to Eckert, the visiting media were shown around some of the facilities and introduced to industrial designers, wheel builders, engineers and other staff responsible for creating Trek’s vast range of bikes.

Eckert collects as much information as possible during the development of new products and together with his cohort they interpret it and tweak designs until they’re satisfied that they are building a better product. Still, this part of the interview begins with the question: is there ever a regression in design?

“Yes,” admits Eckert. The characteristics of the 2003 Trek Madone, for example, were widely appreciated by all manner of riders.

And so there are times when Trek harks back to previous iterations in order to create a product that utilises characteristics from the past but in a modern application.

There are many aspects to bike design and a common theme of many reviews relates to how stiff a frame may be. Carbon-fibre and modern manufacturing techniques allow designers to push the limits; stiffness can be achieved more than ever before. But, as Eckert points out, stiff isn’t always better.

“We’re always trying to make – front to back – a balanced system. And now we’re looking at a packaged system: how do the bars and stem and the wheels and tyres – all of that package – how does it talk to itself? One thing has to compliment the other.”


Click the link above to see part two of our interview with Seth Eckert.

(Excuse the background noise… but we just couldn’t stop the chat to ask everyone else at the launch to kindly stop talking…)

Watch part two of the interview (which, alas, does have a fair amount of background noise – and for this I’m sorry) and find out a little more about the evaluations that are made in the course of designing a bike like the Trek Emonda.

“We can look at the details of why [the riders] all picked this one thing,” concludes Eckert about the trial process. But that doesn’t mean a bike is going to be refined because of a consensus of opinion.

“Sometimes everything correlates to one side – everybody likes that one bike… and sometimes it’s completely separate. And then you start getting into: ‘Oh, I like the front end descending but I didn’t like it climbing…’ The next person may be the complete opposite.

“So then you have to pick your poison and sometimes we just have to go right in the middle. You may not hit both camps 100 percent, but it’s still ‘Better than’.”



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