Exclusive – Interview with DMR’s Damian Mason

– So, the DMR SLED. It feels like a massive step for DMR. Did it feel that way for you or did it just feel like a natural progressive step for the company?
Its the sort of frame [ bike ] we’ve been working towards for a while , it is a big step for us but it is the type of bike that our latest range of parts sits well with and the type of bike we want to ride to be out riding ourselves to be honest , so that’s always good motivation.

– You obviously had a goal in mind with this bike. What was the ultimate aim for it?
To get a new bike in the shed under the guise of R&D hehehe
We wanted a successor to DMR Bolt with more travel..So we needed a more refined lighter and efficient pedaling design. We had worked with David Earle on our Axe crank-set so we worked with him [and his Sotto design team] to develop this Virtual pivot design.
It was important for us to get the best bike for the money, so we did take our time on it.

– You said this bike had been 3 years in the making. During that time have you had any notable difficulties with the design and build?
It took a while to narrow down the spec and find time in the diary where we could work on it , but once we had a clear direction it was just a case of going through the process, it does take time.. We probably could have done it quicker, but with other projects on the go etc, but I think its turned out better by taking our time on it.
The difficult bit is always towards the end as it moves to production to maintain the goals we had for this frame without it getting compromised for cost or production considerations.

– It’s not Steel or Carbon. What factors made Aluminium the final choice for this bike?
It’s a combination of factors, Aluminium gives a good combination of stiffness to weight at a good price. Steel would weigh more and cost more. Carbon is stiffer and lighter but the development costs are much much higher , the unit cost is higher and the design is ‘frozen-in’ early on in the tooling, with a metal bike we can easily make any updates or changes to improve it during the prototyping phase , or later on in production if required.

– When you think of DMR you naturally think of Bomb Proof long lasting products. Where does the SLED fit into this ethos?
I think it’s a fundamental part of the value for money equation when we design anything it should be durable and serviceable at a sensible price. Making things that last and can be repaired makes sense on many levels.
The SLED frame is aluminium so it is pretty tough, high stress areas round the head tube and seat mast are smooth welded for a longer fatigue life and other high load areas are a bit ‘over engineered’, it could have been lighter but we’d rather make it durable..its a trail bike not an XC race bike.
We’ll carry all parts as spares so like the pedals its designed to keep going for years and ultimately, it’s a recyclable material for its end of life.

– When you first set out with DMR, did you ever think that at some point you’d be designing and producing a bike like this? Was it ever in the long term plan way back then?
A couple of years before DMR existed I saw the Outland bikes with their virtual pivot design suspension at Interbike back in 1993 [I think] and remember being very impressed with the concept behind it. It’s a very elegant solution to the problem of suspending a bicycle , balancing forces for efficient pedaling while simultaneously allowing wheel travel – its brilliant really, it was certainly a huge leap forward in that era.
So I wouldn’t say it was planned for, rather than hoped for that we could do something with that great idea at some point in the future. 21 years later…David Earle is an expert in this field, so when we heard the patent was to lapse we decided to go for it.

– What’s next for DMR? A Downhill Bike?
There might be a gap in my shed….we’ll see how it goes.

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