Introducing the R&D Division

The new Tailfin R&D Division marks the next phase in the life of Tailfin. But what is it, who’s involved and more importantly, why have we brought it to life?

Tailfin has been built upon a foundation of impeccable research and development. The company’s founder, Mechanical Engineer and Product Designer Nick Broadbent, spent over a decade developing products and technology for blue-chips and startups alike, so our experience and heritage is R&D. 

It only seems natural that we should have a home to highlight the details we sweat daily, so the R&D Division is where you’ll find out about our latest innovations, get to grips with our technologies as well as diving into our testing processes.

But alongside this, and probably the part we are most proud of, the R&D Division is a platform for showcasing and shouting about the incredible people that help us create the very best products. 

Meet the R&D Division Team

We love the concept of an ambassador – the idea that someone you respect and share values with can represent you from afar. However, we don’t think the term reflects the relationships we are building. It just doesn’t go far enough or capture what we’re asking for.

We want to support riders, help them fulfil their personal goals, and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Of course, we also want to create the very best equipment along the way – equipment that will benefit all of us. 

Developing the R&D Division has been a painstaking process that has taken a long time to bring to life. Whilst we could have put together something in a much shorter timescale, this drawn-out process reflects the Tailfin ethos – as with the development of all our equipment, we take our time to create something that will be the best version it can be. If it’s not perfect, we keep going until it is.

We identified that the riders we work with, whilst not part of the immediate Tailfin staff, are technically extensions of the product development team. After all, we reach out to this critical core of riders for direct feedback on product development, so why not make this relationship a little more collaborative?  

On top of this closer collaboration, we also think what we are doing is pretty special and unique. We also appreciate all existing and potential Tailfin users will be interested in how we are approaching creating the next generation of Tailfin Technical Bikepacking Equipment. 

Real-world testing is vital to the success of any Tailfin product. Our experience is often enough to make a calculated decision as to what should work, and this can be further backed up with lab testing. Nothing beats getting prototypes into the hands of people who will give the kit a proper hammering. It’s incredible how quickly flaws and weaknesses can present themselves when subject to actual weather, surface conditions and repeated use. 

The plan

Whilst all of us in the Tailfin office participate in this testing, none of us pushes the extremes day in day out – we need to run the company! This is why we defer to a select group of testers whose job it is to ride with the kit and sometimes test it to destruction (but hopefully not).

What is the aim of this collaboration?

R&D Division rider input will help to shape future Tailfin products. The emphasis is on two-way, collaborative communication, be it through the suggestion of features that are essential for efficient riding and racing at the concept stage, through to destruction testing of prototypes. Accurate testing by real riders helps to rapidly highlight any potential issues with a design, iron out minor niggles and help nail perfection. 

Ultra racing legend Jay Petervary is a perfect example of a close relationship we’ve forged through the R&D process. We worked closely with Jay to create a unique Tailfin system to suit his requirements for the Tour Divide. Which he promptly went out and won. Whilst that same system might never make it into production, it created a huge learning experience for us and is helping to shape future production systems.  

We aren’t just using riders to test out the latest prototypes. A key area is long term testing of existing products – the sort that all of us can use currently. One aspect of Tailfin that you might not be aware of is that we are constantly refining our existing designs to increase performance in any way we can. This is where we need riders to use the kit day in and day out. It’s why we don’t just have a roster of big names, just riders who love riding.

As with all performance-related equipment, we all want to use the best kit, even if we are never going to be riding across a continent on an hours sleep or tour the world for months at a time. We just want kit that works.

How do we choose the riders?

The group of riders we have gathered represent the whole gamut of Tailfin’s customer base and riding styles. Many of them we have been working with for several years. From daily commuters and road tourers to world-class ultra-distance athletes, we have it covered. This variety is critical for gathering the feedback we need to develop the ultimate products. We need riders who can communicate what they feel when using products and know exactly what can make or break a ride, race or expedition.

It’s not totally populated with A-List, recognised names – although we do have a fair share of those! It’s more a collection of riders who love cycling, pushing themselves and inspiring people on the way. Another way to think about it is it’s a collection of individuals who have stories to tell. These stories can be about winning the biggest races or undertaking seemingly impossible challenges, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be about being the first to the finish line – after all, how many of us actually take part in mega distance races? Sometimes it isn’t even always about racing, it’s as much about exploring new places and sharing those experiences with everyone around them. It’s this essence, this variety that we look for in the people that make up the R&D Division. 

How will you find out?

The new R&D Division web pages will become the home of the team and the base by which we will be sharing news regarding any of the riders. We are hoping this will serve as a source of inspiration for all of us. As part of that, we will be getting regular contributions from the team, allowing them to share their latest endeavours, successes and experiences. Subscribers of our email newsletter will also have frequent updates. On top of this, there will also be regular coverage of riders through our social media posts.

How do I get involved?

While the 2022 R&D Division roster has a packed list of riders, we are always keen to develop relationships and support riders with a unique story to tell and the right skill set to test our kit to the fullest. If you feel that you could be a great fit in the R&D Division, then get in touch through [email protected]

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