Interview by David Arthur
Product manager at GT Bicycles, Todd Seplavy has been in the industry for over ten years. Along the way he’s worked for some of the biggest brands in the industry, including stints at Iron Horse, Specialized, Evil Bikes and now GT.
Passionate about mountain biking with an infectious sense of humour and larger than life personality, he’s got a lot to say when it comes to designing bikes and identifying trends.
We asked Todd a few questions about the rapidly evolving sport and the challenges in designing mountain bikes.
There’s a huge debate playing out in mountain biking now about the best wheelsize. What do you think of this situation?
The “best wheel size” is the one on your bike when you’re out riding and having fun. A wheel size alone isn’t going to miraculously make you a better or faster rider. There are certain advantages for say 29in wheels on XC bikes or for taller folks or 26in wheels for many gravity applications or to make uber lightweight XC race bikes.
Do you think 29ers are the future? Are 26in wheel bikes dead and buried?
Nope and nope. Seeing things from the numbers side, the growth of 29ers has of course been a huge percentage, but there are many places around the world where it hasn’t caught on and still might not – 26in isn’t going away by any means.
A 650b won the first round of the World Cup XC. How do you view this impacting on the sport?
It was the talk of the web and amongst my circle of acquaintances for a couple days. But, as someone sharply pointed out, 99% of World Cup races have still been won on 26” wheels.
For the average mountain biker, is this whole wheel size debate a good thing?
If it gets people talking about bikes, or thinking about going riding, or walking through the doors of more dealers those are all good things. Someone might not jump over to a 29er or a 650b bike but maybe they’ll try their friend’s bike out and discover a new line on their favourite trail or a buy a different saddle. All of the chatter doesn’t have to lead to the direct purchase of an all new bike. There are lots of other possible positive outcomes from these big idea discussions.
When designing a mountain bike, what are the main criteria? What’s the starting point?
Spoke nipples and water bottle bolts…
How much is a bike designed by what the industry wants to offer the public, and how much is based on feedback from what riders out in the woods are actually doing?
For mountain bikes, it all specifically comes down to what someone, somewhere, at sometime is doing with a bike on a trail…or wants to be doing and can’t do as well given current product offerings in the market or in the product line-up. The rider and the riding is always the root cause.
We’ve seen a return of GT to the top level of DH racing. What are the plans for GT going forward and what can we expect from the brand?
More riders going faster and giving better input on bikes!
What are your predictions for the future of mountain biking? Any trends to look out for?
Lots of new shiny bits!
…oh and 650b wheels
…oh and also dropper posts on more bikes.