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Disc Doctor – Redraven

Twenty-four year old Jonathan Knight is the main man behind Belfast based brake upgrade company Redraven. They make an upgrade kit for your existing brakes that includes mounting brackets and huge 230mm discs! We wanted to have a word and ask Johnny a few questions about Redraven, so we fired him over a quick email to find out more.

Who are Redraven?

Redraven Industries are a new entrant into the extreme sports market; we design and develop performance-led products for the serious rider that wants to gain that extra competitive edge in racing. The cornerstone of what we’re doing is applying our passion for mountain biking, the latest technology and a spirit for performance through innovation to push the technical barriers of the sport.

Where did you first get the idea for the Alpine Kit?

It really came to me when I was out doing a season in Morzine, I realised that the existing braking systems and components weren’t performing under the extreme conditions. I got into a bad scrape that year and I saw a lot of the other guys on the mountain getting torn up pretty badly as well. Anyway when we all got to talking and it became pretty clear that the vast majority of the accidents were due to brake system failures. I remember thinking that something had to be done. When I got back to the UK I was determined to find a solution and began research into the different metals and their properties which led me into aerodynamics, thermodynamics and a raft of other technical things that would give anyone a nose bleed but eventually led to the development of the Alpine Kit.

Was it because you were unhappy with the level of performance of brakes and rotor sizes already on the market?

In a word yes, the other braking solutions really just weren’t cutting it as far as I was concerned. To be totally honest it wasn’t my intention to set out to try and develop a larger rotor, the 230mm Alpine rotor really came into being as a function of the rotors optimum size and performance, and it really didn’t hurt matters too much that it just looked mean as f–k!

Do you get out to ride much or are you stuck in the office?

No, I don’t get out as much as I’d like. Redraven Industries has really taken off and I’m delighted with the amount of ground we’ve covered in such a short space of time but it hasn’t come without its drawbacks. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way and while I’d like to be out hitting the trails every weekend, these last few months I’d be doing well to squeeze bacteria into my diary.

What bike are you riding at the moment?

I got myself a sweet Specialized, a Demo 9, it’s the mutt’s nuts. I needed a bike that could take the big hits to test my products in absolute confidence and something to showcase the Alpine Kit and for me the Demo 9 is the best performing and best looking bike out there.

What kind of testing have you been doing?

You name it, we tested it, we commissioned the single most comprehensive, independent study into mountain bike braking technologies. The analysis covered aerodynamics, thermodynamics, heat dissipation, rotor, caliper and braking fluid temperature and control along with finite element analysis. The findings from the R&D contributed to the development of the Alpine Kit and helped us to demonstrate the systems enhanced performance benefits over the existing market leaders.

I hear that you have just won ‘Northern Ireland Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005’, tell us about that?

Yeah, it was a great honour for me and a real acknowledgment of the creative thinking, hard work and passion that went into making the Alpine Kit the performance leader in its category. I was delighted with the opportunity to showcase and gain serious technical recognition for the sport on a national platform, a lot of really good things have come from it.

I also hear that the Engineering Department of Queen’s University of Belfast have been testing the performance of the Alpine Kit against leading competitive systems. What kind of findings did they make?

I’ll not blind you with too much science right now, as the reports are over 100 plus pages of tech. The top line findings are up on the website for all to see and they do make for very interesting reading. In a nutshell we collaborated with one of the UK’s leading universities to develop brake system testing rigs to measure all facets of braking performance. We pitched the Alpine Kit against a market leading system, I’m not sure I can mention which one just yet but I hope to soon. The findings came back that the Alpine Kit completely blew them out of the water on all tests.

What kind of rider is the Alpine Kit aimed at?

Well, like I said the Alpine Kit was developed for serious riders who are pushing the limits of their riding in the sport and need the confidence to know that when they pull that lever their braking system wouldn’t let them down and is capable of performing in all extreme riding conditions. That said, the Alpine Kit is available to any rider looking to upgrade the performance and styling of their bike.

There are a few concerns with fork warranties, have you ever had any problems?

Any non-standard upgrade will void component warranties. Unfortunately all the aftermarket component manufacturers are in the same boat, which isn’t helping the riders or the sport, but to answer your question, no we haven’t had any problems from any riders. We are currently starting talks with the major fork and frame manufactures to start testing for larger rotor sizes to satisfy any future warranty issues.

I notice that you point out in the instructions that using the Alpine Kit in downhill conditions may cause the brake fluid to boil. Have you had problems with this? And what make of brakes would you recommend to be used with the kit?

Brake fluid boiling is a serious problem associated with smaller diameter rotors and is a big problem for riders on long, steep or fast trails when braking is constantly being used. The 230mm Alpine rotor was designed with this problem in mind but we make a range of smaller rotors for riders that don’t require the very highest level of braking control. We don’t recommend one system over the other, the Alpine Kit is compatible with most braking systems using a current 203mm rotor setup.

Do you hook any guys up with product? Is there a Red Raven team of sorts?
We’ve done a bit of sponsorship to date and we’ve just taken on Team DHR, a Canadian downhill riding team. We are starting to prepare for next season and are always looking to support exciting new talent.

What are your future plans, do you have other ideas in the pipeline?

We’ve got a lot of great stuff in the pipeline but I can’t say too much just yet. I’m currently in the process of finalising the details of Redraven Industries Canadian branch in Vancouver BC, which is very exciting, not least because it’ll put me in spitting distance of the Rockies. In terms of new products we’ve something very big on the horizon and I’m currently in the final patenting stages, while I can’t tell you exactly what it is at this point I can say that it will greatly enhance rider safety and shave seconds off race runs. Watch this space, oh and check the website www.redravenindustries.com.

Twenty-four year old Jonathan Knight is the main man behind Belfast based brake upgrade company Redraven. They make an upgrade kit for your existing brakes that includes mounting brackets and huge 230mm discs! We wanted to have a word and ask Johnny a few questions about Redraven, so we fired him over a quick email to find out more.

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