interview with Victor Major, CEO of Velocite

Here is a transcript of a short interview I did with eaerlier this week.

The interview was conducted via telephone by Lee Rodgers.

LR: Please introduce yourself.

VM: I am Victor Major, the CEO of Velocite Bikes.

LR: How did you get into cycling and the business? How did you get into cycling yourself?

VM: I am not a racer, I get into cycling out of personal interest.. I started cycling, serious cycling in Taiwan, actually. Where I met quite a few people, and we started our Cycle Taiwan website, and met a group of people who I began to work with to identify the best products that can be found in Taiwan and China.

Being in Taiwan and riding a bike and being interested in cycling technology and products, was very convenient….. And little by little, by researching what was available, who makes it, why they make it, the way they make it, we the acquired enough knowledge to enter the bike industry ourselves.

LR: What’s your background?

VM: My undergraduate degree is science. So I approach things from an evidence-based approach. I don’t consider bikes to be mysteries. Everything in the bike world relates to known laws of physics and is easily explainable, so I base my original thinking on how we want our products to perform, and then create these products purely based on evidence. My post graduate degree is an MBA. This allows me to identify who, or why people would want our bikes, and to then make the bikes that we think they would want.

LR: Who are those people?

VM: What we found is that cyclists who are looking for something special are interested in our bikes. They have to trust what we say about these frames, wheels etc. Velocite appeals to riders that have tried many other brands and still haven’t found something they were happy with. So the people coming to Velocite are experienced riders, often amateur racers, semi-professional racers, some pros, and in a  few cases even new riders.

LR: Can you tell us about the Velocite philosophy?

VM: It’s to make the best bikes possible and to deliver the maximum performance at each product category. We aim to deliver true value for money to those customers that prioritize actual product performance above all else.

LR: There are a lot of frames out there, lot of different brands. Why should someone consider Velocite?

VM: Basically, if you buy a Velocite you actually get what you pay for. What we say about our products is correct, we don’t make false clams, or use big words and proprietary jargon to confuse the cyclist. If we say that this product is stiff and that it is light, trust us, try it. In the mainstream brand bicycle market in 2010 and 2011 we see the same, super-light frames, that is the current obsession with the major brands, but are they really delivering the promised performance?

We try – and I believe succeed – in actually selling the customer exactly what they expect to get. Our main benefit is stiffness and all the handling and performance benefits that this brings. I also feel that I have to add at this point that there are a lot of misconceptions about how stiffness affects rider comfort. What we found is that the only time a deliberately flexible, or “comfortable” frame has an advantage over high performance frames like ours is when riding over some truly rough surfaces. On normal roads, or even roads with potholes and B-grade roads, stiffness has no impact on comfort. We find that the rider discomfort is mainly a result of transmittance of high frequency vibrations – that “buzzing” feeling and the sensation of knowing the exact texture of the surface you are riding over. With our frames, you’ll get something that is actually a joy to ride. You get true performance from our bikes.

LR: Can you tell me something about the 2011 models that will be out soon?

VM: There are two new frames that will be releasing shortly. One is the Velocite Geos, which for us is an entry-level frame with a more relaxed geometry. Its main purpose is to be a viable high performance alternative to the premium models from major brands. It features a BB30 bottom bracket and an asymmetric head tube with a 1.5” bottom bearing and a full carbon monocoque (one piece) fork.

Then there is the Helios Aero, that’s our highest profile frame for 2011. It is a true aero road frame that was designed for us by Lewis Mathiske, former head designer for Australian Teschner bikes. Lewis’ Aerowave time trial bike on which Helios Aero draws heavily for inspiration is a time trial frame with true pedigree, most recently used in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, and in 2009 helping Jack Bobridge win the time trial U23 world championship. Lewis also designed frames for several other brands, but the Helios Aero is his first design since the Aerowave that he is openly credited for.

When we started working on the Helios Aero in 2009 there were very few aero road bikes available. The development of this frame took almost 4 years to finalize – 2 years by Lewis on his own and then another one and a half years with us. Our development cycle is much longer than other brands’. We had to be absolutely sure that we were happy with the design, that it was the best we could offer. I think we’ve achieved that and we are very excited about the Helios Aero. Every single section on the frame is aerodynamic, which means the profile is very thin to present the least surface area to the air, but we have to make it stiff, and I mean really stiff. We are still waiting for the data but it looks like we have achieved this. Then we start testing on custom made test machines, pass the EN test requirements and only then we start live testing – pro and top amateur riders ride the frame and give us feedback.

The Helios Aero also takes advantage of the BB30 bottom bracket and an asymmetric head tube with a 1.5” bottom bearing. There simply is no other way to achieve our stiffness targets. The goal was to deliver the best aero road bike in the market and we feel that we have succeeded.

LR: Can I just ask quickly when will be the release date, the Geos?

VM: We’re thinking to release our 2011 range by the end of February, so the Helios Aero will be out then too. We have samples coming out of the initial molds and it looks really good. The Helios Aero is very special, as it pretty much embodies our entire philosophy of focusing purely on performance. While major brands often make performance sacrifices in order to address the appearance objectives, it never crossed our mind to do the same. The fact that the Helios Aero also looks stunning was a welcome, but accidental by-product of the design philosophy.

LR: If a Velocite could win any race, which one and why?

VM: The Giro d’Italia! It is the most challenging race I think. It has an uphill time trial, it is a really nice race. It has also had less scandal than other races. It has an amazing variety of surfaces and gradients. Yes, that is the one I’d want a Velocite to win.

LR: And who would be riding it?

VM: Thor Hushovd or Jens Voigt, real warriors, I’d love to see them win the Giro. Maybe impossible, but yes, one of those two.

LR: What does the future hold for 2011?

VM: Our biggest challenge is getting the word out about Velocite. We know from the testing and our racers that we have very, very good products, that for value and performance we can equal if not better anything else out there. Another goal is to fine tune our wheel range. We want to make not just good wheels but great wheels. We will be doing DIN testing and the UCI testing to get accreditation.

LR: Thank you Victor for your time.

VM: Thanks, my pleasure.