Meet the Designer | David and the Goliath? Totally

Meet the Designer | David and the Goliath? Totally

By Alex Guerrero

When you’re small you have to try harder. You trust your conviction and find the difference in the detail. You operate without boundaries looking beyond feedback of a focus group.

That way we are free to do our own thing and allow great things to happen. Neil Sutton is our bike designer. He’s more than an expert; he’s a natural. And being free to do our own thing; he gets on with it. Sonder has won awards across every discipline.

Meet the Designer

  1. Meet Neil
  2. Bike supply chain
  3. How have you managed to keep innovation going over the last couple of years?
  4. The new Camino
  5. The future for Sonder

Meet Neil

Neil designs every element of Sonder bikes. He turns ideas and conversations into sketches and technical drawings. Drawings that cover the big decisions on geometry and the smallest frame details. Neil works directly with our factories, the best in the world. And each bike is meticulously built with components, wheels and tyres chosen to deliver a complete ride experience that the bike is designed for.

Bike Supply

Bike supply has been incredibly challenging with many believing the supply chain to be broken. How’s that looking now? 

It’s been incredibly hard for everyone – most importantly its been hard for our customers. Our focus has been to get our customers riding as soon as we can and we genuinely appreciate everyone’s patience.

Lead times of SRAM and Shimano components in particular have been difficult with factories having to down tools due to lockdown and material shortages. Unfortunately some smaller high quality frame factories haven’t survived – our full suspension frame factory closed its doors for example.

We’ve got good supply of SRAM in 2022 and its going to be late 2022 before we have a consistent supply of Shimano.

We take pride in being early adopters of the latest tech and are one of the first brands with AXS electronic shifting and Rudy gravel bike forks. Even though component supply is challenging we’ll continue to get new tech as soon as it is available.

Innovation

How have you managed to keep innovation going over the last couple of years?

With difficulty! The material shortages risked slowing innovation across the industry – it’s been a hard balance for factories to satisfy current orders and make new products. We’ve taken opportunities where we can to develop new prototypes. We launched a new Camino and got new bikes in the pipeline. The Prima and the El Camino are coming very soon!

Tell us about the new Camino

I wanted to make the Camino more capable without losing the spirit that people love. The new Camino has an enhanced ride experienced with responsive steering and progressive geometry that better balances a riders centre of gravity when riding.  It’s got space for 50mm tyre clearance if you need it to run bigger tyres with space for mudguards if you’re using over winter. We’re extending our size range and each is designed to work with a 50-80mm stem so whether you’re 5’2” or 6’2” you get the same ride feel.

The result is a more agile and confidence inspiring ride of enjoyable miles on b-road and bridleway.

Anything else you're excited about?

We’re bringing wheel-building to our factory. I like to have as much control as possible and wheels are a huge factor in how bikes perform. Our wheels cover a massive range of riding styles so I’m very particular about how they’re built.

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