|Photo Credit: Elisa Cicinelli|
In this interview you will learn more on what makes Roxy tick, her thoughts about women being involved in the industry and how being a rider influenced frame designs.
When did you first start riding a bike?
I don't recall riding a bike very often as a child, but I recall sitting on a banana seat and thinking that was a funny thing to call something you were supposed to sit on comfortably.
I really got into mountain biking later in my early 20's. I rode a full suspension bike in the Santa Cruz mountains and was instantly hooked on the fun and excitement.
What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I ride quite a bit because I love exercising and enjoying nature. Also, my experiences make me understand how to become a better designer. The more I ride, the more aware of how a bike is supposed to feel and work and maintain. I like how trails change with time and weather and depending on what bike I decide to ride, I get to decide what different lines to take. Everything is constantly new and different. Meeting and riding with new people has been an added benefit, too. I am more interested in spending time with others hiking or cycling. It's a good way for me to think of new things to design.
When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Speed was a skill that can help you as a beginner cyclist. It is not your enemy. The first skill I learned when riding was that many times being slow in certain situations can mean crashing or the inability to roll over or turn, or causing your body weight to shift incorrectly causing accidents. Many times, you can avoid a lot of mis-steps in handling or technical things if you just have enough speed or momentum. Letting go of the brakes, relaxing and using your body to control lean and angle during faster speeds comes with ride experience and practice trial. Personally, I just try to do things over and over until it sinks in. It also helps to possess some determination and a bit of hard-headedness.
What do you love about riding your bike?
The fact that I design my bikes makes me really enjoy riding them. Also, I really like being alone on the trails and just enjoying the time I get to spend in nature. It's cool to ride with friends, too, but I just feel independent and self-reliant when I'm alone on a ride.
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I pretty much ride every bike I design, some more than others due to our terrain and my commute patterns. My favorite bikes in the past were an Ibis SL-R (specially covered in silver carbon - clear fiberglass) and a white and blue Ibis Silk road bike, because I really put some elevation on those bikes. Now, because I do quite a bit of commuting, I prefer using my T-29er hard tail for getting through the forest since it's pretty fast and nimble or the Hakkalugi cross bike due to its disc brakes and longer wheel base, which makes riding more comfortable over pot-holes and loose gravel.
What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
If people ask me about my clothing, I'll tell them, but I don't often recommend brands to others unless I've personally spent money on it vs getting industry deals or promotions from other bike companies and have worn them for over a year or more. As a product designer, I believe that longevity determines the best performing choices. That being said: Bike lights, I recommend "Light & Motion" due to their great customer service and strong record for making solid products in the past few years, Strava app on my Android phone for ride tracking and finding new trails in new towns or cities (not to mention it tends to be more accurate in located me compared to my $400+ Garmin). I mostly wear Rapha ride clothing: shorts and 3/4 bibs have been going strong for 3+ years, now, and the neon pink riding vest and bootie covers keep me warm and visible on the road. My preferred sunglasses are Oakley Radar Locks because they are perfect for keeping out wind from my eyes at high speeds, in either clear lens (for general eye protection) or a jade iridium lens (for forest riding in bright to low light.) My favorite shoes are SIDI's, but Giro has some nice styles, too. I also like smartwool for base layers and Camelbak for any type of hydration. I often buy jerseys from obscure designers in Sweden have them delivered from my friends when they come through town. Twin Six is a cool jersey company and I like socks from DeFeet.
You are an owner/lead designer of Ibis Cycles- what inspired you to be involved with the cycling industry?
I enjoy working in an outdoor-based company and our company helps me balance work and play. As far as jobs go, it's pretty spectacular to have something you design become something you can turn around and ride. I like making things that are being used on a daily or weekly basis through the life of the product. It makes me really happy to see people excited and happy about getting outside and experiencing nature and discovering new places to go and challenging themselves physically and mentally. I have worked high tech, housewares, fashion and I feel like this industry allows me to feel good about developing products that are meaningful and long-lasting.
What is the mission statement of Ibis and what can people expect from an Ibis Cycles bike?
We like to say "Ride more, work less", but what that really means to me is that you can work smarter if you've got a clear head and a point worth making. There is something about riding, something that you dig out from inside of you and it's what you own and all for you. We here at Ibis are obsessed with riding and providing the ride experience. As humans, we all strive to do more of what we love, and if that works out right, you're never really working. Ibis creates bikes that can cater to a range of terrain and is grounded by strong suspension and the coolest tech we can come up with at the moment. We make bikes for men and women who want to have the best quality experience they can with the precious time off they have. I find that our bikes offer the wider range of fit from a small company. Since I'm 5 feet tall, I make sure all Small frames can fit me safely. The opposite end of the spectrum is my 6'-6" business partner, and I have to make sure he can fit the XLarge, too!
Why do you feel women are an integral part in the cycling industry?
Women have a voice in our cycling culture and should be involved in the business. The cycling industry is a small part of the outdoor industry and the bike arena was predominately male for a very long time. Women equally represent buyers, owners, high level management and business owners who make a direct impact on our communities. Cycling is changing our country's infrastructure and way of life in a way that is healthy and independent of fossil fuels or even mass transit. Women need to take equal part in developing this and that means getting into every facet of the cycling industry and engaging in dialogue and committing to things we believe in.
How has your personal experience with mountain biking contributed to frame designs?
As a person of smaller stature, I am acutely aware of how challenging it is to find things that fit me well or are useful to me. I try to develop all stand-over heights on our small frames so they fit a person who is at least 5 feet tall (or has a 27" inseam). I also try to make all the areas where you may touch a frame smooth and easy to hold and clean, especially since I've spent many a harsh hours putting my bike on my roof rack or tumbling down with it in a crash. I want people who ride our bikes to feel confident on the trail and happy with what they invested in, and that's why I spend so much time refining the design details. I like making the bikes look like they are leaping forward because that's how the suspension technology makes me feel when I ride. I used to wear a large pack when riding, but sometimes I like to just go for a quick loop after work. Our first Mojo bike design didn't accommodate water bottles, but not having that option ended up making me realize that it was pretty helpful to have in certain situations. I think about new ideas for bike accessories and frame options every time I ride.
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
In general, I don't feel that women feel deterred from entering this industry, but perhaps the sport has not historically sought out female riders, engineers, designers / customers, so by way of focus, they inadvertently ostracized women. Personally, I feel like I offered a different perspective as a designer outside of the industry, especially since I have such a diverse work experience. In Santa Cruz, running, surfing, skateboarding, cycling, kitesurfing, riding horses are normal things to do. What I would think would entice more women to embrace the sport is to educate women that there are size specific frames and different suspensions that can make cycling comfortable and safe. Chamois, gloves, good fitting clothing are what can make or break someone's ride experience. Chafing, cold weather, and sweat makes for discomfort, but good clothing alleviates all those things. Eye and head protection is also key. Let's face it, all customers are generally faced with "mass market" frames with components set up for the "AVERAGE JOE", not "CUSTOM JOANNA". Great shops can help set up your suspension, make sure you fit your bike properly and give you a run down on all the bells and whistles that make your bike great. Alas, a bike is more customizable than a car and requires some heavy duty research to understand why or why not a bike is right for your needs and types of terrain you want to ride on.
Industry-wise and locally, what do you feel could change to encourage more women to become involved and/or ride?
Bell just started a nationwide cycling program to help women establish and maintain group rides. Becoming active in your local community by seeking out trails to build or maintain, involving yourself in youth / bicycling activities, holding clinics at stores or gathering people for activities and races is a great way to start small and local. People gravitate around things that they love and will gradually meet others who share the same interests. Many bike shops offer demo-days and I bet if there were women-only ones, those would be interesting to some women. I think having support and a forum to listen or learn from others can be highly productive to those who have never tried the sport. People are finding very social and creative ways to do this.
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I suppose my hope is that more women will be out there doing what is fun and won't feel limited because it is something they weren't exposed to or introduced to before or at an earlier age. I didn't learn how to surf or mountain bike until I was in my 20's and being a beginner sucks. At some point, we were all beginners at something, so it's just nice to relearn or have the freedom to start anew. I think riding (road or mountain) is just another form of exercise and can be pretty liberating for anyone who wants to experience something new and meet new friends.
As an adult, it's sort of fun to create new relationships that are based off of sporting activities.
I'd much rather meet someone for a ride than just sitting around.