Something we're going to do from time to time is bring you some insight into some of the people working here at Trek. These are real people - people you'd want to hang out with. These are some of the people who might be working on, designing, or building your next bike. These are the people you'd WANT to be working on your next bike.
First up, I've got an interview with Michael Hammond. Michael is one of the industrial designers here, and has now become pretty much The Man when it comes to making Trek mountain bikes look as incredible as they do.
So who are you and how did you get here?
Oh man. I am a meat popsicle/industrial designer. I pretty much just took a lot of stuff apart when I was kid...drew a lot of pictures...played with Legos...one time I wanted to know how batteries worked so I tried to break one open with a hammer. Hospital time! I’d like to think I’ve gotten a little smarter since then...ya know...went to school...got out and started working. I’ve designed everything from vacuum cleaners to Barbie toys to bikes. Its not bad a gig being a designer because you get to put yourself into the end-users shoes...and with bikes that’s the best part - riding what you helped to design, and watching other people fall in love with a product that you had a hand in.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool being able to work on products people are really passionate about. What bike (or any product) are you most proud of so far?
The Trek Lime was a in-depth research product that took a lot of design-team horse power - but it has been without a doubt has been a big success for Trek, and I’m proud of that more because it changed the way we think around here....not everyone who rides is a pro level athlete. Having people excited to ride a bike (Lime) who have not ridden in many years really shows how much all of our efforts have paid off...and I’m proud of that. Then there is the new Fuel EX...it was born in ACG with kick-ass engineering, and was my first chance to design a trail bike from the ground up. It looks sexy and it rides sexy...and there is more of this coming down the pipeline.
Well, obviously I’d agree on the looks of the EX!
Those are 2 pretty different projects. Where or what do you draw inspiration from for bikes like the EX and the Lime?
The easiest way to draw inspiration is to become the consumer. Talk to them, interact with them, spend a day in their shoes. That is the heart of innovation and inspiration. By doing that, you will immediately understand the problems they have and where the opportunities for innovation are. For Lime, it was understanding that the end-user desired simplicity...and the bike had to fit into their lifestyle. That means it had to look familiar, safe, and fun...it wasn't about looking high-tech and flashy even though the Lime uses cool new technology. For EX its a little different: You are dealing with a customer that (for the most part) knows bikes...so along with the breakthrough technology, it simply has to have great looks that (hopefully) resonate with the end-user. Sometimes I think the seasoned bike rider is easier to design for than someone who hasn't ridden a bike in 20 years.
Well you certainly have the looks nailed on the EX!
So besides our Trek trails we have here, what’s your favorite or best place to ride?
While developing the Session 7 I was sent along with the team to ride the North Shore. Prior to that the only trails I had ridden were near Dallas, TX (Flat n Fast)- so I pretty much wrecked myself my first run down Mt. Seymour....The trails were wet, I was on a 5" Liquid, and I was starting to hate my job. Two years later in I’m rippin through my favorite trail: Too Tight at Whistler....I dig the technical twisty-turny descents even though I am a horrible rider, but I can plow through it with a smile. Dirt Merchant rocks the house too- but I’m still not comfortable with 'air time'....next year baby!