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Pedal Power: Unveiling Rotor's Innovation in Bike Efficiency with Lori Barrett

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Kandungan disediakan oleh Craig Dalton. Semua kandungan podcast termasuk episod, grafik dan perihalan podcast dimuat naik dan disediakan terus oleh Craig Dalton atau rakan kongsi platform podcast mereka. Jika anda percaya seseorang menggunakan karya berhak cipta anda tanpa kebenaran anda, anda boleh mengikuti proses yang digariskan di sini https://ms.player.fm/legal.

πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ Have you ever wondered what it takes to create cutting-edge technology in the professional cycling world? In our latest episode, host Craig Dalton πŸŽ™οΈ sits down with Lori Barrett, Managing Director of the Americas for Rotor, a Spanish-based company that is revolutionizing the biking industry.

Together, Craig and Lori take us deep into the story of Rotor πŸ”§ - from its inception by Pablo Carrasco who sought to resolve the dead spot in riders' pedal strokes, to its current reputation as a game changer in the cycling arena. Lori enlightens us with breakthrough innovations such as Rotor's oval chain rings, proportional length cranks, power meters, and the latest hydraulic drivetrain. 🚲

Lori gives listeners an exclusive look into how the company relentlessly works to transform cycling experiences for athletes and weekend warriors alike. πŸ† Don't miss this chance to ride along with Craig and Lori as they discuss all things Rotor and the fascinating world of professional cycling technology. Pedal on and listen to our latest episode now!🎧🚴✨

Listerners get a 20% discount on Rotor Components using the code THEGRAVELRIDE20 at Rotor America.

Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (code: THEGRAVELRIDE for free heart rate monitor strap)

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

[00:00:00]Lori Barrett: Hey Lori, welcome to the show.

[00:00:04]Craig Dalton: Hi. Thanks for having me. Super excited to talk with you today.

[00:00:08]Lori Barrett: Yeah, and I love that background you have there in Utah. It looks like you live in a beautiful place.

[00:00:13]Craig Dalton: I do, I'm sorry. Like, probably all you're seeing right now are the, the beautiful puffy sky, uh, clouds, um, kind of reflected in the window, but, uh, from what I'm looking at, I have a little screen and then I have beautiful meadows and mountains, so

[00:00:26]Lori Barrett: Not a bad spot

[00:00:27]Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's all right.

[00:00:28]Lori Barrett: to start out the conversation, Lord. Where did, where did you grow up and how did you find the bike?

[00:00:33]Craig Dalton: Oh gosh. Um, so I'm from Austin, Texas, and um, like even from college, like I had, our household had an outpost for, um, the yellow Bike project. So a San Francisco based collective that tries to, um, repurpose bikes and provide bikes for people that don't have them basically. So even back then, We were all into bike culture and my roommates all worked at bike shops, things like that.

Um, I was sort of a casual rider and commuter, you know, for college and everything else, uh, until a little later. And then, um, somebody handed me a road bike and I pedaled off. And the first like official road ride that I did, uh, was like maybe 45 miles, which, you know, not insignificant for a first drive and kind of never stopped pedaling after that.

Um, Kind of, um, just loved it. Um, ended up racing road bikes full-time with, uh, an elite domestic team out of Austin. And, uh, ended up running that team and helping cultivate newer talent, um, some of whom, you know, are still out there, which is really cool. I saw you saw, had Whitney Allison, uh, on your podcast.

She was one of my rioters. Um, and, uh, Lauren Stevens was on our team. Anyway, it's just, it's really cool. We had a great group of women that. Some of whom have stayed in the industry and, you know, continue to love and race their bikes. Yeah. Anyway, now I'm not fast anymore. I raced on the road, I raced on the track, I raced mountain bikes.

I've done everything from match sprints to um, Enduro mountain bike races. So

[00:02:13]Lori Barrett: love

[00:02:13]Craig Dalton: of all forms of wheeled, um, travel. I have a lot of commuters now. I think my next one's gonna be an e cargo bike, which I'm kind of excited about. Um, yeah. Anyway. All of it. Mm-hmm.

[00:02:26]Lori Barrett: that's, that's amazing. So from your origins in Austin racing on the road, you discovered a little mountain biking. When did you discover gravel riding and how does that fit into what you enjoy doing?

[00:02:40]Craig Dalton: Well, yeah, I was just talking with someone about this the other day. So our, uh, roads around Austin, I mean, what I loved about where I lived there is that I had from my house on the east side of town, I had loops that I could do that were 30 miles, 45 miles. You could kind of just add these kind of like, uh, farmland roads.

And for us, the sign of a good ride, and we call them road rides, was basically what we call Rube. Um, so basically, uh, caliche or gravel sections that we would spend miles on because then you knew you didn't have traffic. So, and you know, and also however many, um, Cattle guards you went over. That was the other, the other hallmark.

But, so that was, we were riding, I mean, I don't know, probably 30% of our road rides if you went over, you know, 50 or 60 miles were at least partially gravel. And so we were doing that on, you know, back then 23 mill tires kind of build your tolerance for, uh, for a little bit of rough road. Um, but yeah, so I would say that's when.

[00:03:45]Lori Barrett: Nice. Yeah, it, I was listening to someone the other day and they were talking about their experience as a road rider and riding dirt roads. I think it was out in Boulder, Colorado. And how now it, they don't, they're not affected in the same way others are when they're riding their quote unquote road bikes in the dirt sections of B W R, for example, because it's something they've been doing for a while.

[00:04:07]Craig Dalton: Yeah. Decades. I mean, it's funny actually. I did a really fun road ride. Road a little bit in air quotes out in Boulder. Um, that included a fun dirt section and I got to petta wallaby. It was with some of the cycling tips guys, and um, actually one of my, you know, whatever my wins in my past, you know, have been for, as a bike racer, I got a top 10 on a Boulder road ride.

And all I can say is that's probably one of the great achievements, achievements of my professional cycling career.

[00:04:39]Lori Barrett: Too bad they don't have a leader's jersey for that

[00:04:41]Craig Dalton: I know, right? I've probably, I'm sure I was bumped years ago now, but whatever, I'll, I'm still holding onto it.

[00:04:47]Lori Barrett: So it sounds like you sort of went from a racer to a little bit of team management. And then how did you find your way into the bike industry beyond the racing side of things?

[00:04:57]Craig Dalton: Yeah. So, um, well basically I'd been, you know, racing bicycles and I started off working for Cliff Bar and I ran event and athlete sponsorship for them out of Texas. And, um, after a few years of it, I felt kind of like it wasn't really challenging me professionally anymore. Um, you know, it's interesting.

I mean, the way, the simplified way to explain it is that I had a pot of money and a pot of product, and my job was to figure out strategic ways to allocate these things that supported the sales team ultimately. And in retrospect, it was actually a really good, um, a really good kind of strategic way to consider.

How you invest resources. And it kind of prepared me later for, for other things. But, uh, at once I decided it was kind of time to move on, I ended up taking a job with a sales agency, so within the bicycle industry. So I was a sales rep for someone else's agency. And after a couple of years of that, I left and I started my own.

And after a couple of years of that, um, I had an offer to be a national sales manager for Reynolds, the wheel company. And that's actually what moved me to Utah from Texas. So I sold my sales agency there. It still exists. I've hired them back for rotor, which is pretty cool.

[00:06:10]Lori Barrett: Nice. And just so, so people understand, like a sales agency in the bike industry, as I

[00:06:15]Craig Dalton: Oh yeah.

[00:06:16]Lori Barrett: it and, and have have observed it, you've got independent sales reps that can be hired by multiple brands at a time. And these are individuals that go to shop, shop by shop by shop in their territory and sell Reynolds wheels or Oakley sunglasses or Jira helmets, whatever they are to the shop owners.

[00:06:34]Craig Dalton: exactly. So, and thank you for clarifying that. You know, it's the problem because, um, non-endemic listeners, which I imagine most are, it would be a pretty kind of vague thing. Um, yeah. So, like for instance, maybe my Texas sales reps work with to Fosi and Pivot Mountain Bikes and, um, you know, uh, Met helmets and you know, it's just kind of a, a package of brands, a portfolio really.

And they try not to have competing brands, so obviously they're not gonna have Pivot Yeti or you know, whatever. Um, yeah. So it's, uh, that way they can work with all of the local bike shops and, um, like, you know, we're just talking about Texas, so usually a region, the region depends on the territory, but like in Texas's case, it's Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas.

So you have these four states and so you have multiple sales reps and you know, tech reps and it's sort of its own little, it's an agency model. So we had a few reps and a few tech reps and, you know, tried to take great care of the bike shops with that.

[00:07:38]Lori Barrett: Got it. So then you moved on to the company side with Reynolds, and then where do you go from there?

[00:07:44]Craig Dalton: So with Reynolds it was an interesting opportunity and I learned a lot, um, you know, running all the sales reps and kind of managing the positions I'd been in prior. Um, but then when the position came open to be the managing director for Rotor, it was, you know, kind of a chance to continue learning.

I call it the do it yourself mba. So it's, um, it's a chance to keep, you know, keep myself from getting bored and, uh, keep kind of being able to pull more and more of the levers within a, within a brand and a within a company.

[00:08:18]Lori Barrett: Let's, we'll come back to kind of your arrival at Rotor, but because the company was founded prior to that point, I imagine, let's take a step back and, and talk about rotor and. As you understand it, what was the inspiration behind starting Rotor? What products did they begin with? And then we can talk a little bit about how it's evolved and, and when you joined.

It's a Spanish based company, so obviously opening up and having a managing director in the US is a step in the progression. But let's start at the beginning and what's Rotor, how, why was it founded? What was it all about?

[00:08:52]Craig Dalton: So, uh, you have a guy named Pablo Carrasco, who is sort of like the mad scientist and he wants to create solutions to problems. And the problem that he saw was the dead spot in writer's pedal strokes, right? So, You know, when we, um, if you look at like a, a torque analysis of your pedal stroke, not to get too data nerdy here, then obviously most people know that most of the force that they put down on a pedal is down.

You aren't really able to, even with clipless pedals, maybe there's some amount that, you know, is pulling up, but for the most part, that's not where you have a dead spot. Let's say if you're looking at a clock face between, you know, Seven and 9:00 PM on the clock base where you're putting out very little force.

So Pablo came up with a few different solutions, um, some of which were more commercially viable than others. So there was an entire rotor bike that had a, like, it had, uh, two spindles. Anyway, there's, there's some bananas stuff that he had created, which is wildly efficient. For pedal stroke, but also, you know, weighed 30 pounds or something absurd like that.

So came up with the compromise of the, um, the curings, the rotor, oval chain rings. And so with a, um, which basically are, everybody always thinks about it from the perspective of maximizing the force that you're able, or the use that you're able to get outta the force that you put downward. But really it's about decreasing the amount of time that you spend in the dead spot of the pedal stroke,

[00:10:23]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, I remember sort of, gosh, just being a fan of road racing and I don't even know how many years this would be ago, 25 years with. Bobby Gik coming out

[00:10:35]Craig Dalton: Oh yeah.

[00:10:35]Lori Barrett: riding oval chain rings and really espousing the virtue of, again, eliminating that dead spot in the pedal stroke to maximize the power that is in the, you know, the nondead spots.

[00:10:47]Craig Dalton: Absolutely. And you know, that was, you know, it. It was really, once, you know, we started having adoption within the Tor de Frances and we had, you know, a, a winner in the yellow Jersey, you know, winner of the Tor de Frances that it, it kind of became more, Hmm, you know, not socially acceptable, but that, you know, it just kind of became more normalized, I guess.

Um, and it's still, you know, it's, I've had people, you know, if I'm in a group of people that. Don't know me or my affiliation with rotor, what oval chain rings are. If I'm riding people, I've had people say, oh, there's something wrong with your chain ring. And I'm like, because they're looking at it. And if you're just looking at it, it, I don't know.

It's, it looks less round, obviously. So yeah, it's, it's, it's a funny thing.

[00:11:34]Lori Barrett: And did he come at it from a, a scientific background and sort of identify like if we're, if we're measuring power around the pedal stroke, that empirically speaking, there is this dead spot and you can improve one's power output via an ized chain ring.

[00:11:51]Craig Dalton: Yeah, and I mean, so his background is engineering. He's a mechanical engineer. Um, and so he approached it from an engineering standpoint. But yeah, basically the same thing. What's interesting now is that our, um, our power meters all come with a software that includes a pedal stroke analysis. If you've ever ridden like the old school, like, uh, comp compute trainers or something, there was a, you could make a little peanut shape with your pedal stroke left and right and what that was doing.

Was measuring your power output on the left, your power output on the right, and that was the left and right halves of the peanut and the split in the middle. The bifurcation was basically the dead spot at the back of your pedal stroke. If you could pedal with a hundred percent efficiency, then you would actually make a circle instead of a peanut.

Right. What's interesting, so we do, you know, um, like, I don't know, at events and stuff, we'll have ones that people can hop on and just kind of play with. And like at Sea Otter, we did gold sprints for, uh, for fun and prizes, which was, was super fun. But, um, you know, of course if we're having an event set up, we have platform pedals on it so people can just hop on in their sneakers.

Um, you can actually change the, um, the pedal to a platform pedal. Or the, I'm sorry, excuse me. Change the ring to an oval chain ring with the platform pedal and you see the split that bifurcation go down. So basically you see the reduction in time spent in the dead spot, you see kind of quantified the, uh, improvement in efficiency with the use of an oval chain ring.

And you know, like we make, we make round chain rings also. So, but this is, it's just an interesting anecdotal. Piece. I mean, if you're sprinting and you're gonna stomp on it, you know, or if you're on a track bike, you know, a round ring, uh, can make more sense. But like time trialists all day long.

[00:13:45]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Yeah. So interesting. So it started out, and can you, um, tell us what year it started out. So what year did the first rotor chain ring hit the market?

[00:13:55]Craig Dalton: So, uh, 25 years ago, so that would be, uh, 20. Now it's 26 years. Esther was our 25th anniversary, so that would be, uh, let's see. It's, oh, so 1997.

[00:14:11]Lori Barrett: Okay. And am I correct that it was in Madrid that the company was founded?

[00:14:14]Craig Dalton: based out of Madrid. Mm-hmm.

[00:14:16]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Gotcha. And so why don't we trace a little bit of the evolution of the product line from that origin story of chain rings and. What was the next opportunities that, that he saw in the development of the product?

[00:14:29]Craig Dalton: Well, I mean, Pablo's goal has always been to make the most efficient, you know, to increase the efficiency. For a rider within, you know, within the context of enjoying their time on a bicycle. So, you know, when something like a complete rotor system bike didn't really make sense, which it doesn't, uh, then he started looking at other ways, avenues to bring that to light.

So one thing that we've seen a big rise in is the interest in shorter cranks. You know, for your listeners who can't see me, I'm five four. Historically, you know, when I was racing full-time, I ran a one 70 crank, one 70 mill link crank. Um, if I bought a extra small or a small mountain bike, it still came with a 1 75 crank.

And you know, it took me a while to figure out that. The crank link for me really made a big difference in like, I always say that, you know, you're either a spinner or a masher in your pedal stroke style, and I tend to bounce around a lot. This is kinda how my brain works, so feel free to refocus me if, if that's helpful.

Um, but. I'm a spinner, so I'm not like a pedal masher, that's just like churning big gears. I'm not a big powerful rider, kind of small, and so the way that I make power is I spin up a gear and if my crank is too long, I can't turn it over quickly enough to generate the power I need to, and it's not like all of a sudden I become muscle type wise, like a mashing, you know, a big powerful writer.

So it just means I'm actually fatiguing myself and less effective in my writing. So, Crank link. My long answer to that question is crank link became a thing and then as power meters.

[00:16:14]Lori Barrett: so that was a that I was just gonna say, so that was an opportunity for them to convince riders that there was a reason to upgrade cranks. And build the case that rotor is making a crank that is worthy of the upgrade. In those early days, I imagine it was one of very few options that had multiple lengths proportional lengths available.

You know, it used to be one 70 and 1 75. Were the only ones in town, and as longtime listeners of the show will attest, like we've had conversations, a lot of conversations about. Proportional crank lengths and the importance and benefits of it. So totally get that. How did, when they started making cranks, what was, was there something about the manufacturing pro process, what materials were they using

[00:16:58]Craig Dalton: Ooh.

[00:16:58]Lori Barrett: were, again, in a, in addition to attracting people to the length, what, what were the other attributes that riders were considering when upgrading?

[00:17:06]Craig Dalton: So here's something, um, well first of all, wait, but, uh, something that I don't know if everybody knows, we actually manufacture in Spain, so everybody says, oh, designed in Italy. We actually have our factories in Madrid. It's, it's pretty amazing. I mean, I'm obviously, we're primarily from a country that isn't really a manufacturing country that much anymore.

So going to a place, it's like going into Willy Wonka's, you know, factory. You're just, It's, you know, amazing bike parts and like machines like C n C machines and, you know, lifelong C n C technicians that are milling these out. So kind of within that, so they came up with a, some of our older cranks were called 3d and that actually meant for, uh, three drilling.

So we use a seven series, an aeronautic grade aluminum, so it's a harder aluminum, um, which allows us to take out more material. It's more expensive. It's stiffer. Um, a six series, which is what, like, for instance, most shaman is made out of. And what our lower series cranks are made out of, um, that has a little more, a little more flex.

Um, and uh, and also you have to leave in more material in order to make it as as strong. Does that make sense?

[00:18:19]Lori Barrett: Yep.

[00:18:19]Craig Dalton: So, um, the seven series is, allows us to take out the maximum amount of material, allows us to make a super light super stiff. Crank. Um, a couple years ago we released, um, a new modular system, which took.

The total parts for a crank and ring set from 22 down to 14, which means you have fewer interfaces for creaking and you know, wobbling loose and all of the things that happen when you have interfaces. Um, what it also meant is that it took, let's say if a duce crank set was 650 grams, it took it down to 600 grams and that's still for alloy.

So a very, very durable material. Uh, we do have some carbon cranks as well, and those are, Even lighter. I think on the mountain bike side, it's the la la lightest mountain bike power meter on the market. And on the roadside it's, I believe, the lightest next to something like a T H M. So it's just, and, you know, half the price or a third the price.

So it's just absolutely, uh, as we say, it's sick light. So there's a pretty cool material story in addition to, um, yeah. And, and manufacturing. In addition to the manufacturing. Yeah.

[00:19:34]Lori Barrett: And when. When do you think about selling carbon cranks? Are there any concerns about durability or is the, the way they're dur, they're manufactured as durable as an aluminum crank.

[00:19:45]Craig Dalton: I mean, to me a carbon crank is almost never going to be as, as durable as aluminum. So that's actually one of the things that I think increases the applicability for somebody that's riding on and offroad combined. But you know, everybody's got a different set of considerations. You know, um, maybe most of the gravel you ride isn't flying up and hitting your cranks.

I don't know. I mean, you know, maybe it's cder as we call it. Um, so perhaps a carbon crank is going to be just as durable, but really, You have to leave a lot of material. I mean, there are other crank manufacturers that do very heavy carbon cranks that are heavier than our aluminum cranks, and maybe those are as durable, but at that point, what's the point?

You know? I mean, I guess you have the carbon look, but

[00:20:30]Lori Barrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then so it, it seems like with all that focus on chain rings and cranks, it was probably natural, although a giant leap to start offering a power meter. Can you talk about sort of, uh, Why the company decided to jump into that market and what perspective they brought that might have been different than other power meters that were out on the market.

[00:20:54]Craig Dalton: Well, you have a few different pieces. One, it was becoming more common, you know, back when Pablo started the company, it was something that even professionals didn't have on their bikes. Right? And then it was professionals and then now it's just that, you know, it's kind of a standard piece of equipment.

Like a heart rate monitor was 20 years ago, right? Um, so I think the fact that it became something that was going to be more within reach for consumers was important. But really, you know, rotor is all about, um, performance and staying in line. You know, we're working with these Tour de France teams this year.

Of course, it's with Inter Marshe. We worked with Dimension Data for a long time. Israel Premier Tech, you know, all of these teams, and they needed a power meter and we don't want them running someone else's power meter, of course. So, um, Yeah, so they started, but it was, it was a huge project. I mean, and we partnered with, uh, Indra, which is a, um, a company that provides, you know, strain gauges, basically the hardware for, um, pieces of the Spanish government, which is pretty wild to, to basically help us with the, the internals.

And then we created our own software and it pairs, obviously with all the a n T plus Bluetooth. You know, wahoo, head units, Garmin, you know, you name it, all of them. Um, but we wanted to have our own software as well. The other thing, and we already touched upon oval rings, of course, is that, um, again, not to like go too deep down a tech nerd hole, but it's, um, if you don't, if your rate of record for a power meter isn't frequent enough, it will give you an incorrect reading.

On an oval chain ring because if you're only sampling data at two points on the chain ring, well because the chain ring is not round and it's maximizing it here and minimizing it here, then it's going to not give you accurate power readings. So we needed to make a power meter that gave, you know, that was actually reading essentially in real time.

So our power meters have the most rapid rate of record of any power meter in the industry. I mean in part by virtue of wanting to make sure we're giving accurate power readouts with one of our flagship products, eeg, the oval rings.

[00:23:10]Lori Barrett: Got it. Got it. Taking a step back for a second just to kind of set the stage, and I imagine I'm not alone in being a little bit, um, less familiar with power meters, so. I recall kind of originally there were hub based power meters and then later crank based power meters. How does the system actually work?

Like where is the, where are those, um, where are those data points coming from within the rotor system and how maybe does that differ from other, in the people in the market's approach to getting power data?

[00:23:45]Craig Dalton: Well, we have a few different models, so they kind of, they rerecord a little differently, but like if you take our twin power, which actually is one of the only power meters that's recording left and right data independently, right? Um, then there are, um, two sets of paired strain gauges in the axle. Two sets of paired strain gauges in the drive side arm.

And they are reading, um, the left and right leg basically,

[00:24:10]Lori Barrett: that, and just for clarity, that's in the crank axle and each crank arm.

[00:24:14]Craig Dalton: Mm-hmm. Right. And so, uh, one of the other interesting pieces is we were just talking about, wait, I feel like I'm getting so deep in the weeds here. Tell me, like, I can go, I can go down this, but like, I'm like going back into materials science.

Um, so, uh, one of the things you have is you always have exper uh, metal, um, Excuse me, material expansion and contraction and so with temperature, right. You know, that's, that's just a thing. And so one of the pieces of programming that you have to, uh, account for in all of your power units is it's, it's basically got a thermometer in it.

I mean, it's the, the technology behind these things. It's, it's, to me, it's kind of amazing. And then you have accelerometers and all of the different pieces that allow it to provide. Uh, incredibly reliable data. So two plus minus one and a half percent, which is one of the most accurate on the market. And I actually, I was talking with the power meter engineer last year at Eurobike, and I was asking her about it.

I was like, well, why don't you know? She's like, well, we have to. I was asking her why it's not more accurate. Basically, she's like, well, If it were actually reading in real time, if it we, if we didn't do that power smoothing of one and a half percent, then the numbers would change so fast you wouldn't be able to read them to use them.

I was like, oh, who knew? Um, yeah, so the, we also have other units that are, um, spider based and so then it's a, you know, single-sided with a virtual dual-sided, um, One of the other

[00:25:51]Lori Barrett: in that scenario with the spider based one, then it's making some assumptions around your left, left leg as well as your right leg.

[00:25:58]Craig Dalton: Correct. It's using fancy math. Um, and one of the, one of the other pieces though, is that you have to make sure that they're very impact resistant.

All of our power meters are. I P X seven. Um, we actually just released a new in spider for, um, which is the spider based power system, right? Um, the, a new in spider MTV for, uh, obviously for the mountain bike. And one of the cool things there, it's is I P X seven. Plus, I think is what it's called. I p x seven basically means it's a rating that tells you you can, uh, take it up to a meter underwater for up to 30 minutes before it'll be contaminated.

So that means, especially if you're riding off road, let's say in a gravel circumstance, if you have a creek crossing, you don't have to worry about contamination for your power meter. You're not gonna short circuit anything. The electronics are electronics are all gonna be fine. With the seven plus, it also means that it's sealed against really fine Culver, really fine dust, which might be really germane as well on, um, an off-road circumstance, obviously.

[00:27:03]Lori Barrett: To help the, to help us understand, like, so to get one of these power meters on your, your bike. You need to get a rotor crank set right? So there's the, the two two crank arm version that you can replace your existing crank arm with the spider version. Are you still getting that with a crank set?

[00:27:22]Craig Dalton: Yes. So the interface is for our cranks. Um, and, um, I know there are other power meter brands that offer a single crank upgrade. You know, we did that for a while and, um, it just, it wasn't as good a system as providing the whole crank and power meter unit. I know there are also. Power meters that you can just replace the axle, but then you have problems.

They all have their own problems. So we wanted one that was going to be as reliable and as accurate as possible. So we felt like the best solution for that was providing the whole crank and chain ring, uh, solution.

[00:28:03]Lori Barrett: That makes sense. So for your interest in the gravel market, I know you guys have been active out there at various events, both participating and having trade show booths there. Where, what products are you seeing gravel riders kind of, uh, focus on in your lineup?

[00:28:21]Craig Dalton: So, um, I mean, the simple answer is, uh, like the cranks and the power meters. I mean, we do a direct mount chain ring that's a 48 32. Uh, again, this was part of the design award. We, uh, because. The direct mount chain ring is a single piece of mild. It's actually, it's, it's like a work of art, honestly.

Um, a 48 32, which normally you can't do smaller than a 42, 40, 34 2 ring on a spider based system. That's why Shao struggled for so long before grx, right? Um, was that you have to have at least a one 10 B, c, d, the bolt count diameter in order to, you know, for, for their cranks, right? So we have the 42 30, um, 40, 48, 32.

We have the 46 30 s, which are specific gravel gearings. Um, we're also doing full one by ranges in that are 11 and 12 speed compatible. We launched last year Universal Tooth Technology, which means it'll work with your Shaman 12 speed as well as Youram 12 speed, as well as your. You know, whatever, whatever you're running rotor.

Um, so it's, it's pretty cool because it kind of, I, it seems so dorky, but, um, the, uh, tooth technology is a little bit like an arms race. Each company is always trying to make something that no one else is double work with to kind of lock you into a system. And so to be able to, um, have the intellectual property that allows you to kind of thread that.

You know, the, that needle, it's, it's pretty cool. So one by rings that work with everybody's, you know, everybody's product. Um, I mean, from a 28 all the way up to, uh, 58. Honestly, that's pretty wild.

[00:30:13]Lori Barrett: Okay. If one was looking to upgrade to a rotor crank set, uh, do they need to replace their bottom bracket in order to do so?

[00:30:21]Craig Dalton: Ooh, that's a good question also. Um, so the, the easy answer is no. We make cranks in a 24 and 30 mil axle. Again, I kind of start to, I'm like, ah, how, how deep into the weeds am I gonna go? Um, but we also, we make bottom brackets that are, we use in Duro bearings and, um, they're absolutely, they're just top best in class.

Um, we manufacture all the shells and everything in Spain. Again, it's just really good quality product. And replacing, quite frankly, replacing bottom brackets is something that we should all do if you're riding a lot of miles. Multiple times a year. If you're not riding a lot of miles at least once a year.

And especially, you know, we were talking about creek crossings, bottom brackets, anyone's bottom bracket after a creek crossing or two, take that apart. Give it a little love. Anyway, your bearings will thank you. You know,

[00:31:11]Lori Barrett: So if I've got, so if I've got a shaman bottom bracket in there, it's a one-to-one replacement. Is that the same with a shram, a Shram Dub BB, for example.

[00:31:20]Craig Dalton: So yes it is. And so the shaman only uses 24 mil spindle. So again, back into our fun material science, uh, 24 mill spindle has to be steel rotor prefers the 30 mill aluminum simply because it's stiffer Steel, of course, has flex. That's why we don't ride steel bikes anymore. Um, and it's also lighter aluminum is lighter than steel.

Um, the reason that Shama likes the 24 mil spindle is that uh, you can run a slightly bigger bearing size with that bottom bracket. Right. Um, which, Adds to bottom bracket durability, however, you know, you're talking a $30 a year difference in, in material costs as far as like replacing your bottom bracket if you went with the 30 mil, more efficient, lighter uh, spindle.

That being said, we do make a 24 mil axle. It's just not our favorite.

[00:32:20]Lori Barrett: Got

[00:32:20]Craig Dalton: So if you, if you were replacing it on your shaman bottom bracket, you would replace it with the 24 mil. Axle, uh, version of our cranks.

[00:32:29]Lori Barrett: Got it. While this next product I'm gonna ask about isn't something that you guys are from intending from a marketing perspective to be for the gravel rider, I think I'd be remiss in having a conversation with rotor without talking about it. And that's your hydraulic drive train. Can you kinda explain how that works?

[00:32:48]Craig Dalton: Oh, it's amazing. Um, and honestly, I feel like gravel is the best application, but. You know this, it's the, I have a one by 13 setup on my gravel bike. Um, we had a rider win, you know, the, uh, gravel world on it a couple of times. Um, you know, a few years ago. And it's been, it's been raced at Unbound.

It's been, yeah, it's been kind of raised in all of these

[00:33:14]Lori Barrett: let, let's talk about what it is. Because I think that won't be clear at this point. So we're talking about a derailer shifters cassette, and not only are we talking about those things, we're talking about the mechanism for shifting being hydraulic, like many of us are most aware of hydraulics with respect to disc brakes.

So explain how a hydraulic powered derailer works.

[00:33:43]Craig Dalton: Well, so it's mechanical hydraulic, right? And so when you use the gear shifter, it basically triggers a little lever that then shifts the, um, the rear derailer. And it's a one by system. It's a push push system. So then when you go to shift up, uh, basically there's a, you know, the hydraulic fluid releases a little spring and then it like, You know, goes up the cassette, right?

[00:34:09]Lori Barrett: Okay, so we're imagining sort of, we've got a much like a break. Yeah, hose Going through the frame, we've got a hydraulic hose going through the, through the shift lever with Hy Mineral oil in it. When I throw the lever, I'm basically pushing that mineral oil, which is then shifting the driller up, and then as I'm releasing it via the lever lever, I'm kind of releasing a little bit of oil.

Ergo that Thera is shifting a little bit more.

[00:34:35]Craig Dalton: Yeah. And so it's a closed system so you don't end up with, you know, like with a cable system, you end up with friction and replacing cables and all that. Um, I'm like, I get very um, You know, in most of my life I'm very digitally involved, right? When I ride my bicycle, I'm pretty darn analog.

Of course, I still have a power meter and I, you know, occasionally bust out my head unit so I can see the numbers, although that's more depressing now than anything else. But I, I don't wanna have to remember to charge my bike. You know, yesterday I was gonna try and ride midday, and then it started storming.

So, I didn't get to ride. I kind of threw a little tantrum and you know, cleaned some of the house and then, uh, went out yesterday evening. And if I had kind of decided for a last minute ride without having charged my bike and then my bike's not, you know, like my derailer is not charged, how bummed am I?

Like it's one thing to have a power meter and I don't get to have my power read out and that's just shame on me. But it's another thing if it keeps me from riding my bike anyway, so I'm just. You know, I get kind of, kind of salty about it.

[00:35:47]Lori Barrett: When did the drive train get introduced and are any of the pro road teams that you're working with riding on that drive train?

[00:35:54]Craig Dalton: Um, so we brought out the first one, which was called the UNO Group, um, in 20 17, 20 18. And, um, long story short, the last year or during the pandemic, we sold 100% of production to. A couple of European oes and so there were none for, you know, you know, for, I mean, we had a couple, like of individual athletes, but when you, when you supply a per road team, you're giving them 200 group sets, like, and that's it is because we manufactured a hundred percent of the parts in Spain, like we're talking molding the hoods, you know, like this is so far from like milling, you know, C n C cranks.

But you know, you figure it out, you learn to do it. But there's so many parts that it is kind of a, a, it's a, it's a crown jewel, but it's also like a loss leader. It's not our bread and butter, if you will. Um, the other thing is, I think we saw a few years ago with, uh, the Aqua Sapone team, um, in one of the early spring races, uh, you will pry a front derailer from the roadies.

Cold dead hands, like gravel rider's a lot more flexible. I don't, I mean, I don't need a front, you know, but like roadies, I mean, heck, they went on strike in the nineties when people made 'em start wearing, you know, the UCI started making 'em wear helmets, like, you know, how long's it gonna take them? I mean, tubeless technology just brakes anyway, like, whatever, you know, we, uh, we get to be the, uh, the vanguard, correct.

Gravel

[00:37:30]Lori Barrett: I think it's, I think it's super interesting, just the hydraulic powered, derailer

[00:37:35]Craig Dalton: Oh, it's great.

[00:37:36]Lori Barrett: being the pro power's probably the wrong word, but hydraulic activated actuated there. I knew I would get there anyway. Super cool. Laura, I appreciate the overview of rotor. Um, put a link in the show notes to Rotor America's website.

So. People can check out the crank sets, which I think again, as we said, is probably the most interesting product, particularly if you are interested in either considering a power meter or equally important considering optimizing your crank length based on your body type and style. Rotor's a a great option for people to consider.

[00:38:10]Craig Dalton: It's really, it's some neat stuff. I mean, it's worthwhile to check out. We have a great customer service team out of Salt Lake City, um, technical support, um, and really, you know, like kind of coming back to the power meters. It's, again, for me, I just wanna enjoy the experience of riding my bike. And sometimes I, I want data as well, but mostly I want to have something that's extremely reliable and, you know, and doesn't, doesn't get in my way, doesn't keep me from getting on the bike.

Certainly. And so for me, you know, the power meters and the cranks, it's all, it's just set and forget, you know, you leave it alone. Um, yeah, it's fun.

[00:38:50]Lori Barrett: Right on. Well, thanks for all the time, Lori.

[00:38:52]Craig Dalton: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was, uh, great, great talking with you.

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πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ Have you ever wondered what it takes to create cutting-edge technology in the professional cycling world? In our latest episode, host Craig Dalton πŸŽ™οΈ sits down with Lori Barrett, Managing Director of the Americas for Rotor, a Spanish-based company that is revolutionizing the biking industry.

Together, Craig and Lori take us deep into the story of Rotor πŸ”§ - from its inception by Pablo Carrasco who sought to resolve the dead spot in riders' pedal strokes, to its current reputation as a game changer in the cycling arena. Lori enlightens us with breakthrough innovations such as Rotor's oval chain rings, proportional length cranks, power meters, and the latest hydraulic drivetrain. 🚲

Lori gives listeners an exclusive look into how the company relentlessly works to transform cycling experiences for athletes and weekend warriors alike. πŸ† Don't miss this chance to ride along with Craig and Lori as they discuss all things Rotor and the fascinating world of professional cycling technology. Pedal on and listen to our latest episode now!🎧🚴✨

Listerners get a 20% discount on Rotor Components using the code THEGRAVELRIDE20 at Rotor America.

Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (code: THEGRAVELRIDE for free heart rate monitor strap)

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

[00:00:00]Lori Barrett: Hey Lori, welcome to the show.

[00:00:04]Craig Dalton: Hi. Thanks for having me. Super excited to talk with you today.

[00:00:08]Lori Barrett: Yeah, and I love that background you have there in Utah. It looks like you live in a beautiful place.

[00:00:13]Craig Dalton: I do, I'm sorry. Like, probably all you're seeing right now are the, the beautiful puffy sky, uh, clouds, um, kind of reflected in the window, but, uh, from what I'm looking at, I have a little screen and then I have beautiful meadows and mountains, so

[00:00:26]Lori Barrett: Not a bad spot

[00:00:27]Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's all right.

[00:00:28]Lori Barrett: to start out the conversation, Lord. Where did, where did you grow up and how did you find the bike?

[00:00:33]Craig Dalton: Oh gosh. Um, so I'm from Austin, Texas, and um, like even from college, like I had, our household had an outpost for, um, the yellow Bike project. So a San Francisco based collective that tries to, um, repurpose bikes and provide bikes for people that don't have them basically. So even back then, We were all into bike culture and my roommates all worked at bike shops, things like that.

Um, I was sort of a casual rider and commuter, you know, for college and everything else, uh, until a little later. And then, um, somebody handed me a road bike and I pedaled off. And the first like official road ride that I did, uh, was like maybe 45 miles, which, you know, not insignificant for a first drive and kind of never stopped pedaling after that.

Um, Kind of, um, just loved it. Um, ended up racing road bikes full-time with, uh, an elite domestic team out of Austin. And, uh, ended up running that team and helping cultivate newer talent, um, some of whom, you know, are still out there, which is really cool. I saw you saw, had Whitney Allison, uh, on your podcast.

She was one of my rioters. Um, and, uh, Lauren Stevens was on our team. Anyway, it's just, it's really cool. We had a great group of women that. Some of whom have stayed in the industry and, you know, continue to love and race their bikes. Yeah. Anyway, now I'm not fast anymore. I raced on the road, I raced on the track, I raced mountain bikes.

I've done everything from match sprints to um, Enduro mountain bike races. So

[00:02:13]Lori Barrett: love

[00:02:13]Craig Dalton: of all forms of wheeled, um, travel. I have a lot of commuters now. I think my next one's gonna be an e cargo bike, which I'm kind of excited about. Um, yeah. Anyway. All of it. Mm-hmm.

[00:02:26]Lori Barrett: that's, that's amazing. So from your origins in Austin racing on the road, you discovered a little mountain biking. When did you discover gravel riding and how does that fit into what you enjoy doing?

[00:02:40]Craig Dalton: Well, yeah, I was just talking with someone about this the other day. So our, uh, roads around Austin, I mean, what I loved about where I lived there is that I had from my house on the east side of town, I had loops that I could do that were 30 miles, 45 miles. You could kind of just add these kind of like, uh, farmland roads.

And for us, the sign of a good ride, and we call them road rides, was basically what we call Rube. Um, so basically, uh, caliche or gravel sections that we would spend miles on because then you knew you didn't have traffic. So, and you know, and also however many, um, Cattle guards you went over. That was the other, the other hallmark.

But, so that was, we were riding, I mean, I don't know, probably 30% of our road rides if you went over, you know, 50 or 60 miles were at least partially gravel. And so we were doing that on, you know, back then 23 mill tires kind of build your tolerance for, uh, for a little bit of rough road. Um, but yeah, so I would say that's when.

[00:03:45]Lori Barrett: Nice. Yeah, it, I was listening to someone the other day and they were talking about their experience as a road rider and riding dirt roads. I think it was out in Boulder, Colorado. And how now it, they don't, they're not affected in the same way others are when they're riding their quote unquote road bikes in the dirt sections of B W R, for example, because it's something they've been doing for a while.

[00:04:07]Craig Dalton: Yeah. Decades. I mean, it's funny actually. I did a really fun road ride. Road a little bit in air quotes out in Boulder. Um, that included a fun dirt section and I got to petta wallaby. It was with some of the cycling tips guys, and um, actually one of my, you know, whatever my wins in my past, you know, have been for, as a bike racer, I got a top 10 on a Boulder road ride.

And all I can say is that's probably one of the great achievements, achievements of my professional cycling career.

[00:04:39]Lori Barrett: Too bad they don't have a leader's jersey for that

[00:04:41]Craig Dalton: I know, right? I've probably, I'm sure I was bumped years ago now, but whatever, I'll, I'm still holding onto it.

[00:04:47]Lori Barrett: So it sounds like you sort of went from a racer to a little bit of team management. And then how did you find your way into the bike industry beyond the racing side of things?

[00:04:57]Craig Dalton: Yeah. So, um, well basically I'd been, you know, racing bicycles and I started off working for Cliff Bar and I ran event and athlete sponsorship for them out of Texas. And, um, after a few years of it, I felt kind of like it wasn't really challenging me professionally anymore. Um, you know, it's interesting.

I mean, the way, the simplified way to explain it is that I had a pot of money and a pot of product, and my job was to figure out strategic ways to allocate these things that supported the sales team ultimately. And in retrospect, it was actually a really good, um, a really good kind of strategic way to consider.

How you invest resources. And it kind of prepared me later for, for other things. But, uh, at once I decided it was kind of time to move on, I ended up taking a job with a sales agency, so within the bicycle industry. So I was a sales rep for someone else's agency. And after a couple of years of that, I left and I started my own.

And after a couple of years of that, um, I had an offer to be a national sales manager for Reynolds, the wheel company. And that's actually what moved me to Utah from Texas. So I sold my sales agency there. It still exists. I've hired them back for rotor, which is pretty cool.

[00:06:10]Lori Barrett: Nice. And just so, so people understand, like a sales agency in the bike industry, as I

[00:06:15]Craig Dalton: Oh yeah.

[00:06:16]Lori Barrett: it and, and have have observed it, you've got independent sales reps that can be hired by multiple brands at a time. And these are individuals that go to shop, shop by shop by shop in their territory and sell Reynolds wheels or Oakley sunglasses or Jira helmets, whatever they are to the shop owners.

[00:06:34]Craig Dalton: exactly. So, and thank you for clarifying that. You know, it's the problem because, um, non-endemic listeners, which I imagine most are, it would be a pretty kind of vague thing. Um, yeah. So, like for instance, maybe my Texas sales reps work with to Fosi and Pivot Mountain Bikes and, um, you know, uh, Met helmets and you know, it's just kind of a, a package of brands, a portfolio really.

And they try not to have competing brands, so obviously they're not gonna have Pivot Yeti or you know, whatever. Um, yeah. So it's, uh, that way they can work with all of the local bike shops and, um, like, you know, we're just talking about Texas, so usually a region, the region depends on the territory, but like in Texas's case, it's Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas.

So you have these four states and so you have multiple sales reps and you know, tech reps and it's sort of its own little, it's an agency model. So we had a few reps and a few tech reps and, you know, tried to take great care of the bike shops with that.

[00:07:38]Lori Barrett: Got it. So then you moved on to the company side with Reynolds, and then where do you go from there?

[00:07:44]Craig Dalton: So with Reynolds it was an interesting opportunity and I learned a lot, um, you know, running all the sales reps and kind of managing the positions I'd been in prior. Um, but then when the position came open to be the managing director for Rotor, it was, you know, kind of a chance to continue learning.

I call it the do it yourself mba. So it's, um, it's a chance to keep, you know, keep myself from getting bored and, uh, keep kind of being able to pull more and more of the levers within a, within a brand and a within a company.

[00:08:18]Lori Barrett: Let's, we'll come back to kind of your arrival at Rotor, but because the company was founded prior to that point, I imagine, let's take a step back and, and talk about rotor and. As you understand it, what was the inspiration behind starting Rotor? What products did they begin with? And then we can talk a little bit about how it's evolved and, and when you joined.

It's a Spanish based company, so obviously opening up and having a managing director in the US is a step in the progression. But let's start at the beginning and what's Rotor, how, why was it founded? What was it all about?

[00:08:52]Craig Dalton: So, uh, you have a guy named Pablo Carrasco, who is sort of like the mad scientist and he wants to create solutions to problems. And the problem that he saw was the dead spot in writer's pedal strokes, right? So, You know, when we, um, if you look at like a, a torque analysis of your pedal stroke, not to get too data nerdy here, then obviously most people know that most of the force that they put down on a pedal is down.

You aren't really able to, even with clipless pedals, maybe there's some amount that, you know, is pulling up, but for the most part, that's not where you have a dead spot. Let's say if you're looking at a clock face between, you know, Seven and 9:00 PM on the clock base where you're putting out very little force.

So Pablo came up with a few different solutions, um, some of which were more commercially viable than others. So there was an entire rotor bike that had a, like, it had, uh, two spindles. Anyway, there's, there's some bananas stuff that he had created, which is wildly efficient. For pedal stroke, but also, you know, weighed 30 pounds or something absurd like that.

So came up with the compromise of the, um, the curings, the rotor, oval chain rings. And so with a, um, which basically are, everybody always thinks about it from the perspective of maximizing the force that you're able, or the use that you're able to get outta the force that you put downward. But really it's about decreasing the amount of time that you spend in the dead spot of the pedal stroke,

[00:10:23]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, I remember sort of, gosh, just being a fan of road racing and I don't even know how many years this would be ago, 25 years with. Bobby Gik coming out

[00:10:35]Craig Dalton: Oh yeah.

[00:10:35]Lori Barrett: riding oval chain rings and really espousing the virtue of, again, eliminating that dead spot in the pedal stroke to maximize the power that is in the, you know, the nondead spots.

[00:10:47]Craig Dalton: Absolutely. And you know, that was, you know, it. It was really, once, you know, we started having adoption within the Tor de Frances and we had, you know, a, a winner in the yellow Jersey, you know, winner of the Tor de Frances that it, it kind of became more, Hmm, you know, not socially acceptable, but that, you know, it just kind of became more normalized, I guess.

Um, and it's still, you know, it's, I've had people, you know, if I'm in a group of people that. Don't know me or my affiliation with rotor, what oval chain rings are. If I'm riding people, I've had people say, oh, there's something wrong with your chain ring. And I'm like, because they're looking at it. And if you're just looking at it, it, I don't know.

It's, it looks less round, obviously. So yeah, it's, it's, it's a funny thing.

[00:11:34]Lori Barrett: And did he come at it from a, a scientific background and sort of identify like if we're, if we're measuring power around the pedal stroke, that empirically speaking, there is this dead spot and you can improve one's power output via an ized chain ring.

[00:11:51]Craig Dalton: Yeah, and I mean, so his background is engineering. He's a mechanical engineer. Um, and so he approached it from an engineering standpoint. But yeah, basically the same thing. What's interesting now is that our, um, our power meters all come with a software that includes a pedal stroke analysis. If you've ever ridden like the old school, like, uh, comp compute trainers or something, there was a, you could make a little peanut shape with your pedal stroke left and right and what that was doing.

Was measuring your power output on the left, your power output on the right, and that was the left and right halves of the peanut and the split in the middle. The bifurcation was basically the dead spot at the back of your pedal stroke. If you could pedal with a hundred percent efficiency, then you would actually make a circle instead of a peanut.

Right. What's interesting, so we do, you know, um, like, I don't know, at events and stuff, we'll have ones that people can hop on and just kind of play with. And like at Sea Otter, we did gold sprints for, uh, for fun and prizes, which was, was super fun. But, um, you know, of course if we're having an event set up, we have platform pedals on it so people can just hop on in their sneakers.

Um, you can actually change the, um, the pedal to a platform pedal. Or the, I'm sorry, excuse me. Change the ring to an oval chain ring with the platform pedal and you see the split that bifurcation go down. So basically you see the reduction in time spent in the dead spot, you see kind of quantified the, uh, improvement in efficiency with the use of an oval chain ring.

And you know, like we make, we make round chain rings also. So, but this is, it's just an interesting anecdotal. Piece. I mean, if you're sprinting and you're gonna stomp on it, you know, or if you're on a track bike, you know, a round ring, uh, can make more sense. But like time trialists all day long.

[00:13:45]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Yeah. So interesting. So it started out, and can you, um, tell us what year it started out. So what year did the first rotor chain ring hit the market?

[00:13:55]Craig Dalton: So, uh, 25 years ago, so that would be, uh, 20. Now it's 26 years. Esther was our 25th anniversary, so that would be, uh, let's see. It's, oh, so 1997.

[00:14:11]Lori Barrett: Okay. And am I correct that it was in Madrid that the company was founded?

[00:14:14]Craig Dalton: based out of Madrid. Mm-hmm.

[00:14:16]Lori Barrett: Yeah. Gotcha. And so why don't we trace a little bit of the evolution of the product line from that origin story of chain rings and. What was the next opportunities that, that he saw in the development of the product?

[00:14:29]Craig Dalton: Well, I mean, Pablo's goal has always been to make the most efficient, you know, to increase the efficiency. For a rider within, you know, within the context of enjoying their time on a bicycle. So, you know, when something like a complete rotor system bike didn't really make sense, which it doesn't, uh, then he started looking at other ways, avenues to bring that to light.

So one thing that we've seen a big rise in is the interest in shorter cranks. You know, for your listeners who can't see me, I'm five four. Historically, you know, when I was racing full-time, I ran a one 70 crank, one 70 mill link crank. Um, if I bought a extra small or a small mountain bike, it still came with a 1 75 crank.

And you know, it took me a while to figure out that. The crank link for me really made a big difference in like, I always say that, you know, you're either a spinner or a masher in your pedal stroke style, and I tend to bounce around a lot. This is kinda how my brain works, so feel free to refocus me if, if that's helpful.

Um, but. I'm a spinner, so I'm not like a pedal masher, that's just like churning big gears. I'm not a big powerful rider, kind of small, and so the way that I make power is I spin up a gear and if my crank is too long, I can't turn it over quickly enough to generate the power I need to, and it's not like all of a sudden I become muscle type wise, like a mashing, you know, a big powerful writer.

So it just means I'm actually fatiguing myself and less effective in my writing. So, Crank link. My long answer to that question is crank link became a thing and then as power meters.

[00:16:14]Lori Barrett: so that was a that I was just gonna say, so that was an opportunity for them to convince riders that there was a reason to upgrade cranks. And build the case that rotor is making a crank that is worthy of the upgrade. In those early days, I imagine it was one of very few options that had multiple lengths proportional lengths available.

You know, it used to be one 70 and 1 75. Were the only ones in town, and as longtime listeners of the show will attest, like we've had conversations, a lot of conversations about. Proportional crank lengths and the importance and benefits of it. So totally get that. How did, when they started making cranks, what was, was there something about the manufacturing pro process, what materials were they using

[00:16:58]Craig Dalton: Ooh.

[00:16:58]Lori Barrett: were, again, in a, in addition to attracting people to the length, what, what were the other attributes that riders were considering when upgrading?

[00:17:06]Craig Dalton: So here's something, um, well first of all, wait, but, uh, something that I don't know if everybody knows, we actually manufacture in Spain, so everybody says, oh, designed in Italy. We actually have our factories in Madrid. It's, it's pretty amazing. I mean, I'm obviously, we're primarily from a country that isn't really a manufacturing country that much anymore.

So going to a place, it's like going into Willy Wonka's, you know, factory. You're just, It's, you know, amazing bike parts and like machines like C n C machines and, you know, lifelong C n C technicians that are milling these out. So kind of within that, so they came up with a, some of our older cranks were called 3d and that actually meant for, uh, three drilling.

So we use a seven series, an aeronautic grade aluminum, so it's a harder aluminum, um, which allows us to take out more material. It's more expensive. It's stiffer. Um, a six series, which is what, like, for instance, most shaman is made out of. And what our lower series cranks are made out of, um, that has a little more, a little more flex.

Um, and uh, and also you have to leave in more material in order to make it as as strong. Does that make sense?

[00:18:19]Lori Barrett: Yep.

[00:18:19]Craig Dalton: So, um, the seven series is, allows us to take out the maximum amount of material, allows us to make a super light super stiff. Crank. Um, a couple years ago we released, um, a new modular system, which took.

The total parts for a crank and ring set from 22 down to 14, which means you have fewer interfaces for creaking and you know, wobbling loose and all of the things that happen when you have interfaces. Um, what it also meant is that it took, let's say if a duce crank set was 650 grams, it took it down to 600 grams and that's still for alloy.

So a very, very durable material. Uh, we do have some carbon cranks as well, and those are, Even lighter. I think on the mountain bike side, it's the la la lightest mountain bike power meter on the market. And on the roadside it's, I believe, the lightest next to something like a T H M. So it's just, and, you know, half the price or a third the price.

So it's just absolutely, uh, as we say, it's sick light. So there's a pretty cool material story in addition to, um, yeah. And, and manufacturing. In addition to the manufacturing. Yeah.

[00:19:34]Lori Barrett: And when. When do you think about selling carbon cranks? Are there any concerns about durability or is the, the way they're dur, they're manufactured as durable as an aluminum crank.

[00:19:45]Craig Dalton: I mean, to me a carbon crank is almost never going to be as, as durable as aluminum. So that's actually one of the things that I think increases the applicability for somebody that's riding on and offroad combined. But you know, everybody's got a different set of considerations. You know, um, maybe most of the gravel you ride isn't flying up and hitting your cranks.

I don't know. I mean, you know, maybe it's cder as we call it. Um, so perhaps a carbon crank is going to be just as durable, but really, You have to leave a lot of material. I mean, there are other crank manufacturers that do very heavy carbon cranks that are heavier than our aluminum cranks, and maybe those are as durable, but at that point, what's the point?

You know? I mean, I guess you have the carbon look, but

[00:20:30]Lori Barrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then so it, it seems like with all that focus on chain rings and cranks, it was probably natural, although a giant leap to start offering a power meter. Can you talk about sort of, uh, Why the company decided to jump into that market and what perspective they brought that might have been different than other power meters that were out on the market.

[00:20:54]Craig Dalton: Well, you have a few different pieces. One, it was becoming more common, you know, back when Pablo started the company, it was something that even professionals didn't have on their bikes. Right? And then it was professionals and then now it's just that, you know, it's kind of a standard piece of equipment.

Like a heart rate monitor was 20 years ago, right? Um, so I think the fact that it became something that was going to be more within reach for consumers was important. But really, you know, rotor is all about, um, performance and staying in line. You know, we're working with these Tour de France teams this year.

Of course, it's with Inter Marshe. We worked with Dimension Data for a long time. Israel Premier Tech, you know, all of these teams, and they needed a power meter and we don't want them running someone else's power meter, of course. So, um, Yeah, so they started, but it was, it was a huge project. I mean, and we partnered with, uh, Indra, which is a, um, a company that provides, you know, strain gauges, basically the hardware for, um, pieces of the Spanish government, which is pretty wild to, to basically help us with the, the internals.

And then we created our own software and it pairs, obviously with all the a n T plus Bluetooth. You know, wahoo, head units, Garmin, you know, you name it, all of them. Um, but we wanted to have our own software as well. The other thing, and we already touched upon oval rings, of course, is that, um, again, not to like go too deep down a tech nerd hole, but it's, um, if you don't, if your rate of record for a power meter isn't frequent enough, it will give you an incorrect reading.

On an oval chain ring because if you're only sampling data at two points on the chain ring, well because the chain ring is not round and it's maximizing it here and minimizing it here, then it's going to not give you accurate power readings. So we needed to make a power meter that gave, you know, that was actually reading essentially in real time.

So our power meters have the most rapid rate of record of any power meter in the industry. I mean in part by virtue of wanting to make sure we're giving accurate power readouts with one of our flagship products, eeg, the oval rings.

[00:23:10]Lori Barrett: Got it. Got it. Taking a step back for a second just to kind of set the stage, and I imagine I'm not alone in being a little bit, um, less familiar with power meters, so. I recall kind of originally there were hub based power meters and then later crank based power meters. How does the system actually work?

Like where is the, where are those, um, where are those data points coming from within the rotor system and how maybe does that differ from other, in the people in the market's approach to getting power data?

[00:23:45]Craig Dalton: Well, we have a few different models, so they kind of, they rerecord a little differently, but like if you take our twin power, which actually is one of the only power meters that's recording left and right data independently, right? Um, then there are, um, two sets of paired strain gauges in the axle. Two sets of paired strain gauges in the drive side arm.

And they are reading, um, the left and right leg basically,

[00:24:10]Lori Barrett: that, and just for clarity, that's in the crank axle and each crank arm.

[00:24:14]Craig Dalton: Mm-hmm. Right. And so, uh, one of the other interesting pieces is we were just talking about, wait, I feel like I'm getting so deep in the weeds here. Tell me, like, I can go, I can go down this, but like, I'm like going back into materials science.

Um, so, uh, one of the things you have is you always have exper uh, metal, um, Excuse me, material expansion and contraction and so with temperature, right. You know, that's, that's just a thing. And so one of the pieces of programming that you have to, uh, account for in all of your power units is it's, it's basically got a thermometer in it.

I mean, it's the, the technology behind these things. It's, it's, to me, it's kind of amazing. And then you have accelerometers and all of the different pieces that allow it to provide. Uh, incredibly reliable data. So two plus minus one and a half percent, which is one of the most accurate on the market. And I actually, I was talking with the power meter engineer last year at Eurobike, and I was asking her about it.

I was like, well, why don't you know? She's like, well, we have to. I was asking her why it's not more accurate. Basically, she's like, well, If it were actually reading in real time, if it we, if we didn't do that power smoothing of one and a half percent, then the numbers would change so fast you wouldn't be able to read them to use them.

I was like, oh, who knew? Um, yeah, so the, we also have other units that are, um, spider based and so then it's a, you know, single-sided with a virtual dual-sided, um, One of the other

[00:25:51]Lori Barrett: in that scenario with the spider based one, then it's making some assumptions around your left, left leg as well as your right leg.

[00:25:58]Craig Dalton: Correct. It's using fancy math. Um, and one of the, one of the other pieces though, is that you have to make sure that they're very impact resistant.

All of our power meters are. I P X seven. Um, we actually just released a new in spider for, um, which is the spider based power system, right? Um, the, a new in spider MTV for, uh, obviously for the mountain bike. And one of the cool things there, it's is I P X seven. Plus, I think is what it's called. I p x seven basically means it's a rating that tells you you can, uh, take it up to a meter underwater for up to 30 minutes before it'll be contaminated.

So that means, especially if you're riding off road, let's say in a gravel circumstance, if you have a creek crossing, you don't have to worry about contamination for your power meter. You're not gonna short circuit anything. The electronics are electronics are all gonna be fine. With the seven plus, it also means that it's sealed against really fine Culver, really fine dust, which might be really germane as well on, um, an off-road circumstance, obviously.

[00:27:03]Lori Barrett: To help the, to help us understand, like, so to get one of these power meters on your, your bike. You need to get a rotor crank set right? So there's the, the two two crank arm version that you can replace your existing crank arm with the spider version. Are you still getting that with a crank set?

[00:27:22]Craig Dalton: Yes. So the interface is for our cranks. Um, and, um, I know there are other power meter brands that offer a single crank upgrade. You know, we did that for a while and, um, it just, it wasn't as good a system as providing the whole crank and power meter unit. I know there are also. Power meters that you can just replace the axle, but then you have problems.

They all have their own problems. So we wanted one that was going to be as reliable and as accurate as possible. So we felt like the best solution for that was providing the whole crank and chain ring, uh, solution.

[00:28:03]Lori Barrett: That makes sense. So for your interest in the gravel market, I know you guys have been active out there at various events, both participating and having trade show booths there. Where, what products are you seeing gravel riders kind of, uh, focus on in your lineup?

[00:28:21]Craig Dalton: So, um, I mean, the simple answer is, uh, like the cranks and the power meters. I mean, we do a direct mount chain ring that's a 48 32. Uh, again, this was part of the design award. We, uh, because. The direct mount chain ring is a single piece of mild. It's actually, it's, it's like a work of art, honestly.

Um, a 48 32, which normally you can't do smaller than a 42, 40, 34 2 ring on a spider based system. That's why Shao struggled for so long before grx, right? Um, was that you have to have at least a one 10 B, c, d, the bolt count diameter in order to, you know, for, for their cranks, right? So we have the 42 30, um, 40, 48, 32.

We have the 46 30 s, which are specific gravel gearings. Um, we're also doing full one by ranges in that are 11 and 12 speed compatible. We launched last year Universal Tooth Technology, which means it'll work with your Shaman 12 speed as well as Youram 12 speed, as well as your. You know, whatever, whatever you're running rotor.

Um, so it's, it's pretty cool because it kind of, I, it seems so dorky, but, um, the, uh, tooth technology is a little bit like an arms race. Each company is always trying to make something that no one else is double work with to kind of lock you into a system. And so to be able to, um, have the intellectual property that allows you to kind of thread that.

You know, the, that needle, it's, it's pretty cool. So one by rings that work with everybody's, you know, everybody's product. Um, I mean, from a 28 all the way up to, uh, 58. Honestly, that's pretty wild.

[00:30:13]Lori Barrett: Okay. If one was looking to upgrade to a rotor crank set, uh, do they need to replace their bottom bracket in order to do so?

[00:30:21]Craig Dalton: Ooh, that's a good question also. Um, so the, the easy answer is no. We make cranks in a 24 and 30 mil axle. Again, I kind of start to, I'm like, ah, how, how deep into the weeds am I gonna go? Um, but we also, we make bottom brackets that are, we use in Duro bearings and, um, they're absolutely, they're just top best in class.

Um, we manufacture all the shells and everything in Spain. Again, it's just really good quality product. And replacing, quite frankly, replacing bottom brackets is something that we should all do if you're riding a lot of miles. Multiple times a year. If you're not riding a lot of miles at least once a year.

And especially, you know, we were talking about creek crossings, bottom brackets, anyone's bottom bracket after a creek crossing or two, take that apart. Give it a little love. Anyway, your bearings will thank you. You know,

[00:31:11]Lori Barrett: So if I've got, so if I've got a shaman bottom bracket in there, it's a one-to-one replacement. Is that the same with a shram, a Shram Dub BB, for example.

[00:31:20]Craig Dalton: So yes it is. And so the shaman only uses 24 mil spindle. So again, back into our fun material science, uh, 24 mill spindle has to be steel rotor prefers the 30 mill aluminum simply because it's stiffer Steel, of course, has flex. That's why we don't ride steel bikes anymore. Um, and it's also lighter aluminum is lighter than steel.

Um, the reason that Shama likes the 24 mil spindle is that uh, you can run a slightly bigger bearing size with that bottom bracket. Right. Um, which, Adds to bottom bracket durability, however, you know, you're talking a $30 a year difference in, in material costs as far as like replacing your bottom bracket if you went with the 30 mil, more efficient, lighter uh, spindle.

That being said, we do make a 24 mil axle. It's just not our favorite.

[00:32:20]Lori Barrett: Got

[00:32:20]Craig Dalton: So if you, if you were replacing it on your shaman bottom bracket, you would replace it with the 24 mil. Axle, uh, version of our cranks.

[00:32:29]Lori Barrett: Got it. While this next product I'm gonna ask about isn't something that you guys are from intending from a marketing perspective to be for the gravel rider, I think I'd be remiss in having a conversation with rotor without talking about it. And that's your hydraulic drive train. Can you kinda explain how that works?

[00:32:48]Craig Dalton: Oh, it's amazing. Um, and honestly, I feel like gravel is the best application, but. You know this, it's the, I have a one by 13 setup on my gravel bike. Um, we had a rider win, you know, the, uh, gravel world on it a couple of times. Um, you know, a few years ago. And it's been, it's been raced at Unbound.

It's been, yeah, it's been kind of raised in all of these

[00:33:14]Lori Barrett: let, let's talk about what it is. Because I think that won't be clear at this point. So we're talking about a derailer shifters cassette, and not only are we talking about those things, we're talking about the mechanism for shifting being hydraulic, like many of us are most aware of hydraulics with respect to disc brakes.

So explain how a hydraulic powered derailer works.

[00:33:43]Craig Dalton: Well, so it's mechanical hydraulic, right? And so when you use the gear shifter, it basically triggers a little lever that then shifts the, um, the rear derailer. And it's a one by system. It's a push push system. So then when you go to shift up, uh, basically there's a, you know, the hydraulic fluid releases a little spring and then it like, You know, goes up the cassette, right?

[00:34:09]Lori Barrett: Okay, so we're imagining sort of, we've got a much like a break. Yeah, hose Going through the frame, we've got a hydraulic hose going through the, through the shift lever with Hy Mineral oil in it. When I throw the lever, I'm basically pushing that mineral oil, which is then shifting the driller up, and then as I'm releasing it via the lever lever, I'm kind of releasing a little bit of oil.

Ergo that Thera is shifting a little bit more.

[00:34:35]Craig Dalton: Yeah. And so it's a closed system so you don't end up with, you know, like with a cable system, you end up with friction and replacing cables and all that. Um, I'm like, I get very um, You know, in most of my life I'm very digitally involved, right? When I ride my bicycle, I'm pretty darn analog.

Of course, I still have a power meter and I, you know, occasionally bust out my head unit so I can see the numbers, although that's more depressing now than anything else. But I, I don't wanna have to remember to charge my bike. You know, yesterday I was gonna try and ride midday, and then it started storming.

So, I didn't get to ride. I kind of threw a little tantrum and you know, cleaned some of the house and then, uh, went out yesterday evening. And if I had kind of decided for a last minute ride without having charged my bike and then my bike's not, you know, like my derailer is not charged, how bummed am I?

Like it's one thing to have a power meter and I don't get to have my power read out and that's just shame on me. But it's another thing if it keeps me from riding my bike anyway, so I'm just. You know, I get kind of, kind of salty about it.

[00:35:47]Lori Barrett: When did the drive train get introduced and are any of the pro road teams that you're working with riding on that drive train?

[00:35:54]Craig Dalton: Um, so we brought out the first one, which was called the UNO Group, um, in 20 17, 20 18. And, um, long story short, the last year or during the pandemic, we sold 100% of production to. A couple of European oes and so there were none for, you know, you know, for, I mean, we had a couple, like of individual athletes, but when you, when you supply a per road team, you're giving them 200 group sets, like, and that's it is because we manufactured a hundred percent of the parts in Spain, like we're talking molding the hoods, you know, like this is so far from like milling, you know, C n C cranks.

But you know, you figure it out, you learn to do it. But there's so many parts that it is kind of a, a, it's a, it's a crown jewel, but it's also like a loss leader. It's not our bread and butter, if you will. Um, the other thing is, I think we saw a few years ago with, uh, the Aqua Sapone team, um, in one of the early spring races, uh, you will pry a front derailer from the roadies.

Cold dead hands, like gravel rider's a lot more flexible. I don't, I mean, I don't need a front, you know, but like roadies, I mean, heck, they went on strike in the nineties when people made 'em start wearing, you know, the UCI started making 'em wear helmets, like, you know, how long's it gonna take them? I mean, tubeless technology just brakes anyway, like, whatever, you know, we, uh, we get to be the, uh, the vanguard, correct.

Gravel

[00:37:30]Lori Barrett: I think it's, I think it's super interesting, just the hydraulic powered, derailer

[00:37:35]Craig Dalton: Oh, it's great.

[00:37:36]Lori Barrett: being the pro power's probably the wrong word, but hydraulic activated actuated there. I knew I would get there anyway. Super cool. Laura, I appreciate the overview of rotor. Um, put a link in the show notes to Rotor America's website.

So. People can check out the crank sets, which I think again, as we said, is probably the most interesting product, particularly if you are interested in either considering a power meter or equally important considering optimizing your crank length based on your body type and style. Rotor's a a great option for people to consider.

[00:38:10]Craig Dalton: It's really, it's some neat stuff. I mean, it's worthwhile to check out. We have a great customer service team out of Salt Lake City, um, technical support, um, and really, you know, like kind of coming back to the power meters. It's, again, for me, I just wanna enjoy the experience of riding my bike. And sometimes I, I want data as well, but mostly I want to have something that's extremely reliable and, you know, and doesn't, doesn't get in my way, doesn't keep me from getting on the bike.

Certainly. And so for me, you know, the power meters and the cranks, it's all, it's just set and forget, you know, you leave it alone. Um, yeah, it's fun.

[00:38:50]Lori Barrett: Right on. Well, thanks for all the time, Lori.

[00:38:52]Craig Dalton: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was, uh, great, great talking with you.

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