Everyone that opened their Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No. 10 starterskit and raced a Red Hook Criterium before noticed that the Ass Savers Aeronumbers were different to the ones normally used. Instead of needing 2 cable ties now only 1 was needed. Although this seems like a small difference there must have been a whole thought and design process behind it. So we wanted to know more about the new design of the Aeronumbers, how it came about and why it was changed. Therefore, we talked with Staffan Weigel from the company Ass Savers that is responsible for making the Aeronumbers.
Interview: Brian Megens
Photography: Brian Megens / Tornanti.cc /Ass Savers
Could you tell us the story behind the new Aeronumbers that we found in the Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10 starters-kit?
“After the 2014 season, David Trimble asked us if we could come up with a better solution for race numbers for Red Hook Crit. Up until then, they had been using only bib numbers, fastened with needles on the riders skinsuit. The position of the number was way up on the back of the riders and adapted to the finish line camera position. It was really hard for spectators to identify who was zooming past in the dark.”
“Normal race numbers for cycle races attaches with a piece of hardware to the rear brake, something that doesn’t work with brakeless bikes. Frame construction is also very varied, with aero tubing, seat masts and range of other obstacles for universal fit. We also thought that the majority of race numbers look really crap on the bike, wether it was a wrapping sticker or a single sheet of thin plastic, attached with numerous zipties. It felt like a really overlooked product segment.”
“After a number of initial prototypes we decided to go further with the wedge shaped design that wraps around the seat post. Folding it into a wedge shape gives it a stiffness and a volume that feels more like a real product. It also enables us to do only one-side printing which is a cost saver. The mounting angle is adjusted to common track bike geometry so that it sits horizontal on most bikes. It’s small details like this that makes all the difference in the end. This design was introduced as the first live prototype version of Aeronumbers in Brooklyn No 8 in 2015.”
“With Aeronumbers V2 we wanted to make it easier to mount and more fail proof. Before the race, riders are always stressed and want’s to focus on their mental preparation. Understanding how your race number works is not a priority so there was a lot of incorrectly mounted numbers in the field. To us as designers, this is an eye sore but it also defies the purpose of making it easy to identify the riders. That’s where the Fendor Bendor style mount comes into play. The folding technique adds strength to the structure and sets the angle of the number plate. This eliminates the need for two zipties and there’s no need to adjust the angle. We think the V2 is the only race number in the world that you can attach with only one ziptie.”
“Another reason for the upgrade is that we wanted to make it UCI compliant. Although not important for fixed gear criteriums yet, it is crucial for the success of Aeronumbers as a commercial product. The UCI specifies certain measures, number size and advertising areas so the new design is adapted to those specs.”
Could you tell us more about the development that goes into producing the Aeronumbers?
“We used the RHC as our test lab, making small adjustments to the product for each race. It was really efficient to get hundreds of real user tests for each iteration. We spent a lot of time browsing trough countless online photographs from the races and talking to race organizers and riders. Rider safety was also a serious concern and it was important to find a design that would be stiff and uniform on the bikes but that would not cause injuries in a crash.”
What are the future steps for these new aeronumbers?
“We are currently finalizing the product and preparing a standard version for the market. We think that the product is mature enough for a bigger audience but we need to find all those race organizers out there to tell them about this great thing that we invented. As always, that’s the hardest part.”