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Tech News – February 7, 2009

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Trek opens new design studio in Waterloo, Wisconsin headquarters

By James Huang

Trek opened the doors on an all-new design studio called 'Thing One'
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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The "inspiring space" includes old wood floors, high ceilings,
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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Artwork created by Trek designers is on display
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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Need a place to think?
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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Trek's 'Something Big is Coming' internal memo turned out not to be a new bicycle as some (including us) anticipated but rather an all-new design studio dubbed 'Thing One'.

Trek retasked some underutilized warehouse and manufacturing space into a spacious 'environment' dedicated solely to the company's Creative Group, which includes product graphics for bikes and aftermarket parts and accessories, retail/environmental design, web and interactive design, print materials such as ads and catalogs, and imaging. Roughly 55 designers will now occupy nearly 2,000 square-meters (20,000ft2) of floor space – an increase in space of nearly five-fold as compared to the group's old setting.

"We were lumped in with all the marketers, we were lumped in with the product people, and industrial design also; they had a small area where they were lumped in with the gang," said Trek Creative Group director Eric Lynn. "So we pulled industrial design and the creative group out and put them in a totally different environment: [there are] no cubes, high ceilings, old wood floors... it feels like a loft in a metropolitan area and has a very different feel now. It's an inspiring space."

In addition to workspaces, Thing One will also house a photo studio, retail merchandising areas, a complete fabrication shop, and even a professional barista to keep the creative juices flowing. In keeping with the company's commitment to green development, Trek says Thing One will also be completely powered by renewable energy from a "combination of wind and hydroelectric sources."

"What we've announced isn't a new product," continued Lynn. "It's groundwork that will lead to a lot of new exciting things that people will go directly out and purchase or somehow be involved with. It's an inspiring space... and [consumers can expect] better products and better branded materials out of the group."

Dealers and regular Trek customers have also likely noticed that the company has moved further into the retail side of things with increasing numbers of factory stores as well as independent dealers whose interiors were revamped according to a common aesthetic. According to Lynn, the new design studio will allow Trek to delve further into that realm moving forward.

"We're obviously putting a lot of energy into retail and retail design these days, and so a lot of the thinking that's gone into that has originated into defining a particular Trek aesthetic for the environment itself," he said. "Just like you can look at a down tube logo on a product and say 'yep, that's the Trek brand' we've been working really hard to define a branded look. Just like you can go into an Apple store and you would know immediately you're in an Apple store, that's what we're defining for Trek right now and this space represents that."

Looking further into the future – and further indicating Trek's commitment to design in general – Lynn and Trek are also banking on the studio's ability to attract more creative talent to its Waterloo, Wisconsin headquarters.

"We're attracting literally world-class talent, bringing in people from big agencies that want to be affiliated with our company," said Lynn. "It's almost like a recruiting tool: when we bring them in for an interview it's like, 'alright, these guys get it. This is a great environment that I would want to work in.'

"This is the Trek brand identifying that design is a huge part of our success and it's a huge commitment to design," he continued. "The quality of the staff, the investment in the facilities, it's all just made a quantum leap and it's Trek's executive group recognizing that this is a huge part of our success and they're going to concentrate on making sure that we have the tools to be successful. It's a sea change in how we approach design."

So no, there is no new time trial bike (yet), no groundbreaking new piece of technology (yet), and no big fancy thing that consumers can go out and buy right now – yet.

But from the sounds of it, Thing One will have far-reaching implications on all of the company's future products and Lynn is certainly optimistic. "It's a big moment for us. We're seeing immediate results. It's a big deal."

Hudz offers upgrade program for current owners

By James Huang

Owners of first-generation Hudz replacement road brake lever hoods can now upgrade
Photo ©: James Huang
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Hudz has announced an upgrade program for owners of first-generation models of its popular replacement road brake lever hoods made for Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 and Campagnolo pre-2009 levers. Eligible current owners will be able to obtain new 'v2' Hudz for a discounted price of US$15 plus shipping.

According to company principal Lance Johnson, the new edition includes a number of improvements suggested by v1 users – such as Garmin-Chipotle strongman Magnus Backstedt – and brings them more in-line with the latest Hudz offerings for SRAM DoubleTap and Shimano Ultegra. Changes include more seamless transitions to the handlebar, the elimination of unsightly mold lines, and the addition of a slight texture for improved grip. Campagnolo-compatible models also now feature a shorter slit for a tighter fit around the thumb paddle.

All Shimano 7800-compatible Hudz and Campagnolo-compatible models made from 1997-2008 should be eligible. Those partaking in the program must retain the same model compatibility (i.e. Shimano 7800 for Shimano 7800, etc.) but can choose from fourteen different color options as well as two rubber compounds.

Additional information and the required upgrade form is available at www.grabthehudz.com.


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Images by Trek Bicycle Corporation

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com