Product Innovation of the YearInnovation of the Year is a critical category in the Pinkbike Awards, as it offers us a glimpse into the future and the technologies that could filter down into regular (and more affordable) products. But, it's a tough choice – is it really an innovation? Is it a twist on an existing product? Does it even work?
This year we chose three products. Specialized added a new safety feature to their helmets, Trust brought along a linkage fork that could gain traction, and Pole's Machine concept offers customized, made to order products that could be part of an engineering revolution that does away with off-the-shelf, mass-produced models that hope to fit all. Why it's nominated:
Specialized's ANGI-equipped helmets were released just a few weeks ago, but the idea was strong enough to earn them a nomination for Innovation of the Year.
ANGI stands for Angular and G-force Indicator, and it's a tiny device that will be a standard feature on many of Specialized's helmets, and available as an upgrade on others. The small waterproof and dustproof unit contains a gyroscope and an accelerometer, which allows it to detect direct blows to the head, along with potentially dangerous rotational head movements that can occur without the helmet being hit. If an impact or excessive movement is detected, a countdown timer pops up on the rider's phone, and, if it isn't silenced within a pre-set amount of time, a text goes out to their emergency contacts alerting them that there was a potential crash.
The technology isn't entirely new, but the fact that a company as large as Specialized is putting their weight behind it and implementing it across such a wide range of helmets makes it noteworthy. It doesn't make crashing any less likely (that'd would really
be innovative), but it is a tool that has the potential to help reduce the time it takes to locate an injured rider.From the First Look:
Why it's nominated:
Linkage forks have been done before, but have never succeeded commercially, usually because they look really, really, stupid. The Message fork could possibly become a success, partly down to its team of Dave Weagle, Jason Schiers, and Hap Seliga, who have a huge base of DW-link, Enve, and Competitive Cyclist fans.
What does the Trust fork offer that other linkage forks didn’t? It looks marginally less weird than most of them, is mostly carbon fiber, should have minimal service intervals (due to enclosed moving parts), a trailing linkage to customize axle-path and mechanical stability, and a self-proclaimed ‘unique and never done before’ damper. What is the main promise from Trust? Stability and confidence. Every other telescopic fork dives under braking, the Trust should naturally fight against this without adding excessive low-speed damping or spring rate. So you should
be able to charge towards a corner, brake hard and late, but have a chassis that doesn't pitch forwards - this will give you better geometry for riding corners and steep sections, and more available fork travel to take on bumps.
Does it work? Well, it all sounds good on paper, and we have one on test at the time of writing, but you will have to wait until the new year to get the full review.From the First Look :Why it's nominated:
Pole caused a storm last year when PB published an interview where they royally badmouthed the carbon-fiber industry (which was well-fought back towards aluminum’s environmental issues by other brands in retaliation), dropped their carbon frame project and decided to make an aluminum frame machined from huge billets and bond it together.
The above is a never-ending rabbit-hole of back and forth debate, so what does the Machine offer? An innovative approach to alloy manufacturing. Whereas tubular alloy frames are made from 6000 series alloy, welded together, and post-weld head-treated, the Machine is CNC machined from 7075 T6 that's then glued and bolted together. The alloy's properties make it almost impossible to weld, and the machined bikes require no post-weld head treating or aligning. In theory, the frames should come out of the CNC machine and be perfectly straight and ready to ride. This method also allows the frames to be built to order - they can be continuously updated with each unit built, and are guaranteed to garner plenty of attention at the trailhead. From the interview: