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Meet the Maker: How the New 5010 was Designed & Tested with Josh Kissner

Oct 20, 2022 at 10:54
by santacruztrails  

Our Marketing Manager, Katy Poniatowski, got a chance to chat with Josh Kissner, Santa Cruz Bicycles' Director of Product, to discuss everything from designing and testing the new 5010 to the best post-ride taqueria order in Santa Cruz. Check out their conversation below and then support trails and enter to win the new 5010 CC for yourself!


KP: Hi, Josh! Nice to chat with you today. Let’s kick things off with an easy one: what’s your role at SCB, and how long have you been at the company?

JK: Nice to meet you as well! My current position is Director of Product, and I've been at SCB (Santa Cruz Bicycles) for nearly 20 years now. I've had quite a few roles over the years.

KP: What was the design process like for this all-new 5010? How big is the team?

JK: As far as the design team, there are probably 6-7 people involved. There's a Mechanical Engineer assigned to the project, our Engineering Manager, a couple of Industrial Designers, our R&D test rider, and a Product Manager.

1) We start the process with a brief, describing what the goals are for the new bike- and then discuss/debate as a group.

2) Then the engineer gets to work in CAD plotting out all of the suspension hard points and geometry until we have what we (think) we want- and then sends a drawing to our in-house fabrication team.

3) A couple of weeks later we have an aluminum test mule to ride, which we typically ride for a few weeks before deciding what changes we'd like to make. During this time we're also working with suspension manufacturers to custom-tune shocks that complement each mule. We need to go through the whole process each time so we know we've gotten the full potential out of each design.

4) Then we repeat steps 1-3 until we have something we're happy with.

5) Once we've decided on the frame hard points, the Engineer and Industrial Designers work together to turn that line-drawing into a strong and beautiful shape with all of the features we want out of the bike. This is the longest part of the process for sure, and can entail some back-and-forth with our frame manufacturer as well.

6) Many months later we start ride testing on the carbon prototypes, fine-tuning the layup and stiffness, all while further testing and finalizing the custom shock tunes.


KP: Can you share a bit about what makes SCB engineers experts at what they do?

JK: We have an awesome crew of experienced Engineers, all of whom ride bikes at a pretty high level. We're also a highly collaborative group, sharing knowledge from many years of experience between them. I think this is our secret weapon- everyone is truly working together as a team, not competing with one another.

KP: At what point did you decide to make it a mullet?

JK: We made a few MX bikes before the 5010, and have been really excited by how they ride. They combine the confidence of the 29" front wheel with the added agility of a 27.5'' rear wheel, and create a bike that's particularly well suited to steep terrain. I think after updating the Bronson from 27.5" to MX and feeling the benefits, it really convinced some of us that the 5010 should follow suit. Some others required a ride on the prototypes to be convinced. :-)


KP: How did you pick the colors for the v5 5010?

JK: We have a talented pair of Designers who handle color and graphics- David Smith and Campbell Steers. I won't pretend to know how the magic happens, but they consider the intended use of the bike, its place in the lineup, and the age of the particular model.

***Fun fact: Campbell Steers also designed the SCMTS logo and iconography! Thank you, Campbell!***

KP: How do you test new models? What’s that process like? (Where do you ride them/who rides them/how many are there/etc…)

JK: Typically the prototypes have a crew of ~5 people testing them for different perspectives. Usually it starts with Kiran MacKinnon, our primary test rider. He'll get the new bike in the ballpark, working with suspension manufacturers to get some shock tunes that are pretty close. Then the rest of the team all pass it around, and we discuss feedback amongst ourselves. We like to take the bike outside of Santa Cruz as well, to get a feel for how the bike works in varying terrain. Particularly on longer travel bikes- we need to get to rougher terrain to get a good result. I live in Squamish, BC, so often they'll ship the bike up to me to get a completely different perspective.


KP: Any other fun stories from the development side?

JK: We had a pretty good learning experience on the 5010 when testing shock tunes in Phoenix last winter. We worked closely with one of our shock partners for three days to fine-tune a shock that we all were very, very happy with. When we got home (to Santa Cruz and Squamish) we were surprised by how.....wrong the tune felt back home. We've had similar experiences going the other direction as well. It's very easy/tempting to optimize for specific terrain, and very challenging to make a bike that works in varying terrain.


KP: What are some key features/design improvements that set the new 5010 apart from the pack?

JK: I will just say that the 5010 is the ultimate Santa Cruz bike. It's playful and poppy, all while being extremely confident on steep descents. It's the perfect amount of travel and capability for the terrain we all ride in SC.

KP: What’s your favorite trail in Santa Cruz County?

JK: mmmm. Emma McCrary? No, I'll say something in Demo;-) Maybe Braille as I love the trail's history.

KP: Why do you think it’s important to support trail stewardship?

JK: While there are a lot of trails in Santa Cruz County, there aren't many that are legal, and there are a LOT of riders congregating here. There is a huge need for more trails to spread everyone out. The trail stewardship is working (and succeeding) in creating and maintaining the terrain we need as a community.

KP: All-time favorite SCB bike colorway?

JK: The answer changes every month or two. My current favorite is my brand new Gypsum Nomad.

KP: What’s your go-to taqueria in SC? Your standard order?

JK: Veggie corn quesadillas at Morenos, without a doubt.

Support Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship and win the new Santa Cruz 5010 CC

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