Product Development

The value of a bicycle isn’t in the object itself but rather in the function it provides. It’s not what it is that matters, but what it does. For those we serve, the value of a bicycle is ultimately measured in the time and effort it saves. Our bicycles dramatically increase efficiency for our riders.
The solution is in the design of the bicycle

To the untrained eye, our bicycle may look conventional. To the trained eye, it’s a bit unusual. The unconventional frame geometry, a tougher version of a brake typically found on a child’s bike, a stand that looks like it belongs on a motorcycle, and a rear carrier that looks like it could transport a large goat or two (it can!). We aim to be radically better, not just radically different, and that means focusing on the details. The difference between a successful product and an unsuccessful one often comes down to a few meaningful differences, either in design or in execution. For every component and feature on our bike, there is a decision that was made based on the input and experience of our riders.

What happens when it breaks?

To be successful, all designed products must exist in harmony with the environment in which they are used. Our guiding principle of “All answers are found in the field” means that our design decisions are always framed by the landscape of locally available spare parts, tools and repair expertise, as well as cultural considerations about how bikes are likely to be used and maintained. This often results in us using unconventional components on our bike. A good example is the “coaster” brake, which slows the rear wheel through a back-pedaling action. This seemingly antiquated design, now typically only found on children’s bikes (though it was also a staple of the very first mountain bikes), gives the benefit that it requires no cables to operate. This may be a trivial consideration in the US, where brake cables are easy to find, but as they are not commonly available in the countries we operate the advantage of a cable-free brake is obvious and significant.

While we aim to be considerate of the realities of where our bikes are used, we also feel we have a responsibility to improve the experience of owning and using a bicycle. Where the available spare parts are inadequate, we seek to make better parts available. Where availability is limited we seek to improve distribution and access through our network of trained mechanics, and our growing network of local shops.

The riders' voice creates a critical feedback loop in our process and allows us to make robust design decisions.

Andy Samways
World Bicycle Relief, VP of Product Development
Who is the designer?

The design of our bicycle is dynamic. The process is ongoing. We operate at the balance point of cost and function. As our organization grows, and our annual volumes increase, we revisit earlier design decisions to continuously refine our bicycle.

As we learn more about what works, and what doesn’t, we are able to engage expertise from an increasingly broad set of disciplines. Industrial designers, who consider the broader user experience. Design Engineers, who conceive and execute elegant mechanical solutions. Supply chain and manufacturing specialists, who navigate the realities of mass production. Field-based Product Managers, who understand the needs of the user and see opportunities for meaningful innovations. In this way, design responsibility is fully shared. Our bicycles are not designed in isolation but rather through global collaboration.

Keep Our Wheels Turning
Your support helps our engineers build life-changing bicycles that empower people in need for generations to come.