Scott Sports are a Swiss based company that design, test and manufacture state-of-the-art equipment for mountain biking, skiing, motocross and a plethora of other exciting outdoor sports. The link between Switzerland and the UK is far from tenuous – they sponsor the super-talent Brendan Fairclough and employ a number of British people. Brendan’s downhill bike – the Gambler – is the brainchild of Tim Stevens, a British engineer working for Scott Sports. We caught up with Tim to find out more about his role at Scott and what life is like nestled in the Swiss Alps working for this manufacturing superpower.
MBUK: What is your official job title and what are your duties at Scott?
TIM: I am a Bike Engineer, which means I am responsible for any engineering related tasks associated with the design of whichever frame or component I am working on. We take care of everything from the beginning to the end of a project, which includes kinematic and suspension evaluation, strength calculations, 3D CAD and FEA, visiting factories, product launches, prototype testing… The list is long and varied which is great because it keeps things fresh and interesting.
MBUK: What did you do before you joined Scott?
TIM: Since graduating from university I worked as an aerospace Stress Engineer mainly on Airbus projects in Bristol. I've also worked as a Telemetry Test Engineer on helicopters in Yeovil. I went to Canada for a year and spent the summer riding in Whistler.
MBUK: What’s it like working for an iconic brand like Scott?
TIM: It’s great! There is a lot of history with Scott in mountain biking and it's really cool to be a part of it. Scott has a small company feel and is made up of many international people who are very passionate about their particular niche. We work hard, but it's a great, relaxed and healthy environment. We go on lunch rides and do other activities together.
MBUK: Of all the products you’ve been involved with over the years, what are you most proud of and why?
TIM: That’s a difficult one! I guess it's probably my most recent project, the Gambler 700. Although I am an all-round rider, downhill is definitely something I really enjoy so to work on this project was great for me. It is the ultimate job satisfaction to see my creation raced at World Cup level by the likes of Brendan and now Neko, and also see it used in events like Rampage and the FEST Series.
MBUK: How do you find life in Switzerland and what do you miss about the UK?
TIM: Life here is great, but it can also be challenging at times with 4 main languages and a lot of rules. I grew up on the Isle of Wight and spent most of my childhood on, or in the sea. That's what I miss the most, but the mountains do a good job of making up for the lack of sea. I also miss hedges, British ales/pubs, fish and chips, proper tea, stormy weather, the incredible UK riding scene, large boxes of breakfast cereal…
MBUK: In your expert opinion, how do you see downhill bikes developing over the coming years?
TIM: Advancement in technology will obviously always help to improve things like suspension and construction materials, but the heart of the bike, the geometry, will always evolve and adapt to changing trends, rider preference and the nature of the World Cup tracks.
MBUK: Do you think the line between downhill bikes and the increasingly capable enduro bike is being blurred? Do downhill bikes still have a use?
TIM: Downhill bikes will always have their place. On real DH tracks, you simply need the geometry and suspension characteristics to get the speed. This new breed of DH orientated 150-170mm trail bikes are, as you say, extremely capable and we will start seeing many more of them in Alpine bike parks. For a lot of UK riders they make a lot of sense for local riding, UK bike parks and for their annual trip over to the Alps.
MBUK: Of all the awesome places you’ve ridden, which trails and locations stand out and where would you ride, given the chance, tomorrow and why?
TIM: I can’t choose one place, it’s impossible! Whistler and Finale Ligure will always be up there for me. However, the Valais region of Switzerland is incredible and has so many amazing trails and the infrastructure to get you to the top of an Alp. Last summer I hiked my bike to over 3600m, stayed in mountain huts at 3000m doing more than 4500m of vertical descending in two runs whilst being surrounded by huge glaciers and epic mountains. That is hard to beat! I’m excited to start that again when the snow has gone.
MBUK: Can you tell us what you’re working on and drop us some hints of cool things coming our way in 2016?
TIM: I can’t say much, but I can say that I am very excited about what Scott will be producing not only this year, but also over the next 2-3 years. I can tell you that we are working on a pub bike complete with beer can holders, stabilisers, and a backy seat for a friend. This may or may not be true.