A devotion to a better riding experience
The journey to where zerode is today has been a long one, but a good one. It has grown out on one mans devotion to creating the best riding experience.
The people that introduced me to Mountain Biking were obsessed with exploring the superb back country trails that NZ has to offer. Evenings were spent pouring over Topo maps to find candidates for the new “best trail ever”. Weekends were spent checking out these candidates. A little bit of racing interrupted our exploration but none of us had the drive or competitive edge that made a great racer. It was quite clear to us that the factory bikes we were riding at the time were a long way from the machines that we really wanted for our adventures. Stage one of creating our ultimate back country/trail bike was hacking up existing bikes, building steel front triangles, increasing suspension travel and trying to match this with long travel forks. Something made a lot easier with the arrival of the Rock Shox BOXXER XC later in the decade.
As these home built bikes evolved we made and tested geometry, suspension travel, dropper posts. Products and numbers that decades later would become normal for a do everything mountain bike. Some of these ideas are yet to become “normal” but I have no doubt they will.
Here is a little glimpse of the Journey to this point
"Numerous questions saturated my brain after my first mountain biking experience in the mid 90’s. Questions that led me on a journey to make my riding experience better and ultimately deliver a bike that I believe offers the best riding experience available."
Rob Metz - Zerode Founder
1997/98 Dome Valley NZ National round. 3rd Place
Although racing was part of it, the focus was on adventure & exploration.
Big Red - 2001
With a little understanding of Motorcycle suspension theory it is quite clear there are some gains to be made with a high pivot in terms of bump absorption.
It does come with the compromise of added weight, funky chain line and inevitable drive train noise. All downsides I was more than willing to accept for a one off bike for myself. After all, the uphills are about getting to the downhills. No rush, just get there, session a few tech sections on the way. The rewards axle path more than made up for this on the downhill.
Dolph - 2005
“This is like riding a dolphin” were the words that came out of Steve Murphy’s mouth as he rode past on my brand new home built, carbon fibre, 160mm travel, high pivot, gearbox bike.
Home built gearbox, homebuilt bike. This was a significant step towards my ultimate Mountain bike.
Steelie - 2006
In the summer of 2005/2006 James (Dodzy) Dodds and I were building a trail called Billy T in the Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, NZ. Dodzy had just finished building a High pivot DH gearbox bike somewhat similar to Dolph.
Steelie was a fillet brazed Cro-Moly mule, made to test out various planetary geared hubs as a DH bicycle transmission. Our design philosophy was verified with Dodzy racing Steelie to 2nd place in the NZ national DH series. Ultimately the Shimano Alfine was selected as the gearbox and the Zerode G1 was designed based on what we learned from Steelie.
Bathing in the glorious feeling of being able to slam the rear wheel of Dodzys high pivot DH beast into the biggest ugliest root, curb or log we could find, Dodzy & I decided we needed to bring this feeling to the masses & Zerode was born.
Dodzy and I had a lot to learn before we could get the Zerode G1 into production. We had a few false starts but managed to bring the first Zerode G1’s to market in 2011.
The bikes quickly gained a reputation for superb suspension performance, a result of the low unsprung mass, mass centralisation and high pivot.
Performance was confirmed with national titles all around the globe
With the arrival of the G1 and some 4 years riding Dolph it was time to build myself a new trail bike. The format of the G1 made a lot of sense so a trail version was born using sample DH parts as moulds for the carbon front triangle.
As always I was willing to accept compromises in a one off bike for myself, with Voldamort this came in the form of limited gear range. The 8 spd Alfine was geared to get me up the long steep back country climbs but I quickly ran out of gears on fast downhills.
Not a problem if you are riding back country or tech single track but not acceptable for a production bike.
Dodzy’s attention was required by another business so he had departed Zerode before the arrival of the G2.
The manufacturer of the G1 stopped producing frames, so a new manufacturer was found which gave an opportunity to refine, drop a little weight, add a new size etc etc. Hence the birth of the G2
Again, national titles were won from Scandinavia to South America. Eddie Masters and Rupert Chapman won World Cup privateer championships
Jandals providing the perfect footwear for big whips.
Lina Skoglund became World Masters Woman Champion on her G2
In my dreams Zerode would have the budget to pay the best riders, provide race support and take home the biggest trophies.
In 2012 I got my hands on an 18spd Pinion gearbox and once again it was time to upgrade my personal home built. As always I was willing to accept a few compromises for my personal bike. The high pivot bike is heavier and more complex than a more tradition design and the chain idler rumbles away under pedalling.
In reality this pure bump eating capability is perfect for a DH bike however not so much for a trail bike.