This month, BikeBiz catches up with Rockstop sales manager Cat Stables…
Can you give us a little background on Rockstop?
Rockstop products are the brainchild of parent company Urofoam – a long established and trusted polyurethane specialist – which has developed bespoke technical products for the likes of Decathlon, Jaguar/ Landrover and Koenigsegg. The tyre inserts and frameguards are a direct result of the research, collaboration and testing with experienced riders and retailers.
Two years ago, a group of MTB riders and mechanics, fed up with the poor quality of tubeless inserts, approached Urofoam with a bold idea. They wanted to create an insert which protects wheel and rim damage, without altering the ride performance. Immediately intrigued by a new engineering challenge, Urofoam and a small group of riders got to work. After many failed attempts, and some regrettable language, the tyre insert was born.
Similarly, Frameguard was conceived from increasing rider frustration. A genuine solution to an issue faced by many e-MTB owners. With the huge increase in e-bike sales, the need to repair easily cracked, factory fitted casings soon followed. Frameguard is a tough, metal-reinforced polymer moulding that prevents damage to the motor/battery casing and downtube. Instead of persistent cracks, dents and shattering, the impact of rock strikes around the crank area of the frame are absorbed and dispersed.
What makes Rockstop products unique?
Rockstop tyre inserts drop the pool noodle styles and crude foam sections, in favour of a complex geometric design, made of tough, high density polyurethane. The insert lets sealant flow freely, allowing riders to run lower PSIs without increasing punctures, and protecting their rims from heavy impact strikes. No one else makes a moulded foam product from the material we use.
Our material is a shock absorbing system, designed to absorb and disperse impacts, therefore, protecting whatever sits behind it. All our products are made in our UK factory and tested in the Lake District Fells, so put through their paces too.
Can you tell us about your development and manufacturing process?
We manufacture products for a wide range of industries, but they’re often component parts of a much larger product, or they’re items with a very short shelf life, so to be making a retail ready product in an industry we knew little about was a very daunting prospect.
However, the bike industry is largely a group of practical, enthusiastic people who understand that products aren’t picked off the trees in the carpark and that there are complex processes involved to get to a finished product.
The feedback and guidance we’ve received from riders has been instrumental in helping develop the Rockstop products into what they are today. Our products have largely been developed hand-in-hand with the riders themselves – we’ve just facilitated it with our engineering knowledge and moulding infrastructure.
What has the reaction to the product been like so far?
We’ve had some great feedback from both professional riders and the local riding community. Singletrack Magazine put it to the test in 2019 and gave us some great feedback. The only minor gripe they found, we’d already fixed for our next production run! They actually rated it as one of the best all-rounders in their group test which, considering we were going against some of the most well known inserts in the market, we were more than happy with.
Working with Extra has meant we’ve been able to get some great feedback from shops all round the country too which has been really positive; we’re looking forward to getting our products in the hands of even more riders now.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you?
Cycling and the need for cycling infrastructure around our towns and suburbs presents a lot of opportunities for manufacturing businesses like ourselves, the uptake in cycling over the last 18 months has brought it front and centre so it will be exciting to be involved in an industry which has thrived.
It’d be impossible not to mention e-bikes – there’s been such a massive uptake of people riding them and the technology around e-MTBs is just getting better and better. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all develops in years to come and we’ll be there alongside it doing our best to keep people’s bikes safe.
We’d like to expand in the impact protection area, into products which are not already available – we’re like happy nerds when presented with a puzzle!
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
Because riders like the e-bike Frameguard so much, we decided to launch the frameguard for carbon bikes which is now available. We’ve designed Frameguard
so it’s removable and universally fitting for most bikes.
On the future of Rockstop products, we’ve got a gravel insert ready for release and a skinny version of Frameguard for narrow, aluminium frames. And now that Rockstop has partnered with Extra UK, these products join a wide range of mountain bike parts and accessories available to retailers and dealers across the UK and Ireland.
We feel that Extra absolutely understands where we’re coming from and where we want to go, and we’re very excited to be working with them in the coming years.