Radic does brakes differently.
Words & Images by Cam Mackenzie
Some go to Whistler in search of the perfect trails, the perfect whips, or the perfect bender. Many sit on the chairlifts the day after, wondering how local pub Garf’s did such a number on them, and how they’ll make it down A-Line today.
Not for Taylor Grey. While I’m sure he got lost in the bender too, he sat on those mythical Garbanzo chairs and schemed up an idea. “I could 3D print a brake caliper. Hell, I could 3D print just about anything bike related.” The seed was sown for what is now Radic Brakes.
To understand how Radic came to be, you first need to understand Taylor, and his business partner Jake Powell. They are engineers, and infant ones in the scheme of things, as recent mechanical engineering graduates.
What they do know is a lot about additive manufacturing—3D printing as many would know it. Though just 22 and 23 years old respectively, Taylor and Jake have been playing in this space for some time. Bikes haven’t always been their primary love; like most of us who enjoy the mechanical intricacies of pushbikes, they appreciate many other mechanical and motorised things. For them, motorsport is their main squeeze.
During their studies, they took a shine to additive manufacturing and went on and worked in the motorsport industry, where they get to flex their R&D muscles all day long, playing with things that move much faster, and are much more expensive than things in the bike industry. Their day jobs see them working in Formula-E, specifically, the research and development of 3D printed and rapidly prototyped components. They live and breathe this stuff.
That knowledge they take from their day job is applied once tools are downed at 5pm, when they rush back to their flat and crack on with Radic. As with any start-up, there’s a lot to do, as you can imagine.
They laugh at how two guys have to be designers, engineers, salesmen, businessmen, accountants and marketing gurus all in the same night, but that’s what they want. They know that the bike industry isn’t a quick and easy way to make lots of money, and that’s not what they’re looking to achieve. Radic, for now, is a passion project that they hope will turn into something big enough to go full-time with in the near future.
They aren’t looking to challenge the big players in the brake market, but rather offer a high-end, performance-focused product that appeals to those looking for something more, be they educated consumers, or magpies—who doesn’t love shiny things! They jokingly say, “look at the likes of Hope, that’s the sort of product position we are going for”—just with a Kiwi spin. At present, they’re focusing on refining the design of their first caliper and getting ready to take that to market, which is no small feat. Even on the design, they’re onto their fourth major version. Remember that rendering you saw on the internet when their first Kickstarter blew up in cycling circles a few months back? That was version three. The latest will be what we’ll come to know as the finished product, bleed port included.
By this point I’m sure you’re sayitng, ‘Okay, cool story bro, tell me what the big deal is with these brakes’. Well, they’re unlike anything else on the market. At present, Shimano and SRAM follow conventional production methods