Excellence in Product Design and Development
Outside Magazine selected the $3,300 Kestrel RT700 for its prestigious “Gear of the Year” award as the “Best Road Bike” for 2007. Other contenders included the $5,500 Trek Equinox, the $7,000 Look 595 Origin and the $3,500 Cannondale SystemSix 3. Can exceptional industrial design provide intrinsic value to a well-engineered product? Outside Magazine thinks so—
“On everything from all-day crushers to quick little hill climbs, we dropped more riding partners than ever before. …none will turn friends into enemies faster than this year’s Gear of the Year winner, the so-swoopy-it-hurts Kestrel RT700.“
The Kestrel RT700 is quite simply, the pinnacle of carbon fiber road bike design. It is the culmination of 6 collaborative bike designs by IDE and our client Kestrel. Previous IDE-Kestrel designs have garnered many international awards including a Gold and Silver Industrial Design Excellence Award given by the Industrial Designers Society of America and Business Week Magazine, and no fewer than three Good Design Awards given by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.
What makes the RT700 a step above all other carbon road bike designs? Functionally, the RT700 is a high performance carbon fiber road-racing bicycle with subtle aero geometry that allows its rider to break away from the pack and cheat the wind. Aesthetically, it is the first road bike design that visually balances individual liberty with the greater good the whole.
Many carbon frame designs rely on formula design solutions using a visual syntax that is repeated throughout the design. With the RT700, IDE’s design team fully explored the visual character of each individual frame element and then balanced each element’s individuality against the common good of the entire form to achieve a cohesive solution that excites the eye from any angle. Every junction, every transition, every detail is a visual delight and yet, when you stand back and take in the entire solution, each of these individual elements work together to create a visual symphony that only nature could produce.
Thinking of the bike frame in terms of “areas” that the rider interacts with (not just the shapes of a set of carbon tubes) these particular areas provide function and ornament in a refined, elemental way, such as the shaped head-tube, which shrouds the steerer tube bearings, the double-curve downtube, and the ‘keel’ transition in the seat-tube area. To fully appreciate and understand the subtle interaction of these visual elements several full-scale foam models were fabricated by IDE’s in-house master model makers using state-of-art CNC machining centers and advanced 3D surfacing software.
The integrated seat post clamp accepts two different seat post shapes (aero or round) depending on the rider’s preference. The flattened area on the top tube helps to hold small fabric food containers (e.g. ‘bento boxes’) that triathletes use in long races for easy access to energy food.
The seatstays present an hourglass silhouette to riders who will likely be following the RT700 (this is important because in group rides and pack races, you are often looking at the bike in front of you). With RT700, the design team treated this as a brandable element, integrating the aerodynamics (teardrop sections on the seatstays), comfort (engineered and shaped for compliance in vertical dimension to absorb road shock), stiffness (inward curve at brake arch serves to limit brake-sapping flex in that area), and flowing out to the similarly shaped cast aluminum axle dropouts.
The RT700 takes advantage of Kestrel’s 20 years of excellence in carbon fiber bicycle design and manufacturing technology to find true solutions that are wonderfully efficient mechanically and yet utilize the carbon molding process to produce sculptural forms that simply cannot be achieved by any other method.
The decal/paint scheme was designed to compliment the illusion of forward thrust within the lines and curves of the frame design without competing with the dynamics of the form. Because the frame is carbon fiber, it was important to leave small “windows” in the painted areas that showcase the carbon weave underneath. Because the form is so unique, the copper/metallic silver color scheme was chosen to set it apart even more from the customary use of primary colors in racing bikes.
The RT700 bicycle frame represents the highest level of bicycle construction technology currently available. The reduced weight (16.8 lb.), in addition to the vibration-absorbent properties of carbon fiber, equals a predictable and stable ride quality. The RT700 features all new, die-cast aluminum metal parts for cable management and forged aluminum metal parts for high-friction surfaces. The cable stops and guides are integrated to visually fit the body design of the carbon fiber frame and were designed to be common to all frame sizes. Cables are routed behind the leading edges, or within the frame body to decrease drag and noise, and exit the frame at a slight angle to prevent wind-induced rattling. This internal routing also simplifies assembly and maintenance for service personnel.
The steering fork is held in place with an integrated headset, which ensures long-term durability and reliability since all the parts are replaceable. The 1 1/8" bearing cups seen on the frame’s head tube are ‘faired in’, shrouding the parts from the wind and creating an aerodynamic, ‘teardrop’ profile. Careful engineering resulted in a set of forged aluminum rear dropouts that are considerably lighter than originally projected. With the RT700’s reduced weight and aerodynamic advantages, riders will be able to go faster and longer than on a competitive model of bicycle.
The RT700 design team developed six unique frame sizes to ensure that the elite athlete can ride a precisely fitting bicycle.
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