The highlight of the cycling industry calendar is almost upon us, the Design & Innovation Award 2015. Starting next week our team of 25 will be riding, testing and analyzing the most exciting products currently on the market on the incredible trails of South Tyrol. Our mission is to award the world’s most innovative products and technologies, and joining us will be a select jury of six international members.

The third jury member we would like to introduce to you, is both a passionate rider and and a no less passionate bike engineer. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Integrated Product Development the 25 years old Dutchman has already worked for multiple well-known international bike brands and contributed to award-winning products like the Ghost RIOT AMR. His riding experience isn’t less impressive: He’s riding mountain bikes for more than 13 years, including XC, trials, DH racing and Enduro. We introduce: Ruben Torenbeek.


We sat down with Ruben to find out what he brings to the jury.

So who is Ruben Torenbeek? Could you share with us some info about you?
I’m Ruben Torenbeek, born in 1989 in the Netherlands. I lived in Germany for the past 5 years working for different brands in the bicycle industry. I’d describe myself as a very versatile rider, who loves to try new stuff: That can mean a huge canyon gap as well as trying out the latest products! Just recently I moved to Switzerland to start working for Scott as a bike engineer.

Could you describe your biking history in one paragraph?
Well I grew up in the Netherlands and started riding cross-country there, I even did some races when I was 13-14 I guess. When I was 15 I started riding trials and focused pretty hard on it for 4 years, after that I got more into downhill riding and raced 3 seasons. During the last years I did all kinds of riding, but at the moment I enjoy backcountry enduro rides the most. Not to forget, I did my first enduro race this year in Leogang and placed third!

What are the other passions in your life?
I love to lock my bike up during the winter and go snowboarding, it has something magic to stand on top of a completely white world and feel so small. Other than that I am very passionate about the process of product development and bikes are simply amazing products to work with!

Epic Rides are one of Ruben's passions
Epic Rides are one of Ruben’s passions

What makes you passionate about MTB products?
Being a bike-engineer means I’m sitting in the office most of the time and my work is very theoretical, but all the effort finally comes together in a product that takes you out of the office, disconnects your life for a moment and brings you back to nature. For me the ultimate mountain bike products should do that and let you experience something basic, being with friends, on trails, and focused on your riding.

What has been your favorite MTB product of the last five years?
Hmm, that’s a tough one! I really like that bikes become more and more versatile, but that’s probably not an answer to your question. A couple weeks ago I mounted a Thomson stem on my new bike and realized that their products didn’t really change over the last 5 years (or even longer). Thomson is maybe not the lightest or the fanciest, but their products are very timeless, have a great design and are reliable. I appreciate that very much.


What do you think of the current status quo with design and innovation in the mountain bike world?
Talking about design I think there’s only a small amount of products that get designed very well. The products that are, will also last long, for example the Thomson products I mentioned earlier. There have been some great innovations in the past years that really give the rider a benefit, but I think it’s not always executed in the optimal way. An adjustable seat post or a 1x-drivetrain by principle is great, but the execution needs to be done very well in order to have it reliable and durable. Maybe I sound a bit negative, but I think we have to be critical.

Have you ever been involved in product development before?
I’ve worked at 2 companies before I started where I’m now, at those two companies (Acros Sports and Ghost Bikes) I’ve for example worked on the Riot-Link (a suspension principle), the Ghost AMR Riot and smaller parts like an 85gram BSA bottom-bracket for Acros. With the AMR Riot we won the Design & Innovation Award last year, that was a very big honor! So I’m even more excited to be a part of this year’s jury.

How important do you think the role of a racer is when evaluating new products?
Racers take products to the highest level, they use them on the edge and demand a lot. I think racers can give very good feedback on products, but this feedback always need to be seen in a certain perspective to the average rider. A racer want’s the fastest, where the average rider wants to enjoy the ride.

What do you think are the qualities of award winning products?
Award winning products must have it all. A good innovation can be executed wrong, a good design can be ruined by poor bearings and I think the complete package is what convinces rather than just some outstanding details. A definition of innovation is that it is a new combination of different elements, to me this means that all the elements need to be perfect in order to have real innovation.

What are you hoping to discover through the Design & Innovation Award?
I hope to find products that open my eyes and convince me on the trail, I hope to find products that I wouldn’t be ashamed of using in 20 years.

No question about it, Ruben loves to spend time on his bike
No question about it, Ruben loves to spend time on his bike

What do you hope will be the next big thing in the development of new products?
The next big thing should be an awesome bike-ride, ha! Well I hope products get optimized rather than changed every year. I hope the bike-industry slows down a bit and keeps pushing the technical boundaries by optimizing and changing details.

Find out more info about the Design & Innovation Award 2015 and the other 5 members of the jury on our micro-site:

Action Shots: Tim Stevens (Instagram) Portrait Shot: Christoph Bayer

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About the author

Aaron Steinke

Aaron was our first employee and actively helped make our company what it is today, significantly shaping the look and direction of our various magazines. Aaron has been pursuing his own projects since mid-2020 but he continues to advise and support us on issues of marketing and technology. For many years, you would usually have found Aaron at casual enduro races, but increasingly you'll find him riding his road bike – long live freedom on two wheels!