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Design & Innovation Award 2016 | Jury Profile 1 – Cesar Rojo

The leading award of the bicycle world, the Design & Innovation Award 2016 is almost upon us. Starting next week our international team will be riding, testing and analyzing the most exciting products of 2016. Our mission is to award the world’s best products and most innovative technologies, and joining us will be a select jury of six of the most skilled, influential, and analytical minds from the cycling industry. It’s time to meet our jury members.

Jury Member | Cesar Rojo

Jury member 1 of 6; Cesar Rojo
Jury member 1 of 6; Cesar Rojo

When it comes to bike design a gulf has always existed between engineers with technical skills and vision, and racers who posses the ability to push a bike to the limit; and sometimes the greatest ideas can become lost in translation. Enter Cesar Rojo, a quiet Catalan, who is not only gifted with a restless, enquiring mind, but also the skills to push a bike to the highest level. After rubbing shoulders with legends such as Greg Minnaar and Matti Lehikoinen on the World Cup DH circuit, he switched to racing motorbikes for KTM.

But where Cesar is best known is for his inspirational designs and concepts, many that first polarized – then convinced the cycling world. Who can forget his wild Mondraker Summum, a bike that defied convention, “it’s too long, the geo is too crazy, It will never work!” Doubters were silenced when Fabien Barel rode the bike to the top step of the World Cup podium. Cesar is one of life’s visionaries, a man who questions conformity and is not afraid to think outside the box, and with formidable riding skills he was a perfect choice for our jury. It’s time to find out more about the man.

Cesar sending his way to gold at the 2015 World Champs in Andorra!
Cesar sending his way to gold at the 2015 World Champs in Andorra!

You have been described by many as a visionary, how did you end up working in product design?
Wow! My dad was an engineer, the first bike I raced was designed by him, I always had that inquietude to understand how things worked and how to improve them. It is part of my nature to be critical with myself, never settling for what I had, and always desiring more.

You are well know for your radical bike geometries, have we reached a plateau or are there still improvements to be made?
I think we are now at a point where we have very good geometries, but we can always improve. It’s becoming harder to take steps forward, as we now have to start playing with other values, like offset to tune trail, but there is always room for improvement.

One of the fastest on a bike and one of the best designers off it, a perfect addition to the jury!
One of the fastest on a bike and one of the best designers off it, a perfect addition to the jury!

Where do you hope to see mountain bike development head in the near future, do you think we will finally start to see gearboxes?

It’s hard to say, you never know. Gearboxes have never really been up to the task for the mass market, you have the Pinion but it’s far from ideal, too much friction and weight. I think in the future we will keep seeing small steps, but for sure electronics will be the next big thing, especially in terms of integration and eMTB’s.

Where would you like to see the future go?

Longer slacker bikes, they make you enjoy the rides more and are both safer and much faster!

The mind behind revolutionary concepts such as the radical Mondraker Summum.
The mind behind revolutionary concepts such as the radical Mondraker Summum.

What makes you passionate about MTB products?

It’s just part of my life. Riding a bike makes me happy, it’s as simple as that. Why? I don’t really have an explanation for it, but after a ride I’m so relaxed, it just compliments so well the job that I do which can get really stressful. It’s amazing to be able to design and improve the products I use for my favorite pastime, I get to do that! I feel there is nothing better I could ask for in life…

Do you think we will see more electronic integration?

Totally! I’m not really a fan of it, as I don’t take much care of my bikes, so thinking about wires and charging stuff goes a bit against what I need from a bike; but it’s coming, so we would have to deal with it for the good and for the bad.

Cesar will be able to give an unrivaled insight into the new concepts and ideas seen at the DI.A.
Cesar will be able to give an unrivaled insight into the new concepts and ideas seen at the DI.A.

What do you think of the current status quo with design and innovation in the mountain bike world – are we pushing boundaries or lagging behind when compared to other industries?

I think the bicycle industry is really ahead in terms of materials used for production, but sits far behind in terms of testing process and industrialization. Our main work at Cero Design is in the motorcycle industry and you have to go through so many processes, tests, validations, homologations, it’s very different.

How important do you think the role of a racer is when evaluating new products?

It always helps, because you are able to push the boundaries, but mainly I think it’s important to have that feeling to allow you to evaluate if and what changes have been made.

He currently manages his own company; Cero Design.
He currently manages his own company; Cero Design.

What are you hoping to discover through the Design & Innovation Award?

I am hoping to learn more from the best products on the market, I want to see the solutions that other engineers have discovered and keep learning that’s the most important thing to me.

What are your other passions in life?

Moto and photography mainly, but it’s hard to find much free time (editor’s note: Cesar manages 19 engineers, designers and developers in his company Cero Design).

We will introduce the other 5 jury members over the coming week.
We will introduce the other 5 jury members over the coming week.

Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Daniel Geiger