Nic is one of those people that you don't meet very often. She’s an ex-pro long-distance triathlete with a degree in Kinesiology so she understands the high performance athletics side. She’s not an engineer but has an innate curiosity and understanding of how things work. And what's really rare, she builds stuff. She has a business building custom bike equipment (think about special parts for paralympians) and repairing carbon parts (typically frames and wheels).
Phil was one of the founders, along with Gerard Vroomen, of Cervelo Cycles which became the engineering leader in the bike industry and, arguably, completely redefined it. With a focus on technical and marketing innovation, Cervelo grew from a garage startup to become the most popular triathlon and high performance bike brand in the world. Tour Magazine recognized Cervélo as the continued engineering leader when they found it was the fastest bike in every category that they tested- aero road, lightweight road, and TT/triathlon.
Nic was frustrated that, as a lightweight female pro racer, it never made any sense that she could never get the full benefit from using the most aero wheels (deep dish or full disc wheel). There was always the inevitable trade off with aerodynamics and increased weight (as the wheels become more aero, the weight also increases). There was also the more important tradeoff between improved aerodynamics and the unfortunate direct relationship to increased decreased stability, with the ensuing risk and the risk of being blown off the road. As a lightweight rider, windy race conditions meant that she spent a lot of her focus and energy on stabilizing and fighting the wind rather than harnessing the wind to go forward as fast as possible. While at Cervelo, Phil had been struggling with the same question of how to adapt to the wind, typically with mechanisms or more complex ideas, but hadn’t figured out how to make it work.
Nic thought there had to be a better way. The holy grail would be to build the most aerodynamic wheel that pushed you forward, was superlight, and was stable in crosswinds. A race wheel that could be ridden by anyone, on any course and in any wind condition. Nic tried a bunch of ideas and appeared to have some luck. She asked Phil what he thought and the lightbulb went off for him when Nic showed him this video the first time they met:
Here was a simple and effective solution that had great potential. Together, they’ve spent the next couple of years refining Nic’s idea.