26 sep. 2023

Behind the brand: Tobias Saalfrank, Head of Design and Communications

Behind the brand: Tobias Saalfrank, Head of Design and Communications

While the component choice, geometry and engineering are all crucial to how your bike performs, a crucial element is how it looks while doing all that. Without sleek lines and aesthetically pleasing design, most people would ignore even the best riding bike. The person in charge of making MERIDA bikes look as good as they ride is Tobias Saalfrank, Head of Design and Communications.

It's his job to do the 3D design of our frames, look after colour and artwork designs for them as well as creating concepts and visualisations of future bikes – and much more. It’s fitting that Tobias rides a prototype version of the latest BIG.NINE, fitted out with fully custom kit.

As to why he chooses a relatively simple hardtail when having access to the entire MERIDA range, he says: “I’ve always been fascinated by machines, that enhance a human’s abilities by only using their muscle power in an efficient and intelligent way. This principle of independence from any energy source besides your own body is what continues to fuel my passion for bicycles of any type, even in the age of ubiquitous electric pedal assistance.”

“Following this idea of maximum freedom I’ve always seen the hardtail as the sweet spot of ‘one-for-all’ category of bikes, the one that – besides being a capable race machine – lets you go everywhere at any time. Thus, I was naturally stoked about the prospect of designing the new generation of our MERIDA BIG.NINE carbon frame platform. I’m happy about how it turned out and absolutely stunned by its riding performance.”

While he’s chosen a fast yet pratical hardtail mountain bike, he’s a keen rider of bikes of all kinds: “I enjoy all kinds of riding, from Road to Bike Park. But I like gravel and tour-focused MTB rides the most. Anything that holds the promise of adventure – to discover and experience places I haven’t been to before.”

It’s that spirit of adventure that frames his riding wishlist, saying that he wants to go: “Anywhere I can keep on riding/bikepacking on lonely gravel roads or cross-country trails through a beautiful countryside for days or weeks. New Zealand would be a great destination, but I also dream of cycling the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea.”

When it comes to more day to day affairs, he says that the best think about working at MERIDA is: “The whole MRD (MERIDA Research and Development) team spirit and work atmosphere. That and being able to create products that I relate to and can later use and experience first-hand myself.”