The Pembree R1V pedal launches both a brand and a unique pedal simultaneously with a strong leaning towards quality and sourcing locally.
Pete had a chat with Pembree’s Phil Law to find out where the inspiration for their R1V pedal came from and how much of a challenge it is to source materials and build products locally.
What was the inspiration for starting a pedal brand?
This has been in my mind for a very long time, but it’s only in the past few years the opportunity has really been there to do something that I believe in 100%, namely: a quality product and environmental responsibility. I really do believe this is something needed in the industry and I hope this can be a small catalyst for the industry.
How many people are involved in bringing the idea from concept to prototype?
It’s a big team, but a small company. We are working with leading experts in all areas, and that goes from engineering and design right through to prototype and the final product. I surrounded myself with people I trust and people with the experience needed in all areas.
And what’s involved in that process?
There is a lot of work in planning, and the research and design are a critical process. From there, as we control the engineering quality and materials, our in house capabilities allow us to produce samples and put them through the testing process on and off the bike quickly.
What did the R1V borrow from existing pedals, if anything, or was it a ‘from the ground up’ design?
It really was a ground up design, although of course there are features of this pedal that can been seen on other flat pedals in terms of general features. We can’t reinvent the pedal, but we have put a thought process behind it in terms of our environmental stance and addressed features we feel were important.
The R1V is pedal that is engineered for quality, strength and durability. From the bearings to the traction rails to the traction pins, we have taken a fresh set of eyes onto everything.
What did you know you did and didn’t want to do with these pedals?
This pedal is a benchmark, especially for us. We needed to address quality and a minimal environmental footprint whilst provide value to our customers. We knew we were not in the business of producing the cheapest product with the inherent risks of reduced and inconsistent quality and little attention to the environmental impact of the whole end to end manufacturing process.
What we have focused on is the strengths and benefits in using local suppliers and the positive impact on quality, sustainability and supporting Britain and Europe’s manufacturing industry. We are already working hard to refine our next pedal which we feel will have a strong place in the market . We’re excited not only about the R1V but also the future products of Pembree.
What are your priorities when designing the pedal?
The R1V is the pedal that shows engineering quality and design as well as sustainability. Of course sustainability leads to certain challenges but we feel for this pedal it is worth it. We will not vary from our carbon neutral approach, and our goal is to be carbon negative, and that goes for all products in the future.
Did you have a material in your head before you started?
For the R1V we wanted a pedal that would last and allow riders to feel confident in the product. Our 5 year guarantee shows our belief in that and all of the constituent parts and engineering. I wanted needle bearings, and the best grade of aluminium. I have also had the replaceable traction rail in mind for a very long time.
What were the challenges of sourcing all the materials locally?
It wasn’t a short process and the planning to launch a pedal, as well as a company, is a challenge.
We put a lot of thought into every area to seek local suppliers who source material within Europe and Russia with the right credentials for the quality required. And in-house manufacturing capabilities provide the opportunity to pursue a reduced footprint as a principle.
For example, making our own traction pins, rather than bringing them in from Asia shows our commitment to the product being locally made. We feel this improves the quality, the functionality and helps meet our environmental targets.
How many prototypes did you have before getting to the production pedals?
We have been through several designs but we are using world class Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD systems so we can model a vast number of options before we move to prototype production. We have a strong team around us for testing and feedback, so the process is as efficient as possible.
Can you talk us through the prototype stage?
Ultimately there are a lot of variables but also a lot of areas where you simply can’t reinvent the wheel (or the pedal). We had a range of ideas that get put into one final concept. Then we have 3D printing and further refinement, and then the first metal engineered products. We then get those pedals ridden, feedback collected, and changes made if appropriate.
How important are your athletes to your testing process?
No matter how effective the design technology is, we need to get input from real riders in real world conditions to validate the design, materials and quality and to ensure all the parts come together to make a product that meets the needs of riders.
We use professional riders but also a wide range of users including local cycling clubs as part of this validation process and they are an essential ingredient to bring my vision and ideas to market and ensure riders have confidence they have a product that will last, is guaranteed and is carbon balanced.
We feel this pedal performs at an extremely high standard and benefits from precision engineering and quality throughout, right down to the bearings and traction pins.
How hard is it to compete in a very competitive pedal market?
The market is crowded but there is room for everyone. We all have our own USPs and I believe there is a place for Pembree in that market. We are proud of what we have accomplished so far, and excited about what’s to come.