Inside HUNT: Meet our Test and Development Engineer, Ollie Mant

Welcome to the debut of our all-new series from HUNT, where we pull back the curtain and offer you a VIP pass into our world. For the dedicated rider, this is your chance to see the nitty-gritty of what makes HUNT tick—our processes, our plans, and the brilliant minds behind it all.

Kicking off the series is a spotlight on Ollie Mant, our ace Test and Development Engineer. Ollie is the driving force behind the innovative design and cutting-edge development of HUNT and Privateer Bikes products. Beyond his engineering prowess, Ollie is a skilled mountain biker, bringing his passion and expertise directly to the trails.

So, let's dive in and get the inside scoop on Ollie's role, his journey into the cycling industry, and what fuels his passion for both engineering and riding! 

In your own words, who are you, and what do you do? 

I'm Ollie Mant, 27. I like riding bikes, and I am an engineer.


What is your job? 

My job title is Test and Development Engineer for The Rider Firm, covering all brands within the company from HUNT wheels to Privateer Bikes. 


How did you get into what you do? 

I went to Swansea University to study Mechanical Engineering, graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree MEng with a Year in Industry, and then got lucky with a part-time job in customer service within The Rider Firm. I had a" gap year" before a job opening appeared within the engineering department.

How long have you been working in the bike industry?

I have worked on and off in the bike industry for 12 years, since I was 15, working in bike shops at school and uni, before joining The Rider Firm, who I've been with for the last three years.


How have things changed since you started?

When I started in the industry, e-bikes were this new thing and just taking off. You'd rarely see one outside of a bike shop. Now, they are everywhere, and it is a big focus, generally. This has caused a significant trickle-down in technology to analogue mountain bikes, which, as it always seems to do, has seen an effect on the rest of the industry. Bikes are now made to higher standards and the components are great. There aren't any bad components anymore. Gravel bikes have also become more popular, and more niches appear within niches. 

But bikes are bikes; they are still fun, and that's why we do it, so things have mostly stayed the same in the grand scheme of things.


What does the average week look like? 

No two weeks are generally the same which is really nice. Some weeks can be intensive on testing wheels, others 3d printing process (making prototypes for wind tunnel trips), some weeks a lot of organisation of testing and some weeks are heavily based around design work, using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)/Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to help understand how wheels react in certain situations.

'What advice would you give to someone who wants to do your job?

It's a 3 pronged attack. Firstly, a degree in engineering is a must. From this, you have the basis to do an awful lot as it is such a varied degree covering a vast amount of things. Secondly, a passion for bikes – it does become your life, so it is important to love it and understand all things bikes. Thirdly, a bit of luck for the job opening. If you are lucky, the world is your oyster.


What do you like most about what you do?

Bikes innit. Say no more? 

I also work with some great people, which really helps make it fun – most of us are on the same wave length which makes it interesting at times! 


If you weren't doing this, where would you be?

Working in what is considered a more traditional engineering firm, likely in the dock yards of Plymouth, as it was a 50/50 split between working there or in The Rider Firm during my year out.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?

My career has only just started, but the satisfaction of designing a rim and then riding it and seeing pro athletes race on it has been rad! Similarly, developing a QC process for bikes with our 3D scanner over the space of 14 months and then putting it into action has been pretty satisfying.


How do you keep things balanced when your hobby becomes your job?

When you see bikes all day, it's important to mix things up. Riding different bikes and varying where I ride helps keep the interest alive. I switch between gravel (with a bit of road), XC, and trail/enduro bikes to help keep it exciting. This helps me avoid getting bored of always seeing bikes.  

I have other hobbies, too, which help – I rock climb, run, walk and enjoy spending time with friends who aren't necessarily bike people.


We'll be seeing more of Ollie Mant and the rest of our engineering and product design team in upcoming journal posts, so remember to follow us on social media and sign up for our mailer to be notified of new, behind-the-scenes content.

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June 06, 2024 — Jacob Rubio