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OFF THE DROP | MATT SHEARN RIMPACT FOUNDER

It is one thing to design a wheel but here at Hunt, we like to think of our wheels as part of a system.

As it's only a matchbox-sized amount of tyre that is in contact with the ground at any given time, there are advantages to be had making that area larger by running bigger tyres at lower pressure. This combination made us think, that for some riders, another aspect needs to be added to the system. For this reason, we are super excited to be partnering with Rimpact.

We had a chat with founder Matt to talk about his magic inserts that make you go faster!!!    

Name – Matt Shearn

 

Age - 28

 

Ice Breaker! Describe yourself in 3 words - Driven Yet Chilled

 

What’s your secret hobby/passion away from the bike? - Product Design I guess. I've identified problems, tinkered, fixed or designed solutions since I can remember.

 

What is your earliest cycling memory? - Learning to ride my first bike, probably about 4 years old. It had a plastic box on the handlebar with a picture on it. No idea what it was for but I pretended it was a TV.

 

How did you get into riding? - I've casually cycled all my life but didn't find mountain biking as a passion until I was 15. I don't recall knowing what Mountain Biking was prior to the day I discovered it for myself. My mate turned up at the house with his new Apollo from Halfords. We went down the woods on it to try it out and came across some jumps. A guy with an Orange 224 came past and sketchily rode them and it was just about the coolest thing ever in my eyes. Hooked since that day. I've not considered giving it up once.

  

First bike & favourite bike? -  First Bike was a Saracen Hardtail of some variety. Favourite bike - Honda RN-01

 

If you could ride 1 trail for the rest of your life, what would it be? Hey Bud - Whistler (the fresh old version pre reroute circa 2009)

 

So many riders these days are turning their backs on racing and finding new and exciting ways to express themselves and their sponsors on the bike via social media. How has your perception of riding and racing changed, if at all, as the years have gone by? - Our perception of biking has changed dramatically. The sport is taken far more seriously now. It's no longer purely a fun hobby or a rock star race scene. I remember having to explain the difference between Downhill and XC to friends and colleagues. However, nowadays you are more likely to find out your colleague also mountain bikes. More people can get sponsored too, making a living out of the sport and pursue their passions without getting between the tape. Social Media has made these things possible and helped create such a cool atmosphere in the biking community. Those that are able to build a fan base via social media can use their accounts to help convince their potential sponsors that their particular following is worth buying in to which is really cool!

 

If you could have anyone’s riding style, who's would it be? Sam Hill. I started biking right at the height of his DH dominance and even to this day, he has the most Moto inspired technique out there, its just unreal to watch. 

 

Which events are you most excited about racing or attending next year? - Ard Rock, the Malverns and EWS's. The Ard events are always such a fun time, we missed our first experience of the Malverns due to bad weather last year and this year we are hoping to make it to an EWS round or two which will be cool to get in amongst. 

 

So what is Rimpact and how did it come along? - Rimpact is a small but rapidly growing company that makes Tyre Inserts. They are rings of foam that offer a heap of benefits and improvements to tubeless setups. It started because, like most die-hard bikers, we started to hear the DIY insert buzz 2015, and '16. Reading forums about what prototypes the pro's were testing inside their tyres and how we could get some of the same stuff. It wasn't until early 2018 though when I finally decided it was time for me to get stuck in making my own and followed the same idea as many others in the forums. I didn't suffer from punctures historically but was keen on the reports that they could reduce trail chatter. I made some prototypes gave some to friends and quickly worked out the merits of the concept and the flaws in the type of material and design recommended online. From there I went down a foam rabbit hole, testing different densities and profiles and manufacturing methods until I had something I was satisfied with. I gave these to friends who all quickly agreed I should begin selling them, something I hadn't initially set out to do. This meant further testing was required and a further few months of testing and changes were made before it went to market towards the end of 2018.

 

Why should people use them? - Regardless of their puncture protection, rim protection and tyre roll reduction benefits, by far and away the most compelling reason everyone should run Rimpact inserts front and rear is that you'll ride faster. Plain and simple, the bike will feel more subdued and controlled thanks to the chatter and vibrations the insert will absorb, especially in the front wheel. This, in turn, will make you feel more confident at higher speeds and leave off the brakes longer when pushing on. The insert also negates the downsides of running lower pressures than you usually would by stabilising the tyre. Running a tyre that rolls just as well but is more compliant and grips longer is a great feeling.

 

Everyone has heard the horror stories from people fitting inserts. What tips and tricks do you have to make it a simple process? - During our prototyping of the product, we put a lot of effort into ensuring the installation difficulty was kept to a minimum. We don't believe our inserts increase the difficulty to fit a tubeless tyre in any meaningful way thanks to their profile, composition and design choices we have made. The problems most people seem to have is in their tyre fitting technique, regardless of whether an insert is present or not. We have an installation guide on our website which outlines the number one trick - grab, pinch and roll. Without going into too much detail its a method of ensuring the bead is as loose as it can be on the rim by utilizing all available space. We are producing a video that shows the trick off clearly in the coming weeks to help those who can't quite get their technique down. 

 

You just released your new Pro insert what is different about this one? - Simply put the Pro is our Original insert with an added layer of Energy Sensitive material capable of hardening on impact to better dissipate force across the foam below. Our Original insert gets such incredible feedback from so many reviewers and customers. However, despite this we knew in our heads that with the right design it was possible to offer increased protection at the expense of adding a small amount of weight. The Original weighed 90 grams so I set myself a target of 150 grams to improve the impact absorption qualities of the insert in a significant and measurable way. This weight target would keep the insert light enough to not impact the ride characteristic of the bike but add significant ride improvements. It turned out way harder than I expected due to a number of discoveries that I go into depth about on our website for those interested. Essentially denser doesn't equal better and an intelligent approach was required to engineering a system capable of being fitted with ease on the trail yet also standing up to the rigours of EWS and DH applications under harsh riders.

What’s next for Rimpact and What else can be done to protect your rim? - Next for Rimpact is Gravel and CX inserts. Those bikes have just as much of a requirement for low pressures as mountain bikes but less air volume to play with. A good insert would fix that conundrum. We actually had a prototype insert in the works but discovered the Rimpact Pro energy sensitive material before releasing it and knew right away we had to hold off on the CX and gravel inserts until we could use the same or similar design. In terms of other ways of protecting your rim - as harsh as it sounds, rethinking your tyre carcass choice and tyre pressure is certainly the way to go. Using a super thin carcass on an Enduro race track isn't likely to end well if you are prone to bad line choice.