More than seven years building mountain bike trails around Dunedin is what design engineer Gareth Hargreaves drew on when he tweaked the final CAD drawings for his new trail tool. Now trail builders throughout New Zealand (and soon Australia) are reaping the rewards.
“I was having to haul a grubber, rake and a shovel everywhere I was working, which grew old pretty quick,” he told Flow.
“I wanted to develop a tool that would do most things: cut branches, lever rocks, shift dirt, bench trail and pack down berms and weigh the same or less than a wooden handled grubber – my old weapon of choice.”[private]
Gareth or “G” as he is better known was doing some research when he stumbled across a picture of a fire fighting tool that some trail builders in Canada were using.
“I got inspiration from that and added a few hot mods I felt it needed.”
G’s day job is designing components for whiteware for Fisher and Paykel and so he had some impressive technology to play with through the concept stage, but he said the days on the hill – “the trial and error” were what made the difference.
“We trialled a mild steel head, steel pipe handle, different shaped raking tips, different sharpened areas – after spending so much time trailbuilding, I had a good idea of what weight I can swing all day.”
The mild steel of the first prototype proved way to soft, so version 2.0 used a modified shovel handle and Bisalloy 80 steel for the head.
“It worked much better, but I did manage to break a handle. The heads even proved to be DH trail builder-proof here on Signal Hill too, with Jana giving one a fair old punishing up there,” he laughs.
Version 3.0 used a sledgehammer handle and allows for easy replacement in the field if required. Eight months later and version 3.1 is already being developed with all the CAD design done after work and before his local Wednesday night ride.
“The profiling was done by the awesome lads down at Precision Profile Ltd and the final machining and welding is done here at work by me,” he offers.
The most recent version, which has gone into production, uses the Bisalloy 80 steel, a Hickory sledgehammer handle and weighs about 3.5kg.
G said it took 10 different models to get to the current design, but he now has 36 of the new ones “sculpting trails throughout Otago and Canterbury”.
Ground Effect cycling clothing company has long been a sponsor of G’s trails and were the first to put in an order for the new tool to help out on the other trail projects it supports.
The dream for G is to see trail builders throughout Australasia making life easier for themselves with his tool and making better trails faster. He is selling them for NZD$100 plus shipping. If you’re keen on one email G at firstname.lastname@example.org