I saw a growing number of Garmin and Gopro mounts at Interbike last fall. Somehow I missed Barfly when doing the rounds in Las Vegas, and after connecting with them on Twitter we exchanged some emails and I got the lowdown from Kris Lunning on what Tate Labs, the company behind the Barfly mounts. Tate Labs is located in the North Bay, joining companies like Bike Monkey and Osmo, which appears to be a hotbed of cycling innovation. In addition to being an key member of the Barfly team Lunning is a top rate time trialer after winning the NCNCA championship in 2012 and placing 4th at Madera this year. Woody Tate, Lunning and the crew at Tate Labs are a great example of NorCal folks making it work professionally and on the bike. Plus… it’s made in the USA. Can’t beat that.
What’s the history of the company and team?
Woody Tate the inventor of the Bar Fly is a native of Sausalito. Woody grew up on a Houseboat and he’s been tinkering with interesting ideas centered around bicycles for as long as I’ve known him. The Bar Fly was just one of his little ideas and we’re excited at what it’s turned into and future products we have in development.
Woody and myself both worked at Above Category Cycling and we were greatly influenced by the style of bike, quality and passion that AC represented. AC was a true incubator that helped get us off the ground.
We quickly placed the Bar Fly on key Riders such as Andrew Talansky at the pro tour level, local domestic Pros like Phil Mooney, Scott Zwizanski, and received reviews in Velonews, Bike Radar, Bike Rumor etc. Trade shows like NAHBS, which was in Sacramento last year, also helped get the word out.
Within a very short period of time it was apparent that we were onto something big. Woody and I partnered with Greg Hillson, a local cyclist, friend and business professional to complete the Tate Labs Team. Together the three of us represent the core of Tate Labs and Bar Fly.
By late May, the Bar Fly had global distribution and a cult following. The Bar Fly became the #1 grossing item at multiple US distributors. We were selling them as fast as we could make them.
Where did the inspiration for the Barfly mount come from?
SRM, their simplicity and the aesthetic appeal of the Power Control Head unit gave the initial spark. We wanted to incorporate the style and functionality of SRM and apply it to the most popular GPS cycling computer on the market. We also wanted to clean up the front of the bike and make it more visually appealing and easier to use.
ED. Note – this will make my IDEO trained designer friend BB very happy.
There is a lot that goes into mass production of cycling products. Does your team have engineering chops to put this together?
Yes, we have two engineers, an old world Swiss mastermind, and new school finite analysis solid works pro. Together they allow us to rapidly produce and innovate. All of our manufacturing has been done in the USA. Greg provides us with experience in marketing and our go to market strategy has been very aggressive.
North Bay has a long history of cycling innovation history, ex. the mountain bike, do you feel the community and location has helped with your projects development?
Yes, having the ability to put our product out there in a season where other regions are under snow gave us a head start allowing us to bring the barfly to market ahead of the competition. We also have built strong relationships with the local cycling community and have put on events incorporating STRAVA, Team Mikes Bikes, MarcPro-STRAVA and OSMO Nutrition. We are currently sponsoring the Grass Hopper Adventure series and Boonville Bite Hard RR as well as the Bear Development youth cycling team.
I’m starting to see Barfly’s everywhere, i’ve seen on a few pro bikes in photo shoots and even at a shop in Wisconsin during CX nationals. How long has it taken the build that success.
Initially we hit the TOC gorilla style with homemade flyers on our back. We approached every rider with a Garmin and tried to get a BF on their bike. I specifically remember getting booted from the Quick Step team bus after approaching Patrick Lefevere and asking to put the Bar Fly on Tom Boonen’s bike. In the end this tactic paid off, Andrew Talansky, Team Spider Tech, Team OPTUM-Kelly Benefits, and Frankie Andreau all adopted the Bar Fly. Sebastian Salas ended up winning the overall KOM in the TOC with a BF. Talansky went on to win a stage in the Vuelta. From there it was just developing relationships with distributors domestic and international. As mentioned above success cane very quickly.
Competition is stiff out there… K-Edge is making some cool stuff too. How are you guys going to develop and innovate to stay on the leading edge?
We we’re the first to come to market and we are the only mount to have a patent pending. We are also very innovated and if you look at the Bar Fly 1.1 and Bar Fly TT, both second iterations of the orginal, they have benefits that other mount manufactures are lacking. For example K-edge mounts are made of aluminum, which is harder/sharper than the plastic on the Garmin computer mounting wings. We chose not to use aluminum because it is not safe to use on the softer plastic of the Garmin Computer.
From a simplicity standpoint, The Bar Fly is quick and easy to install and has not parts to loose. K-edge has 3 bolts that need to be individually adjusted. Further more the consumer needs to be very careful not to over tighten the K-edge and crush their Carbon Handle bars. The Bar Fly is Completely Carbon friendly. No risk of over tightening. Our material, Delrin, is perfect in that it retains the exact amount of rigidity but also remains flexible in the event of a crash helping to protect your computer and handlebar from damage.
Bar fly 1.1 and BF TT are the only mounts compatible with the Garmin Forerunner watches (310xt-910xt) and all Garmin Edge series computers. We do this by using 1/8 turn technology. Four positions instead of the quarter turn two.
We have 10 new products in the development pipeline most of which will be released before Sea Otter.
The next mount to be released will be The Bar Fly for Cateye it can be viewed on our website Tatelabs.com, We also have a super cool, and I say that because its by far the sleekest most functional of its kind, I-phone 5 case and mount.
I love the ethic, innovation, iteration, made in america, of this company. At first glance the mounts look cool and will help manage the cock pit more efficiently. The point about the K-Edge aluminum wearing down a Garmin’s plastic base made sense to me. Next we’ll post some footage of a Barfly mount installation. I’ve been fired from several bike stores so it will be a good test of the products simplicity during installation.
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