SureStop is a tiered, one-lever component braking system first introduced in 2013 on adult bikes. It works by the rider squeezing the lever for the rear brake and seeing the force from that rear wheel actuating the front one.
The company was inspired to develop SureStop after co-founder, Brian Riley’s grandfather was involved in a ‘head-over-handlebars’ accident in which he broke several vertebrae in his neck. After getting the company, and the SureStop concept off the ground and onto bikes, Riley and his colleagues noticed an industry-wide oversight with regards to the safety of child cyclists.
In the interim, after setting about the development of SureStop in 2009, he was relying on traditional machining and prototyping processes to bring to life his idea. At the time, consumer 3D printing wasn’t an affordable option. Fast forward a few years and as GuardianBikes aimed their focus at children cyclists, the company was able to integrate Robo’s R1+, C2 and R2 3D printing systems into its workflow. It would mean some significant time-savings.
When first achieving the SureStop technology, GuardianBikes found prototyping iterations would take too long and be expensive. The team had to factor in material preparation, making fixtures, and programming the CNC machine: “We finally developed a market-ready product, but it took us several years and probably 50 different product iterations,” Riley said. “This whole process would have gone much faster if 3D printing was where it is today.”
Though it took a while, SureStop was delivered to market and being implemented on wide range of bicycles in multiple nations. The fact it was being used on many different kinds of bikes, coupled with the time and cost of their existing production methods, saw GuardianBikes begin researching 3D printing as a viable option. They decided on the Robo set of printers, which would allow them to speed up their workflow and create integration solutions for a wider range of bicycles.
“Robo printers really helped us take the concept of our technology off the design software platform we use and begin working it as a physical object within one day,” Riley added. “We could make our print and immediately throw it on the bike to actually see how it worked and fit.”
The incorporation of 3D printing would take prototyping from a two-week-long endeavour to one that could be designed, printed, tried, and tested within a single working day. Previously with traditional methods, not only would it take a number of weeks, but it would also cost around $800 per part. With 3D printing, that was reduced to less than $20 per part.
“3D printing really gets you thinking about so many other touchpoints of a product’s functionality once you’ve physically made something you’ve been thinking about,” Riley assessed. “There’s so much more that I love about it – that speed of taking an idea and iterating out problems to create something that actually works, and how it allows you to devise concepts quickly and make product improvements in a matter of days instead of months.
“As the machines evolve, things keep getting better and better. With Robo C2 and Robo R2, anyone in the company can use them and quickly get up to speed with how they work, even if they don’t have experience with 3D printing. You pretty much hit print, the machine runs and you come back a couple of hours later to find your part sitting there.”
With GuardianBikes now boasting a more efficient workflow, thanks to the adoption of Robo 3D printing as a rapid prototyping tool, the company is seeing its SureStop technology adopted worldwide. For many children, it means their safety is greater protected while riding their bike, and for Robo, it brings the company a level of pride.
“When we started this company years ago, developing our first 3D printers, we knew it was a tool that was going to be used in a number of impactful ways,” said Braydon Moreno, co-founder of Robo3D. “To see Brian and the team at GuardianBikes 3D printing prototypes of their SureStop technology, putting them on kids’ bikes all over the world and helping with kids’ safety, is extremely inspiring. It’s amazing, and we couldn’t be more proud to represent a company like this.”