The Boise, Idaho based cycling component brand, K-Edge Cycling Solutions, was created from a singular and focused ambition. The goal was to help an Olympic cycling athlete secure a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. To see how this happened and the resulting product we take a quick look to France, Austria, China, and return to the USA for how it all played out.
For a professional cyclist having a chain fall off while shifting can be a complete disaster. In recent cycling history, Andy Schleck threw his chain during stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France losing 39 seconds to Alberto Contador on the stage. After three weeks and 3,642 kilometres (2,263 miles) of racing was over, Contador beat Schleck by a mere 39 seconds to snatch the Tour de France victory.
American professional cyclist Kristin Armstrong had a similar mishap four years earlier while riding the World Time Trial Championships in Salzburg, Austria. In a similar incident that most likely lost the 2010 Tour de France for Schleck, she threw the chain off during a shift, but she managed to recover quickly and went on to win her first World Championship title in 2006.
Seeking to eliminate this problem for Kristin, Joe Savola set out to design and build a solution. With only three weeks until Kristin Armstrong was set to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Time Trail (TT), the pressure was on. The course’s hilly profile meant several critical shifts would be required during the event. Joe approached Eric Jensen, part owner of the manufacturing company, AceCo Precision Manufacturing, about building a chain catcher that Joe had designed. They succeeded in completing a prototype prior to the Olympics, and Kristin Armstrong used this one-off chain catcher on her time trail bicycle, winning a gold medal in the event.
After the Olympics, recreational cyclists started to notice the chain catcher in photos of Kristin’s Olympic TT bike. Then it caught the eye of a mechanic for the professional cycling team, Garmin-Slipstream. With the upcoming 2009 Paris-Roubaix spring classic, Garmin-Slipstream contacted the creators of Kristin’s chain catcher to order a number of their own to help their racers avoid throwing a chain while tackling the gnarly cobblestones of the Hell of the North.
With a proven product, public interest, and professional team use, the K-Edge Cycling Solutions brand was created by the AceCo Sport Group to produce the Chain Catcher for a mass market. The AceCo Sport Group, which also includes the Finite Ski Tool brand, is the recreation arm of AceCo Precision Manufacturing company. The AceCo Sport Group’s main focus is on the sports and outdoor industry. With the immense manufacturing capabilities of AceCo Precision Manufacturing, their 120 employees, and over 50 years of experience backing them, the AceCo Sports Group has shown that they can quickly design and bring a product to market, almost entirely in-house.
The K-Edge Chain Catcher is completely designed and manufactured in Boise. Since starting with this single product, AceCo Sports Group has expanded the K-Edge Chain Catcher line to include road, cross, and mountain bikes. Along with the Chain Catcher, AceCo has branched into other cycling related products. With the introduction of the Shimano Di2 electric shifting, they have designed and are producing an electronic shifting kit for mountain bikes utilizing Dura-Ace components and their own modifications under the K-Edge name. Starting this month they are releasing a new series of mounts for the GoPro HD Hero line of cameras specifically designed for bicycles. We should have our hands on one soon to review.
With the success of the K-Edge Chain Catcher and the electronic shifting solution for mountain bikes, the future looks bright for this innovative American brand and parent company. But the question will always remain, would Andy Schleck have won the Tour de France in 2010 with a K-Edge Chain Catcher mounted on his bike?