B.O.B. Bike Parts & Accessories
The year was 1994 and Roger Malinowski, a bicycle industry maven, met Philip Novotny, an airline mechanic, in the California town of San Luis Obispo. Philip had turned a decrepit beach cruiser bike into a versatile, lightweight, single track bike trailer. He called it the YAK and was rolling them out of a machine shop on a small scale. Roger knew a great idea when he saw one and together, they took Philip’s invention and built a booming business. Originally, the name of the company was Beast of Burden, which many thought was a burden unto itself. However, in typical California fashion, that mouthful was soon shortened to its acronym BOB. “BOB is easier to spell, funny and simple,” Roger explains. A Simple Idea What made the BOB trailer so genius is how it connects to the bike: the patented BOB QR attachment system, an innovative mechanism that takes advantage of one simple fact: all bikes have a rear axle. What better place to hitch on a bike trailer? This provides optimal towing performance, excellent aerodynamics, the lowest possible center of gravity, compatibility with virtually every bike on the road and excellent handling characteristics. The YAK trailer revolutionised the way bikes transport gear and as a result, it has become the world standard for bicycle tourists, commuters and enthusiasts. Running with Baby When Roger and Philip began to start families, they were inspired to design and build a superior jogging stroller that held the same high standards as their trailers. The result was the BOB Sport Utility Stroller, complete with patented suspension system, tough polymer wheels, easy-fold frame, a reclining, padded seat and several other features no one had ever put on a stroller before. “We wanted the best of a bunch of worlds,” says Roger. “A lightweight, high-quality stroller that you could still take running, hiking or off-road and also fold up easily and compactly. The fact we could put all of these elements in one stroller is what really attracted people to it.” Of course, no successful product can be introduced without going through rigorous laboratory testing. “We used our kids,” says Roger. “Out on the driveway. They squeaked, burped, cried, hurled, scratched, ripped, kicked, tripped, clawed and jumped on the prototypes we gave them. It was great. Those kids helped us raise the performance levels and quality of the stroller farther and faster than we may have been able to otherwise.” It wasn’t long before they had a successful product and the resources they needed to expand their features and product line. Soon after the Sport Utility Stroller hit the streets, customers started asking for a two-seat stroller, which led to the introduction of the Duallie in 2001. Two years later, Ironman was looking for an intrepid stroller worthy of being associated with the world-famous triathlon endurance race. Not surprisingly they turned to BOB. The Ironman Stroller, with its lightweight, high-pressure tires, stiff shock absorbers and close association with the gruelling event, raised the company’s visibility and awareness among athletic parents. Turning on a Dime In 2005, BOB introduced another innovation that revolutionised the stroller: a swivelling front wheel. No longer would parents have to tip their strollers backwards to make a sharp turn or awkwardly manoeuvre congested areas. The new stroller was called the BOB Revolution and it was nothing short of it. The rotating front wheel made turning tight corners, walking narrow aisles and navigating crowded sidewalks a sheer breeze. Complete with a locking mechanism, the front wheel could also lock forward for uneven terrain or faster speeds. In 2006, attracted by a favorable business climate and a lifestyle conducive to its philosophy, BOB moved its corporate offices to Boise, Idaho. As in California, many of the employees ride their bikes to work, sometimes taking new stroller or trailer ideas home for a little product testing.