Nzo is not the only outfit in Rotorua designing stuff for mountain bikers.
On the far side of the lake is Rob Metz and his Zerode downhill bikes.
He started building his own bikes a long time ago, because what he wanted was not available in a shop. Various iterations of his search for the perfect trail bike have kept his personal sleds a few years ahead of the curve. About ten years ago he started on a project designing a frame with a high pivot, like a trail moto, that would eat bumps much better than other suspension designs could manage. That design meant a new drivetrain was required, because the high pivot would not work with a regular system. He collaborated with the late James Dodds, and they both built prototypes. Rob’s was an elegant trail bike, Dodzy’s was an industrial-looking downhiller. Both had internal gear shifting systems mounted in the centre of the frame, and both ate bumps like hungry hippos.
Rob is now riding version three of his high pivot trail bike. Everybody who sees his new carbon fibre beast asks when it will be for sale: the design and finish is spectacular and it is hard to believe it is a one-off, built in the shed.
Rob and Dodzy refined the DH bike to a race worthy second protobike, and it worked.
Dodzy became very busy with his trail building business, so Rob took over Zerode and continued development. The mammoth task of making the design into something that could be manufactured and delivered to the market at a price that would work is harder than it sounds, and it sounds pretty hard.
It took a while, but when the first Zerode production downhill frames were ready to go, they found homes all over the world.
Many Zerodes have been raced at all levels, and this year a couple of riders are representing Zerode at World Cups. Rupert Chapman is a kiwi, Fionn Griffiths is from Wales. Both are privateers, chasing the race circuit on a very limited budget.
A bike designed in New Zealand, duking it out with the best in the world: that is a very cool thing. To show your support you can order a t shirt or riding top from the Zerode website, all profits going to the riders. Nzo designed the graphics for the Zerode, and we get to make the tops too.
Just like Nzo, Zerode is a small operation, rider owned, making products that are different by design.
If helping the riders to race somehow enables Rob to commercialise the trail bike, I want one!