Phto by Per Kårehed
What’s the big idea?
An Ass Saver.
It’s basically a foldable mudguard that you can tuck under your saddle when you’re not using it. It’s made from mostly recycled and completely recyclable industrial polypropylene, comes in 10 colours and you can get one for €7.99 (NOK67).
Why had no one thought of that before?
“Mudguard design always focused on 100 per cent protection,” says chief creator Staffan Weigel, an industrial designer who first came up with the idea on a rainy day in Gothenburg in 2011, when he decided to tuck a piece of cardboard under his saddle to protect him from spray. “The Ass Saver just deals with the worst of the spray, but there are so many other benefits, from the weight to the look, and the fact that it uses one tenth of the materials a normal mudguard does.”
So what happened after Weigel’s revelation?
“Well, first of all I was surprised how well it worked,” he says. “Then I realised I had a material on my desk that could work for it. It weighs a tenth of a normal plastic fender, it’s completely recyclable and you can make an Ass Saver from one piece.”
So who got involved?
Weigel set up with Jungho Kim, Erik Torstensson, Oscar Ternbom and Petter Danielsson – three of them from Gothenburg’s funky, upcycling design firm Creatables. “It started off as a bit of a joke,” says Weigel, “including the name – though that’s been a huge part of our success.”
They started off making 100 by hand for a local bike shop, then made a video and posted it on Vimeo in September 2011. “That’s when things exploded,” says Weigel. “We were suddenly on more than 200 blogs, and we had to rush to create a web shop in a matter of hours.”
We’re guessing things have gone well since?
Yep. They have distributors in 22 countries and have sold 200,000 units, the majority in the past six months. During last year’s Milan-San Remo road race, Eurosport zoomed in on a couple of riders who were using Ass Savers. “Previously, we were mostly in the fixed-gear market,” says Weigel. “Suddenly, most of our sales were in road bikes.”
So what’s next?
The main thing is a new model, which comes out this month. Weigel reckons the current version fits around 80 per cent of saddles; as for the newer version, which uses a new patent-pending fitting system that was the result of 150 prototypes, “we haven’t found a saddle that it doesn’t fit”. Two new models will come out in April; one of them is wider to fit more mountain bikes.
We’re going to be hearing more about Ass Savers, aren’t we?
Yes, we are.
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