Team Sky have become one of the most successful cycling teams in the world, having won two of the last three Tour De France races and countless other stage race victories. This year, in addition to the traditional grand tours and larger stage races, they have been looking at their performance in the classics races.
For those who do not follow cycling, the classic races are normally early season races held across Europe. They normally last for one day and have become crowd favourites because they often throw up the most challenging conditions.
A prime example of this is in possibly the most famous classics race, the Paris Roubaix.
The Paris Roubaix has become so popular because it takes cyclists across eleven cobbled sections known as pavé. These are the most challenging sections for the cyclists as not only do they need to ride in close quarters to those around them, but they also need to deal with the extreme vibrations that come through the handlebars and saddles when you are cycling on these at 40kmh.
Many teams attempt to negate the difficulties that this terrain creates through providing extra padding on the handlebars, extra comfortable seats and wider wheels. This does affect the quality of the ride for cyclists, but does not offer the ultimate comfort or allow them to put all their power through their pedals.
This is why Team Sky started a unique collaboration between Pinarello and Jaguar Land Rover to create the perfect bike to deal with this race and other classics that include sections of pavé.
The relationship between the two companies came about due to their pre-existing sponsorships of the team. Pinarello have provided Team Sky with bikes since 2010 and Jaguar Land Rover have been a key sponsor, providing support vehicles for the team, for the same time period.
Through this collaboration they created the Dogma K8-S, which includes an innovative suspension system on the rear stay of the bike, allowing it to move vertically, with a claimed 50% improvement in rider comfort during the ride. It also means that there is a 4.6% increase in performance on rough terrain whilst adding only 95 grams of weight to the bike.
We were particularly interested in this from a collaborative perspective as two companies who on the surface have very little in common, have combined to create a unique product.
As this was announced, we spoke to Tim Donovan from Jaguar Land Rover who was part of the team that worked on the bike, about his experiences creating it and how collaboration could work in other sports.
How did the process behind creating the Dogma K8-S begin?
Jaguar has been an innovation partner with Team Sky since 2011 so the relationship was already strong with both the team and with Pinarello. The K8-S was born out of Team Sky's desire to excel at the cobbled classics in Europe. A Jaguar colleague that worked on the F8 effectively passed the baton to another area within the organisation to apply a new skill set to an already established, award winning bicycle design - in this case, the Vehicle Dynamics department.
Jaguar Land Rover vehicles are renowned for their balance of performance – sporty and agile, but also refined and comfortable. This philosophy has been extended into our partnership with Pinarello and Team Sky.
Our role was to bring expertise in ride and vibration development - to understand the performance of the current bike, then to optimise the new design for the hugely varying road surfaces experienced in the classics. Having had great success previously with the F8, it was now time for us to maintain the strong attributes of the F8, while building in new ideas to assist with the 2015 classics campaign.
What were the main challenges when collaborating with a non-automotive company?
Jaguar is already a worldwide company so working with new partners outside of the UK is now second nature.
Time scale is the most significant difference between Jaguar and an non-automotive company. Passenger vehicle development by its very nature takes time, especially if you wish to deliver leadership performance in attributes that customers truly care about. Pinarello and Team Sky are used to working at a very high pace so their drive and flexibility was key to delivering this project on time.
Do you think that this kind of collaboration between two companies who produce very different products, could work in other areas?
Absolutely. I believe there are always new or evolved methods of working that we can learn from outside of what we do now.
Jaguar is already an agile and flexible company, it has to be to operate in today's market. Standing still and doing what we have always done is not what we are about.
Collaboration is key and already embedded in how we work at Jaguar; it's fundamental to balancing the delivery of attributes across the business so we can excel in multiple areas.
From your experience with this project, what do you think are the key ingredients to create effective cross company collaboration?
For me personally, there are two key fundamentals: honesty and passion. These elements generate the desire to succeed when things are challenging; it brings together differences in working practices, communication or culture. Honesty supports new learning - the ability to ask yourself "am I doing this the best way I can?"
Passion, from my experience, is always a necessity in going the extra mile. It is what drives us towards excellence - the difference between delivering a good product and an outstanding one. So long as all parties involved share honesty and passion then chances of success are high.
Do you think this collaboration could bring forward additional product innovations in the future?
I sincerely hope so. Who would have thought a few years ago that Jaguar would be involved in the world of pro cycling? Who knows how far the partnership can take us all?
We have the technology, innovation and drive; these are exciting times.