Navigating the design path: It is said “the journey matters more than the destination” – cycling enthusiasts take that sentiment to heart. As they push farther off the beaten trail in search of remote, unexplored terrain, the journey becomes both the enabler as well as the limiting factor. The challenge with successfully designing any product lies in how well the design team connects with, and understands, the target user. That is why when Burley, a well know brand leader in bike trailers, turned to DesignThink to develop a new tow-behind bike trailer, we turned to super users – as in hard-core, 100-miles a day, cyclists – who understand the pain and pleasure of hauling gear off the back of a bike.
Our usability and design team remained engaged with these maniac cyclists throughout the project to truly learn what qualities and features make their lives easier and the trip more enjoyable. These insights enabled the design team to overcome the most common problems with traditional bike trailers, like the preconceived notion that all cyclists are fine with complicated assemblies requiring several tools. In our efforts to simplify the cyclist’s interaction for how they attach and remove the trailer, our team developed a tool-free, variable width, yoke and innovative ball mount axle, aka: “Burley Ballz™”. The variable yoke allows cyclists to effortlessly size the yoke to the axle and drop it in place over the Burley Ballz mount for a secure connection. A hand release gives users control over the trailer when removing it from the bike. All without the use of tools!
Our team will also tell you that life changing design moments do not always have to be revolutions in innovation. Similar to the perception of tool-heavy assemblies, the bike industry assumed the cycling community detests kickstands. Although perhaps true on the bike itself, adding a simple kickstand to the trailer was a huge delighter. Unlike on other trailers that tend to tip over (often taking your bike with it!), we added and tested a kickstand for stability to address the tipping problem during loading and unloading. Cyclists love it! Not because it’s a kickstand; they love it because someone finally addressed a common frustration with trailers, albeit through a humble kickstand.
In our journey with cyclists we also learned to appreciate that the gear they haul is not always a little bag that fits neatly in a trailer. They haul gear in all shapes and sizes. This nugget of insight influenced the overall trailer aesthetic. The smartly designed frame has horizontal top frame rails that are flush with the top of the rear wheel fender, creating a flat surface for securing long or extra wide items.
Placing the user in the center of our process is not just a slogan, it is our philosophy. It enables us to engage with your user, as we did for Burley, so we can deliver truly meaningful and relevant experiences through our design solutions; the solutions that keep users happy and coming back for more, time and again.