The Vendetta 3 helmet began life as a Shift Racing product which was later licensed to Seven Zero Seven. The project was a joint effort between Jeff Sasaki and myself. Along with much of the Shift Racing product creation staff, we benchmarked a wide variety of helmets on the market to create the best possible value proposition. Jeff took the brand direction established by my earlier Riot and Composite MX helmets and transferred many of those details to a street helmet design that would carry forward the established Shift design language. From there we worked on refining the details and working with the vendor to create the product design seen here.
The helmet, without the internal tinted visor, went on to appear in numerous markets under the direct manufacturer’s brand Xpeed.
The Riot helmet set the standard for future Shift helmets by defining a set of aggressive themes inspired largely by muscle cars. Although standard in it’s application, the mouthpiece has an inset appearance that allows for greater graphic coverage at the chin bar. It is highly vented, which allows for maximum air to flow to the rider. Ridges on the shell direct airflow from intake to exhaust throughout the helmet, keeping the rider cool. The reviewer at insidermx.com appreciated all that airflow, and what was his conclusion? “Since I have worn Fox helmets for the past five years, I was a little hesitant to try something new. After taking the helmet out of the box and started testing it the first day, I instantly fell in love with this helmet and happily retired my Fox helmet.”
The Curve builds upon the same concept as the Fuel shoe by combining essential protection and street fashion. We chose a double lasted style for a feminine look as well as safety – the upper is bonded to both the outsole and midsole. Lateral ankle protection is provided by an internal plastic disc. An ankle strap cinches to increase security while protecting the speed laces from tangling on the foot controls.
In 2007, the Riot roost deflector became the first proprietary ID product for Shift and has received a shoulder upgrade since. Roost deflectors protect riders against rocks flying off the back tire of bikes ahead. Beyond that it simply needs to disappear to the rider. To that end, Riot offers fit adjustment at the front and back of the shoulder straps and adjustable elastic waist straps. Pivoting shoulders and living hinges at the back provide articulation.
The competitive landscape for kids moto boots consisted entirely of scaled down adult boots – so stiff and over built that, to a kid, they felt like casts and required an adult to put them on. In came the Speedster with features unique to moto boots; molded EVA mid-sole, rubber shin and calf plates, and a Velcro upper closure. Allowing for greater comfort, control feel, and cool looks, the Speedster boot has been a big hit for little moto dudes just starting out.
This boot has been an exercise in diligent product evolution. Originally a Fox product, the Combat has been continually improved and updated to increase performance and keep up with the Shift brand image while maintaining a competitive price. At this point, the boot shares only it’s sole and medial plastics with it’s original self.
The new shin plates (shown below) as well as the calf plates were modeled in Solidworks. Special attention was paid to “doming” the shin plate for added rigidity and to allow for greater foam thickness for better comfort.
We set out to create a shoe as comfortable off the bike as on it, possess ample safety features, and attract the right attention – it has succeeded. Sales numbers back it up as the Fuel shoe – 1 style – was responsible for 30% the footwear sales in stores that typically carry over 30 styles.
Fuel features include full leather upper construction, medial and lateral protection, a speed lace covering cinch strap, and finemold rubber details to grip the shifter while protecting the upper from wear.
A collection of some of the early directions for the Shift Fuel street shoe shows the thought that went into the needs of a rider. A lot of out-of-the-box thinking went into solving problems of adequate coverage in the eventual accident. This is a lot to ask of a shoe as opposed to an outright boot, but it’s far from impossible as we proved.
The Agent helmet was the first helmet for the Shift brand and nearly doubled the sales forecast right out of the gate. As a result, amortized tooling costs were paid off in just over one year, increasing profit margin for future seasons. This design was expected to be on the market for three years, but due to strong sales and low costs has been continued on as an entry level helmet.
The biggest container problem in the paint industry is dented cans. If the coating on the inside is chipped as a result of the dent, the container will rust and contaminate the paint inside. The relative ease with which this can happen leads to huge losses in the industry as a result of returned paint and the disposal costs of that paint. Letica partnered with Benjamin Moore to create an all-plastic solution. While I was at it, I generated a number of ideas to use the container to optimize the painting process with features like handles, pouring spouts, or roller pans. The customer was taking a much shorter view of the issue however. They wanted a replacement for the age old metal can and they insisted that it fit on their existing filling lines without modification. We did it and we did it well. I spent hours upon hours in the test lab getting a baseline on metal cans and tweaking and improving its plastic replacement’s design and materials. By the time we reached our deadline, we had a decisive advantage. The metal can could not be tipped and retain its seal (much less an un-dented appearance) at any height in excess of nine inches. In fact, that’s as low as the drop tester would go. Our Letica paint container would withstand drops of six feet and retain its seal each and every time and look as good as new afterward. The only part of their fill line that needed modification was the lid placement machine. That used magnets and making plastic lids cheap and magnetic was just not going to happen.
The humble plastic bucket is an industrial workhorse. What could you possibly do to it to make it better? For one thing, you could make them more durable. Could you do that without adding weight? That’s what I was able to pull off with the Letica Dual-Lock Container. With an in-house testing facility, I was able to study the failure mode of containers, both when they were compressed on one-another and compressed individually. By itself, a container is amazingly strong, but when stacked, the weak point is the lid – so relatively weak that it would collapse with only a quarter of the weight that the container itself could withstand. What stacked containers did was turn the lid inside out which caused the lock to disengage, sending the top container into the bottom one. This was especially problematic when heat caused the plastic to soften. Now picture these containers full of paint in an Atlanta warehouse and you can imagine the mess. They typical solution was to add plastic to where it was most prone to bend. But that can only take you so far until you end up with molding issues and even then it’s really just a band-aid solution.
What I did was create a system that exploited the best attributes of plastic. Where plastic is really strong is in compression. If I could re-direct the rotational forces exerted on the lid into compression it would have a dramatic impact on stacking performance. A big part of the solution was to align the vertical wall of the container with a vertical wall on the lid. That channeled those forces back to the container which was already very strong.
But there was another thing I noticed – when stacked containers were compressed, the groove in the outer wall of the lid there for the tear-off band acted as a hinge. While the outer wall would flare out, the tear band did not. So by moving the locking feature below that groove we could prolong the engagement of the lid with the container adding even more strength.
With the success of these features, I moved on to the problem of sealing. Traditionally, containers used a hollow, rubber O-ring in the lid. That would compress and form a tight seal so if the container were tipped, it would not leak. This worked well but for one all too common scenario. If the container were at the bottom of a stack, the O-ring would be severely compressed and when relieved of the weight above it, that O-ring could take weeks to rebound into shape and perform the way it had initially. That left them vulnerable to spilling. By leveraging the strengths of plastic, I was able to eliminate the O-ring. By making the top of the container curved with a relief underneath, the edge was now able to flex, sort of like an O-ring. With a matching round and slightly smaller profile, the lid mated perfectly to the container top and even though severe compression would cause the lid to slightly rotate, the fact that their profiles were round kept them in constant contact.
The toughest customers I ever came across? Miners. When they wanted to open a container of grinding bits, these guys would heave the containers over their heads and drop them on the ground. You see, the bits were so heavy that the container lids had to fit super tight – so tight even these guys couldn’t get them open. The problem with their strategy was that all the plastic bits from smashed containers would contaminate the ore they were mining. I was tasked with creating a better container to transport the bits – and if the containers could hold a few more bits, that’d be great too. The solution was an elliptical container. By pressing on the side of the container and grabbing the handle molded into the lid, the lock would disengage and the lid would come off easily enough for any miner to handle the task. But the lid still required a machine to press it on, so what were they to do if they didn’t want to empty the whole container? That’s why there’s a lid within a lid. Easier and faster access is provided by the round lid in the center. That lid isn’t also tasked with supporting stacked containers so the lock doesn’t require the same engagement as the perimeter lid does. And speaking of handles, if you’ve ever carried a paint can with a wire bale (handle) for any distance, you’d swear that thing was about to slice your fingers off. Now try it with a container full of iron mining bits – it’s excruciating. To improve this, I designed a snap-together handle with a living hinge. This was simple to tool and attached to the bale wire simply by folding and snapping shut. Its elliptical shape distributed the load nicely in the hand yet kept a low profile when laying against the side of the container so it wouldn’t snag other containers next to it or take up any extra space – and it looked pretty good on an elliptical container too.
Eliminating handling is the best way to keep produce fresh and reduce loss. To that end, we designed a container that could hold produce in every stage of the process. The food was touched once by the picker, and last by the in-store purchaser. For this to happen, the produce and it’s container must travel to the fields, get filled and transported to a washing station, loaded onto pallets, chilled with an ice slurry, and hauled to the store for display. The container needs to be sturdy to withstand abuse in the field and the trailer, vented to allow water to drain and provide maximum airflow and attractive enough for display. But this container has yet another trick up its sleeve – it is collapsible. With a 4:1 return ratio, returning the containers back to the fields required fewer return trips than any other. This container found widespread use throughout Europe where transportation is more expensive and was a huge hit with growers and grocers alike.