Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Cycling News

Outstanding in their field – Rouleur

Outstanding in their field – Rouleur

This article was produced in association with A. Dugast. 

Step inside a research and development meeting within most cycling brands and you’re likely to hear hackneyed cliches of ‘reinventing the wheel’ and ‘thinking outside the box’. Countless hours of group-think later, the result is often a slightly tweaked product where you’d need to take a forensic look at the spec sheet to really spot the differences.

A. Dugast isn’t like most cycling brands. A Netherlands-based manufacturer specialising in handmade tubular tyres, its product might seem something of a throwback in a world of mass-produced, tubeless-first rubber rings. But its  collection of World Championship, World Cup and Olympic wins proves it’s still at the cutting edge, punching well above its weight because of its desire to do things differently.  

Richard Nieuwhuis, A. Dugast’s owner and CEO, makes it clear that this constant search for improvement is more than a job – it’s a passion.

“I go to a lot of crazy shows that have nothing to do with cycling,” he says. “It’s about not sourcing from your neighbour, but really looking for all materials coming from different uses, different areas.”

A prime example: the tyres the company produced for Harrie Lavreysen when the Dutchman powered his way to two gold medals in the velodrome at the 2020 Summer Olympics. “The latex for the treads is 0.2 millimetres thick, so very thin, very elastic and very durable,” explains Nieuwhuis. “Which kind of industry do you go to? The fetish industry!” It’s not Nieuwhuis’s only foray into the adult industry. Although ultimately unsuccessful, he has also worked with condom manufacturers to try to improve on the brand’s range of inner tubes.  

“They know thin, quality latex,” he explains. It all forms part of A. Dugast’s colourful story, where perfection, regardless of the route taken to get there, has been prioritised above all else.

Unrequited love

A good idea or pioneering product is usually the basis of the foundation of a new company, but in A. Dugast’s case, it was revenge. In the 1970s, Frenchman André Dugast was working for Dordogne – a manufacturer of cotton and silk tubular tyres that was based in the southwestern France department – when he fell in  love with one of the founder’s daughters. Unfortunately for Dugast (although fortunately for cycling), the love was unrequited. He decided to start his own, eponymous rival company out…

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