As a product manager, I spend 99% of my time looking forward – what’s new, what’s next, where are we going. Most of the time that philosophy works well. But recently at Saris we’ve taken a breath to acknowledge that our position -- where we are today, what we’ve done for you lately, and where we are going – is all due to the strong grounding and years of investment and innovation that have come out of these walls for the past forty years. Our big product announcement of 2015, what we are calling our 7th Generation of Trunk Rack, is a direct result of the innovation, vision and blood, sweat and tears of the past.
In 1974, two brothers started a company known as Graber Manufacturing and their goal was to manufacture a roof rack system (which incidentally could also be installed on the GIANT trunks of cars in the early ‘70s) to carry bikes. A key milestone and watershed moment of the company occurred when Graber released the first strap-on trunk rack in the market called the Adjust-A-Porter. It’s original retail price? $26.00.
The Graber Adjust-A-Porter
In 1989, Chris and Sara Fortune purchased the company and rebranded it as a combination of their names. Their goal was to create innovative, best-in-class products and break away from the bike rack norm. They carried on the tradition and accelerated the focus on innovative, first to market products.Two years later Graber unleashed the Folding Adjust-A-Porter, the first compact, fold-flat trunk rack.
The Graber Folding Adjust-A-Porter: 1st to Market Compact Folding Flat Trunk Rack
The innovations kept on coming when in 1980, The Guardian Rack became the first bike rack to market with an integrated locking system. You had to BYOP (bring your own padlock), but this rack was the first in the market to integrate a bracket that connected over the bike frame and accepted the padlock.
The Saris Guardian: 1st to Market Integrated Locking System
Another pivotal point in the history of Saris is 1990, when Saris worked with an Italian designer to infuse more design language into the product function.
The Saris Mountaineer: 1st Market Car Rack Designed by Italian Designer
It was around this time that Saris and the Fortune family got serious about design. This drive to be creative and different led to their partnership with Italian designer Fabio Pedrini.
“Car racks looked like tail pipes off a muffler system,” Chris said. “It was crude – well engineered, but no design.”
In 1996 we introduced the Bones Rack. Designed by Fabio Pedrini, we set out to give consumers more than just a stylish alternative to roof racks – we wanted to build a stable, secure ride for up to three bikes. The Bones system mounts quickly to almost any vehicle, from sedans to minivans – even when there’s a rear spoiler involved. Since its introduction, the Bones Rack has set the standard for the industry – not only is it the #1 selling trunk rack in the world, but its inspired other products to attempt to capture its appeal. You know what they say is the most sincere form of flattery?
Since then, we’ve sold over 1 million Bones rack and in December 2014 we were granted a trademark configuration for its iconic design. This coveted trademark designation is very difficult to receive and indicates that the Bones Rack has a significant recognizable and distinctive shape and design in the minds of consumers, putting in the same iconic position as the Original Coke Bottle.
The Bones rack has been a marketplace staple for over 17 years. And this season, we’ll be unleashing the next Bones family member to the market – the SUPERBones.
The SUPERBones incorporates the consumer feedback and observation and translates it into a design that produced the ultimate bones rack. Over the years, the #1 comment we hear about the bones rack is the desire to have a better way to manage the straps – a way that makes it more intuitive to know where the straps go on the car, and makes it neater to take off and store the rack without “flopping straps” (a technical term). The heart and soul of our new rack is the internal strap management system which allows the user to easily adjust the rack onto the car for a perfect fit. Also key to the rack is the hidden stainless steel strands woven into the straps, giving the user added protection. Add in the integrated locking system that secures the bike to the rack and the rack to the car along with the same wide-range of car fits – the SUPERBones truly is the ultimate Bones rack.
By Sarah Reiter, Product Manager