The man behind the bike - Reynaldo Ilagan

Our team here at MERIDA has a huge variety of individuals all working towards one common goal: to design and to make the best bikes possible. In particular, our R&D team has a massive impact on where MERIDA is going next, and one of the main characters in that department is Reynaldo Ilagan our Head of Product Management.

Reynaldo or Rey has been with MERIDA for more than half a decade and as a keen mountain biker has been involved in our MTB line-up from the start. His latest ‘creation’ is the all-new ONE-FORTY but more about that in a minute.

Rey is originally from Austria and put the foundations for his working life down by studying Sports Equipment Technology in Vienna. A keen interest in bikes (which he financed by working in a bike shop throughout his studies) and the degree got him to an internship at MOUNTAINBIKE magazine in Stuttgart, which ultimately raised his interest in product management. Fast forward six and a bit years and he now is a key member of the MERIDA R&D team which has produced a vast amount of test and award-winning bikes (in particular) full suspension and e-bikes of late. Besides the new ONE-FORTY Rey was also responsible for the test winning ONE-SIXTY and the highly decorated eONE-SIXTY.

We caught up with Rey to get a few pointers on the new ONE-FORTY. Our new mid travel bike has finally closed the gap of our float link suspension line-up, and there is lots of positive noise coming from the international cycling press (see the latest IMB and MBUK review).

We know that besides ‘bouldering’ your main hobby (and as it turns out your job) is cycling, mountain biking to be exact. What sort of riding to you do?

REY:I am really into trail riding! I don’t shy away from long marathon style day rides, but my real passion is technical trails. We are quite lucky that we have a great variety of stuff near the offices and in the area. The guys from ENDURO magazine and MOUNTAINBIKE magazine do most of their testing on the same trails I ride for work (testing) and for fun. I also love to ‘play around’ with the bike. Every root is a little kicker for me. When you let the bike loose, it really gives you a great feeling and a better understanding of how it handles in extreme situations.

The new ONE-FORTY is one of the latest projects of the MERIDA R&D team. Rey has been instrumental in the outcome of this bike which differs in more than just travel from the ONE-TWENTY and the ONE-SIXTY. We asked Rey what the goal behind the new mid travel bike was?

REY: The goal was to have a bike which is very playful and agile. Over the last few years, geometries have become more and more extreme. They got slacker and longer. Which is great for high speed and skilled riders. For the ONE-FORTY it was hugely important for us to create a bike which has its own character. The ONE-FORTY offers the perfect balance between an all-day riding bike and aggressive trail weapon. This bike simply loves the trails to be demanding. A real all-rounder with plenty of grip, (almost) endless travel and a far more playful side than its bigger brother the ONE-SIXTY. 

As a man who always has to think forward and also comes across lots of componentry innovations way before they get launched, it felt right to get some insights from Rey with regards to what the future holds for the full suspension segment. We wanted to know where he thinks full suspension MTBs are heading?

REY:I think all parts will be much more trail oriented than they have been. That means they will be become more durable, more ‘fit for purpose’ and will have added features to enjoy trail riding even more. For a long time, everything was just about weight, or rather lack of, but certainly for trail bikes that is definitely not the most important feature anymore.

And finally, as Rey has seen lots of MERIDA specific innovation over the years, we asked him which one is his favourite?

REY: Hard to say. But I think it’s our “Smart Entry” system. It’s just a small detail. But our cable routing system helps us a lot to save time when we work on the overall development of a new bike. Before we had this system, we were always struggling to implement a well working internal cable routing system. Now we can spend more time on other factors when we are working on a new design. To have a rattle free, adaptable for different cable configurations and nice looking system which works without rubber plugs was not the easiest thing to develop.

Thanks Rey for your time and we can’t wait what the future holds in particular with regards to the MERIDA full suspension line-up.