Interview by Chris Smith / Edited by Wong Seng Hon
The other day we received a message from our friend, Chris Smith, asking if we would be interested in checking out an interview he did with Nick Huang, owner of the Singapore based bike company Impurity Bike Co., about the brand. We have been hearing things about the company for a while now, but we honestly didn’t know that much, so we gave it a look. We learned quite a bit about the brand and figured it would be rad to give you guys some insight into just what they do as well. It’s a good read and we have it here for you to give it a look! Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments!
… or 4.376 lbs.
What was your initial motivation for starting Impurity Bike Co? And did you have any philosophy on how you were going to be different or unique from your competitors?
It’s a good thing we did not set out aiming to get rich quick. BMX is a very competitive industry with lots of brands, and riders with not a lot of spending power. Impurity offers top quality, innovative products at affordable prices direct to riders worldwide. We are fanatic about product design and manufacturing quality, and we sell direct to customers worldwide from our warehouse in Singapore.
Please tell us about your most notable achievements or milestones to date?
In 2009, we visited Taiwan to search for reliable bike parts manufacturers. Our timing was fortuitous. The Taiwan bike manufacturers were in a recession then and were hungry for work. We signed up manufacturers for frames, forks, bars and cranks all in one day, committing to very small initial quantities. Today, we are still working with all these companies. They have very high quality standards and are constantly innovating in manufacturing processes.
In 2011, Matt Whyatt won the MegaRamp ASA Triples at the Orange County Fair in US, using Impurity’s prototype Mirrage 2 frame and Factory fork. This was a career breakthrough for Matt and we were stoked that he did it with Impurity parts.
We’re stoked every time we get an order from a place we’d not heard of, like Yekaterinburg in Russia, Glenden in Queensland, Australia, and Portsea Island in England. Impurity is spreading by word of mouth, and social media.
Impurity Bike Co recently introduced the HAF frame. What was the inspiration behind the symmetrical design? And what does ‘HAF’ stand for?
There are two aspects to frame design: the geometry and the building specification of the frame (tubing, weight, welding, aesthetic features, etc…). Bike geometry is a design philosophy; it is the theoretical basis of how the frame will feel like to the rider, regardless of the building specs. For example, a heavy bike which when ridden feels like a lighter bike, is easy to ride. Sure you say you can adapt, but have you ever had a bike that you just got on and it felt splendid? This is what we understand to be the geometry philosophy or the bike’s “soul”. Every frame designer would have his own unique geometry philosophy as it takes imagination and experimentation to develop theories of how the different angles of a frame will work in sync.
The inspiration for the HAF’s symmetrical design comes from a combination of emotional design and car industry design philosophy. Emotional design is based on satisfying the emotional needs of a user while the product is used. Emotions influence how a user interacts with the product and in the interaction, ‘feelings accompany thinking’. Done successfully, it creates the good feeling you get like when you pick up a trusted and valued tool be it a DK wrench or a Park Tool PW4. Symmetry is something that recurs in nature and it is what we as humans perceive to be “beauty, truth, and good”. It is something that we as humans are programmed to perceive as an attractive or desirable trait. This creates a positive user experience making the user more attached to the product as it fulfils all his needs. However, there were no symmetrical BMX frames that we knew of and we had to look elsewhere for inspiration.
In the car industry we found a concept known as ’50:50 weight distribution’, in which both the front and back wheels have an equal weight balance. The chassis layout of the car for the most part is symmetrical in order to have an equal weight balance. This balance brings about a feeling of ‘neutral handling’ where under most circumstances the car is very controllable. We adapted the 50:50 principle as the 1:1 front-end ratio you see on the HAF. When you get the 1:1 formula right, the frame’s front becomes symmetrical (as it is 1:1) and it takes some adjusting of the rear triangle to create a fully symmetrical bike. A bike that is symmetrical makes for a frame that’s not only gorgeous looking but is also a pleasure to ride. Not everyone will agree but that’s fine, you are free to choose your own philosophy.
Think of HAF as the ‘roadster sports car’ of BMX; ‘happy and fun’!
Nick Huang doing quality control in Taiwan.
The HAF is available in many colors – why is the color choice so wide?
The HAF comes in 9 colors: 3 blacks – matt, gloss and charcoal; 3 eco colors – green, aqua and bronze; and 3 neon colors- purple, blue and red.
Yes, it would be a storekeeper’s nightmare to offer so many colours through the normal distro-dealers network. But it’s a cinch for Impurity to stock a wide variety of parts in one warehouse and ship direct to customers worldwide.
We also sell seat posts of customized lengths, titanium hub bolts in 5 colours, the F13 forks in 10 colure…
I have noticed the HTA’s are a little steeper than the norm. Why have Impurity Bike Co chosen to break away from the industry standard?
The first frame we made had a 74.5° HTA. We did not like it; it was too slow.
We started with 75.5° for the WTF! frame, worked it down to 75° (Mirrage), up to a 76° (Femur) and back to 75.5°(HAF). If you look at our 4 frame lines, each offers something different; unique in a sense as there is only 1 size for a model. The 4 distinct geometry types let us experiment as well as offer interesting alternatives to what already exists in the market. It would not be as interesting if we offer 4 frame lines in different sizes with identical or similar geometries (clones).
What does the future hold for Impurity Bike Co and the Team Riders?
We like to think of Impurity as a small company with a global mindset. From the start, we have sponsored a large team from around the world, to provide design ideas and to test products. It’s a very diverse team, currently with members from UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, US and Spain. They ranged in age from 16 to 30. The team and the products will evolve but Impurity will continue to offer top quality, innovative products at affordable prices direct to customers worldwide.
You can find out more about Impurity Bike Co. and their products by visiting their website — ImpurityBike.com