The Suplest brand name is adapted from the adjective: ‘supple’ — which means flexible and elastic; and the term: ‘souplesse’ – which has been borrowed by the cycling fraternity from the French vernacular to describe the perfect pedal stroke.
Their objective is to produce Cycling Shoes which fulfil the highest standards in comfort, design and material. ‘Swissness’ is listed in their values, drawing on the reputation for quality that comes from the Swiss watch, medical and technological industries.
We had an opportunity to pose some interview questions via email to co-founders Robert Gehrig and Daniel Balmer. This is what we learned.
CE: There are a lot of cycling shoe companies out there — what made you decide to enter the market?
Suplest: That is correct. Robert and myself (Daniel) are both passionate cyclists, with the background of working for a Swiss cycling brand and coming from a family in the shoe industry, plus Robert is a designer. We had the idea to develop and produce high-end shoes which are individual in terms of design, comfort and are superior quality, innovative products.
CE: What does a Suplest shoe offer that a cyclist wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere?
Suplest: Our design approach is the first thing which is visible — we are different in the looks. Then if you go into details, you will find interesting features. The unique construction of our upper with the Anatomic WRAP construction linked to the Boa dials, which gives a fantastic fit.
Furthermore, we are the only brand using the German Solestar insoles, which have been made to enhance performance; and the carbon shield which distributes the pressure of the laces. This all leads to a combination of performance and wellbeing for a rider which is essential.
CE: For those interested in the fit of a Suplest shoe, how would you explain your sizing — narrow, wide, roomy etc.?
Suplest: Well the fit is an intermediate fit — not slim and not wide. But what we have is a roomy toe box, which enhances the comfort of the feet.
CE: What factors are involved in designing a cycling shoe with regard to things like biomechanics, aerodynamics etc.?
Suplest: When we start a project, we define the characteristics needed for the type of riding. They are different for road cycling than mountain biking. We have our network in Switzerland where we can get the expertise in the different fields, such as biomechanics, orthopaedics and even material suppliers.
We know how to make shoes and with the common advice we build up the range. From the start to the final product we make around 15-20 development samples, until we get to the final product.
CE: Patrick Seabase is an interesting collaboration for a high end road shoe — how did the connection come about?
Suplest: Yes, indeed. Patrick is a cool person. He is a former skateboarder and model who fell in love with cycling a fixed gear. He has his own style. Our company is from Berne, the capital of Switzerland and he is a Bernese as well. That is how the connection came up.
CE: Did Patrick choose the design and colouring, or was this a collaborative effort?
Suplest: That was a collaborative effort. We had to stick to a few parameters in order to get this project going, but the result was well received in the market.
CE: Do you have any more collaborations planned — with Patrick, or with others? What is next for Suplest?
Suplest: We have some projects going on, they will be released shortly. Some are still confidential but will be seen at the Olympic Games…