If you’ve ever wondered why your bicycle looks the way it does, has the features it has, or just generally why you’re riding a refined machine rather than an old European boneshaker, then Henning Schroeder is a guy to know. As Senior Director of Global Product Management for Cannondale, he oversees all departments — road, mountain, urban, women’s — steering the direction of the brand and working with everyone from engineers to the sales force to figure out what bikes to produce. German-born Schroeder also has a personal stake in the biz: he’s been racing bikes for 27 years. We sat down with him to talk about the SuperSix Evo, where he finds inspiration and why he has beef with Mount Ventoux.
Q. What’s one thing every man should know?
A. How to respect others.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. I could name a bunch of physical things and that would be rather impressive, none of that matters really. I think seeing people you love going through hard times is what really makes me suffer. Having to receive a call that my mum had a stroke and being far away and not being able to do anything has been the hardest on me ever.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. The future of cycling. The product lines for the next years are so exciting to me that I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy store, and when it all gets a little stressful I just need to sit back and think about which of these amazing bikes, forks or products I want to try next and add to my collection, or which is my favorite color of next year’s bike line up — and my whole world is in balance again.
I will most likely not know that it is my last meal, so it will be a sip out of my water bottle and a bite from a energy bar at the top of some mountain pass.
Q. Name one thing you can’t live without.
A. Breakfast with my girlfriend, watching the pond come alive. My bike.
Q: Who or what influences you?
A: I am influenced by a lot of different things. My job really suits my personality insofar as it’s very versatile and so are my interests. I like to look at modern architecture and be amazed by how things are developing; I cant keep my eyes of cars, new or old; looking at products in general inspires me, drives me. My girlfriend rolls her eyes when I comment on every single car design while standing at a traffic light or explore packaging design of a random product in the supermarket.
Q. What are you reading right now?
A. A Good American by Alex George, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and a book on small eco houses. Again, very versatile.
Q. Name one thing no one knows about you.
A. The exact number of bikes in my collection. People know I have a lot, but that’s the way we should leave it. Having lived on different continents helps. I’m spreading out the bikes.
Q. It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
A. If I knew it would be my last it would be my favorite cocktail, cranberry seltzer, and I would definitely go with the full round of Italian food: carpaccio, melon and ham, pizza and close with tiramisu. I will most likely not know that it is my last meal, so it will be a sip out of my water bottle and a bite from a energy bar at the top of some mountain pass.
Q. If you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
A. Don’t look back. This life is too amazing to waste a single second on regrets.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As a kind person. As a person people liked to be around, not always agreeable, but always opinionated, always driven, full of energy. Never a dull moment.
Q. What’s the most interesting thing happening in cycling design and technology?
A. Working on it currently, so ask me again in 2 years from now. What is out on the market right now, I think SuperSix Evo is a milestone in bike design and something I did not dream of when I started racing almost 30 years ago
Q. What’s your most memorable moment on a bike?
A. One thing that’s particularly memorable was l’Etape du Tour a few years back when I had to get of my bike and walk for a few minutes up the climb of the Mount Ventoux. Since I was ten years old I’ve admired that mountain, and the first time I race it, no love is given back.
Learn more about Schroeder’s work at cannondale.com.