Behind the Scenes at Saris
An Interview with Todd Mader, Saris Cycling Group Test Engineer
What does a Test Engineer do at Saris?
In a nutshell, break stuff! I help develop our internal test standards and ensure our products can take the abuse they'll see over their lifetime in the field.
Tell us about the process of making sure we know which vehicles fit which Saris Trunk Racks.
We have great relationships with our local auto dealerships in Madison. When new vehicles are released, or new racks are launched, I verify the fit criteria for that particular rack is met on each vehicle. This involves vehicle measurements, strength evaluations at contact points, and general safety assessments of each vehicle tested. This is thoroughly documented and stored in our vehicle fit database.
How do you keep up with fits on the new vehicles on the market each year?
I subscribe to automotive magazines, research on the web, and talk things over with our local dealers.
About how many different vehicles do you fit test each year?
On average, we are looking at 45-50 new vehicles or redesigns every year in the US.
Describe some of the tests your team conducts to make sure that Saris racks are safe and secure before going to market:
We perform extensive lab testing, which includes vibration, life cycle, ultimate load, corrosion resistance, and UV degradation. Plus the racks are road tested under abusive conditions, like speed bumps, hard braking, swerving, etc., as well as long-term user testing.
What happens if you ever discover issues with a Saris rack?
The test data and results are reviewed by our design team and the product is modified to fix the issue. Then the entire barrage of testing starts again.
What is your favorite Saris Rack and Why?
I use both the Freedom hitch rack and the Bones RS trunk rack on my personal vehicles. They are easy to use and fit all of my bikes (especially with fenders).
What do you like about the Test Engineer position?
The variety. From testing racks to firmware and other items with the CycleOps team, there's always something on my plate keeping me busy.
What do you like about working with Saris Cycling Group?
We have a great bike commuter incentive program that gives me the push I need to ride instead of drive (sitting in traffic sucks)! The people in our company are fantastic. Everyone works hard, but knows how to relax and have a good time when the time is appropriate.
Describe yourself as a cyclist / What types of Cycling to you enjoy?
I didn't ride too much before starting here, but now I commute 22 miles/day 3-4 days per week. I also do general road riding on the weekends with my wife, along with the occasional fundraiser tour.
Todd Mader has worked at Saris for two years. When he's not "breaking bike racks" he enjoys cross country skiing, hiking, camping with his wife and dog. He is also a veteran soccer official for the NCAA and his local state high school association.