Who are Wolf Tooth Components and when did you start?
We are a team of 3 right now: Mike Pfeiffer, Brendan Moore, Dan Dittmer. All three of us are mechanical engineers and avid cyclists. I have been a pro XC racer for years, Dan is an ultra endurance racer (he did Iditabike & La Ruta last year among other crazy races), and Mike is an XC and endurance racer that did his first race over 25 years ago (he did the 3rd ever Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 in 1986) and is still rocking. Our professional backgrounds are in the high-tech industry.
Do you have any company philosophy?
We are focused on products that we want for ourselves and that either don’t exist or that exist but do not meet our standards for performance and quality. We are not trying to be the low cost leader, but we do want to be the quality and performance leader. We also are manufacturing every one of our products here in the USA. Not only is this good for our local economy, but it also allows us tight control of quality and very fast design turns during development. Finally, we stand behind our products and their performance (no that doesn’t mean we replace worn out chainrings for free!!). I think our track record on customers service backs this up.
What was the idea that lead into developing these chainrings (and other products)?
A few things. We have been running 1x drivetrains for years but were very frustrated by chain-guides. We also really wanted wide/ narrow rings for our 104 BCD cranksets on our fatbikes. We spend 4+ months a year riding fat bikes in MN and most days front derailleurs don’t work (ice up) so we were running 1x already with chain guides. Finally, we are just passionate about bikes and love the mechanical aspect of bikes. This was an opportunity to break into the bike component world. After the chainrings, the GC’s (Giant Cogs), bolts, and other products that we needed/wanted have followed.
How does your product development look like?
Do you try to solve problems that occur when you’re riding yourself? Yeah, I mentioned this above, but all three of us are bike racers and avid riders and all of our products have started as ideas while on the bike. Usually, it is a mad-lib “Dang, I wish I had a *blank* no one makes one of those” or “I am tired of this *blank* not working, we should make it this way.” Because we are small with a local supply chain we can be very nimble. That makes things very exciting here when we can generate prototypes and products so quickly. We can go from concept to production parts for sale in as little as 6-8 weeks depending on the design and prototyping complexity.
Are you planning to work with any other materials in the future? Carbon, titanium etc?
You bet, but only when it makes the product better. We won’t use more “exotic” materials (if Carbon and Ti are still exotic =) unless they can help the products performance
What obstacles or problems have occurred on the way of product development?
The biggest challenges have been losing business when we have a product that is almost ready to go, but we just aren’t pleased with the performance.
What products are you most satisfied with?
I personally love the 88 BCD chainring line and the new Gunmetal colored bolts. The M985 is my favorite crankset ever and those bolts look sweet on that crankset with our ring. I should note that one of the three of us personally tests all the prototypes (we have many other testers around the world too) and so far I have been pleased with every product we release. Sometimes we are a bit late to the game, but that is almost always because we spend extra time optimizing the designs.
What defines a good chainring?
Geometry (Design) and tolerances. Chain retention is a difficult metric to quantify because there are so many variables. The best measurement we have for this metric is customer feedback. We do get a lot of “I tried and had chain dropping issues with the other brand, but yours is solid.” That said, high tolerance and the high quality finish on our products don’t come for free!
Do you have any interesting plans or news to share?
We will have a pretty cool announcement in the next couple weeks (Facebook and Twitter). I can’t really say what it is, but it will solidify the long term viability of our company and our most popular products.
What’s the future for Wolf Tooth Components?
Just keep innovating. We are having so much fun getting to design and make all these products that we have been talking about for years. As it turns out (and not surprisingly) most of our products solve the same problems other riders are faced with. While drivetrain is our current bread and butter, we have many products on our roadmap outside of drivetrain components.
The fuel bottle is really clever – do you have any other smart products on their way?
Dan came up with the Fuel bottle. He has done a lot of long races and rides like Iditabike and Arrowhead 135 to name a few. He was always struggling with one handed on the bike eating and found the solution in those fuel bottles. Now all three of us use them to eat normal food (not Gels) when out for epic rides. Yes, we have a whole product roadmap and it expands well outside chainrings and cogs. That said, we need to save some secrets for Interbike! We will be at Interbike this year and they were kind enough to put us in the far back corner, so we hope people can actually find us;)
Why do you ride bikes?
All three of just genuinely love bikes and we love to ride. Given free time, which is at a premium these days, I can guaranty you will find us pedaling on the singletrack, gravel, snow and roads here in the Southern Suburbs of the Twin Cities!
Do you have any key words that represent your company?
Made in the USA, High Quality, Performance Leader, Beautiful Product Finish.