The Start of a Revolution
HED Cycling Products began in the basement of a bike shop. Steve Hed, then, the owner of Grand Performance in St. Paul, MN, having spent years experimenting with composites and electronics through model planes, water skis and skateboards, went down into the basement of his bike shop with a wild idea: to create the first modern and affordable aero disc wheel for triathletes.
Countless hours of design and meticulous craft led to this moment. HED Cycling was born.
The HED CX & the New Frontier in Aerodynamics
Before bikes and wheels, Steve Hed spent his time building and flying model planes, studying every aspect of flight. That lead him to a realization: traditional bike wheels, with their wedged “V” shape weren’t giving athletes the advantage they needed to take their performance to the next level.
Unlike an airplane wing, Steve saw that the trailing edge of a bike wheel rim would quickly become the leading edge as it spun to the back of the wheel’s natural rotation. In order for the wheel to be truly aerodynamic, the wheel’s trailing edge also had to act as a leading edge, it’s shape had to be rounded out to account for wind dynamics from every angle.
Realization becaome breakthrough when Steve made the 60mm HED CX, the first toroidal shaped wheel, revolutionizing bike wheel performance. To this day, Steve’s discovery lives on in HED’s line of Jet and Vanquish wheels, the latter of which holds the patent for the most aerodynamic bike rim profile in the world.
The Invention of “Tails”
One of our core values at HED Cycling is “Innovation has no finish line”, which, over the years, has led to equally groundbreaking and wild products. In 1988, Steve had an idea to give triathletes an aerodynamic edge by repositioning water bottle storage to site behind the rider,off the frame of the bike and inside the natural slipstream the rider produces. He called the new product “Tails”, the first behind-the-seat water bottle holder.
These rear hydration systems are now common among triathletes around the world, but all goes back to a wild idea Steve had one afternoon.
The Birth of an Icon: The HED Jet
Building upon the success of the HED CX, HED Cycling Products began exploring new materials. From the dyed fiberglass of the early years, the team started experimenting with carbon fiber, using the natural strength and weight savings of the material to further improve wheel performance.
In 1992, Steve and the team cracked the code, introducing its first carbon fiber toroidal shaped wheel. They called it the “Jet-Style Wheel”, the first in a long line of industry-leading HED Jets.
All Uphill from Downhill
As the American Mountain Biking revolution began, HED Cycling Products took its aerodynamic expertise to the slopes and parks, introducing aerodyanimc profile downhill MTB and BMX wheels.
During this time, Steve began considering the impact of wider rim profiles, but not just for mixed terrain. There was still new ground to break out on the road.
Working with DuPont, HED Cycling Products acquired an unconventional wheel design: a carbon wheel with three aerodynamic foils in the place of traditional spokes. The wheel took on the expertise HED Cycling had become known for, with the three spokes featuring a rounded leading edge, sharp trailing edge to create an unprecedented performance advantage.
From Triathlons to the Tour to fixed gear bikes around the world, this was the beginning of HED’s H3
The Invention of the Carbon Aero Bar
Always looking for the next rider advantage, Steve Hed turned to componentry, this time, taking a close look at aero bars. For years triathletes and road cyclists had experimented with position and different handbar set ups, but no one had thoroughly reworked both the shape and material of handlebars.
Having spent the better part of a decade perfecting carbon layup techniques, Steve and the team at HED Cycling became committed to creating handlebars that would give riders both an aerodynamic and weight advantage. The result? The invention of the first carbon aero bars, a design that industry experts continue to draw inspiration from to this day.
The Jet Gets Faster
Going back to its roots in the aero disc market, HED Cycling Products introduces the Jet Aero Disc. Using hybrid toroidal shaping, the Jet Aero Disc enters the cycling world as the fastest clincher aero disc, becoming the wheel of choice of time trial artists and triathletes around the world.
Steve Hed Passes Away
After 30 years of revolutionizing the sport cycling, Steve Hed passes away suddenly while at work in Minnesota. With ideas in his head and new wheels in the works, Steve is mourned by the cycling community, with industry professionals, competitors, and top athletes noting that sport had lost a true visionary.
Lance Armstrong, a long-time user and advocate of HED wheels, tweeted, “Shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Hed. I loved him dearly as did everyone who ever met him. We’ll all miss him.”
Taylor Phinney, then with BMC Racing, said, “Steve Hed, your passion, your generosity and your genius will not be forgotten. So sad to lose you. Rest in peace my friend.”
A family man, friend, mentor, and visionary- Steve Hed left his mark on cycling, improved the cycling experience for people around the world and created a legacy like none other in the sport. While he cannot be replaced, his spirit of innovation lives on trhough HED Cycling Products.
Anne Hed Becomes CEO of HED Cycling Products
Shortly after the passing of Steve Hed, his wife, Anne, assumes leadership of the company. From their first meeting in a bike shop to the top of the sport, Steve and Anne were always in it together, reimagining the cycling experience for everyone. The next era of Hed Cycling Products would be no different.
As a woman owned business, HED Cycling Products continues to grow, moving to a new production facility in Roseville, MN. Shortly thereafter, Anne Hed is honored with the Established Business Owner of the Year Award for Minnesota.
Rohan Dennis Sets Records with HED at the Tour
At the Prologue, the opening stage of the 2015 Tour de France, Rohan Dennis, the time trial specialist then with BMC Racing, made the decision to use a HED GT3 Trispoke as his leading wheel through the stage. For nearly 14 kilometers, Dennis set a brutally fast pace, averaging 55.45 km/h (35.45 mph). That day, his pace went unmatched, finished first on the stage and taking first yellow jersey of the 2015 Tour de France. If that wasn’t enough, he also set the course record.
The H3 Rohan Dennis used is now proudly framed on the wall at HED Cycling Products HQ, noted and signed by Dennis himself.
HED and Cervelo Create the P5X
In 2016, Cervelo approached HED Cycling Products with a new idea. Leaning on HED’s aerodynamic and carbon manufacturing expertise, Cervelo and HED worked together to create a superbike that would become instantly recognizable at triathlons and time trials the world over: the Cervelo P5X. Each frame was handmade at HED Cycling Products HQ in Minnesota.
HED Launches the VOLO for Rio
In the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, HED Cycling had gold on its mind. Working in partnership with Team USA HED engineered the VOLO (even producing some of the initial wheels to match the left-side drivetrain of Team USA’s Felt TA FRD frames). This combination of inspiration and engineering was the start of multiple gold medal and world championship wins.
Gwen Jorgensen Wins Gold in Rio
Tom Zirbel Sets American Hour Record on HED VOLOs
Hot off the release of the HED VOLO 2016 Olympic Games, American pro cyclist Tom Zirbel set a goal of breaking a nearly two-decade old record: the American Hour Record. With the previous mark set by Norm Alvis in 1997 at 51.505km, Tom knew he would need every advantage possible. With a set of HED VOLOs, Tom made his hour record attempt in Aguascalientes, Mexico. When the clock stopped, Tom had set a new American Hour Record at 53.037km, a record that still stands.
HED Introduces the Emporia GC3 Pro
HED was in gravel from the start, with wheels like the Ardennes and Belgium, but in 2020 HED went all-in, introducing its first all-carbon gravel wheel: the Emporia GC3 Pro. As HED has done with previous wheel models, the team committed to celebrating the heart of gravel culture, name the new wheel set after Emporia, Kansas, host of one of gravel cycling’s most iconic races, Unbound.
Lionel Sanders Sets Canadian Hour Record on HED VOLOs
From triathlon to the track, Lionel Sanders has always been about “No L:imits”, and in 2020 Lionel set his sites on the Canadian Hour Record. Using a set of handmade HED VOLO track wheels, Lionel set the Mattamy National Cycling Centre track on fire, overtaking the previous mark of 48.587km and covering 51.304km in one hour.