How you turn it or turn it, Santos remains a strange duck in the bite. A nice quirky cycling brand that goes its own way without compromise. What makes them so unique, and why are we investing in a hefty Santos Test Center? We spoke to founder Robbert Rutgrink and revealed 9 typical traits that few people know.
1. Smart and efficient: one employee per bicycle
At Santos works barely 18 men. So the work should be as efficient as possible. For example, the composition: each order starts with an empty plastic container and a list of all the parts. An employee walks through the warehouse with that bucket, always via a fixed route, and takes the necessary materials from the shelves. Then he puzzles the bike himself. Always a single employee per bike. Another colleague then completely checks the bike. Very clear, fast and efficient.
2. Terribly demanding
Everything is all about top quality. Not just your own work and materials. Santos makes the same requirement for its suppliers. For a top bike, only the very best material is enough. If the partners do not have an equally excellent reputation, Santos will not cover up its own brand. Sounds a bit arrogant and terribly demanding, but only that way you guard the top quality.
3. Real-world testing
You can run a new bike on a test machine. But in practice there is a human being on it and he drives hard or soft in good or bad weather, with little or much maintenance. That’s a big difference. That’s why Santos has been riding test drivers for ten years. All over the world. They send test reports every month, with photos and mileage and the type of weather. All this data provides interesting analyses. What happens to this type of cyclist with this drive, this type of rims, and this tire pressure? Only then do you see how a part behaves in the real world, and you can adjust where necessary.
4. Constantly curious about feedback
Nothing is as valuable as user feedback. What works, what doesn’t work? What do they like, what part can be adjusted? The cyclists themselves know that best. So Santos keeps her eyes and ears open, and actively angling for the opinions of her cyclists. At the bottom of each order form or price list, there is a large box for comments. They often provide useful tips and ideas. Santos is also active on the Internet: they immediately respond to every online review and are closely involved in different communities.
5. Healthy balance between consolidating and innovating
You don’t have to change to change. Santos retains what is good, which works perfectly, which the customers are happy with. But it also continues to innovate constantly, based on the feedback received, and their own common sense. At any one time, about 100 ideas for development are on the shelf. Of these, only 10 can really be realised, but very extensively. Santos monitors the healthy balance between development, perpetuation and innovation.
6. Nice and quirky
Call Santos quirky. There are already enough docile sheep in the herd. Santos doesn’t do what others do, but what they think is best. They’ll try it out. It remains a small brand with a niche product, but what for product! Pure class, precisely because they make no concessions. They develop based on what they hear or see like everyone else, but draw different conclusions from it. In this way they dare to come up with something completely new, such as the belt drive in 2009.
7. Aimed at people
The man remains a strange creature. Every person is different, everyone is different. Different preferences, a separate driving style, a different physical. That’s why the custom-built approach is so essential. Every cyclist deserves his or her personal top bike. And yes, of course, it happens that an order changes after the order. That too is typically human. In the end, the customer wants different handles, different pedals, or a different color. Santos is prepared for these human whims and has set up her system so that she can deal with these changes very flexibly.
8. Specialist by a limited selection
Too much supply in the store is never efficient. You can’t offer very cheap bikes and high quality bikes at the same time. Those are very different bikes, they are also very different users and prices. Each type of bike is so different that you can’t possibly specialize down to the smallest details. But at Fietsen Jurgen we want to monitor our reputation as a true specialist, and Santos does that too. That’s why she only develops a limited selection, which she will continue to develop.
Important for us, but also for you as a customer: a Santos is futureproofed. So you can enjoy it all your life. More and more people want a unique Santos with the new frame, own wheel sizes, and braking systems… How are you going to keep this up in the future? Santos can’t possibly keep inventing a new bike every time. So she developed a frame as a platform. For example, she decided, unlike others, to do the cable conduction externally. Not because of fixed studs on the frame, but through holes, in which they screw their modular cable holders, in all kinds of variants. You can remove it later and easily replace it, so you can easily customize your bike and any other bike.
This is why we at Cycling Jurgen so believe in Santos. Now it’s up to you to discover how such a bike changes your sporting life. Make a agree and come and test one of our models at our Santos Test Center!