A gear carrier should last as long as the vehicle. Otherwise what's the point? Bicycle racks that get deformed while driving, products that rust: we all know this and we always end up regretting it. Especially in a van, where this type of equipment always breaks at the worst possible moment. We prefer to leave with peace of mind, with a product that will accompany us everywhere. A product that we are not afraid to use to overcome obstacles and that can be left outside without problems. A product that we are not afraid to use because that is what it is made for!
That's our goal. To make a gear carrier that lasts. Something that is modular and allows access to the boot. It has to be quickly dismantled to keep only the hitch for the week, and the whole rack for the weekend.
But the challenge is great. A gear carrier can stay outside 365 days a year. And that's no mean feat. Salt, sand, water... all of which can attack your vehicle. Every owner of an old van knows: corrosion is a demon.
It was while dismantling the hitch of my truck that we realised something important. Wherever it can rust, it will. My hitch was fully painted. But quickly, the assembling/dismantling process made the paint jump. I can see the first signs of corrosion in the holes.
To remedy this, we have decided to treat our parts with cataphoresis. This treatment is widely used in the automotive industry, particularly for its protection against corrosion and its resistance to scratching. It is also a very good surface for our second treatment: the powder coating is essential to obtain a finished aesthetic appearance. It also increases the hardness of the surface and improves impact resistance.
It is the care given to this whole phase of protection and surface treatment that allows the gear carrier to last despite the adventures that await it.
This is what it looks like! Not bad, eh?
Aluminum is light and oxidizes much less quickly than steel. But it is not very resistant mechanically. Just look at the basic bike racks. Moreover, it consumes a lot of energy to be produced: 3 times more than steel! To achieve our goal, we have no choice. We need a more rigid and stronger material. The good thing is that vans are made to carry weight. That's what they're built for! It fits perfectly with our need. So it will be steel, for its mechanical properties. This is why most of the chassis are made of steel.
Tool holders and other modules in brushed steel before cataphoresis
The study and certification
Well, for the rest, you'll have to do the maths! Because the standards in Europe are quite demanding. That's why all the parts are dimensioned and calculated to comply with the French standard "XP R18-904-4" and the German standard "DIN 75303". More than just calculations, a real battery of tests is planned by specialised organisations to certify the gear carrier.
This certification is the guarantee of having a product that is insured and validated by proven design rules. All our safety coefficients are equal to or higher than what the standard requires.
Views of the equipment carrier
Made in France
A well-done study is good. A good quality product is better! To complete the project, we must control the quality of our production.
Having our gear carrier made on the other side of the world is not for us and it doesn't fit with our values. We know what life is like in a workshop. Proximity is essential! It is important to us to exchange and share with all our stakeholders to improve the material carrier. For SKEP, the "workshop" experience is a real plus. This approach brings many skills to the manufacturing process, which will allow us to optimise the durability of our product.
This is why the gear carrier is French: from the first design to the last assembly.
Pascal & Theo