Joakim Uimonen

Favorite Bike: Eclipse X20
Favorite Gear: BioLogic PostPump 2.0 Seatpost

Joakim Uimonen

Chief Designer
Turku, Finland

Joakim Uimonen, who goes simply by Jojo (pronounced similar to Yoyo), freed up some rare time — when he wasn’t riding a bike, designing bikes, or dreaming about bikes — to answer a few questions. If you think you’re hardcore about cycling, wait till you hear his story… 

Tern Berd: You are the Chief Designer at Tern, but you’re still based out of Finland. That makes for quite a challenging day getting on the same page with everybody. Can you walk us through your day? 

Jojo: In the mornings I cycle to the office with one of our sample, proto, or reference bikes. A large portion of my day then goes to exploring new developments from different points of view and with different means, from physical samples to virtual 3D models. A lot of time is spent with 3D models, which offer a fast way to explore and study different development possibilities. In normal bikes it´s enough if parts fit while cycling, but in a compact bike that folds the parts need to fit also in different positions when the bike is folded. New frames and components are all modeled in 3D, which allows our global development team to review, analyze, and improve different design directions in the really early stages of development. All information is uploaded to our servers so the data is accessible to our team 24/7 regardless the location and time zone.

TB: It seems you’ve been working with bikes straight out of the womb. What drew you to Tern?

Jojo: As you say, I have been cycling, fixing, and building bikes since I was a kid. Even my first job was in a bike store and during my studies I was doing part-time selling and fixing bikes in different bikes stores. I have never owned a car. In addition to cycling to work I also cycle for fun throughout the year in Finland, where the climate gives some additional freshness to the cycling, especially in wintertime. [Ed. Note: Winter temperatures in Finland can reach -25° C/-13° F!!] During my studies at university, I didn’t want to limit myself to just being a mechanical engineer, so I got a Master in Science in Machine Design from a technical university and then a Master of Art in Industrial Design from an art and design university, both in Helsinki. Most of the exercises and workshops that I targeted in the universities were about bikes: structure strength calculations, machine concept development, etc., and even my second master’s thesis was a research on the development of the bike, including new innovative concepts like alternate folding and transforming bikes. This approach, combining a bit of the ‘hard’ design with the ‘soft’, has really provided me with nice advantages in developing and designing bikes in the 3D world. Before I came to work with Josh and the team, I was a Product Development Manager at Tunturi bicycles, which is the largest bike brand in Finland. [Ed. Note: And before that he worked on "advanced concepts" for Nokia, but he's not allowed to talk about that . . . without libations.] I met Josh just about every year at the bike shows, and some years later, when the Tunturi bike factory in Finland was closed and production moved to Eastern-Europe, Josh asked me if I would like to develop folding bikes with him. Obviously intrigued, I took him up on it. As you can tell, I’m a bike freak, so I was excited to work with the great, innovative team Josh had brought together.

TB: We’re certainly glad you’re part of the team. Moving on to your home country, seems you’ve covered every inch of Finland by snow. Have any good suggestions for cycling?

Jojo: In Turku [South Finland] there are plenty of nice bike roads, forest trails and hiking paths. But my favorite cycling happens right between when the ocean freezes but before there is too much snow on the ice. This leaves vast plains of ice open for cycling on the sea. Suddenly the scattered shoreline of Southern Finland is no longer a cycling obstacle, but an opportunity to escape and cycle to and over remote islands. These would absolutely not be accessible by bike during summer time, except with my amphibious bicycles, but that is a story for another time . . .

TB: Amphibious . . . what? Ok, another time. Big question time: You’ve been granted the power to enforce a few rules to make the streets safer for cyclists. What do you do?

Jojo: Every road in city centers should have a two-way bike lane. I would invest significantly more in building bike path networks into city centers. Even a narrow bike lane painted on the side of the road makes a huge difference. We unfortunately have the typical chicken and egg situation: not enough funding and space allocation for cycling paths . . . because they claim there are not enough cyclists. But without cycling paths many people are too afraid to cycle at all in the cities. In the end though, by spending my days making more bikes for more people, I believe I can really make a difference turning this world into a better, nicer and more sustainable place to live.