An Interview with Lauf’s Ólafur Thorarensen

Conceived on the windswept and desolate trails of Iceland, Lauf are the bike sponsor of the Café du Cycliste Gravel Team. Having begun their journey as a suspension fork manufacturer, this fledgling brand now also produce beautiful carbon fibre bikes for gravel racing across varied terrain. We spoke to Lauf’s Ólafur Thorarensen to discover more.

Could you give us a brief history of the Lauf brand?

Lauf was founded in Iceland in 2011 by bicycle enthusiast, engineer and weekend XC MTB racer Benedikt Skúlason. He imagined a simplified, yet more responsive and maintenance-free carbon suspension fork, and would not stop until he turned that idea into reality.

What happened next?

Benedikt teamed-up with lifelong friend Guðberg Björnsson and together they spent countless days and nights designing and building a series of prototypes. To an outsider, it probably all looked a bit crazy and far-fetched. But, a few years later this crazy idea became a leading suspension fork for gravel bikes.

What would you say is Lauf’s ambition?

Just like in the beginning, Lauf is still driven by a desire to invent. The desire to change the game for the better and leave a lasting mark on the industry.

With so many bike brands making gravel machines, what is the Lauf schtick?

We want to create bike technology that is pure and harmonious. We are all about performance, but fundamentally Lauf is about riding more. And, riding more means you have more fun, and when you have more fun, you go faster.

Why did you specialise in gravel technology?

We sometimes feel like gravel chose us. First, we invented our suspension technology, then we realised where it would be the best fit. And that was on gravel bikes, which is thankfully close to home, as the company was initially born from our love of old-fashioned MTB XC, which happens to be a lot like the gravel riding we see today.

How did the partnership with Café du Cycliste come about?

Naturally we became aware of Café du Cycliste when looking at bike apparel, and when we required clothing for a photoshoot, we approached them. They generously provided us with some clothing and about a year later, we were contacted about bikes for their photoshoot in Iceland where they collaborated with 66º North. We happily obliged, and our partnership has only strengthened and expanded over the years since.

What was it about the gravel team project that appealed to you?

The fact that it was based in Europe, was a female team and was created by Café du Cycliste. Lauf had been searching for people to sponsor in Europe and when Café du Cycliste approached us about the team, we couldn‘t resist.

The second season of the partnership, you must be happy with it.

Absolutely. We are excited to see the girls race this season, from Iceland to Kenya, and watch how our Seigla bike handles different terrains.

Tell us about the Seigla, the bike the girls will be racing on.

It was obvious to us they should get the Seigla [say-glaa]. It is our latest iteration of how a fast gravel bike should be. It takes the concept of our older True Grit gravel bike and simply drives it further. Reliable, comfortable, and fast!

What would you say makes the Seigla stand out?

The main underlying philosophy is that a smoother ride makes you move faster on gravel, as long as excess weight and friction isn’t added to the formula; and the rider position remains fast and efficient. The Seigla goes all-in on maximizing frame compliance and being able to fit extreme gravel tyres without resorting to a compromised geometry, pivots or other heavy (and maintenance requiring) mechanisms.

Anything about the bike you’re particularly pleased with?

Suspension is of course our forte, so we are always pleased to showcase the potential of this. Fun fact: Our Seigla’s ICE’d rear suspension technology provides approximately the same amount of compliance as other bike manufacturers do with pivot mechanism. Only with substantially less weight and complexity.

Further Riding