After a quart-century with SRAM the H-Ball says bye-bye

In a fabulously retro-shot press release from Herbold’s sponsor, SRAM/Rockshox, the 1990 World Champion has today announced his retirement.

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Photos by Tom Moran

Photos by Tom Moran

Press Release

SRAM, RockShox bid a fond farewell to racer, tester, developer, ambassador and friend HB.

SRAM and RockShox announced today the retirement of Greg “HB” Herbold. HB first became affiliated with SRAM more than 25 years ago, when he was signed to race and endorse the company’s only product—Grip Shift. His connection to RockShox goes back to 1988 and the RS-1. A natural-born tinkerer, HB began looking for ways to improve the performance of his fork. This desire for better products, combined with his hands-on approach, would prove extremely valuable to SRAM and RockShox product development.

“HB has been a part of the SRAM family since 1990, and it has been absolute joy working with him from day one,” says SRAM Executive VP Mike Mercuri. “Greg’s contribution to SRAM’s success goes way beyond using and endorsing our products as a professional athlete. He’s made vital contributions to our product development over the last 25 years. His technical intuition and ability to communicate, educate and make it fun is his greatest legacy.”

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Herbold is perhaps best known athletically for winning the 1990 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships Downhill, and his larger-than-life persona that helped give ‘90s-era mountain biking its character, but his contributions to product development are equally impressive.

The feel and performance of all RockShox suspension, for instance, owe a debt of gratitude to HB, who provided direction on all spring and damping curves, as well as chassis stiffness. He helped engineers understand the boundaries of geometry, in terms of handling, when the travel-adjustable products—U-turn, Air U-turn, Dual Position Air and Coil—were being developed. He prototyped the first remote for SID using mostly RC car parts, and famously led the development of the Power Bulge™ when he experimented with hose clamps on fork legs to improve ride consistency. And suspension isn’t the only category HB touched—he’s had considerable involvement with brakes and drivetrain products as well.

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“I was super fortunate to have parallel relationships during my racing career with both SRAM and RockShox,” says Herbold. “When they combined forces, I was truly at home. The innovative process is pretty entertaining and, hopefully, my enthusiasm and forward thinking helped to create shred-able product that riders enjoyed. We had our perfect dives, and some belly flops, but the drive to innovate always kept everything super exciting. It still is.

“Being a part of the SRAM family for the last 25 plus has been a wild ride to say the least. To think they approached me with one product—Grip Shift—to where the company is now, is a bit mind blowing. I feel super lucky that they took a chance on sponsoring me. The chance I took on them being successful is probably the highlight of my career in this industry.”

Photos by Tom Moran

Photos by Tom Moran

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Good luck H-Ball!

Herbold has been a stalwart of any and every press launch and bike expo featuring SRAM stuff since time immemorial. He was there on the very first press launch this author attended back in the early Noughties. He got the drinks in, natch.

All the best Mr Herbold!