Back to our origins:how are we applying our automotive expertise to the biking world?
Although Sunstar is mainly known for its oral care expertise and solid industrial presence in the automotive world, it all began with bikes. When the company started in Osaka in 1932, Sunstar was a glue manufacturer for bicycle tires. Glue evolved into adhesives and mechanical parts for cars and motorbikes, eventually becoming the industrial business, and putting the glue in tubes gave the idea of placing toothpaste in tubes, too, creating the oral care business.
Until 2018, Sunstar Braking was purely a motor brand focused on motorbikes and UTV. After studying the slow growth in the motorbike market, the team made a decision; it was time to think outside the box and make a bold move.
As a result, Braking decided to enter the bike sector, and this is how Sunstar reunited again with its first love:
After many years, returning to the biking sector would not be easy. For that, a significant engineering transformation was needed, and the team took on the challenge by finding the perfect opportunity to do so: electric bikes. According to the group of engineers:
e-bikes were the perfect product for us to transition from motorbikes to bicycles, as electric bikes need a powerful brake that we were able to provide.
One of the most challenging bits of the transition was meeting the demands of bike customers and fans, who all strive for light-weighted, highly stylish products with excellent performance for their bicycles. In contrast, motorbike customers give less importance to aesthetics.
The main solution was to put together our experience in the Motorcycle business and be creative and flexible as an R&D office; thus, Braking started down-sizing technology and expertise from motorcycles to bicycles – and it proved successful.
Our first high-performance bicycle brake disc, the S3 BATFLY semi-floating rotor, is an established and patented product in the Motocross and Enduro fields for at least ten years. While Braking has raised the bar to more performing products in MX, the S3 disc has won many world titles and is still popular among riders worldwide. So, the first step into the unknown world of bicycles was to scale down the S3 Batfly to make it work as a 1.9mm-thick metal part on a Downhill or Enduro bicycle. These discs, with their success, paved the way for Braking to enter the bicycle world.
Another part that changes dramatically from motorbikes to bicycles is the brake system. With our expertise in brake systems from the motorcycle field, Braking entered the market with the In.Ca.S. complete brake system; again, the timing was right to introduce a high-end, high-performance brake system in the bicycle market.
The shifting process continued to be successful with the newest generation of super-high-performance brake discs, the EPTA STAGE0. The fins on the outer edge of the rotor act as radiators to dissipate heat. They have been tested since 2019 in the Superbike world, proven successful many times during the past years before being introduced in a bicycle rotor. Technology downsizing must come with reasonable concerns, but the adaptability of our R&D team along with the 30 + years of braking’s expertise on the racetrack, has proven to be the right combination to deliver high-value goods to this new market.
What is next?
Developing great products with impressive technology was a huge turning point for the brand and helped Braking to gain traction in a market they had recently entered. Especially for e-bikes, their previous knowledge of motorbikes helped them develop suitable brakes for these types of vehicles.
After the major shift towards the biking sector, Braking is consistently growing double digit every year since 2019, and its main focus for the future is on road market. It is a great challenge for the team because onroad riders are not familiar with brake discs, so it will open new possibilities in Asian markets, especially.