Innovator, icon, colleague. Mike Burrows, the legendary bike designer and engineer who worked with Giant to create some of the most lasting innovations the sport of cycling has ever seen, passed away Monday, August 15, at age 79.
Burrows, labeled “the Godfather of modern bicycle design” by Olympic gold medalist and world champion Chris Boardman, leaves behind a legacy of innovation that helped shape not only the trajectory of Giant, but the entire sport of cycling.
Born in 1943, Burrows started working on monocoque frame designs in the 1980s. These were radical concepts, but it wasn’t until the UCI decided to overturn a ban on monocoque frames that Burrows began drawing worldwide attention from his workshop in Norfolk, England. It started with his wild-looking Lotus 108, a frameset that Boardman rode to Olympic gold in 1992 in the individual pursuit. That was the first cycling Olympic gold medal for Great Britain since 1920 and it helped put British cycling on the map. Burrows followed that up with the Lotus 110, which Boardman rode to a stage win in the 1994 Tour de France.
That same year, 1994, Burrows began working with Giant to make his innovations available on a global scale. His first creation with Giant, the MCR, was a full carbon-fiber monocoque frame with a matching carbon fork and a single water bottle mount. The MCR was produced by Giant for four years, starting in 1997. Decades later, the bike would serve as inspiration when CADEX, the high-performance brand under the Giant Group, launched its cutting-edge CADEX Tri frameset.
Around the same time the MCR was introduced, Burrows was working with Giant on a new road bike design that would change the look of road cycling forever: the TCR (Total Compact Road). This was the world’s first road bike with compact geometry, and it didn’t take long to catch on. The Spanish Team ONCE began winning with the TCR, and the rest is history. The game-changing design was soon adopted by nearly every performance road bike maker in the world.
Burrows’ impact goes well beyond high-performance road bikes. He was a passionate inventor of all human-powered vehicles including mountain bikes, cargo bikes and recumbents. He also created the Giant Halfway folding bike.
Today, we remember that vision and innovation. Without Mike Burrows, cycling wouldn’t be where it is now.
“Mike Burrows – an extraordinary innovator in every sense of the word.”
“Mike Burrows was a remarkable person in the field of road racing. He proposed the compact road geometry concept to guide the innovation of MCR and TCR products, which not only brought GIANT into the world of high-end bikes, but also pushed the UCI to change its technical specifications. The compact road concept paved the way and became the mainstream choice for today's road bike design. In the field of lifestyle cycling, he never hesitated. Mike proposed the innovative Halfway folding concept. The GIANT Halfway has become GIANT 's timeless bicycle. It has been sold for more than 20 years. He has led the revolution in bicycle design again and again, promoted technological development of the bicycle industry, and changed the riding habits of consumers. He is the best example of industrial innovation, research and development we have ever seen.”
- Owen Chang, Chief Research & Development Officer, Giant Group -
“Mike Burrows co-worked with our R&D team to develop the first full monocoque composite racing bike- MCR and this initiate our base technology for carbon wheel development; In addition, we developed the compact road bike concept, which still dominate professional bike race, and lead us to GIANT TCR. Halfway, the folding bike, was also his work with our R&D Team at that time, and it still is a classic work till now. Mike will always be remembered for his rigorous work attitude, his commitment, and for his very profound influences on GIANT products. Mike is highly admired and respected by everyone in Giant Group, especially for our engineers, he is an icon in all times!”
- Scott Chen, Chief Operating Officer of HPB, Giant Group -
“I met Mike directly when I started working for Giant Group in 1996.
Even he was not involved in MTB racing, but his curiosity made him come to the first prototype testing of ATX one with Rob Warner in the UK.
Next time we met at the training camp of our MTB team with his new MCR in Feb 1997. Riding over a speed bump the bike made a big noise and we all thought it was broken, but Mike only said in his own way: a patch of carbon will fix it.
He always found solutions for the biggest challenges, not always the best looking ones, but in his opinion the best functioning solution.
Discussions with him always took a longer time, but we often had the same opinion/ thoughts when it came to technical questions or finding solutions. This was always very fruitful.
Now, almost 25 years later, this MCR inspired me for our new CADEX Tri direction. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able anymore to tell him personally about this inspiration for our special triathlon bike.
-Andy Wollny, Technical Development Manager, Giant Group-