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Wheel innovator Steve Hed dies at 59

Published November 26, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (BRAIN) — Steve Hed, founder of Hed Cycling and one of the most respected innovators in aerodynamic bike wheels, died Wednesday morning at a hospital here. He was 59.

Hed had been in the hospital since last Thursday, when he was found unconscious and without a pulse outside the Hed Cycling factory in Shoreview, Minnesota. An employee performed CPR and Hed was quickly taken to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness or brain function. He was removed from life support Tuesday and died at about 9:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, a Hed employee said.

Hed is survived by his wife, Anne, who is the company's CEO, as well as two children — Rebecca and Andrew, who are in high school and college, respectively.

According to a biography provided by the company, Hed started in the bike industry as the owner of a small retail store in the Twin Cities area, called Grand Performance.

In 1985 he founded the wheel company with a focus on supplying the triathlon market.

"While many of his competitors ebbed and flowed in the ardency of their attachment to aerodynamic wheels, or changed ownership or focus or were absorbed by larger companies, Mr. Hed was not compelled by an exit strategy. He enjoyed doing what he did for a living," the biography said.

The company's toroidal rim shape was licensed by Zipp, and in recent years, Hed was one of the pioneers and proponents of wider rim shapes, adopted by much of the industry. At Interbike last year, he introduced a carbon fat bike rim, explaining that he had become a fan of riding fat bikes on the snow in Minnesota.

Most recently his interest has been gravel racing, and he stepped in to help produce the Almanzo gravel race held in the Twin Cities area.

Many athletes, including Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner and others, relied on Hed for aerodynamic fitting and advice.

"No doubt the loyalty shown Steve Hed flows from the loyalty he exhibited first," the company said. "Stories have been told for decades of Mr. Hed quietly continuing to send stipend checks to athletes for years after those athletes retired, well after they could provide any benefit back to the company."

He met his future wife Anne in the 1980s when she was a pro triathlete. They married in 1990.

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