During 2020, between COVID lockdowns, employees of Sling Aircraft rode the 35km Sling Trail in Johannesburg South 157 times. A circular route, starting at the Sling factory, the trail incorporates 10 km of tar road and 25 km of dirt, split into several sections which include fast gravel, single track, loose rock and stone, mud, sand and downhill. Over its course the route gains 321 meters of elevation.
During these rides, with different riders on different bikes, there was lots of banter about the merits of different bicycle styles, the ideal machine for the various surfaces and whether, overall, a road, gravel, XC, trail or downhill design would be optimal. Branko Brkljac (Store Manager) and James Pitman (Production Manager) in particular, spent an inordinate amount of time fantasising about designing the perfect machine to deal with the mixed conditions. Mike Blyth (Chief Aircraft Designer), Jarryd Wilson (Aeronautical Engineer), Armin Neerings (Draftsman), Andrew Pitman (Marketing Manager and MD) and Bertus Janse van Rensburg (Sales Manager) all had their say. Finally, in the spirit of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who came to aircraft design as bicycle makers, the team could resist the temptation no more. Consensus was reached and soon two spanking new, freshly manufactured Sling Cycles ‘Tagati’s’ were standing in Hangar 8, Tedderfield Air Park.