Leitner Designs Proves How Generations Push Innovation
Engineering Through Bloodline With Leitner Designs
Light-duty trucks bring the most sales in the United States, with many people using them for multiple jobs. Additionally, as the population of outdoor explorers and enthusiasts grows, trucks need to do more. That is where Leitner Designs comes in.
One of the first accessories often considered is a bed rack. If you’re one to do your research, you probably already know about Leitner Designs. It manufactures one of the best truck bed cargo racks on the market—the Leitner Active Cargo System (ACS). It offers quality craftsmanship and innovative design to bring versatility to the truck owner who partakes in multiple outdoor adventures or needs their truck to do more.
Dirt bikers, mountain bikers, hunters and others who have various passions for adventure need the ability to make use of their truck bed on some days; on others, they might want to mount their rooftop tent. They know the value of a Leitner Designs Active Cargo System truck bed rack. As a result of Leitner Design’s patented and proprietary design to make its truck bed rack one of the most versatile on the market, anyone who has one knows that it’s money well spent. And, to truly appreciate the products Leitner Designs brings to market, it’s important to learn more about the “man behind the curtain,” Bernhard Leitner.
Design Wizard Behind Leitner Designs
To appreciate the thought processes and engineering mastery that drive Leitner Designs Founder and Chief Designer Bernhard Leitner, one must first understand his upbringing.
Son of a man who was recognized as an engineering genius across a number of industries, Bernhard Leitner keeps that legacy alive.
“If you’re one to do your research, you probably already know about Leitner Designs. It manufactures one of the best truck bed cargo racks on the market—the Leitner Active Cargo System (ACS).”
Horst Leitner, Bernhard’s father, was born near Salzburg, Austria. As a youth, he began racing motocross. Although he was a respected Grand Prix, International Six Days Trials (ISDT) and F.I.M. Motocross World Championship rider, racing was just a hobby back then. Riders had to work or go to school, and Puch employed Leitner while he competed. Horst won four ISDT gold medals and the Austrian National Motocross Championship during his racing career.
In 1980, Horst Leitner relocated his family to the United States. He relied on his creativity and engineering prowess in founding ATK Motorcycles in 1985. ATK was named for his patented Anti-Tension Kettenantrieb (German for “anti-tension chain drive”), which eliminated chain torque and also improved handling.
Horst’s motorcycle design was lighter, better handling, easier to repair, narrower and so advanced that it stayed current for a decade. In just months, he produced the first prototype; and, in its first year, ATK won the 1985 Four-Stroke Nationals and the 1986 Four-Stroke Championships Open Class, among others. Thousands of ATKs were sold, and owning one became a status symbol.
In 1991, when Horst sold ATK and founded AMP Research, he took on projects for Polaris and Harley-Davidson. Turning his attention to mountain bikes, his Horst Link rear suspension design was adopted by Specialized, with versions of it still in production today. Pioneering the use of disc brakes on mountain bikes, his design compensated for temperature-induced pressure gain. Horst was later inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame for advancing mountain bike technology.
AMP Research moved into the automotive sector, and some of its innovations included the Bed Extender, PowerStep, BedStep and Fuel Door. Mid- and full-sized truck owners who have ever used a bed extender to carry bikes or PowerSteps to enter a lifted truck have AMP Research to thank.
Like Father, Like Son
Horst encouraged Bernhard to use all the tools available to him in the shop. By age 8, Bernhard was a proficient machinist, using a knee mill and metal lathe to prototype parts for motorcycles. Obviously, it wasn’t long before he began working at ATK, his family’s motorcycle company. Bernhard used those skills to design his first motorcycle when he was 15, using spare parts he found lying around at ATK. Powering the bike was a Honda XR100 motor, which he tuned and raced in the 4-Stroke Nationals. The bike proved to be a worthy competitor to other machines of the day.
Innovation Through Sports
When Horst founded AMP Research, mountain bikes were in their infancy.
Bernhard was engaged as AMP Research’s head test rider and fabricator. The company developed proprietary and patented full-suspension bicycles and disc brake systems for Specialized, Mongoose, Rocky Mountain, RockShox, Mercedes-Benz and others. Their designs are still the most dominant and continue to be used by numerous mountain bike manufacturers.
“[The ACS] offers quality craftsmanship and innovative design to bring versatility to the truck owner who partakes in multiple outdoor adventures or needs their truck to do more.”
In 2001, Bernhard left AMP Research and became head of engineering for one of the premier active sports protection companies, Innovation Sports. There, he designed, developed and tested all its new products. He was granted several patents for his work on custom knee brace hinge designs and electronic knee brace measuring systems during his six years with the company.
Bernhard founded Leitner Designs in 2007 as a consultancy to design, develop and engineer products for other companies. Those products included knee braces and action sports gear for Asterisk; motorcycle exhaust and racing components for Two Brothers Racing; and rugged, mountable smartphone cases for Rokform.
Active Cargo System by Leitner Designs
Bernhard engineered and built the first Leitner Active Cargo System (ACS) in 2014, which was born out of necessity. This revolutionary, modular truck bed rack system featured a proprietary sliding rear load bar to retain full use of the truck bed—and, more importantly, it provided the ability for Bernhard to put his dirt bike into the truck bed without disassembling the rack. Typical of Bernhard’s designs, the rack’s modularity allows for endless configurations of Leitner Accessories, as well as third-party mounts and other products.
“Typical of Bernhard’s designs, the rack’s modularity allows for endless configurations of Leitner Accessories, as well as third-party mounts and other products.”
September 2019 marked the unveiling of the Leitner ACS Forged Active Cargo System, resetting the standard for bed racks once again. Utilizing forged arms that are stronger and lighter than those of comparable welded components, the ACS Forged is compatible with any Leitner mounting system and accessory.
Complementing the patented sliding rear load bar is Leitner’s patented side-mounted storage “GearPODs”—the ultimate eye-level truck bed storage system. The ACS Forged is one of the foremost truck bed rack cargo solutions on the market today, with fitments for nearly all modern U.S. trucks on the road today.
Professionally, Bernhard is challenged, not only in designing new products for the highly competitive off-road market, but also in managing inventory and stocking levels, personnel and manufacturing for Leitner Designs. The development of all Leitner products—from the company’s inception—adheres to the simple philosophy of “over-engineered and over-built” … or it doesn’t leave the door. Today, at its core, Leitner Designs comprises a company of genuine outdoor enthusiasts who embody the view that life is best spent in the company of family and friends in the great outdoors. As a whole, they truly believe that it’s during those precious moments out in the wild that they can truly find their best selves. This translates to everything they do—from design and manufacturing to customer service.
Going forward in the same gritty tradition and nature of his father, Horst, Bernhard Leitner has committed himself and the integrity of Leitner Designs to providing the highest-quality innovative products in the global marketplace to help you “Carry Your World.”