Being Frank: Not Only for Shaggy-Haired Enduro Riders
Brent Graves-CEO & President
Our name is Cane Creek Cycling Components, though we are almost always referred to as just “Cane Creek”. However, our full name is important in that “cycling” refers to not just one or two cycling disciplines but all of them. Over time trends and opportunities emerge and fade, and on the surface Cane Creek may look different while addressing them. At some points in our history, our focus on a trend or an opportunity may have made us appear very focused, even limited in what we offered. But as our full name indicates and what’s to come will illustrate, we are about many forms of cycling.
While Cane Creek Cycling Components was officially born in the mid-nineties, we have been an ongoing operation in the same building since 1974. Back then Dia-Compe in Japan was a major supplier of caliper brakes for “10-speeds” (aka road bikes) and uprights with three or five speeds. The 1973 Oil Crisis resulted in a massive Bike Boom in America (even a bigger boom than now), and Dia-Compe sought to be closer to that market. Over the years we have become increasingly global, with more than half of our current sales coming from outside the U.S.
The next decade brought the emergence of BMX, and Dia-Compe became one of the hottest component brands in that discipline. As the 1990s started, the mountain bike had hit mainstream, and Dia-Compe was again there with market-leading brakes and levers. But the threadless Aheadset was a gamechanger in bike design, and it was adopted by nearly every company in the bicycle industry, even our competitors. Around the same time as the Aheadset was launching into orbit, management transitioned from Japan to America and our entity was renamed Cane Creek Cycling Components.
While likely overshadowed by the Aheadset, the AD rear shocks began establishing Cane Creek in suspension many years before the famous Double Barrel. And Cane Creek’s in-house built wheels graced track bikes as well as road and mountain bikes around the turn of the century. The headset sponsorship of the U.S. Postal and Discovery teams, combined with the notable presence of Cane Creek wheels on the domestic race circuit really made us look like a road racing brand at that time.
Moving into the second decade of the 2000s saw the arrival of another gamechanger, the industry’s first twin-tube rear shock known as the Double Barrel (DB). These shocks helped aggressive trail and enduro riding manifest to their current states. DB shocks built quite a following and even attracted a number of enduro riders to Cane Creek’s workforce. Coincidently those riders became the “face” of Cane Creek and influenced the look and tone of our marketing for the better part of a decade.
Sometimes business changes faster than the perception of the change. While shocks are still a significant category for Cane Creek, our best-selling product is the Thudbuster. That fact surprises a lot of people (even employees) until they understand how popular the Thudbuster is on commuter bikes (increasing electrically assisted) in Europe. Our headset sales are neck-and-neck with Thudbuster, followed by shocks and cranks. Interestingly, despite the rise of disc brakes for road bikes, our eeBrakes outsold Helm forks last year.
From brakes on BMX bikes to wheels on track bikes and from seat posts on commuters to shocks on enduro MTBS, I think it is clear that the “Cycling” in our name is there for a reason. While one might initially think there’s a disconnect between a Thudbuster post and a Kitsuma shock, further consideration will reveal that both are premium products to the mainstream delivering a unique craftsmanship, authenticity, and alternative proposition. Lastly, our staff also includes a wide range of cyclists including dirt jumpers, roadies, folding bike riders, gravel grinders, throttle twisters (OK, they’re motorcyclists), XC racers, and yes… shaggy-haired enduro riders.