Being Frank: What Could Have Been
For obvious reasons you usually only hear about the products that we have to sell. However, there are products that never make it to the market. While we cannot afford to spend too much of our resources on products that will never provide a return, we feel that we must take some chances in order to deliver unique benefits that are noticed and valued by riders instead of just doing me-too products. This blog will shine light on some of those products that will not be found on your bike.
Faithful Being Frank followers may recall the blog from December 2017. There it was explained why Cane Creek was not coming out with a dropper post. In essence, it was because the opportune time to bring a dropper to market had passed, and we did not have any ideas to significantly improve on the existing state-of-the-art. Ironically, we did bring out a remote lever for the never-to-be-seen dropper. Though the dropper project was cancelled, the remote lever steamed ahead. We were disappointed with the execution of remote levers on the market, so we ended up launching the DROPT remote lever despite no partner post. While we were proud of the DROPT, it cost us too much, failed to gain momentum, and was eventually discontinued.
Demand for our eeBrakes has continued to hold up well despite the move to disc brakes on road bikes. For some riders rim brakes offer all that is needed, but when it comes to serious descending and/or inclement conditions, disc brakes are better. A few years ago when the major bike brands started shifting halo bikes to disc, we figured it will develop a disc brake. Furthermore, we saw areas where road disc brakes needed improvement (and still do!). Hydraulic disc calipers are much more complex than they appear, and over a couple of years we learned why Shimano and SRAM have had so many problems with them. We did come up with a design and began making prototypes. The last prototype provided very good performance – we thought it rivaled the benchmark Campagnolo. But we could not deliver on the one key issue that would set our brake apart and offer a benefit found nowhere else. So we pulled the plug.
We have a fondness for titanium. While no material is perfect for every application, titanium’s properties align well with products that need to be light, impact resistant, and strong… like cranks or… pedals. We spent at least a year designing, prototyping, and testing titanium pedals. We achieved some good results, but the cost was ridiculously high. And honestly, while good, they would not have been any better than the best aluminum pedals on the market. Then we tried to execute the design in more affordable aluminum, but the juice was not worth the squeeze. So there are no Cane Creek pedals on the horizon.
Our 110 headset was thought, at least by some internally, to be perfect. But nothing is ever truly perfect. When we learned about SKF’s MTRX bearing technology, we first thought it promised a lot for bottom brackets. That technology is what convinced us to start offering BBs. But we were also thinking about applying MTRX to headset bearings. We could not do that from the start because headset bearings are unique to bicycles. So we would need to find a way to implement MTRX into headset bearings. While we were working on that, we started to see that MTRX was not able to deliver what we expected. So when we discontinued the Neo BBs with MTRX, that killed the new version of the 110 headset.
So the dropper post, disc brake, pedals, and 110 MTRX headset are products you have not, and likely will never, see from Cane Creek. Nonetheless, we learned a lot working on the projects, and we further clarified what we expect out of a Cane Creek product. It’s also fun trying new things, even if they are riskier, and we continue to do so because one never knows.