JOURNAL

Being Frank: Rough Silk

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

We were excited about the eeSilk seat post when we introduced it. We believed it provided a compliance benefit that rivaled more complicated bicycle frame designs. This meant someone could expand their riding to rougher backroads and gravel roads without having to drop thousands on a new bike. Plus, at under 300g the eeSilk added little weight compared to many stock posts.

With the booming popularity of gravel riding (especially in the U.S.), we expected the eeSilk would be a sales success as well. While some were pushing the boundaries of drop bar riding into what had been the domain of mountain bikes, most gravel riders were looking to connect paved roads and/or get away from traffic — not descending root-strewn singletrack. Thus, a compliance post offered rider benefit anytime the surface was bumpy, wherein a dropper post only offered benefit in limited situations.

But we got hit with a double whammy. First, our industry has been stuck on selling the extreme elements of cycling. To make a tool like a competent gravel bike sexy, marketing departments and media promoted extreme riding espousing dropper posts as opposed to stress free miles of gravel road bliss on a compliant post.

The second whammy was our own doing. Some riders were bothered by play and creaking in the eeSilk pivots. For optimum compliance, the posts must be very active which requires low friction in the pivots. We erred on the side of larger tolerances in order to achieve said activeness, but some riders did not like the play some posts had due to tolerance stack-up. Harder to ignore was that the bushing spec was prone to creaking in certain conditions.

Disappointed for being so close but missing the bullseye, we set out on a redesign. At a glance the new “2.0” post looked basically the same but had significant changes to the pivot design and materials. We were adamant that no annoying pivot play would be present. The other proven design elements did not change. Various prototypes performed well on the bike and in the test lab. And so we moved on towards production.

When the first pre-production posts were installed on bikes, they didn’t function… I mean that they hardly moved at all unless you stayed seated on a big enough impact for which you should have been standing. What happened? We found that in our quest to fight pivot play, we stacked the tolerances too tightly for production. Fortunately, we were able to dial in the tolerances with rapid iterative ride testing. We modified the production parts, built new pre-production posts, and were happy. Until…

We had sold the last of the original eeSilk posts months before, but orders kept coming in. We had planned to fill those orders with the announcement of an updated post, but the issues explained above prevented this. Once those issues were addressed, we began gearing up for production and a public reveal, until we discovered that the torque for the removable pivot was way too high. The high torque spec was carried over from the original post but was not right for the new design. That was a quick fix once we figured it out, and then we were finally ready for production. Until…

While the tweaks to address the above issues were not re-designs, they were enough for us to repeat ISO testing to ensure that the overall package still exceeded industry standards. And to our astonishment, we saw issues with parts that did not have issues on the original design, the prototypes, or the preproduction samples. That’s when we hit the Pause button (it’s like the X button on America’s Got Talent, but louder). We had been pushing hard and fast because we knew the eeSilk should add real rider benefit, the gravel market was hot, and we had a backlog of demand. But it was clear that we need to take a breath and back off.

Not pushing through with orders in hand and parts on the shelf was not easy, and fortunately, Cane Creek was financially stable enough to make such a choice. We decided that some time and space would be conducive to a better perspective on the problem. We have recently been slowly increasing our attention on the eeSilk post, and as I write this, things look promising. I am confident we will re-introduce the post, and it will perform as intended. Despite the frustrations, I am proud of the work our team has done, and that we had the courage and ability to hit the Pause button.

Introducing DB Kitsuma

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Pro- Tune At Your Fingertips

We are proud to announce the DB Kitsuma, a highly adjustable rear shock built for maximum performance in a design that is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. Grounded in the DNA of the original Double Barrel line of shocks, DB Kitsuma improves on its predecessors in almost every way. It caters to all varieties of riding styles, body types, and bicycle frame designs without the need for any internal valving adjustments, changes or compromises.

“The whole idea behind the DB Kitsuma shock was to take a complex and high-tech piece of componentry and make it very intuitive and easy to use for the rider.” – Jeff Laforge CC Design Engineer “From our time meeting and riding with riders and dealers at events across the country it became clear that most riders’ suspension settings are not optimal – in many cases the suspension may be hindering riders. One of the reasons is that dialing in suspension is largely a trial and error process on the trail which is hampered by access and the need for tools. Thus, we set out to make it easy for riders to get the most out of their shock by making adjustments easier and less intimidating.”

Tool-Free Adjustment

No need to crane your neck under your bike while fumbling with tiny allen wrenches to make adjustments. DB Kitsuma sports completely tool-free adjusters that are ergonomically designed to be easily accessible and adjustable trail-side – giving riders the power of a pro-tune at their fingertips.

 

See & Feel What Your Settings Are

Gone are the days of counting clicks backward and forward to know where you are and make adjustments. The entire range of DB Kitsuma’s low-speed compression and rebound circuits are controlled within a single rotation, while the high-speed circuits are controlled within two rotations, allowing the rider to easily reference where they are within their adjustment at a glance. The rider has full control and a true sense for how their bike will handle in a variety of real-world scenarios thanks to DB Kitsuma’s large multi-indexed adjusters.

 

Additionally, labels on the adjusters have been simplified to “soft” and “firm” for compression and “slow” and “fast” for rebound to better illustrate how the adjustment effects ride feel, and to give riders confidence to make trail-side adjustments.

 

Finally, DB Kitsuma simplifies the tuning process by increasing the range of adjustment while reducing the number of external positions in each circuit – making each position more meaningful and discernible on the trail. All these improvements add up to a high-performance tuning experience that is incredibly intuitive and accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuned for Today’s (and Tomorrow’s) Bikes

DB Kitsuma boasts a wider range of damping adjustment on the compression circuit and increased range of rebound control over any other major shock on the market today. The rebound range has also been shifted downward for more rebound damping to accommodate the larger spring rates needed for more modern bikes. These changes combine to allow the DB Kitsuma to provide peak performance on a wider range of bikes.

Simple Yet Effective

DB Kitsuma is equipped with a single lever that switches the shock between three distinct modes, drastically affecting the shock’s feel and character. The new three position climb switch retains Double Barrel’s “Descend” mode it’s patented “CS” mode which provides a stable, yet responsive platform engineered to maximize traction and pedal efficiency while climbing over technical terrain and singletrack. DB Kitsuma also adds a new “Firm” mode. By utilizing a design that closes off the common bleed port, this third position excels at pedaling over long stretches of pavement or gravel roads on your way to the trail.

A Better Shock for More Bikes

DB Kistuma (left) vs DB CS (right) has a 16mm shorter reservoir tube

Redesigned with the geometry of modern bikes in mind, DB Kitsuma’s new valve body and tapered air-can cuts 16mm of length off the external reservoir and reduces the air can’s outer diameter at the end-eye.  All-in-all, this adds up to a new low-profile design which allows DB Kitsuma to fit more bikes free of frame-clearance issues.

DB Kitsuma (left) tapered air can vs DB CS (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to improvements in accessibility and tuning range, DB Kitsuma has seen a series of significant improvements over previous Double Barrel shocks. These include an improved oil piston that’s been ported and polished to increase responsiveness, a new monoblock design oil seal head for improved alignment and durability, progressive bottom-out bumper for a more gradual bottom out and longer shaft bushings, larger shaft quad rings and uncut back-up rings on the air pistons to improve performance and reliability

 

Like all Cane Creek Suspension, DB Kitsuma is designed, developed and hand-built by riders in Western North Carolina. Informed by the endless climbs and technical descents of the Pisgah National Forest the DB Kitsuma was born from the experience of the hardcore riders who call Cane Creek home. This shock was developed completely in-house by Cane Creek’s engineering team and rigorously tested on some of North America’s most legendary trails.

The name DB Kitsuma honors both the heritage of the original Double Barrel (DB) shock and the legendary Kitsuma trail that lies just a short drive northeast of Cane Creek’s Headquarters. With a grueling climb that combines a mix of road and technical singletrack followed by a grin-inducing two-mile ridgeline decent, the Kitsuma trail highlights some of the best riding that Western North Carolina has to offer and showcases the versatility and performance of the new DB Kitsuma shock.

“At Cane Creek, we will only develop a product if we believe it truly adds something to cycling. With DB Kitsuma, we know we’ve done that,” said Brent Graves, president and CEO of Cane Creek. “From the fact that you no longer need to fumble with tools to tune your shock, to the increased damping and rebound range allowing for more bikes and more types of riders, to the various small improvements that add up to significant gains in performance – it all comes together to make what we think is a big step forward in mountain bike suspension.”

 

The DB Kitsuma shock is available now, and shipping right away.  Don’t wait, and get a Pro – Tune At Your Fingertips

 

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Being Frank – My Cane Creek Favorites

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

Favorites, everyone has them. Craft beer, James Bond actor, MotoGP racer, burger joint, and even offspring (but parents can’t admit that) — everyone has favorites. While all of the Cane Creek products, particularly those born during my tenure, are special to me, some climb into my Favorites category.

I have been a titanium fan for more than twenty-five years. Titanium’s properties are great for numerous bicycle applications, it takes skill to fabricate, it is relatively uncommon, has the most possible finish options (brushed, media blasted, polished, anodized, painted), and is very durable and corrosion resistant. Though the natural color of titanium is super cool to my eyes, I have to say one of my favorite products is the eeWings Raven. They look so freakin’ hot that I can overlook that painting titanium is blasphemy to most.

I have written before about quality in the details, and the BB preloader that we designed for the eeWings is a great example. Machined and anodized aluminum with a titanium pinch screw make the perfect complement to beautiful titanium crank arms – or our competitors’ carbon arms. We certainly were not going to use a plastic part with a wood screw!

Inspired by Craig Edwards’ eeNut, the eeBarkeeps are a pair of machined aluminum plugs for your handlebars. They clamp in place and resist damage better than plastic end caps and grip ends. They fit most any bar (drop, flat, or riser) and are a great complement to carbon bars. They don’t weigh any more than the cheap plastics bits that can fall out with the first spill. Lastly, I think it is silly for someone to build a dream bike and not have an option of a quality end cap to finish it off.

Here’s a secret: the Hellbender70 headset works just as well as our legendary 110. If you don’t want to pay for the higher polished finish and satisfaction guarantee that comes with the 110, the Hellbender70 is your choice. The heart of a headset is the bearing, and the 110 and Hellbender70 both use the same durable Hellbender bearings.

One of the most unnoticed and unappreciated parts on a bicycle is one of the most important. The lowly star nut resides in the steer tube, and it is what enables adjustment of the headset bearings. Actually, the star nut was the final piece that made the threadless headset possible almost thirty years ago. Before that time threaded headsets constantly loosened and pitted. This was a big problem on early mountain bikes before suspension forks. Riding one of those bikes with a loose headset would decimate one’s confidence while riding as it felt like the front end of the bike was going to fall off.

As a result of being hidden and overlooked, the star nut gets no love. So we created a premium star nut that has an aluminum nut and chrome plated star “wings” that resist corrosion much better and weigh less than the standard units.

Sure favorites can be expensive, but all of the ones listed above except the eeWings Raven are under $100 – many are just a fraction of that amount. My mentor once told me that it is relatively easy to make a cool product when cost is not a limiter, but the real magic is in creating something great while watching every cent. These favorites give proof to that adage and illustrate our commitment to not allowing any detail to be taken for granted.

Being Frank: Fading Stain

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

Years ago as a young product manager I learned that there are three big mistakes that can limit, hurt, or kill a new product: price, spec, and quality. A pricing mistake can be addressed quickly, and if done so correctly, may have little or no long term impact on a product’s success. Spec’ing (selecting) the wrong item like tire width on a production bike usually takes longer to correct. The brand can make a running change to the desirable item or decrease the price of the bike to offset the wrong spec. Running changes can be confusing when the supply chain is mixed, and due to lead-times can take three to six months from decision to delivery. So changing spec is not nearly as quick as an overnight price change, but it can be as or more effective. And then there is the product quality problem. If it is truly a quality issue, then price and spec changes are not real options, and the timing and cost of re-designing the issue can be significant and daunting. The consequences can be “stop-sales” decisions, recalls, boycotts, and loss of customer confidence. These can definitely kill a product and even do serious damage to the brand.

No product manager is perfect, and no brand big or small, inside or outside the bike industry is immune from quality issues. From Shimano to Chipotle to Honda, it can happen to anyone — perusing the recall list on the cpsc.gov site can be depressing. With that said, some companies operate in a manner that decreases the probability of mistakes. At each company where I have worked, I have seen how the culture and operational mindset affect mistake probability. And as a whole, I have seen the bicycle industry mature from the go-go 90s to one that spends a lot more time on development and testing these days.

Here at Cane Creek we have had some missteps over our 46 years, but the one that hurt the most was the DB Inline shock introduced in 2014. The shock took the unique twin tube damping technology from the DB Coil/Air downhill shock and packaged it in a smaller, lighter shock for trail bikes. The shock promised a lot and many were excited during the development stage. One of those excited was the group of MTB developers at Specialized. Always looking for a way to one-up the competition, Specialized went big with the DB Inline, spec’ing it on several of its most popular bike models. But what should have been a big win for Cane Creek, was not. Packaging the twin tube damping into an “inline” arrangement was challenging, and unfortunately we did not do as good a job as we should have. The “win” of getting on thousands of bikes from one of the top bike brands in the world meant that too many riders had a poor Cane Creek experience. To compound matters, we really did not completely dial in the DB Inline until the fall of 2016.

Consequently, Specialized decided to not renew the spec for the next model year, riders were frustrated with sending in their shocks to have them rebuilt, and a hard-earned brand reputation was taking on water. The cost of losing the Specialized business was big. The cost to perform no-charge rebuilds was bigger. But the cost of the stain on Cane Creek’s reputation was the biggest of all. As I said at the beginning, price and spec can be addressed relatively quickly with little or no long-term damage. But a quality misstep can take a long time before it is overcome.

On June 8th, six years after the DB Inline was launched, we launched a significantly updated Helm fork. While I can be accused of being biased, it is a really good fork. Regardless of how good it is or that we have introduced other shocks and our first fork (not to mention a titanium crank that outperforms everything) that have proven themselves for years since the DB Inline, that stain on our brand has not fully faded to some – as a few helpful forum commentators like to point out. It’s a part of doing business, we accept the responsibility, and we will continue to develop cool and unique products that help make riding better and prove to you that Cane Creek is a brand to trust.

Introducing HELM MKII

helm mkii

INTRODUCING HELM MKII

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Cane Creek Cycling Components is proud to announce the release of the HELM MKII suspension fork. The HELM MKII is the first major revision of Cane Creek’s HELM fork lineup and improves on its predecessor in nearly every way. To celebrate the launch, Cane Creek has also announced a Hot Pink limited edition of the fork with only 50 units available.

MKII damper
Helm MKII Damper
The HELM MKII has seen a major redesign to the air spring.

The HELM MKII includes a newly designed damper featuring a new compression and mid-valve circuit for increased support and control while a new SKF oil seal head and 2.5 weight damper oil reduce friction and provide a more supple ride-feel.

The air spring has also seen a significant redesign with a new air piston designed to reduce friction, an increased air volume for better traction and suppleness, and a threadless seal head for easier travel change. In addition to the updated damper and air spring, the HELM MKII features a variety of external usability improvements including easier to turn knobs and a D-LOC bolt-on axle.

SKF Seal
New SKF low-friction wiper seals

The fork also includes low-friction SKF wiper seals on the castings. These seals are typically seen as an after-marketing upgrade on most suspension forks, however they are a stock feature on the HELM MKII.

The HELM MKII also includes all of the innovative features of the original HELM fork including a tokenless air volume adjustment design, independently adjustable positive and negative air chambers on the air spring and rider-adjustable travel which allows HELM MKII owners to change the travel of their fork at home with just a few common tools.

Tokenless air-volume adjustment

The HELM MKII comes in 29/27.5+ and 27.5 wheel sizes with both air and coil sprung versions available. The 29/27.5+ version of the fork is available in 51mm and 44mm offset and is adjustable from 130mm to 160mm of travel while the 27.5 fork is available in 44mm offset only and is adjustable from 130mm to 170mm of travel.

29/27.5+ models of the fork will come in a gloss black finish with matte black stickers and the 27.5 model will come in a matte black finish with gloss black stickers. Aftermarket sticker kits are available in brushed silver and gold.

Helm MKII decal kits
Aftermarket sticker kits are available in silver and gold

Additionally, a launch edition Hot Pink HELM MKII is available in 29/27.5+ only and is limited to 50 units worldwide. Orders for the Hot Pink HELM MKII will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers interested in the fork should place their orders as soon as possible as supplies are not expected to last long.

Being Frank: COVID-19 Impact on Cane Creek

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

COVID-19 has likely impacted everyone to some degree, and while it has impacted Cane Creek, things could be a lot worse. I’ll try and spare you the CEO-speak that is intended to project how morally and ethically correct corporations want to appear, and instead share some of the situation we’ve been facing. I aim to stay away from politics as well – primarily because what we do at Cane Creek and why we do it is as removed from political rhetoric as possible.

March was rolling along relatively normal for most of the month. Lockdowns in Seattle and the Bay Area (CA) certainly raised awareness, but the announcement of a stay-at-home order in our area led us to shut down operations for the first two weeks in April. Lack of information and answers left us unsure of what we could do and could not do as individuals and as a business. During those two weeks we stumbled some as we learned how to work remotely as a group. In that time our objective was to keep the pilot light on so that all of our work would not grow cold. Halting operations is not a luxury most small companies can afford to do for too long. We’re like sharks, we have to keep moving to stay alive. We need to ship and be paid for our product in order to pay our employees and provide health insurance for them.

Reports of bicycle retailers around the U.S. staying open as “essential businesses” led to the re-opening of some of our distributors to supply those retailers. This seemed to be fueled by people re-discovering the bicycle while their normal activities were forbidden. Our website activity began increasing which led to more web orders. At the same time retailers were contacting us to find products that our distributors were out of, and then those distributors started looking for parts. More recently we have seen a similar pattern from Europe. While it seems the “mini bike boom” some are talking about is not being evenly experienced by all, it is definitely resulting in much stronger May demand than we expected. With the shutdown and uncertainty our April demand was off about 35%, but May is at or above normal level. I say “at or above” because May is benefitting some from April pent-up demand.

Better than expected demand is a good problem to have, but it is still a problem. With no precedent, we did not know when we would have what level of business. So we closed our supply chain down except for parts we needed to complete orders in hand that customers would accept (cannot take that for granted). That was about a 95% closure. Fortunately our vendors were very accommodating and recognized what was in Cane Creek’s best interest was in their best interest as well. When demand started picking up as mentioned above, we took a conservative approach and ramped things up slowly. Not knowing if the demand pick-up would last meant not only that we wanted to avoid getting dressed up for a cancelled dance, but we also did not have the production capacity any longer.

When we re-started operations, it was with a skeleton factory and warehouse crew, and everyone else worked from home. While the skeleton crew punched above its weight class, it’s not possible to be at 100% capacity with 30% staffing. The health precautions (masks, gloves, safety glasses, wipe-downs, partitions, rotating crews, distancing between workers, etc.) challenged productivity but were necessary for protection and peace of mind. The bright spot in all this was seeing the commitment and resolve everyone at Cane Creek demonstrated. We’ve been down on the mat before (another boxing metaphor), and got up, recovered and grew stronger. Now this COVID-19 has thrown a wicked left hook that made us drop to one knee. And I’ll be damned, we’re getting up again!

Now more than ever, no one knows what the future holds, but this experience has reinforced that riding bikes makes life better, and that’s why we will continue to be here.

Announcing eeWings Raven

eewings raven

We are excited to announce the latest addition to the family of critically-acclaimed eeWings titanium cranks – eeWings Raven.

The eeWings Raven are constructed of the same high-grade titanium as traditional eeWings, painted deep black with a premium automotive-style paint, affixed with a water-transfer decal “W” logo and then clear coated with a high-gloss protective finish.

eewings raven cranks

Though durable, as is common of almost any painted bicycle part, the paint on the eeWings Raven can be expected to chip, scratch and wear over time with use. The amount and timeframe of this wear will vary depending on care, riding condition and the amount of riding you do. We recommend using the included protective film to ensure that the paint on the eeWings Raven lasts as long as possible. If the prospect of chips, scratches and wear over time is an issue, we suggest customers choose the original eeWings instead. Their natural brushed finish is far more robust and can be easily refinished.

ORDER eeWINGS RAVEN NOW!

In addition to the eeWings Raven, we are happy to announce that eeWings Mountain cranks are now available in 165mm arm length in their original brushed titanium finish and that the Cane Creek preloader is now available in a variety of anodized color options.

DON’T FORGET YOUR PRELOADER!

 

eewings crank preloaders
The Cane Creek Preloader is currently available in orange, red, green, blue and the original black for only $29!

Being Frank – Unconditional Joy and Wonder

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

Like most everyone, I am consumed by the uncertainty and anxiety being caused by the coronavirus pandemic. So I have decided to force myself for a few minutes to focus on something that brings me unconditional joy and wonder: our dogs. As with bikes, we follow the N+1 philosophy. So our house has twenty short, hairy legs attached to the long and low bodies of five miniature dachshunds. While this blog is about dogs, there is a bicycle connection. Maybe you can figure it out before I tell you at the end.

Growing up I was bothered, even angered when someone would refer to my best friend as a wiener dog. Now I relish in the off-color jokes that I should not share here! If you did not know, dachshunds were bred over 300 years ago to burrow underground and confront ornery creatures like badgers in their hideouts. Their short legs, powerful torso, and loud bark were all traits specific to that task. They are also smart, stubborn, protective of family, and great companions.

Our five are all of the long-haired variety. Three are from California and two were born in North Carolina. Two of the Californians are related, and the two from North Carolina are also kin (see how I fit in the regional slang?). That leaves one guy that’s an orphan, but they are all family. Their names are Veloce, Zonda, Neutron, Athena, and Tullio. To avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, I will talk about them in order of their age.

Veloce is a seven year old female. Always with a pleading look on her face, she becomes alive outside. More so these days as she has limited mobility due to IVDD. This is a spinal disease that can lead to paralysis. Veloce has some custom-made wheels, and when she is harnessed and pointed outside, what follows is a distillation of what living is all about. Veloce is the natural hunter of the five and has tremendous vision – she is also the only one that sees and reacts to animals on TV. Though I have found most all dogs to be stoic, Veloce takes it to another level.

Zonda is related to Veloce and is a few weeks younger. He is happiest alone with people and would not mind being an only-dog. Of our five, Zonda is the least dog-like. I’d call Zonda’s coloring dirty blonde, as he looks like someone spilled bleach on his face. He’s beautiful and acts like he knows it. He trots like a show dog, usually with an aloof air that makes me really think about reincarnation. He is also the best behaved.

Neutron is like the anti-Zonda, and he is the most dog-like of our gaggle. We picked him up at seven weeks and then proceeded to drive across the country. He’s four now and is still full of puppy energy. While all of them become wired when a small animal is spotted, Neutron goes absolutely crazy. That behavior combined with his build and obsession with digging and chasing, mark the clearest connection to his ancestors. While usually the tough guy of the five, he is very sensitive and easily startled.

Athena is a real sweetheart. She will be three soon but may not make it to four. Six months ago she became ill and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has caused her joints to rapidly degenerate. It’s a heartbreaker because she was the most playful of the five and was always taking on two boys at a time. Walking is very difficult for Athena, but her mind and spirit are as strong as ever.

Tullio lost out in the brains department but made up for it with a shy, loving disposition and stunning looks. He never seems to be sure about anything and follows the lead of Neutron – for better or worse. Tullio is the youngest and smallest, but his presences is as big as any other’s.

Growing up in the 80s with bicycles was impossible to do without becoming a fan of the Italian brand Campagnolo. Though few know Campagnolo once made mountain bike parts (though they missed the mark), even fewer know that there were some BMX parts before that. Anyway, our dogs’ names are all Campagnolo product names: Veloce and Athena have been grouppos, Zonda and Neutron have been wheels, and Tullio was the founder’s name – the man who invented the wheel quick release. My friends Dino, Michele, and Marco in Vincenza get a real kick out of our dogs’ names.

Being Frank – What’s in a name?

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

Marketing and politics are considered dirty disciplines by many, but they can be used for positive results – well sometimes. However, what follows is my rant on how Marketing and its managers can become disconnected with product. This was sparked by reading about Cadillac’s new model naming philosophy (details further down) and sharing my candid thoughts with a friend who happens to be a strategic product planner at Toyota. He likely tires of my bombastic armchair quarterbacking of automotive decisions, but I can’t stop myself when I’ve got a smart guy on the inside to unload on. Here’s the meat of my rant:

“You’re right, it was an unfair characterization (calling Cadillac product planners “automotive flunkies”). But at the end of the day, the company size or complexity or culture or whatever doesn’t matter to the consumer facing something idiotic. What matters is that the product is right/well thought-out in the consumer’s eye. As with government bureaucrats who seem to forget what it’s like to be treated like a human when they go to work, it seems that many product people spend more time with spreadsheets than really thinking and remembering about how they interface with products.”

Like I said, a rant.

Being the pro that my friend is, he responded diplomatically. What stuck out to me in his response was this passage: “I tend to agree that the product typically strays from the consumer in proportion to how far we (product/brand managers) stray from actually using the product ourselves. I think the element of play, especially in product jobs, has been muted at best and eviscerated at worst.” Well, that’s depressing. I like to believe there are people at Ducati obsessed with developing sexy and fun motorcycles for themselves and me.

Let’s get back to where this started, Cadillac’s new naming philosophy. Cadillac’s new scheme uses numbers that first appear to be related to displacement or horsepower. But they are not. They are related to much less commonly understood torque. And, wait for it… are based off the torque output in newton-meters! No, Cadillac’s main market is not Germany or somewhere else that has an idea what newton-meters are. But Cadillac is a newcomer to the name confusion game. The current BMW 330i is named because it has a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that BMW says delivers the performance of a 3.0 liter. And benefits from the legacy of those great 3.0 liter inline six engines. Traditionally the last two numbers in the BMW model name referred to the engine’s actual displacement. But now it refers to its virtual displacement. Furthermore, BMW also lays out odd model numbers (i.e. 3 series) for sedans (typically 4-doors) and even numbers for coupes (typically 2-doors). Nice. But in recent years BMW has twisted this by adding “4-door coupes” that are 4-door sedans with a coupe-like slope to the rear window. So you can buy a 4 series 4-door sedan that is basically the same as the 3-series 4-door, but you get to pay $4,000 more for the 4-series. And why not, 4 is higher than 3! And now Porsche’s first electric car the Taycan (how is that pronounced?) comes in a “turbo” version, but because it has only electric motors there is no turbocharger to be found in the car. However, the legendary 911 Turbo was turbocharged.

It appears that in the name (a pun?) of selling more units, some brands are leveraging the equity they have earned from years of well thought out models by creatively (or disingenuously if you’re so inclined) attaching those names to new models that are not what they once were. Don’t even get me going on the Mustang Mach E. Like appearances, names are not always connected to what’s within.

Not to imply that we are perfect here at Cane Creek. Back in 2014 we introduced a ground-breaking technology in the Inline shock. However, its design was not as robust as it could have been making it more susceptible to cavitation and stuck-downs. We took heat that was particularly hot on some rider forums. When we made the key improvements, the damage to our reputation had already been done. So when its replacement was being finalized in early 2017, we struggled with what to call it. It was basically all-new compared to the 2014 Inline, but it was still the same size and shape. So was it an “Inline” or not? Looking at it, one would say the new shock looked like an Inline. But we wanted to distance it from the Inline’s bad rap while acknowledging its clear lineage. We landed on Air IL with the “IL” referring to Inline. Not a great solution, but the best we could come up with at the time.

https://youtu.be/R13OFdSZjV0

The Hellbender Neo Bottom Bracket

At Cane Creek, we are all about making advancements in technologies that make cycling better. Demand for Cane Creek to make a bottom bracket has long been on our radar. But we wanted to offer a product that was more than just another competitor. With the collaboration of SKF’s MTRX bearing technology, we were able to bring a product to market that provides unmatched bearing performance and reliability. Pair our eeWings titanium crankset and Hellbender bottom bracket, and a rider will experience the most robust crankset/bottom bracket combination in cycling history.

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