Friday, January 06, 2006

An Open Letter To Manufacturers


I was going through some internet forums and websites when I suddenly came to the point where I had to ask this question. So, without further adieu, here are some ideas for you manufacturers, representatives, and entreprenuers to chew on.

Does anybody really need another steel singlespeed compatible frame to fit 29" wheels? Look, we've been inundated with singlespeed, singlespeed with sliding drop out, and eccentric bottom bracket single speed frames for the past three years. Market saturation anyone? Here's an idea. Almost no one makes a simple, budget minded steel frame with verticle drop outs and with a derailluer hanger. I can't believe no one has stepped up to provide the marketplace with something like this on a mass production scale. And as far as that goes, there is only one aluminum framed bike that I would put into this category, the Fisher Cobia. I find that through my observations on the internet forums, that there are plenty of "Does anybody know of any budget frames and forks so I can get into 29"ers" threads out there.

Here's what I think would be slam dunks in this market segment. Salsa steel Ala Carte hardtail 29"er. QBP would have another "Karate Monkey out of stock" problem! How about a steel Fisher frame, rigid fork, and Deore level parts that would sell for$500-$600? Sound like a winner? Give us a Bontrager Race 29"er (and the 26" wheeled little brother to it) and Trek would be selling them so fast, it would make heads spin. Jamis Dragon 853 29"er anyone? This is where a "second level", smaller company like Jamis, KHS, or Haro might make more of a dent in the market. Make it $800 or less, complete, and I think you have a winner.

Does any tire manufacturer want to "own" a market segment? This is simple. Make a "true" 2.4" wide, fast, reasonably lightweight, folding kevelar bead 29" tire and you will own the market! Who cares if it may or may not fit any of the current frames and forks out there. The vast majority of 29" riders logging into's 29"er forum don't. Just check out any tire thread or any of the tire polls that have been run there for the numbers. Heck, there's even a "sticky" at the top of the thread now showing what they want. Don't worry about what it would fit or not. Build it, and they will come! Hey, even Surly went as far as building their own frame, fork, and rim to fit a 26X3.7 tire. It all seems to be selling fine. If that can work, then I do not see a problem with a 29" fattie!

Does anybody want to "step up" the competition in 29" forks? Another simple one. I can say it in a word......Fox! Okay? But that's not all, the rigid fork market thrives again due to the way 29" wheels negotiate trail chatter. I think that the upcomong Bontrager SwitchBlade fork should do nicely, sales-wise. I think that there is room for a finely crafted steel fork provided by a widely distributed brand to make a dent here, as well. Finally, the lower end of the suspension fork market is lacking. If Rock Shox were to make the Tora 29" fork available aftermarket, it would sell well, I believe. Manitou? These guys better get into this market, and cover it, before it passes them by. There is no way that Maverick and White Brothers survive selling to the 29" market if Manitou steps in with quality product at the top and the bottom of the marketplace.

There! That's my suggestions. Anybody else got any good ideas? Let your voice be heard!

No comments: