Frame Dies, Framework Thrives

As some of you will have heard, we canceled the dojo pre-order.  We'd achieved the level of sales we needed both financially and to convince ourselves that the market was, indeed, hot for dojo enough for us to move forward with it.  Unfortunately, a series of progressively more impactful announcements from the manufacturer compromised our ability to deliver the product as we'd tested and sold it, so we had to bail. 

All the money's been returned, and while people are understandably bummed, all the ones who've written back to us in response to the news have been supportive and offered some version of "I'm sure you made the right call." And like a huge percentage of people who ordered wrote.  Obviously we appreciate the support, but we didn't expect the concern, with nearly all also offering some version of "I hope you guys can pull through this and keep selling wheels."  So we also appreciate the concern.  Fortunately, it's superfluous.

We're pretty darn conservative with how we run things.  The pre-order money was sitting all by itself in an account, sufficient to cover any eventuality around the dojo order.  Needing to do what we did is an eventuality that's very much within the realm of eventualities we plan around. 

With wheels, we've minimized supplier risk.  We've got a strong relationship with the supplier, we buy a ton of stuff from them, we have our own molds there - we're not just some schmucks off the street, and they in turn provide us with awesome rims.  This isn't to say we're complacent in the relationship, you have to stay alert in this world, but it's a good relationship. We have a standing order with them. 

With the frames, we had a situation that's happened to a lot of people, some combination/variation on a bait and switch and a soft kiss-off.  Our strong suspicion is that someone acted more quickly than we did (not that hard to do), placed an order big enough to make us an afterthought at best and a hindrance at worst, and when we placed an order that didn't bowl them over, they wanted rid of us.

So, yeah, it sucked to have to cancel the frame order, but far more from the perspective that we'd told the people who got into the pre-order that it was on, and then had to go back and tell them it wasn't.  From a cash flow perspective for us, we would only really have made money as frames sold from stock. It's a punch that's super easy for us to roll with, we just focus on other things (like the 34, which now that I've got them on my bike I've actually caught myself just sort of staring at them, which if you know me like few do you'll know isn't something I'm at all prone to doing; they're just that dead sexy) and play judo. 

The 34 is a going concern, the pre-order is nearly 0% about finance and nearly 100% about managing the order.  If we opened the 34s for sale outright, we'd never be able to get them and build them fast enough.  Only so many can come out of the mold, and we can only build so many per day.  More or less, we're handing out numbers like at the deli counter, only we're paying people a discount for their patience.   

So what's the story on frames going forward?  We don't know.  We're trying to figure it out.  This game with being able to buy only at the manufacturer's whim is BS and we're done with it.  We're only interested in products that we can control, like Rails, where we're in control of our ability to deliver to you what we say we will.  And, of course, we have to be able to offer a unique value to the market.  Without those two factors, we're not doing anything.  It's a slightly pressing concern for me, as after 4 winters of sweating my caustic mank on the thing while riding rollers, and about 25,000 miles on the road, my bike is starting to get that "not so fresh" look.  Runs great, looks a little rough.  Oh well, same with my car.  It's long since paid for. 

Oh yeah, the picture.  That's Mt Lemmon, taken from the front door of the house where I stayed in Tucson. It was an unbelievable experience and I could not possibly recommend The Cycling House enough.  It was far more than just one of the best weeks of riding that I've ever had.  Go.  

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I'm one in the group that had the frame canceled and can say that the part of the "bait and switch" I liked least was the different carbon layup, mainly because it could effect the awesome ride and handling the frame offered. Weight is immaterial to me but that's just me. Everything else is secondary in my opinion. Given that, to cancel the order is completely understandable.If I'm to put a secondary "dislike" on my list it would be that a company with some amount of clout and experience in the business (you guys) was not able to make it happen. It seems that even if you'd have "kowtowed" to their requirements – would you in the end get frames spec'd to what you were expecting ? That's a big risk. So again, as a customer, I applaud your decision.So, I'm off to spend about 2-3 times as much for a similar performing frame.Keep the faith guys and I hope you can figure a way to keep the "Racing bicycles" part of your slogan in tact. You've conquered the wheels part.

Bob C

Joe – Toray xxx is equivalent to Reynolds xxx in your example, so I'd say that many manufacturers want to publicize that info and differentiate around it. It gets clouded somewhat by the very valid engineering practice of using multiple moduli and fiber orientations in a single structure, but plenty of frames are marketed with their carbon spec. There are also many that give a spec as nebulous as "full unidirectional carbon monocoque," which basically tells you nothing.Agents kind of work like agents do. Ours does stuff on our behalf, and is in near constant touch with a huge array of vendors and manufacturers and tries to find appropriate suppliers for what we want, and lets us know when a new supplier is doing something in which we might be interested. That's the substance of the blog you requested.


One other thing – Agent? How does that work?

Joe Ajello

Bicycle brands, such as November, are very tight-lipped on the manufacturing companies that are supplying their products. Why is that?I am old enough to remember the pre-carbon days when frame builders and bicycle brands were proud to state whom supplied their materials. In fact, it was am important part of the marketing process. – This new frame is made with Reynolds latest and greatest 653 tubing. (That's steel for those of you reading this and had never purchased a bike before 2000.)Also, I would love to read a post on how a company such as yours goes about finding and choosing a frame/hub/rim manufacturer.

Joe Ajello

Roger that! Thanks for sharing what you have on how this crazy industry works.

Bicycle Steve

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