Frame Dies, Framework Thrives

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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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  • Chase on

    So maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here but, are you saying you won't show me how to become a direct competitor who could possibly undercut you later on? :) But seriously, I used to live by a newer small company that had developed a unique method for developing CF (not bike specific) and I tried looking into it just a little once, and it was way more PITA then would have been viable for me knowing nothing , not counting start up capital. I didn't even get very in depth before I backed away. Fortunately I was referred to you guys. Good luck and hopefully we'll start hearing mentioning of new frames in the works in the not to distant future.

  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    It's a laborious process, and a pretty effective barrier to entry, which is a big part of why we don't talk about it as much as some things. We're into our fourth year of doing this, there are thousands of contacts and conversations that we've had, it's something you build up over time, and not something anyone's in any hurry to tell some guy with a pile of dough burning a hole in his pocket how to do.Kiss frogs, take your lumps, whatever you want to call it. We've had more than a handful of people directly ask us "I'd like to do what you do, please tell me how you do it." To them I say: 1. Seriously? 2. Anyone who wants to do business with you, disqualify them. That's a good start.

  • Joe Ajello on

    Thanks for responding, but part of the substance of the blog I requested was the whole, "how a company such as yours goes about finding and choosing a frame/hub/rim manufacturer." Is there any sort of listing for these types of manufacturers? I am curious simply because the industry seems very tight-lipped on who actually manufactures the components, and I am wondering how does someone such as yourself get the information necessary to pick the most suitable manufacturer.



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