Those dedicated Twitter followers among you may have noticed some recent conversations that Mike and I have been having on Twitter about our next products. The bizarre thing is that we're having this conversation with each other, fully in public view. Part of it is gimmick, for sure, but far more of it is that we want to inspire conversation among the people who aactually might buy the things - whatever they are. The conversations happen whenever, but following the #nextnovember hash tag will let you see it all.
It should come as no surprise that Mike and I are big Malcolm Gladwell fans, and given the lessons on offer in this TED talk he gave, he might be smacking his prodigious forehead and pulling out his trademark hair in frustration over what we're doing. Ask 1,000 cyclists what one product they want and they'll give you 1,500 different responses with only two things in common - that it be anti-gravity and cheaper than air. Great companies have lately been defined as giving the market those products that the market craves, before anyone in the market knows they want them, but which everyone soon realizes they can't imagine life without.
Predictably, a few of the first inputs have been for specific things with specific parameters. A great thing about this is that it allows us to discuss how various things will affect other things. For example, people generally think that disc brake rims will be great gobs lighter than rim brake rims, and cite what happened to mountain bike rim weights with the advent of discs. Which is valid but the structure needed to clinch a mountain bike tire on at 27psi (or even 40psi) is worlds different than what you need to keep a road tire on at 120 (including a huge buffer zone for safety). Add in the tubeless parameter and your bead seat needs to be strong as HAYell. There are savings to be had, but just as an example a Stan's Iron Cross rim (which I currently use on my CX bike) reliably weighs 385 grams while their new Grail, which is a little deeper, weighs 460 grams per the Stan's website. Stan's are pretty good (some of their stated weights are a bit hopeful) about published rim weights. The Grail is a bit wider outside, but the bead seat width is only .5mm wider on the Grail than the Iron Cross. The extra meat on the outside of the rim makes the Grail a full road-pressure-capable rim, where the Iron Cross tops out at 45psi.
The conversation is definitely meant to be multi-directional, though. Different perspectives lead us down roads (or gravel paths, as it were) that we might otherwise miss, and sometimes noble ignorance (ignorance being decidedly not a pejorative descriptor there) makes us turn around and question the status quo.
The key thing for all of this is to get a clearer picture of what the mass of people want. We have some info we can't yet release (an event that will take place in mailboxes and on newsstands in November will reveal more) that flavors our perspective, and our own testing, experience, and desires also inform us. At the end of it all, we have and likely always will see ourselves principally as editors, and this conversation amounts to background research and a rough draft which we will edit into the #nextnovember.
A final note - comments on here and on Facebook or wherever are of course welcome, but the experience will be so much richer if the conversation takes place on Twitter around the hash tag.