The Flywheel Effect

Uncategorized

I was talking to a couple of our customers yesterday about indoor winter training. Their position was that they're sick of it because they've been doing a lot of it; mine is more of a lamentation that I haven't done enough. Quickly though, the conversation shifted from practice to products, as is often the case when bike guys start talking about anything. One brought up the Lemond Fitness Revolution trainer, and talked about its realistic road feel due to the weighted flywheel. "You can stop pedaling, and the bike keeps on coasting!" he enthused.

Putting aside the fact that coasting isn't the best way to take advantage of your trainer time, his comment on "the flywheel effect" stuck with me throughout the day. Momentum is a powerful force in bike racing, and an elusive one. Many of the features in our own products, in fact, aren't designed to produce or preserve momentum, but to compensate for its loss. We went with an extra-stiff frameset so that when you need to accelerate after scrubbing off speed, the power you push into the pedals goes straight to the road. We source very light rims for all our wheelsets to help you spin up to speed quickly, since you just lost all your momentum by following that guy who took a lousy line through turn 3. And Dave is driving me positively batty with his email per day musing over new rear wheel lacing patterns that might squeeze out a little more rigidity and snappiness.

None of this would be necessary if bike racing was about getting up to speed and staying there - in the way TTs or triathlons are. Instead, bike racing is all about changing speed. The winner is the one who carries momentum the longest - either by getting off the front and staying there, or (much more commonly) finding momentum faster than everyone else at the 200 points in every race where it's lost. 

Business, it turns out, is a lot like bike racing in that regard. Especially ours, which is predisposed towards bike racing metaphors. There were times over this past winter when Dave and I sure wish we were training with a flywheel, so we could coast for a while and still keep our momentum. But starting a new business affords no such luxury. It's more akin to hill repeats on a 18 percent grade. Stop pedaling, or even ratchet back on the power by 50%, and you don't just slow - you topple over. 

But now, what we have going on is starting to feel suspiciously like that elusive momentum. The number of earnest inquiries about our products are up; we're selling through our inventory of frames and wheels; and we just had to go back to our rim supplier to add onto a pre-order for our new RFSC 58s since the extra inventory we took sold out as soon as we closed the order. We're still on a hill, to be sure. But I was expecting it to roll back onto us at the top. Instead it's flattening out a bit. If we punch it hard now and accelerate over the top, we could head into the fastest part of the course with some of that magical momentum we've been chasing since last summer.

And that's exactly what we plan to do. We'll be very visible at races and group rides this season (from the Mid-Atlantic to the Tour of California, but we can't talk about that for another few weeks), making it easy to demo our wheels and throw a leg over our bikes.

You'll see more of us on the Internets too, trying something with online media that other bike brands haven't thought of yet.

And you'll see our stuff on the line at your local races - under racers who bought it with their own money, not pros paid to ride whatever their director is able to secure for them. Go ahead and ask them their opinions, knowing that they're not contractually obligated to say the bike "is one of the best handling bikes I've ridden as it is stiff and has the ideal geometry."

Someone even asked if we're going to open a store soon, the same day I sent Dave an email with a commercial real estate listing alongside a well-traveled group ride route where I remarked, "Plus there's a kitchen, which is mint for serving espressos, brewing our own beer and filling water bottles." (Yeah, we look at brick and mortar retail differently too.)

We're having a blast and are thrilled every time another cyclist finds us and likes what we're doing. And we'll be even happier when we start delivering to our pre-order customers our wheels (being hand-built starting this week and beginning to ship next week) and our frames (sailing for NYC right now aboard this ship).

So while you are waiting for your products to arrive, don't just sit there being patient. Be demanding - tell us what else you want us to start selling, ask us to sponsor something your team is doing, invite us out to drinks. We're listening.

 


Older Post Newer Post


  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    I got a big kite for that thing, it's all very cutting edge. Hush hush scientifical stuff.

  • ike on

    That's a big friggin' boat. Let's see Dave run that thing with his fancy carbon sails…

  • Mike on

    any plans for:- a complete cx bike build (Max Perkins CX edition)- an alloy cx wheelset (preferably tubular)or should I wait for Dave's novella to find the answers?

  • Mike May on

    Jesse, was that you I saw at Beach and Connecticut yesterday? Cross bike update is coming. Dave is writing it right now, in fact. I think he's only got about 1800 words to go.

  • Jesse on

    How about an update on the cross bike (it is March)?


Leave a comment