Tech news for November 2, 2001

By John Stevenson

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Phew! With trade show season over, it's back to normal here in the tech seat as we return to our regular program of product reviews, news and reader queries. Today, we have a couple of product tests, news of a former GT staffer finding a home, and we attempt to help out with a few reader problems.

We've also introduced a rating system for product reviews, in the form of the Cyclingnews yellow jerseys. Products are scored from zero to five, like this:

 Hopeless - a deeply flawed product. Back to the drawing board.
 Very poor - not actually dangerous, but too many drawbacks.
 Adequate - there are better things out there to do this job, but it's OK.
 Good - Does the job well, though with a tolerable minor fault or two.
 Very good - works very well, downsides are trivial.
 Excellent - perfect; faultless. Stays crunchy in milk.

Index to tech features

New tech features, news and letters


Cannondale posts loss

According to a report on the website of Bicycle Retailer magazine — the bike biz's Variety — Cannondale has reported a loss of $4 million for the first quarter of the 2002 fiscal year on sales of $34.1 million. However, Cannondale's bike division is very profitable, with a pre-tax income of $3 million, up 112 percent on the same quarter of 2001's $1.4 million. What's bringing Cannondale down is its venture into motorsport products, which brought in just $1.1 million in sales in this quarter (a grand total of 250 motorbikes and ATVs), against $1.5 million for the same period last year.

The report quotes Cannondale's director Scott Montgomery as saying, "The loss this quarter is greater than last year, but I think we are in better shape than a year ago. Our bike business is more profitable and the motorsports division has better products. We still need to get to profitability and that is what we are all working on."

Nirve hires former GT designer Bethlenfalvy

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Aaron Bethlenfalvy, we can see right up your nose
Photo: © Nirve

Nirve Sports, Ltd announced Monday the hiring of Aaron Bethlenfalvy as Director of Product Design. Bethlenfalvy, 29, joins Nirve with a wealth of product design experience and success including most recently 6-1/2 years as a product design director for GT Bicycles. While at GT Bicycles, Bethlenfalvy championed such efforts as the Dyno Kustom Kruiser line, the Harley Davidson Limited Edition Series, the concept-oriented product projects and the juvenile componentry.

We asked Nirve vice president of marketing Doug Martin about Bethlenfalvy's past and future role. Martin is also a former GT honch: he managed GT's sports marketing and mountain bike programs for 10 years, and was US MTB team manager in 2001 and 1996 US Olympic MTB team coach.

Cyclingnews: Can you tell us how Aaron's designs sold at GT? Given the company's recent financial troubles I think it's a valid question.

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Bethlenfalvy's Harley cruiser
Photo: © Nirve
Doug Martin: All of his designs sold in fact, quite well. The cruisers in particular were a big hit. Of course, it's not a designer's job to babysit sales or even mandate the marketing of (his) products although he may have input. In general, a product dept will gets its cues and and directives from sales and marketing, before coming to market with any product. And, in the case of GT in particular, there were so many other issues that factored into the company's final direction, the product really had little bearing. I have to say it's all too bad really.

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Bethlenfalvy's hot-rod kiddie trailer
Photo: © Nirve
CN: Also, what are the growth markets for your company in 2002?  

DM: With Nirve still in its infancy, we see our growth potential in all areas. Specifically, BMX, mountain, and cruiser. Clothing and componentry, too.

CN: Who mainly buys Aaron's bicycles — hard-core roadies or MTBers looking for some fun, or people who like the appearance and want something different?

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Bethlenfalvy's Kozmo cruiser
Photo: © Nirve
DM: As a designer, Aaron will focus on whatever product areas the company chooses to focus. From there, the category of bike where a designer's efforts are employed will find its own market and customer. For Nirve, Aaron will have his hands in all categories and products.

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