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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Tech News – March 28, 2007

Edited by James Huang

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Hayes Bicycle Group sheds light on Answer Products integration plan

Hayes Bicycle Group will continue to develop Manitou and Answer Products
Photo ©: Pryme Protective Gear
(Click for larger image)

After much speculation, the Hayes Bicycle Group finally confirmed suspicions that it would be moving all of its operations to southeastern Wisconsin by the end of 2007. According to Rhonda Kirkwood, HBC Vice President and General Manager, all research and development, marketing and sales, and U.S. manufacturing will be wholly based in facilities in Mequon and Milwaukee. Overseas sourcing and manufacturing will continue in Taiwan and mainland China.

Chris Smith, formerly of Answer Products, will now be HBC's Global Director of Sales and Marketing. Additional senior staff will consist of Len Cabaltera (Senior Sales Manager), Joel Richardson (Marketing Manager), and Eric Taylor (Senior Product Analyst). European operations will be handled by Bernd Pflueger in Frankfurt, Germany and Thomas Hochstrasser who will report to Pflueger as European OEM Sales Manager.

According to Kirkwood, "We are fortunate to have someone with Chris' industry knowledge and experience in all the sales channels guiding the team. It is important for us to reach out to all levels of customers - from the consumer to the OEM - and I am confident that Chris and his team will get it done."

Thankfully, HBC apparently has no intentions of watering down any of its subsidiaries, having announced a new Hayes brake platform dubbed Stroker and the new Equalizer rim family from Sun Ringlé. Likewise, HBC's most recent acquisition, Answer Products, will continue to aggressively develop new products and technology, which will include no fewer than two new lightweight MRD (Manitou Racing Development) forks as well as the company's first 29er model. In fact, HBC has openly declared that it will focus primarily on the high-end division of Manitou's product line for 2008 in hopes that later lower-end product introductions will benefit from trickle-down advancements in engineering and manufacturing processes.

"We have purposely reduced our product offering for the upcoming model year in order to maintain better control over the processes - from engineering through manufacturing," said Kirkwood. "It is critical that we deliver quality products on-time to our customers throughout the world. Integrating operations will enable us to utilize the engineering discipline and process already in place at HB."

Also as expected, HBC will begin to offer integrated systems in its product line as well as a more unified appearance throughout its range. According to Smith, "The ability to design brakes, wheels, and suspension components simultaneously, with the focused vision of improving capability and performance, allows for the development of truly innovative product."

NBA superstar LeBron James purchases stake in Cannondale

LeBron James isn't just about big air,
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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The Cannondale Bicycle Corporation announced this week that it had sold an undisclosed ownership stake of the corporation to King James, Inc., the wholly owned company of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.

Although just 22 years of age, James has already racked up an impressive list of athletic achievements, including the National Basketball Association's coveted Rookie of the Year award which he won when he was only 19 (and straight out of high school). In addition, James is proving to be a savvy investor and has lofty business goals, having previously stated that he wants to become the first "billionaire athlete".

"Cannondale is one of the premier cycling companies in the industry," said James. "Biking is an extremely important part of my training routine, and I like to invest in what I know."

Maverick Carter, CEO of LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding (where James is both a client and part owner) added, "LRMR is constantly seeking interesting investment opportunities for LeBron, who is a smart and sophisticated businessman. Cannondale is the perfect fit for LeBron and LRMR as we continue to invest in companies that are leading, cutting-edge brands."

Thanks for the giant 29" wheels
Photo ©: Bill Kramer
(Click for larger image)

According to Cannondale CEO Matt Mannelly, "We're very excited to have LeBron as an owner. In addition, LeBron is one of the world's most accomplished athletes and we are proud to provide him with bicycles for his cross-training. LeBron is an astute entrepreneur and investor who recognizes the quality of our products and value of our business, and he will certainly extend the awareness of the benefits of cycling to more people."

Indeed, James has been coined by officials at Cannondale as a "pretty legit" cyclist who regularly puts in "20 to 40-mile rides" (32-65km) as a supplement to his usual training. At 2.03m and 118kg (6' 8" and 260lbs), though, it should go without saying most off-the-shelf 'XL' frame don't fit James all that well. To accommodate the towering forward, Cannondale built a custom 29er based on its Caffeine model that incorporates a set of Hollowgram Si cranks and a custom Lefty fork with an extended steerer tube that places the handlebars about 9cm (3.5") higher than normal. Naturally, the bike is painted in James' Cleveland Cavaliers team colors.

Cannondale has also partnered with James in supporting the athlete's philanthropic endeavors as well, having provided bicycles for the James Family Foundation's annual "King for Kids Bike-a-thon", a charity event in Akron, OH created to benefit children and single mothers.

Schwinn Bicycles continues support of Little 500

Racers in Indiana University's iconic Little 500
Photo ©: Pacific Cycle
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Few cycling events have as storied a history as Indiana University's Little 500, which was started way back in 1951. For this year's 57th running on April 20-21, participants will be racing aboard custom Schwinn bicycles built to strict guidelines as outlined by the IU Student Foundation.

The Little 500 Schwinn is based around an aluminum 700c frame (available in only two sizes) and is equipped with an alloy drop handlebar, stem, I-Beam saddle, and seatpost from Kore, Sun double-walled alloy rims, and custom Kenda tires. As per event rules, the bikes will also be exclusively single-speed and coaster brake-equipped, with hubs provided by Shimano.

Although the bikes are purpose-built exclusively for this event and are not available to the public, Schwinn officials are excited about the opportunity nonetheless. "Schwinn is pleased to be providing bikes to the event yet again," said Schwinn Senior Marketing Manager Chris Holmes. "Schwinn provided the first bikes to the Little 500 back in 1951, and it's great to have IU students riding Schwinns in 2007."

Likewise, IU students seem happy to be aboard the new Schwinns as well (although they could easily be just as happy to be off of the Roadmaster machines they piloted from '54-'99). "We're pleased and honored to work with Schwinn as our bike supplier," said Matthew Ewing, Assistant Director of the Indiana University Student Foundation and Little 500 Race Coordinator. "A race that's as iconic as the Little 500 is well matched to a heritage brand like Schwinn."

Andy Kessler leaves BMC

BMC's current General Manager Andy Kessler
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

BMC's long-standing General Manager, Andy Kessler, has announced that he will leave the company entirely on April 5, 2007. Kessler cites "personal reasons" for his departure, following a company restructuring in October 2006 that created the ISH International Sport Holding AG group. Kessler will be succeeded by Peter Kreuder, formerly the Area Sales Manager at Shimano Europe.

During his six years of service, Kessler developed the upstart Grenchen, Switzerland-based company into a highly visible entity in the professional peloton, having first sponsored Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamiton's Phonak squad, and currently the Astana team led by Alexandre Vinokourov. BMC continues to build momentum in the marketplace as well: 2007 will see the company's international sales outpace its domestic numbers for the first time since the company's creation, and BMC reports that its export market continues to grow by nearly 50% annually.

According to ISH Group CEO Andreas Giordiadis, "We expect BMC - thanks to its export successes - will continue to grow by 30% to 40% per year over the next couple of years. In three years, the US will be our biggest market."

Cannondale supplies Liquigas rider Filippo Pozzato with unique ride for Milan-San Remo

Filippo Pozzato proudly displays the one-off SystemSix
Photo ©: Cannondale Bicycle Corporation
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In other Cannondale news, the Bethel, CT-based company supplied Liquigas team rider Filippo Pozzato with a unique machine for his recent ride in Milan-San Remo. "For Milan-San Remo I wanted something special on my bike to inspire me," said Pozzato, who hoped to repeat his MSR win from 2006.

Pozzato's SystemSix was painted by Artech Design, a custom paint studio near Bologna, Italy that has worked for such prestigious clients as Ferrari and Lamborghini. In fact, the mercury-colored hue used on the one-off paint job was a unique blend developed specifically for Ferrari and carried a price tag of €500 per half liter.

Unfortunately, Pippo's performance and luck didn't work out the way he had planned that day as he crossed the line in 19th place, but regardless, he was likely one of the most stylish 19th place finishers in recent memory.

Fox Racing Shox launches "Wherever You Ride" video contest

Want one of these but don't have the money?
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Fox Racing Shox realizes that its suspension components appeal to a broad range of rider types, and recently announced its "Wherever You Ride" video contest to see exactly how its products fit in to their lives. Contest guidelines are decidedly open-ended in order to help guarantee that entries are as creative as possible, and submitted videos are recommended to combine "exciting riding and a great story".

According to a Fox Racing Shox press release:

"Whether you are a full-time cubicle worker with a family of four who squeezes in your mountain bike fix while the rest of the world is asleep, or you are an 18 year-old, full of ambition, dedicating every waking moment to your mountain bike dream. Everyone has a story; we want to see what 'wherever you ride' means to you. It could be your daily routine, a trip of a lifetime, a ride down your favorite trail, a description of why you race/ride or a recap of what brought you to mountain biking. FOX just wants to hear and see your story."

The winner will not only receive the Fox Racing Shox fork of their choosing, but the winning video will also be played at the upcoming Sea Otter Classic as the opening for Clay Porter's premiere of "Between the Tape". Videos must be received by April 6th, 2007, and additional technical requirements are available on the Fox Racing Shox web site (www.foxracingshox.com).

Newly expanded Pryme-US full-face helmet range for 2007

Pryme expands its Pryme-US full-face helmet range
Photo ©: Pryme
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Pryme has updated its value-priced Pryme-US full face helmet for 2007 to include three colorways, all of which incorporate the same low-profile nine-vent fiberglass shell, injection-molded visor, and Pryme's trademark 'skull' insert on the chin bar. Suggested retail is still a very reasonable US$89.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Pryme Protective Gear

Images by Bill Kramer/Cannondale Bicycle Corporation

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Pacific Cycle

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Cannondale Bicycle Corporation

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Pryme