Archive for the 'other' Category

Showtime

August 28, 2014
Finally the main Eurobike show has started after a few interesting days. On the weekend, Andy was at the Assos launch for their mountain bike apparel. To accomodate all the journalists on their rides, Andy built up more than a dozen OPEN bikes.

Of course on the day, it was rainy and therefore muddy, so all the brand new bikes looked pretty used at the end of the day. He then drove back home to Basel just in time to pick me up from the airport. We were both pretty knackered when we finally hit the pillow just after midnight, and feeling pretty much the same when the alarm went off five hours later.

A smooth three hour drive to within a kilometer of the Eurobike demo day and another hour to bridge the last k and it was time to send people out on bikes again. Of course Andy brought the foul weather with him so rain greeted us again. The only plus was that there was no point in wasting time on cleaning the bikes from the day before.

The demo day is always a great day for us, it’s an easy way to convince people of OPEN. We can talk until we’re blue in the face, but it’s much more effective to let people ride the bike. While Andy continued helping people on their test rides, I had a chance to pop inside to look at the booth for the main show. 

Like last year, component maker AX Lightness graciously gave us a section of their booth to display our bikes. With a new bike design and very nifty stands, it was starting to look quite slick. Your main question after the last two blog entries is probably WHAT we were going to display on those stands. The bad news is, no full-suspension and no pathfinder bike.

Some of you have asked why we started talking about these bikes before we knew for sure if we would display it, and if it wouldn’t have been easier to say nothing until the day of the show. Of course it would have, but the reason I wrote about those models was not as a sort of “pre-release”, but rather to do what we promised from the start; to show the inner workings of the company. 

Many bike companies go through similar situations, but you’d never know from the outside. When we promised to tell the story “warts and all”, this was part of it. Not that these warts are that huge, Eurobike for us is mostly about meeting up with our retailers, suppliers and other relations, not about launching product. We can do that any time of the year.

Since I wrote “the bad news is …” just before, there must be good news too. And there is. Although we don’t have the fully, we have made some breakthroughs in understanding how it should be made. So the project is on the right track, although there will no doubt be some more unexpected turns before we get to the final product.

When I included the drawing of the frame, some remarked that it looked a bit like the Liteville 301. Well, that’s no coincidence. When Andy and I started working on the full-suspension, we were looking for two different directions. For the one, focused on marathon/cross country with approximately 5″ of travel, we reviewed all possible kinematics and came to the conclusion that we liked the Liteville very much.

Simply put, we think their kinematics are the best we’ve seen, both for the behavior during climbing & descending but also in the way it is packaged (the stresses on the frame) and how clear it leaves the front triangle (space for two water bottles for longer events). So we asked our friends at Liteville if we could use their kinematics, and although they had until that point refused to license their patented design, they liked what we are doing with OPEN and the quality of our products enough to allow us to use it.

Of course we made some adjustments based on the exact use and travel that we envision for our frame, which is a bit different than what the average 301 is used for, and making it in carbon meant we also changed the packaging to best make use of the material. Key to that is our central rocker design which I showed a snapshot of two weeks ago and which is quite a departure from Liteville’s approach. 

Over the next weeks we’ll write more about the details of both the full-suspension and the pathfinder bike, but first we have to try and survive the next few days at Eurobike.

If you’re interested in either of the two bikes, you can put your name on our waiting list and stay informed here.

Talk soon, Gerard.

 

Important notice for email subscribers

October 30, 2013

Until now, you could receive my blog automatically by email two ways:

  1. Via Feedblitz email service
  2. Via WordPress’ built-in email service

I am stopping with Feedblitz at the end of November, so if you get it that way and want to continue to get it automatically, just enter your email at the top left box on my blog page and you’ll get it through the Worldpress service.

If you are not sure how you are receiving my blog, simply put your email in that top left box and it is smart enough to make sure you won’t get it double.

Thanks for reading,

Gerard.

Running wild

August 22, 2013

Sports Illustrated ran an article about anti-doping testing in Jamaica. Five conclusions:

  1. It highlights the problem of how poorer countries should allocate resources to anti-doping. One cannot possibly claim that funding that is more important than funding basic needs.
  2. At the same time, this is of no concern to the athletes competing against the Jamaicans. And the fact is that JADCO is responsible for out-of-competition testing of its athletes even when they are abroad.
  3. If they wanted to, Jamaica could fund the world’s best anti-doping program with just 10% of the proceeds of their millionaire sprinters. So install a testing tax on the athletes, and the problem is solved. Note that if this is a fixed tax that applies to all their athletes indiscriminately, it is not comparable with the Armstrong donation to the UCI. Simply the costs of being a pro athlete.
  4. One would think that for the athletes, this would be a great opportunity to lend credibility to the claim that they’re clean. As it stands, with 1 OOC test in the two most important months of 2012 (when it comes to doping to prepare for the Olympics), suspicion is cast upon all Jamaican athletes. They simply were not tested in a way that any credible statement about them being clean could be made.
  5. Fans of Jamaican sprinters react the same way as Lance Armstrong fans did in the BO-era (Before Oprah)

New FREE cycling magazine launches

February 19, 2013

icon2RVery excited to announce that a project I’ve been working on for a long time has finally launched: 2r.

It’s a multi-media magazine about cycling, combining in-depth written articles with photo galleries and video. Available for the iPad right now (iOS6 required) and on some additional platforms shortly. I’m very excited that Paul Kimmage will have a “big piece” in 2r every month.

In issue 1, Paul interviews LeMond about his relationships with Hinault, Fignon and Armstrong. In the 44(!) page interview, they also cover races being sold, cocaine, and awkward dinners (with the chef of Renault and Lance). Boonen revisits his worst loss, Gesink draws his first bike and Nuyens contemplates retirement. To top it off, Cavendish thinks about what he would do as the UCI president. Plus the most beautiful photos from l’Équipe and Sirotti.

PIC128989212r will appear monthly and best of all, it’s FREE. Download it for the iPad here. To follow 2r (and receive announcements when other formats are ready), choose from the following:

website:   2rmag.com
twitter:     @2rHD
facebook: 2rmag

I really hope you like the magazine and if you do, please tell your friends about it! Thanks.

Charitable celebrities

June 27, 2012

I stumbled upon this celebrity behavior a while ago, and to be honest I was amazed. Or maybe I’m naive and “this is how the world works”. Say there is a celebrity who wants to do some charity work (to feel good or look good, who knows). So she proposes to a bunch of business people:

  • Let’s do an event in your town, sell 500 tickets at $200 for a total of $100k, and “100% of the proceeds go to charity”. Are you in?
  • But for me to show up to the event, for you guys to be able to claim “We got her to come visit for charity”, you’ve got to pay me personally $1M.

How do you feel about this?

  • Praise the people who paid $200, which is going straight to charity?
  • Praise the business people who paid $1M to generate $100k for charity?
  • Damn the business people for being so star-struck that they paid $1M to the celeb, instead of straight to the charity they claim to care so much about?
  • That celebrity is a lot of things, but a giving personality concerned with charity she ain’t?

I’m feeling a mix of all four. How about you?

I promise I’ll get back to cycling in my next blog.

Customer service

December 7, 2011

Probably the hardest thing for companies to do nowadays; customer service. I can appreciate it’s difficult, and usually I’m not too upset when I don’t get a response or only after a long time – as long as I get a feeling the company is trying.

A few days ago however, I visited a presentation from Lithium. It’s a pretty interesting company that helps brands create communities (forums on steroids, to be disrespectful) and some other social media stuff. They had a panel discussion with three of their clients as panelists; KPN, TomTom and HP. The stated reason for these three companies to create a community? “Call-deflection”.

The idea is that if you create a community, people ask questions there and other people answer them, reducing the need to call customer service. Why do they want to do this? Because customers hate customer service and because it’s expensive.

“Call-deflection”. Think about that for a while. So customer service sucks and instead of fixing it, they ask their customers to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, the result is probably pretty positive, as I have no doubt that the average customer knows more about the product than the average call-center-voice.

But the cynicism was just shocking to me. We’re not talking about a company where sometimes the lines are busy or the person picking up the phone doesn’t know the answer, we’re talking about companies who actively try to avoid talking to you.

Of course this started back in the 20th century, with endless phone trees. That worked for a while but people started to figure out how to get to the end of the tree. So they moved all that stuff to India, ensuring that if you managed to get through, at least it wouldn’t cost them very much. Whole towns in India have adopted Texan and New York accents for this purpose.

But now they have found a new way to not have to talk to their customers – the community. For all the beautiful reasons they could have to start a community (learn their customers’ frustrations, ask for input on new products, reward loyalty), the one they pick is the polar-opposite; contact avoidance.

I just don’t get it. I have been involved in a few companies, all of them far from perfect. Also in customer service, I am sure there are plenty of areas in which they could have been better. But the one thing we always enjoyed was to talk to the customer and learn. From the early days of Cervelo when Phil and I visited every possible race to today’s world of Twitter and blogs, contact with customers is key. How can you ever hope to have a long-term relationship with your customers if you don’t want to talk to them? Bizarre.

 

No death threats this year

July 21, 2011

This evening I will be a guest of  “de Avondetappe”, a Tour de France talk show on national Dutch television. Two years ago I was there for the first time, and my appearance shocked the homefront.

You may remember, it was just after the first Giro for Cervelo TestTeam, where we won four stages and Sastre finished on the podium. But it could have been five wins. Serge Pauwels was in the lead group on a mountain stage but was called back by JP van Poppel to help Sastre (as were a few riders from other teams). Through miscommunication (both human and electronics-caused), it was a complete disaster.

At first Serge refused to slow down, and when he finally did 10 minutes later, it was no longer necessary so it looked like a complete cock-up – which it was but a different one than it appeared on TV. Anyway, a team blunder but an honest one. Unfortunately, an inferiority-complexed commentator saw it as proof of a Dutch conspriracy to prevent a Belgian win. That week several people on the team received death-threats.

Somehow I had never bothered to mention these threats at home. I can’t really remember why I never mentioned it (“Anything happen at work today?” “Nothing special”). So my family learned about it while watching some relaxed talk show two months later. They were not amused. So let me get this out of the way before the broadcast: There have been no death threats in the past two years.

I’ll be away next week for a long-long-long-awaited vacation. I have some posts lined up, but I won’t be able to respond to your comments until I return home. But I do appreciate your comments, so I will catch up asap.

Deal?

June 27, 2011

Note: This post is about the poll results from Friday, a “normal” blog post will follow shortly.

Thanks to everybody who filled out the poll. 3x a week got the most votes, but very closely followed by 5x, 1x and “other”. So it’s all over the place. Most people wo voted “other” said to post whenever I had something interesting and/or intelligent to say. No pressure!!

That said, I understand what you mean, and maybe that sentiment was also in the votes for 3x per week when I am currently blogging 5x. Maybe it’s not about the frequency per se but more a reflection that some of the posts simply haven’t been what you were looking for. Obviously I write about what interests me at that moment. I do try to ensure it will interest YOU as well, but that’s hard to know for sure.

Maybe we can make a deal: For the moment, I will keep writing 5x per week (especially with the Tour coming up), but:

  1. If I don’t feel it’s up to snuff, I skip a day
  2. If you don’t feel it’s up to snuff, you let me know (privately by email at gv@gerard.cc, via the comments section of the offending post or via twitter)
And then after the Tour, we re-evaluate. Deal? BTW, I’m just happy “enough already, just stop” didn’t win the poll!

Blogging your ears off

June 24, 2011

Not a traditional blog entry today, but a question about this blog. I really hope you can help me figure this out. I don’t want to annoy people by blogging too much or too little (and frankly, I don’t want to kill myself writing either), so why don’t you tell me?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

Truly full-service

June 23, 2011

A few days ago I mentioned “full-service” airlines Swiss and KLM, but recently I flew Cathay. People rave about it, but I have to say I found it average. The seats were comfortable but really cramped, and the difference between the upright and relaxed position were difficult to spot without a microscope. I guess their core market is Asia, where people are on average a little shorter than I am.

But what stood out for me on that flight was that I was running late, as my train was delayed. So with 30 minutes to take-off, I was still making my way to the gate. How surprised was I to get a call from Cathay, wondering if I still planned to fly with them today, as they hadn’t seen me at the gate yet. A personal touch for a non-frequent flyer that, just like EasyJet’s gesture, doesn’t really cost them anything and probably helps them plan their gate procedures. Maybe not nice enough for me to look forward to folding up in their seats again, but who knows.

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