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My class project=C'dale to research carbon fiber production?(32 posts)

My class project=C'dale to research carbon fiber production?jtferraro
Sep 25, 2002 10:52 AM
I'm taking a "Managing Technical Projects" class right now and we have been assigned an independent project. Our instructor recommended the project be something we have an interest in, so naturally, I chose cycling. More specifically, my project is a "Carbon Fiber Feasibility Program" @Cannondale. In short, the outcome of this project would yield a "green light" for Cannondale to start producing carbon frames or the research would determine that it was not feasible.

This is part of my RFP, which is due tonight:


Increased sales
Increased market share
Future increased profits(once recover R & D expenses)
Cannondale back on the cutting edge of bicycle technology

Opportunity & innovation - need addressed:

Since the introduction of our first bicycle in 1983, Cannondale has only manufactured aluminum bicycles. In the past few years, many other highly respected bicycle companies have started to produce carbon fiber frames and market research has proven that carbon fiber is the direction the industry is headed. We feel Cannondale may be starting to lose some market share to other bicycle companies because we don’t offer carbon fiber, although we’ve always been known for innovative, lightweight bikes, with exceptional attention to detail. Thus, we feel that a deeper investigation into the feasibility of offering carbon fiber frames in the future is in order. If carefully executed, we feel strong that our reputation thus far has a very strong likelihood of catapulting us into this new market

I can provide more detail but wanted to see what the RBR folks thought about it??


re: My class project=C'dale to research carbon fiber production?bigdeal
Sep 25, 2002 11:33 AM
possible problems:
market saturation by all the other manufacturers already in the market.
the willingness of american consumers (c'dale's primary market i'd think) to buy c'dale carbon instead of trek (think of the Armstrong connection here).
Thanks for the comments....(more)jtferraro
Sep 25, 2002 11:41 AM
There really aren't THAT many other manufacturers in the market, are there? OK, I'm sure I forgot a few, like EPX, but did I forget more than a few? might have a point about the Armstrong connection, but the REAL enthusiasts would definitely give C'dale the time of day. Also, I'd expect that MOST people willing to spend at least $2500 on a bike would do a LITTLE research first.

Again, thanks for the comments and keep 'em comin'! ;-)

Trek, Kestrel, Calfee, Aegis, Colagno, Look, Giant...any others?jtferraro
Sep 25, 2002 11:36 AM
That produce carbon fiber frames?

Out of these, I know the following also produce, at least, aluminum frames:


do any of the others also produce aluminum frames?


Trek, Kestrel, Calfee, Aegis, Colagno, Look, Giant...any others?Dave Hickey
Sep 25, 2002 11:39 AM
Derosa makes both aluminum and carbon
OK - DeRosa....thanks. I also remembered EPX. (nm)jtferraro
Sep 25, 2002 11:43 AM
Cannondale has dabbled in carbon....cdale02
Sep 25, 2002 2:00 PM
Carbon chainstays on the scapel, Carbon fork on the Lefty, carbon fiber skins on the Raven frames, carbon swingarms on the older super-v bikes.... that's off of the top of my head.

Cannondale has also addressed the use, or non-use, of carbon stays on road frames on its web-site.

I think any feasability study should comment on the above.
How about that Slice prototype bike from 95? nmsn69
Sep 25, 2002 6:00 PM
Really? Any pics or links to info on it?jtferraro
Sep 26, 2002 6:45 AM
Actually, I think I *might* vaguely remember something as I received my C'dale in '94, but as a '95 model.

Trek, Kestrel, Calfee, Aegis, Colagno, Look, Giant...any others?Cheezhead
Sep 25, 2002 12:10 PM
Look also produces aluminum frames as well as carbon.
TIME too! Plus some thoughts to consider...(kinda long!)Tommy B
Sep 25, 2002 1:51 PM
TIME just started producing an aluminum-lugged, carbon fiber frame and a line of carbon parts (stem, seatpost) to compliment their forks. It's pretty sweet looking but I'm not too familiar with it yet. I'm not sure what advantages it has over what's already out there.

Here's a link for those of you who'd like to see more...(I don't work for TIME, but maybe if they see my post they'll send me a free frameset to thank me!? ;^) )

I think you're project sounds interesting and tying your school work in with cycling is a great way to keep things fun. I've thought about the likelyhood of Cannondale doing an all carbon fiber frame as well. The thing is, they seem to pride themselves on how well they are able to work with aluminum and manipulate it's shape to yield the performance they want from it. I feel like with the way their company markets their road frames with such a clear hierarchy (CAAD 5, 6, 7...), and how they trickle down CAAD#'s to lower spec'd bikes as the latest and greatest one is introduced, for them to go to an all carbon frame would be like admitting some shortcoming of their previous aluminum frames. It would be like giving up on aluminum. IMHO, if you asked someone at Cannondale I think they might say that if they were ever to venture towards CF frames, the next logical step in the evolution would be to ease into it with a generation or two that have CF seat stays. Even then, their whole "thing" with their road frames has always been about making some of the lightest, most tuned aluminum frames. Frames with carbon seat stays and the aluminum mono-stay they're glued into, weigh slightly more than their all-alloy counterparts. I can't see Cannondale making a CAAD 8 that weighs more than the CAAD 7, even if it's only a slight amount.

Obviously, Cannondale is not afraid of using carbon fiber, since they have used it in varying degrees in their past and present mountain bike frames. But with their MTB frames, they have PARALLEL lines of frames for different purposes (Jekyll, Scalpel, CAAD#). The problem I guess, as I said above is that the road frames are a SEQUENTIAL SERIES. Maybe the answer would be that if they wanted to do a full carbon fiber frame they would need to introduce a whole new PARALLEL line with its own name (like Feather or Razor or something, as opposed to CAAD8 or 9 or whatever).

I'm not trying to poo-poo your project idea, I'm just rambling on here (obviously!)and wanted to give you some thoughts that might help you along.

Sorry so long!!! Maybe I just don't want to go back to work...well look is 5:55, time to go home!

Good luck!

Other things things to consider -cdale02
Sep 25, 2002 2:12 PM
The direction of the industry isn't necessarily carbon. Titanium, Carbon and Alumiminum are all prominent in today's peloton. Steel is still plenty viable as evidenced by the success of Lemond bikes.

Also I wouldn't necessarily call Cannondale non-innovative - look how quickly it went from CAAD3 to 4 to 5 to 6 and now 7.

I would also be specific in your feasablility study as to what the target of the market share is (high end). We always tend to focus on the "high-end" for growth, but keep in mind the majority of bikes sold are well under the 2000.00 price range. The fact that Cannondale may choose to go, or no go may not have a large impact on the Company as a whole.

Marketing is key - if LA won on a Cannondale we may be thinking how behind Trek is because it isn't as strong as Cannondale in AL.

FYI - I have a cdale road and mtn bike, but I also have ti, and I used to have an OCLV. I think Cannondale and Trek are both great companies - both have honored warranty claims for me.

have fun with your project.
Sep 26, 2002 7:26 AM
I agree that the "direction of the industry isn't necessarily carbon", but I strongly feel carbon will certainly be popular. Titanium doesn't seem all that popular in today's peloton though, right? Only the Lotto-Adecco team used titanium bikes in the TDF. Perhaps the Vuelta and other races(maybe non-stage races) bring more titanium? Actually, does the Saturn team use LeMond titanium bikes?

You must not be referring to me re: saying Cannondale is non-innovative, right? I never said that. I just stated that they could be losing their competetive edge. I agree w/you and how they keep "upping the ante" w/their CAAD's!!

Excellent points in this whole paragraph:
"I would also be specific in your feasablility study as to what the target of the market share is (high end). We always tend to focus on the "high-end" for growth, but keep in mind the majority of bikes sold are well under the 2000.00 price range. The fact that Cannondale may choose to go, or no go may not have a large impact on the Company as a whole."

You're right - we do focus on the high-end a bit much. It would be hard for them to sell carbon for less than $2k/bike, huh? Hmm...that is why I think they should DEFINITELY keep offering aluminum. Carbon is to be a "extension of their product line".

Yup - I can't agree w/you more on the subject of marketing. You are right about Lance and if he won on a C'dale - what would we think about Trek's aluminum? Interesting. It stinks that C'dale/Saeco lost out in this years TDF! I was glad to see Dionne win the SFGP on a C'dale, though!

That's great that you've experienced w/aluminum, OCLV, and Ti. What happened to your OCLV? I think I'm going to buy a '03 R2000 Double or the '03 Trek 5200, but am leaning more toward the C'dale. It's nice to know that both companies took care of you when it came to warranty issues, too!

Thanks again!!

got rid of the OCLV because of fitcdale02
Sep 26, 2002 8:20 AM
I just couldn't make the fit work for me. My ti is a 61 c-c, and the OCLV as a "Trek 62" which equated more to a 58 c-c. My ti has a 2cm head tube extension.

My CAAD 5 is a 63 c-t, which may is a good fit.... ideally it would be a 62 c-t, but it's a better fit than my CAAD3 60c-t was.

The OCLV has longer chainstays and a more relaxed seat angle so the ride is a bit different than the 'dale. It wa a nice ride, but now I feel I have a good mix between a more agressive ride (Cdale) and a more comfortable road ride (ti).

You should ride both if you can, then decide.
Thanks for the long write-up and TIME link!jtferraro
Sep 26, 2002 7:09 AM
I started reading this yesterday but then had to run to class. I finished it this morning and appreciate your thoughts. This forum rocks!

Yup, I agree w/you about C'dale priding themselves on their aluminum skills although I'm not sure if I agree w/your comment about intoducing an "all carbon frame would be like admitting some shortcoming of their previous aluminum frames". "It would be like giving up on aluminum". Nah! I think they'd be able to sell both frame types - especially since they both have their pros/cons. There is no perfect metal or bicycle material. They both ride very differently. Some people prefer carbon, while others prefer aluminum. I also understand your thought of "easing into it" re: starting to build aluminum frames w/carbon stays, but I don't see that happening b/c of two reasons:
1.) you mentioned already - they pride themselves on how light their bikes are and the aluminum monostay or lugs used to connect the carbon would likely yield a heavier frame - thus they can't call it CAAD8. *MAYBE* they can rename all their carbon stayed bikes w/a new name.
2.) Moreover...C'dale would be going back on their word b/c they say, right on their website, that aluminum lugs add weight to frames and their "wishbone" seat-stay design addresses the vibration dampening(to some extent).

Like your idea of the new line name for their carbon frames, rather than the hierarchial "CAAD" line.

Again...thanks for your post. I liked that it was so long!

re: My class project=C'dale to research carbon fiber production?fbg111
Sep 25, 2002 12:50 PM
Canondale has a top reputation in the industry, but their apparent lack of material variation hurts them. They appear to be falling behind in innovation and their desire to experiment with new things. But if they made a carbon bike (and hopefully gave it their lifetime warranty, if feasible) it would instantly be on my short list for my next bike. A carbon compact would be doubly sweet.
Thank you for your input - I agree wholeheartedly! (nm)jtferraro
Sep 25, 2002 1:00 PM
falling behind?filtersweep
Sep 25, 2002 2:53 PM
The tooling seems to be a HUGE factor in the fab process. Consider how Trek makes just TWO road frames in OCLV (not including their TT bike), Giant will make ONE, Colnago two? Kestrel and Aegis just make a few, Calfee makes maybe two or three, good luck finding a Parlee.

Cannondale does what it does well... why not add steel and Ti to the list?

No offense, but does Cannondale REALLY have a top reputation in the industry? Many people who want to spend top dollar on a bike prefer a boutique manufacturer, or look overseas. Trek OCLV is an obvious exception, though arguably, they aren't necessarily "top dollar." You can buy a very nice Pinarello or Cinelli Al bike for the price of a "high end" Cannondale... or a Klein if you want to look domestically. I'm not ripping on Cannondales, but I'm guessing their bread and butter is their mid-line rides- not a CAAD 7 (or 8 or 9 ;) )
Cannondale: Needs some marketing helpSpunout
Sep 25, 2002 3:03 PM
Not enough people know that C'dale AL bikes can be ridden in stage races (by Saeco) at least. Most consider them too stiff, harsh, twitchy, high BB crit bikes.

With some marketing, and a few parallel lines of stage-race/century bikes vs Crit bikes, they could solidify their position.

They are very good at working with AL. I would suggest they do not consider anything else, and start dropping prices in the mid-range.
you sure?tao
Sep 25, 2002 3:44 PM
I don't agree. Someone who doesn't know what a stage race is wouldn't know what type of bikes can be ridden there. People who understand the difference between a crit, classic, and stage race probably either prefer steel or near cutting edge. If at the cutting edge side of the spectrum, they probably know what teams ride which bikes, at least for the popular ones. As for opionions about the bikes themselves, I just don't think they have anything to do with advertising.

I just don't understand the whole marketing thing personally. Until Coke and Pepsi colluded to compete on marketing dollars instead of price, it was never a big part of corporate expenditures, not on the order of billions that it is now anyway. Now with other monopolies and duopolies, e.g., Microsoft and Intel, doing the same thing, I believe it gives false hope to companies that don't have an inherent advantage in the market place.

Yea a new company or a new product needs to have the information out there. But spending 30% of total costs on marketing, you can't do this and stay afloat unless you can FIX prices like Coke and Microsloft can (or you cook your books of course!). I mean really, when's the last time you ever bought anything 'cause of a commercial or an ad? Maybe it's just me, but a new soft drink company that has twice as many ads as Coke won't convince me to try one the next time I bonk!
Sep 26, 2002 11:41 AM
I think Spunout meant that most CYCLISTS believe that C'dales might be too stiff, harsh, etc. I don't think he/she meant the everyday person feels that way. I don't know. Anyway, I agree in that the opinions of the bikes themselves probably have nothing to do w/advertising...but I betcha it was, in some cases, the advertising that sparked their interest or curiosity in that brand...or got them "pumped up" to go out and ride. This, for example, gets me a bit excited:

Yeah, I can see where you're coming from w/respect to big companies, like Microsoft, and marketing dollars. It's like a viscious cycle. 30% of total costs on marketing is crazy, I know!

I agree that some consider C'dales to be too stiff, harsh...jtferraro
Sep 26, 2002 10:59 AM
and twitchy but I don't think people only see them as crit bikes. Actually, according to their website, the BB has dropped on the CAAD7(from the CAAD5). Yeah, marketing is usually never a bad thing, although it isn't free. It may not be a bad idea.

Is their mid-range bike price that much more than their competitors?


Actually, I bet if some cyclists tested out a CAAD5 or 7 they...jtferraro
Sep 26, 2002 11:03 AM
might be impressed at how smooth they are(compared to the older style, non-hourglass shaped seat-stays or compared to their aluminum competition).

falling behind?fbg111
Sep 25, 2002 3:27 PM
By top rep, I meant they're one of the top American makers, and have excellent frames that are usually supported by a lifetime warranty. Every time I see someone talk about Cannondale on this or other forum, it's always about how great their bikes are. I really didn't mean to compare them to the top botique and foreign brands. However, as a top mass manufacturer (for lack of better description), I've wondered recently why they don't branch out beyond aluminum. Like you said, try steel and Ti. A carbon Cdale would be awesome too.
Sep 25, 2002 4:17 PM
Cannondale does have a relatively loyal following, much like the OCLV Trek has a huge following on the board (you'd think it was the Trek forum). Often loyalty is inexplicable- much like in the "cola wars." Try as I might, I still prefer Pepsi when given a choice... Sprite over 7-Up. I'm sure there are many people who wouldn't even consider the alternatives to what their chain LBS might have to offer, or actually be afraid of a non-American offering (Colnago? Never heard of them... ;) )

Realistically, I can't really tell the difference between Brand A Al frame vs. Brand B (if they are in the same price range). To me, they are both aluminum (granted I'm SURE a $1500 Al frameset DOES ride differently than a $300 Al frameset).

I think large manufacturers exploit this, and the next issue become selling the highest component group on the lightest frameset at the lowest price. This caters to the "bottom line" buyer, rather than the "control freak" who cares less about price and more about the ride and each individual part on the bike (I want this stem, that seatpost, those bars, etc...). Cannondale does deliver great bang for the buck- but likely at much lower margins since their clientel is a bit different.

Cannondale is arguably "type cast" as an Al builder, and a fickle public could easily be wary of buying a steel or Ti frameset... and a CF frameset would almost be viewed upon as being "experimental." Look how Trek does not build steel, but rather relies upon LeMond... or how Klein serves the higher end Al market (really leaving only the more or less "entry level" AL and their enormously successful OCLV- which drives their entire product line- in other words, I don't think Trek even carries a full DA Al bike). Cannondale would arguably be better off acquiring a subsidary to carry them into a different frame material.
Sep 26, 2002 7:51 AM
OK, so the tooling is a HUGE factor in the fabrication process. I would only expect C'dale to create one carbon fiber frame(at least for a few years). Wouldn't that be feasible?

Why not add Ti or steel to the list? Well, they are great w/aluminum and aluminum is a metal, but that doesn't mean they'll be great w/steel and Ti, does it? I know steel is realively easy to work with but Ti fabrication is quite complex and difficult. Moreover, I think there is more of a future w/carbon fiber.

You're right - C'dale REALLY doesn't have a TOP reputation in the industry...but in the domestic industry they DEFINITELY are one if not THE top aluminum manufacturer! Do the high-end C'dale's really cost as much as bikes from boutiques(i.e. Richard Sachs, Spectrum, etc.) and the Italian bikes like Colagno, Pinnarello, and DeRosa? I think I'd rather go w/the "high-end" C'dale than a "very nice" Pinarello or Cinelli(again, I think I'd rather). Speaking of Klein...what do you think about them against C'dale? Do you think Klein is superior? If so, why? Do you think Trek's purchase of them is a good or "not so good" thing? Now that they are owned by Trek, Klein indirectly offers carbon - Trek OCLV - but C'dale is still out of the loop. Yeah, I think you have a good point - C'dales bread & butter rides are probably their mid-line rides.

Thank you very much for your comments! I really appreciate all this feedback!!

re: My class project=C'dale to research carbon fiber production?DERICK
Sep 25, 2002 3:51 PM
Thanks for the pic. How about a carbon ROAD bike?! (nm)jtferraro
Sep 26, 2002 1:18 PM
All of these benefits seem related to marketing. . .czardonic
Sep 25, 2002 4:16 PM
as opposed to creating a better product. As has been said, Cannondale throws a significant amount of R&D effort at making better AL frames. I think that many people in the CF price bracket realize this, and would see a jump to CF as a cynical attempt to capitalize on a trend rather than an honest attempt to create a better, "cutting edge" bike.

I think it is unfortunate that in so many manufacturers in all industries spend so much time and money trying to win customers through specious and cynical marketing tactics rather building better products that speak for themselves.

That is not to say that your case can't be made from a strictly marketing perspective. The tactic is popular because it works.
Good pointaeon
Sep 25, 2002 7:39 PM
I agree. I would say that Cannondale is definately still on the cutting edge. They produce arguably some of the best Al road frames out there, with a cost-be-damned attitude, and then allow the tech to trickle down rather quickly.

The tooling costs, R&D, and testing costs, if they were to set out to produce a bike better than Caad7, would be HUGE. Many companies that use carbon bits on the frame are supplied by other makers, which Cannondale has shown itself loathe to do. Plus they would have to start with a clean slate, whereas with aluminum they already have a solid platform.

I don't know the specific reasons for them dropping the Raven line (It was probably very expensive), but when they went back to aluminum with the Jekyll, there was a general opinion that it was better.

And I certainly don't think there is a chance of them becoming a follower rather than a leader in the biz. Think of all the innovtions recently: The Lefty, The lefty with Ti/Carbon/Electronic Lockout/Now TPC+ damping and 5 inch travel. The hollowgram crank/bb. Further refined Caad7. I don't think many other compainies can seriously claim very much innovation on their own.
I'd say they're still on the cutting edge too, but want to makejtferraro
Sep 27, 2002 6:24 AM
sure they stay there! I most definitely agree they produce some of the best(if not the BEST) aluminum frames out there and it is great how they let the tech trickle down!

I don't see C'dale using carbon seat stays or chain stays, either. Either I see them sticking w/their guns - AL, or maybe offering an all carbon bike in the future. Yeah, they would have to start out w/a clean slate unless they bought Kestrel or Calfee and used some of their research & technology to jump start their production. You're right, would be hard to see them as a follower(in the CF market) if they even WERE to buy Kestrel or Calfee. Hmm...

They certainly are one of the most innovative bicycle manufacturers!

I hear you, but don't you think it is possible for C'dale to...jtferraro
Sep 27, 2002 5:57 AM
build CF frames w/that same "passion"? I do agree w/you in that they keep trying to improve AL, and they always succeed, but I'm not sure how much further they can "push the envelope". They seem to have just about mastered aluminum! Anyway, if they can apply that same passion into building carbon, don't you think they'd sell AND be great products? Also, don't you think there is some merit to actual market researches?

Yeah, I agree w/you re: hgw wrong it is for companies to spend boat loads of marketing dollars to "win customers through cynical marketing tactics rather than building better products that speak for themselves"!