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  1. #1
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    Bicycle Companies and Evolution

    I think it's kinda interesting how there are primarily just eight major bicycle brands with which most people are familiar. Most folks have heard of Giant, Fuji, Specialized, Trek, Raleigh, Schwinn, Cannondale, and GT.
    However, there are many other bicycle companies out there, who make quality bicycles as well, that many people are not aware of, including even some cyclists. There's KHS, Jamis, Iron Horse, Mongoose, Redline, Surly, Salsa, Kona, and many others.

    As we observe the cycling community and culture, we can readily see that certain bicycle companies are gaining ascendency whereas others, we sense seem to be declining. However, what is it that actually causes one bicycle company to attain greater recognition over another?

    I remember shopping for a road bike back in the early 1990's. The owner of the shop was trying to get me to buy some unknown road bike called the Eclipse. It was made by some mysterious bicycle company by the name of Jamis. It cost less than the Giant road bike I was considering, but it was still far too much cash for a virtual unknown.

    It's really funny how bicycle companies morph, rise, and fall. Has anybody ever heard of a bicycle company called, Klein?

    Does Schwinn look anything today like it did forty years ago?

  2. #2
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    I consider every brand you listed as "major".
    And yes, it's a tough and saturated market, so companies rise and fall, and trends come and go. It's a free market.

  3. #3
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    The big fish swallows the little fishes.

    Trek reeled in Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by midlife_xs's View Post
    The big fish swallows the little fishes.

    Trek reeled in Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher.
    The free enterprise system --CAPITALISM.
    Sometimes it sux, but it beats the alternative ...

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    With a little research one can make up their own mind, do I need a specialized like every other rider or maybe that Jamis is what I really like, for me it was simple as pie .
    1973 Mercier
    1977 Peugeot U08.
    2010 Jamis Coda
    2011 jamis Xenith Endura

  6. #6
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    I'm really at a loss as to what is interesting here.

    Is there any other industry/product/whatever that's any different? Has some companies being well known and others not ever been a mystery to anyone, ever? Some companies decline some rise? That's a given. What's unique to the bike industry here and how is it interesting?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I'm really at a loss as to what is interesting here.

    Is there any other industry/product/whatever that's any different? Has some companies being well known and others not ever been a mystery to anyone, ever? Some companies decline some rise? That's a given. What's unique to the bike industry here and how is it interesting?
    To track the history of companies like Schwinn, Klein, Roadmaster, Cannondale, Mongoose, and Huffy, are indeed some very interesting stories. Books have even been written which have detailed some of their courses of evolution. Aside from mergers and take overs, there are the additional developmental stories involving the struggle to adapt, maintain, and survive. Not interesting?...You've just got to be kidding!

    Then there are the personal lives of owners, board members, and staff. C'mon now! Really?
    Last edited by Zeet; 04-03-2013 at 09:48 AM.

  8. #8
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    It may be interesting to us because we're interested in bicycles, but I think Jay's point, with which I agree, is that it's no more quirky or complex than the histories of many other industries - look at steel, or pharmaceuticals, or chemicals, or electronics, and certainly automobiles.

    Does Schwinn look anything today like it did forty years ago?
    This is a bit of a trick question, as there is no more Schwinn company. After it went bankrupt, the right to sell bikes under that name was bought by Pacific Cycle (which also makes Mongoose and other brands). Pacific is owned by Dorel, which also owns Cannondale, GT and some other brands.
    Eppur si muove.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    It may be interesting to us because we're interested in bicycles, but I think Jay's point, with which I agree, is that it's no more quirky or complex than the histories of many other industries - look at steel, or pharmaceuticals, or chemicals, or electronics, and certainly automobiles.
    That's right, JCavilla! All of these stories are interesting, because they are all dramatic records of the dynamics of business and deals that helped to shape the future lives of those intimately involved in the bicycle industry and American bicycle culture in general.

    This is a bit of a trick question, as there is no more Schwinn company. After it went bankrupt, the right to sell bikes under that name was bought by Pacific Cycle (which also makes Mongoose and other brands). Pacific is owned by Dorel, which also owns Cannondale, GT and some other brands.
    Nothing tricky here, JCavilla! Schwinn simply became an enveloped brand after tumbling and spiraling downward for far too long. Schwinn got swallowed by a big fish conglomerate. Gosh! I really do miss the Schwinn of yesteryear...
    Last edited by Zeet; 04-03-2013 at 10:16 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    That's right, JCavilla! All of these stories are interesting, because they are all dramatic records of the dynamics of business and deals that helped to shape the future lives of those intimately involved in the bicycle industry and American bicycle culture in general.

    Nothing tricky here, JCavilla! Schwinn simply became a enveloped brand after tumbling and spiraling downward for far too long. I really do miss the Schwinn of yesteryear...
    Don't get me started about airplanes. When you look at the number of plane makers from the 30's through the 60's, it's amazing to think there are only two companies in the whole world making large airliners now.

    Schwinn had a mystique for American kids back in the 50's. It was the upscale brand you aspired to (my family couldn't afford them -- I rode a Murray). From the Euro perspective, Schwinn was just another mass-market bike maker -- like Raleigh, but a little lower quality and a lot less history (Raleigh started in 1887.

    There are no American bicycle companies that lasted that long. Colonel Albert Pope started making Columbia bicycles in 1877 in Boston, and by the mid 1890's was making a million bikes a year a few blocks from where I sit in Hartford, Connecticut. But by 1815 the company was gone. The American bicycle industry essentially got swamped by automobiles just as it was taking off.

    You might enjoy this book.

    Bicycle: The History: David V. Herlihy: 9780300120479: Amazon.com: Books
    Eppur si muove.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    It's really funny how bicycle companies morph, rise, and fall. Has anybody ever heard of a bicycle company called, Klein?

    Does Schwinn look anything today like it did forty years ago?
    Is this a joke. Trust me, I've known about Gary Klein far longer than you have. Even though he is more known for his mountain bike, he was producing road bikes long before there were mountain bikes. Back then he was claiming to use Boron fibers in the weld areas to make welds stronger but more resilient; that's if my memory serves me right. You could buy them as a frame or complete bike and they were very expensive. A DA or SR complete bike was running $6k+ at a time when a steel framed SR equipped bike was $1.8k-$2k.

    Schwinn looked better 25-30 years ago than it does today. Paramount (Waterford) was it's high end line and they seemed at the time to be producing a pretty good line. Obviously things didn't work out as planned.

    Frame makers come and go (Ron Johnson, Clark Kent), part makers come and go (Hersey Racing, Critical Racing) because they loose market shares or just can't compete for on reason or another. Sometimes it's shame when a company fails especially a small company when it is putting out a superior product.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    Most folks have heard of Giant, Fuji, Specialized, Trek, Raleigh, Schwinn, Cannondale, and GT.
    However, there are many other bicycle companies out there, who make quality bicycles as well, that many people are not aware of, including even some cyclists. There's KHS, Jamis, Iron Horse, Mongoose, Redline, Surly, Salsa, Kona, and many others.
    That's a somewhat unusual collection of bike companies. With the exception of Specialized, Trek and Cannondale (and perhaps Giant), they are most low to mid range brands. Some like Raleigh aren't even the same company now.

    Just like any other industry, some companies evolve and grow; others can't or don't adapt. Specialized, Trek and Cannondale do well but most of the others mentioned don't. Surley created a niche and stuck to it. Klein did to at one point and could have adjusted like Cannondale but didn't. Then there are companies like Cervelo that are innovative, see a need, and produce what customers want. On the other hand, Mongoose initially produced something that customers wanted but didn't adapt and evolve.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    I think it's kinda interesting how there are primarily just eight major bicycle brands with which most people are familiar. Most folks have heard of Giant, Fuji, Specialized, Trek, Raleigh, Schwinn, Cannondale, and GT.
    What do you consider "most people"? People in or out of the cycling world?

    Most aroud here would put these on the list: Bianchi, Scott, Orbea, BMC, Cervelo, Felt, Pinarello, Look

    However, what is it that actually causes one bicycle company to attain greater recognition over another?
    Again, it depends on who you're talking about. But advertising has much to do with it. Such as Trek's marketing blitz combined with Lances wins.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    What do you consider "most people"? People in or out of the cycling world?

    Most aroud here would put these on the list: Bianchi, Scott, Orbea, BMC, Cervelo, Felt, Pinarello, Look

    Again, it depends on who you're talking about. But advertising has much to do with it. Such as Trek's marketing blitz combined with Lances wins.
    I know people who bicycle commute daily, but know absolutely nothing about road bikes, frame materials, crit racing, or anything else. If you'd mention "Look" or "Time", they'd say, "Look at what!"...."You say you want the time?" And these are people who also like recreational cycling.

    Hated to see Lance fall...
    Last edited by Zeet; 04-03-2013 at 12:40 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanseven View Post
    Just like any other industry, some companies evolve and grow; others can't or don't adapt. Specialized, Trek and Cannondale do well but most of the others mentioned don't. Surley created a niche and stuck to it. Klein did to at one point and could have adjusted like Cannondale but didn't.
    Cannondale nearly went under 10 years ago after a bad decision to get into motorized vehicles with dirt bikes and ATV's. Actually, they did go broke, declared bankruptcy, and were bought out, eventually by a big Canadian company, Dorel. They shut down the US plant a few years later and moved production to Taiwan. But they still make good products.

    I remember seeing Klein's fat-tubed aluminum frames 30 years ago, before Cannondale took off. Seemed very radical, and very cool.
    Eppur si muove.

  16. #16
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    ^exactly that, was going to say, Cannondale went under because they were completely daft and tried to expand way beyond what they could (road, mtb and moto was not a good idea)

    Anyone ever seen one of the boron enhanced kleins? you know the chainstay protectors you get, looks like that stuck to the rear stays etc...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    Don't get me started about airplanes. When you look at the number of plane makers from the 30's through the 60's, it's amazing to think there are only two companies in the whole world making large airliners now.

    Schwinn had a mystique for American kids back in the 50's. It was the upscale brand you aspired to (my family couldn't afford them -- I rode a Murray). From the Euro perspective, Schwinn was just another mass-market bike maker -- like Raleigh, but a little lower quality and a lot less history (Raleigh started in 1887.

    There are no American bicycle companies that lasted that long. Colonel Albert Pope started making Columbia bicycles in 1877 in Boston, and by the mid 1890's was making a million bikes a year a few blocks from where I sit in Hartford, Connecticut. But by 1915 the company was gone. The American bicycle industry essentially got swamped by automobiles just as it was taking off.

    fify

    You might enjoy this book.

    Bicycle: The History: David V. Herlihy: 9780300120479: Amazon.com: Books
    Thanks for the link, JCavilla!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by marhot View Post
    The free enterprise system --CAPITALISM.
    Sometimes it sux, but it beats the alternative ...
    OT but reminded me of this:
    SOCIALISM
    You have 2 cows.
    You give one to your neighbour

    COMMUNISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both and gives you some milk

    FASCISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both and sells you some milk

    NAZISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both and shoots you

    BUREAUCRATISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then
    throws the milk away

    TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
    You have two cows.
    You sell one and buy a bull.
    Your herd multiplies, and the economy
    grows.
    You sell them and retire on the income

    ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (VENTURE) CAPITALISM
    You have two cows.
    You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by
    your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption
    for five cows.
    The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
    The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.
    The public then buys your bull.

    SURREALISM
    You have two giraffes.
    The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

    AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You sell one, and force the other to
    produce the milk of four cows.
    Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why
    the cow has dropped dead.

    A GREEK CORPORATION
    You have two cows. You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds,
    dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds.
    You still only have two cows.

    A FRENCH CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three
    cows.

    A JAPANESE CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce
    twenty times the milk.
    You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and
    market it worldwide.

    AN ITALIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows,
    but you don't know where they are.
    You decide to have lunch.

    A SWISS CORPORATION
    You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
    You charge the owners for storing them.

    A CHINESE CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You have 300 people milking them.
    You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
    You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

    AN INDIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You worship them.

    A BRITISH CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    Both are mad.

    AN IRAQI CORPORATION
    Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
    You tell them that you have none.
    No-one believes you, so they bomb the ** out of you and invade your country.
    You still have no cows, but at least you are now a Democracy.

    AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    Business seems pretty good.
    You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

    A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    The one on the left looks very attractive...

  19. #19
    Hucken The Fard Up !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill2 View Post
    OT but reminded me of this:
    $repped$
    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    They're just bikes. Ride 'em in the rain, salt, snow and crap to fully appreciate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Kelly
    The thing about the cold is that you can never tell how cold it is from looking out a kitchen window. You have to dress up, get out training and when you come back, you then know how cold it is.

  20. #20
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    Bill2 repped. That was too funny & too close to the truth.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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