Ask crankbrothers what they are most excited about with their new products (crankbrothers has overhauled their entire product line this year along with launching a handlebar and stem line), and you get an answer like “the whole package”.
Crankbrothers is the whole package. Functional gear, that sports a real flair, but not the neon-green-stand-out-because-you’re-ugly flair. Crankbrothers is about making a line of products that go together. Functional art on bikes; and they have the perfect place to play at the task. Located on Broadway, 2 blocks from Main Beach in the heart of Laguna, an artist’s Mecca. But the canvas is even brighter for crankbrothers functional mission, because the designers and rest of the crankbrothers team get out to sample the finest of California coastal riding right out their backdoor at El Morro State Park.
“Everyone rides, I think that’s what makes the products great. Everyone’s invested, and we all use our components” Amanda Schaper, crankbrothers Marketing Director told me. And it’s true, from their tree of a bike rack in the middle of the product designers lair, to the repair tech’s workbench there are signs of “real” riders, not just another techy engineer. Dirt on tires, helmets on desks, and gear bags laying beside chairs. Waiting for an afterwork ride. I would call crankbrothers a riding culture.
I jumped on a weekly Thursday night ride with a few crankbrother’s staff and some of our local Over the Hump racers, who have been jumping in. Right away I felt welcome, and realized I was definitely in the company of people who take their riding seriously. Pro Jason Siegle (Bike Religion), Mykyta Yurtrn (Troupe Racing Co) and other cycling industry guys jumped in as Amanda lead us out. It was a 2 hour 2,500 foot climb end of the day ride. Though the ride was at a good clip (I found myself at the back of the pack), there was great conversation, and the crew of “destroyers” and accomplished mountain bike racers was graceful enough to wait for this “once a week warrior”. It was a great vibe and an opportunity for me to look in and see the heart of crankbrothers. They love to ride, and it shows from the smiles of the staff, the details of the packaging, to the clean lines of their products, crankbrothers is all about the “whole package”.
If you’ve spent any time around Irvine Lake with us at Over the Hump Mountain Bike Race Series this summer, you’ll have heard about the eggbeater 11s “Golden Egg Contest”. Throughout the season we stashed egg shaped raffle tickets around the course, in the staging area, on people’s bikes, with course marshals all with an opportunity to draw the winning lottery ticket for the eggbeater 11s. Geof Sanberg, a Sport Series Leaders, ended up taking home the prize…and he was stoked. I asked Tim Vangilder what the big deal was…what makes eggbeater 11s so great. “Are they lighter than the 4Tis that you had last year”.
Tim, crankbrother’s Marketing Design talent and captain of Troupe Racing Co let me in on the scoop, “Comparable in weight, but that’s not the biggest deal.” 2 years in design, the biggest changes are a redesigned pedal ground up. The spindle redesigned, reduction in some of the material where it was unnecessary and increased material (titanium among the material) where it needed to be reinforced, a needle bearing and a sealed cartridge bearing (in place of a plastic bushing). The bearing and new assembly design has made the pedal more serviceable and ironically more durable, withstanding the elements keeping goo and grime on the trail out, while keeping the good stuff in! Speaking of durable, previously riders of up to 180lbs were rated as a 4Ti candidate (including camelback, shoes, tools and gear that adds up quickly). The Eggbeater 11s get a 200lb rider threshold now, so more people can enjoy the easy engagement, lightweight and clean design of the titanium pedal.
Though the Eggbeater 11s are part of crankbrothers flagship eggbeater lineup don’t forget there’s a full 11, 3 and 2 line up of products out there waiting for each of us to customize, clean up (make pretty), and ruggedly abuse on our bikes. There are 100s of players in the mountain bike accessory market, leave it to these guys to do it just a bit differently (read better). One trail product that is becoming a local staple on trailbikes is their Joplin 4 post (two models), offering the gravity drop seat while still rolling. Bars and seat posts are clean with just a CB logo. Stems have a little color thrown in and a unique one side hex bolt that sandwiches the stearer tube making for a simple, effective (and cool looking connection) on the front of the bike. They are releasing lock on grips, which complement the anodized aluminum of their split quick releases, another bell and whistle that functions well, and makes for easy installation of a otherwise boring 9mil quick release. The QR make for some tough 2 color, 2 lever flair in a place that’s been typically only for the function of keeping those wheels on the bikes.
Crankbrothers is in on the wheels too. If you keep up with Mountain Bike Action Magazine or online version you see some great wheel reviews, and MBA reviewed the cross country version in 2010 Cobalts. Saying they were strong and as great to ride as they looked. Arguably the best looking wheels out there, with unique split spokes, star-like lacing pattern, and a complement of hot crankbrothers colors these wheels have been showing up on more and more bikes out on Orange County trails. CB is making their wheels in 26” and 29” models. There’s a full line, besides the Cobalts that you can check the specs and ride that wheel that’s right for you at http://crankbrothers.com . Bottom line, for the price of high end Mavic, Stans, Specialized you can ride away with these beauties, and from reviews I’ve perused, get all the performance.
As with any standout company, it’s what they do behind the scenes, that says what they truly value. When crankbrothers signed on to partner with us at Over the Hump it was with a value statement to “support a local event” and “do it right”. And they have. Each week Tim, Amanda and crew, racing or not, come out with the line of 11s, 3s, 2s products from eggbeaters to Wheels. They’ve offered pedals to racers in a pinch, wrenches to guys broken down, and had creative promos all through the first half of the season. After the first 6 races there are still some surprises coming, even after the eggbeater 11 raffle. Tim and Amanda told me they still have a few things up their sleeves. Like the Dream Bike Display coming out later in the season.
Quality begets quality. Dream Bikes came about with the best of the best companies across the industry to feature the new handlebar, stems and redesigned line of pedals; they’ve partnered with frame builders of distinction including Ibis, Titus, Intense, Focus and Tomac as well as with a small group of partners – SRAM, Rock Shox, Avid, Fizik and Continental Tires. Crankbrothers website says, “These bikes will be a rolling museum on top of our new technical vehicle that will travel to events like Sea Otter, Fruita Fat Tire Fest, Interbike, and to hundreds of dealer visits on the west coast during the spring and summer of 2010.”
And then you get a chance to be a part of the Dream…crankbrothers will show the bikes at Irvine Lake on Tuesday August 24, along with Wheels 4 Life Movie showing that night. Dream Bikes will be sold at auctions, raffled and/or sold to raise money to benefit Hans Rey’s charity Wheels 4 Life. Wheels 4 Life has given over 1,800 bikes to people less fortunate, allowing them a means to get to work, medical services, school, market…the rigs we play with are true utility for worldwide basic transportation in 3rd world countries. Crankbrothers is proud to be part of the solution and have led the charge to put the bikes together and soon to contribute up to $50,000 from their sale to the charity.
Here’s a couple of photos of the Dream Bikes on Tour this year:
As I ended my visit to last month, it was in the middle of our 3 week race break. Amanda looked at me…(I think there may have been a tear in her eye)…and said looking forward to the next half of the season, but super bummed I have to miss the first one. I’ll be in Europe at a sales meeting.” That’s the dedication these riders (and this manufacturer) have approached local racing in Orange County. Over the Hump is better for it and stoked to have crankbrothers on board again this year.
Just spun on my new Candy 3 pedals, and headed out for a ride. If you haven’t ridden eggbeaters, don’t…unless you’re ready to get a pair. You’ll be a instant fan!