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  1. #1
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    BB30: Open standard. Lefty: Not. Why?

    Interesting to see BB30 develop. Now that Cannondale has opened the standard, there seems to be a healthy ecosystem of suppliers. This is great. Better choice for consumers, and Cannondale gets what they want which is better bottom brackets and the halo of being seen as an innovator and standard setter, with goodwill garnerned in the industry for donating the standard. I really don't think they wanted a proprietary BB as a differentiator.

    The question is why not do the the same with the Lefty? Is it simply because - unlike a bottom bracket - it is such a visual signature item that does lend an identity to Cannondale?

    Do you think the Lefty system should be made an open system?

  2. #2
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    I thought that BB30 was owned by Campy? Perhaps I'm wrong.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    By making BB30 free, cannondale is now free to sell their cranksets to other suppliers (or at least the aftermarket).

    In order to sell lefties to the aftermarket (in their traditional form), you'd have to have frame makers embrace the 1.5 steerer, which nobody wants to do. And even if they did, "traditional" lefties are easily fitted to smaller head tubes with aftermarket adapters, which the market has proven isn't profitable.

    So, in short, BB30 looks like it can make some cash. Lefties don't seem to promise much profit.

  5. #5
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    Hmmm... seems to me that Cannondale is getting away from component manufacturing. They gave that a shot, it was only a distraction. It's clear that their stregnth is frame and integration design, not component design and manufacturing. I think their goal is not to sell BB30 components, but to *buy* them. They'll never make components as cheaply as FSA, for example. Only at the high end with fat margins does it make sense for their components to exist. Already in the 2009 model range, we can see that the FSA BB30 units are replacing the non-BB30 units in their model line. I hope we never see the disgrace of having a English adapter in a Carbon SI frame from the factory.

    Quote Originally Posted by RoyDean
    By making BB30 free, cannondale is now free to sell their cranksets to other suppliers (or at least the aftermarket).

    In order to sell lefties to the aftermarket (in their traditional form), you'd have to have frame makers embrace the 1.5 steerer, which nobody wants to do. And even if they did, "traditional" lefties are easily fitted to smaller head tubes with aftermarket adapters, which the market has proven isn't profitable.

    So, in short, BB30 looks like it can make some cash. Lefties don't seem to promise much profit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by almontebarnes
    They'll never make components as cheaply as FSA, for example.
    IIRC, FSA was actually their component OEM manufacturer...C'dale designed the parts and FSA manufactured them...

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    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    IIRC, FSA was actually their component OEM manufacturer...C'dale designed the parts and FSA manufactured them...
    pretty sure that's true only for the carbon one.

    i wish they would have made all their bikes with bb30, and use adapter's where necessary for the price point. would love to be able to get a bb30 crank for my F3....

  8. #8
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    It's not up to Cannondale whether the industry embraces the lefty or not. It's up th the industry. However, getting the lefty weight down to 2.5 or 2.6 lbs ( like the 09 version will be) is going to raise some eyebrows. Sometimes the proprietary product is more important to keep in the company, which is probably the case with the lefty. I must say that the reason I've stuck with cdales is because of the lefty. Cannondale probably knows that there are people like me out there.

  9. #9
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    I'm talking about setting up a separate organization to hold the trademarks and standards. Until that happens, then, yes, it is up to Cannondale whether it is embraced.

    Moreover, I know that Cannondale encourage OEMs and hub manufacturers to go to market with hubs and complete wheels. But I'm talking about the opposite. They need to open the spindle standard not only for hub makers, but fork manufacturers. Imagine if Fox, Marzocchi, RockShox, etc., all made Lefty forks?

    And I'm not talking about the steerer tube (Headshok) standard. For all I care, they can continue to use 1 1/8 or whatever. But acceptance of Lefty as a standard would result in higher fork volumes, lower prices, etc. Heck, there's no reason that an F7 couldn't come with a "Dart Lefty".


    Quote Originally Posted by rumshcawheely
    It's not up to Cannondale whether the industry embraces the lefty or not. It's up th the industry. However, getting the lefty weight down to 2.5 or 2.6 lbs ( like the 09 version will be) is going to raise some eyebrows. Sometimes the proprietary product is more important to keep in the company, which is probably the case with the lefty. I must say that the reason I've stuck with cdales is because of the lefty. Cannondale probably knows that there are people like me out there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by almontebarnes
    I'm talking about setting up a separate organization to hold the trademarks and standards. Until that happens, then, yes, it is up to Cannondale whether it is embraced.

    Moreover, I know that Cannondale encourage OEMs and hub manufacturers to go to market with hubs and complete wheels. But I'm talking about the opposite. They need to open the spindle standard not only for hub makers, but fork manufacturers. Imagine if Fox, Marzocchi, RockShox, etc., all made Lefty forks?

    And I'm not talking about the steerer tube (Headshok) standard. For all I care, they can continue to use 1 1/8 or whatever. But acceptance of Lefty as a standard would result in higher fork volumes, lower prices, etc. Heck, there's no reason that an F7 couldn't come with a "Dart Lefty".
    What good would any of this do for Cannondale? You must keep in mind that they are in business to be competitive and make money. Cannondale prides itself on thinking outside the box and the reward they should get is to make money on such thoughts (which is what they do). Keep in mind that Fox, Manitou and Rockshox have already made internals for lefties. The reason they want other companies to make lefty hubs, is so that there are more wheel choices for their customers (which has been a criticism in the past).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumshcawheely
    What good would any of this do for Cannondale?
    That's exactly my question: two proprietary systems: Lefty and BB30. One is opened up, the other one isn't. Why is opening one (BB30) favorable to Cannondale, but not the other (Lefty)?

  12. #12
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    To a certain degree, Lefty is an open standard; anyone can use a Lefty fork on another bike. If you are suggesting that Cannondale allow other manufacturers to produce their own Lefty forks, I'd argue that is a step too far...that would be like Audi giving away the rights to their Quattro AWD system. Lefty is a component that adds distinction to the Cannondale name, and shouldn't be given away to other contenders in the bicycle industry; what's in it for Cannondale?

    Cannondale has gone so far as to make Lefty forks available as an aftermarket component; most anyone can order a Lefty fork from most any Cannondale dealer. Lefty forks are expensive, which limits the number of riders that will opt to buy the fork aftermarket, but that doesn't change the fact that it is available. With the help of Project-321, almost any bike can accept a Lefty fork. I think Cannondale has worked hard enough for the industry, pushing BB30 as well as a 1.5" steerer tube; I don't see what is to be gained by permitting other manufacturers to produce their own Lefty forks.

    For sake of progression and competition, I think it is wise that only Cannondale produce Lefty forks. They have an amazing product; the ball is in other manufacturers court to catch up and produce a worthy rival. The world doesn't need more Lefty forks, as the Lefty forks available are just fine. The world needs more worthy rivals to the Lefty; what was Specialized thinking with the S120 and FOX with the QR15? I don't think it is good business practice for companies to give away great ideas; instead, the good ideas should provoke more innovation by other companies.

    Furthermore, I don't think there is a difference in making Lefty an open standard vs. BB30. In the case of Lefty, one can fit a Lefty bike without too much in terms of proprietary hardware or bearings. If something goes wrong, it isn't too difficult to find a manufacturer of a replacement headset. BB30, however is a good bit more complicated, and I could see a lot of people raising eyebrows if only Cannondale produced applicable bottom bracket/crankset components. Proprietary headsets and bottom brackets have a history of causing headaches, down the road. Cannondale's choice to make BB30 an open standard appears to be a hint that they would prefer another components manufacturer to climb aboard too. For instance, if one could only use a Cannondale bottom bracket and crankset, people might be discouraged, however if Shimano stepped up and introduced a BB30 Dura-Ace crankset, the world would applaud.

  13. #13
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    There is nothing unique about Quattro. There was in 1984, but now it is just a trademark. And it's success never had anything to do with developing an ecosystem of interoperable parts and suppliers.

    That said, I hear what you're saying: why should Cannondale give away something that is their "signature", something that is such a clear visual reminder of their innovation?

    And my answer is because:
    It isn't common so there is a great resistance to it when it is first seen. If it was more common, the resistance to this odd "unsafe" looking thing would diminish.
    Because there isn't an ecosystem of qualified mechanics, these things have to go back to Cannondale (or a few specialists) for service. This is a real problem.

    It's not unfair to say that the Lefty nichifies Cannondale: you'll have a group who will never go Cannondale. It's a real problem. Ask around.

    If Cannondale opens Lefty a la BB30 and it gains greater adaption reducing buyer resistance, doesn't that grow Cannondale's target market?

    Creating a dominant form is the only way to be successful. Otherwise, a niche form won't have as much investment in it over time. Failure is a likely end result. Cannondale alone funds the improvement and development of Lefty forks. That could be divided up among many more participants.

    Quick: name a few other proprietary standards in the bicycle industry that have lasted the test of time. I can't think of any.

    Bottom line: going it alone with a non-dominant form in an industry that's all about a cooperative ecosystem is risky and expensive. Open it up. All boats will rise with the tide. Yours will rise more.

    Had Cannondale opened up BB30 immediately, it might well have been a standard right now, and support costs for their system substantially lower. They would have had a significant first-mover advantage. Instead now they've got to fight off Shimano's press-in bottom bracket. Granted, that was probably a defensive move in light of BB30, but Cannondale had their cards on the table for 7 years (since the 2000 introduction of BB30). They squandered catching Shimano off-guard, and most of their first-mover advantage.



    Quote Originally Posted by mylesofsmyles
    To a certain degree, Lefty is an open standard; anyone can use a Lefty fork on another bike. If you are suggesting that Cannondale allow other manufacturers to produce their own Lefty forks, I'd argue that is a step too far...that would be like Audi giving away the rights to their Quattro AWD system. Lefty is a component that adds distinction to the Cannondale name, and shouldn't be given away to other contenders in the bicycle industry; what's in it for Cannondale?

    Cannondale has gone so far as to make Lefty forks available as an aftermarket component; most anyone can order a Lefty fork from most any Cannondale dealer. Lefty forks are expensive, which limits the number of riders that will opt to buy the fork aftermarket, but that doesn't change the fact that it is available. With the help of Project-321, almost any bike can accept a Lefty fork. I think Cannondale has worked hard enough for the industry, pushing BB30 as well as a 1.5" steerer tube; I don't see what is to be gained by permitting other manufacturers to produce their own Lefty forks.

    For sake of progression and competition, I think it is wise that only Cannondale produce Lefty forks. They have an amazing product; the ball is in other manufacturers court to catch up and produce a worthy rival. The world doesn't need more Lefty forks, as the Lefty forks available are just fine. The world needs more worthy rivals to the Lefty; what was Specialized thinking with the S120 and FOX with the QR15? I don't think it is good business practice for companies to give away great ideas; instead, the good ideas should provoke more innovation by other companies.

    Furthermore, I don't think there is a difference in making Lefty an open standard vs. BB30. In the case of Lefty, one can fit a Lefty bike without too much in terms of proprietary hardware or bearings. If something goes wrong, it isn't too difficult to find a manufacturer of a replacement headset. BB30, however is a good bit more complicated, and I could see a lot of people raising eyebrows if only Cannondale produced applicable bottom bracket/crankset components. Proprietary headsets and bottom brackets have a history of causing headaches, down the road. Cannondale's choice to make BB30 an open standard appears to be a hint that they would prefer another components manufacturer to climb aboard too. For instance, if one could only use a Cannondale bottom bracket and crankset, people might be discouraged, however if Shimano stepped up and introduced a BB30 Dura-Ace crankset, the world would applaud.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by steadite
    pretty sure that's true only for the carbon one.

    i wish they would have made all their bikes with bb30, and use adapter's where necessary for the price point. would love to be able to get a bb30 crank for my F3....

    Indeed. Will a 2009 Caffeine BB30 in 26" be available?

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