The Dude Abides
Where is the future of Ellsworth?
There haven't been too many discussion type threads lately, just parts talk. But it is those discussions that inspire this one.
Are we getting to the point where all we have to talk about is parts? I mean, don't get me wrong, the bikes are great and very worthy of discussion. But how soon is the day when all we can talk about are the new paint colors?
I know, I know, there were new bikes last year, there are new bikes this year. But how new are they? The hardtails aren't new, they're just back from sabbatical, and with everyone's favorite material, carbon fiber. The Evolve is new, but its really just Ellsworth's version of a new standard. The Ellsworth design has been essentially the same bike since it's inception. There have definately been noteworth improvements, but the underlying design remains the same. There is certainly something to be said for that. There are few companies (both in cycling and in the rest of the world) that can say they got it right the first time (note to flamers: take this last line loosely, it's my literary freedom ).
But how does it improve from here? Take a good look at the current Ellsworth line up, and tell me how it can get better? Annodizing has proven itself as the epitome of paint, the in-house custom shaped tubes do all they can to shave weight, the welded asymetrical chainstay is stiff and strong. And how much do those features improve over the parts they replaced? IMHO, Ellsworth hasn't been too worried about not getting the updated Moment out because the current one is so good. The changes are so minor that people aren't banging down the doors for them, which I'm sure is a headache they were not interested in having.
To make a contrast, Specialized has done a good job of updating the FSR design as of recent. The new Enduro SL and Demo designs are a significant stray from the classic FSR platform. A fresh look from an old friend. Could Ellsworth do something similar? More importantly, should they? Rocky Mountain is still using the XC platform (Element, and to some extent the RM series) they began with years ago. Maybe the bikes are so good, and good looking, that they will stand the test of time?
It is without question that the mountain biking industry has exploded in past 7 or 8 years. New products were flying out of manufacturers doors every year, you had to get a second mortgage just to keep up! But I noticed at Interbike this year that there wasn't the same "can't wait to check this out" as in previous years. Just the steady improvement of recent releases. Has the market reached it's peak of development? Maybe (mostly) everyone is happy with where they are and are now ready to become stable. Ellsworth certainly gives off that sign: moving manufacturing in house, bringing Dave on to increase the dealer network, expanding back into the road and now the cruiser bike market. There is clearly development there, but its not in mountain bikes.
The mountain bikes, they remain tried and true, classy and svelt, just like always. Special edition frames with exotic materials to go above and beyond the already exclusive Ellworth owner. Almost like jewlery in a way. And there are nice margins in jewlery. However, I don't want to give the impression that I feel they are ignoring the off roaders. The engineering is still there, and I know how much effort that takes. But to most consumers, design stands out much more prominently. How many "what's new on the Moment?" threads have we seen? And perhaps thats what will become of it, materials selection and engineering updates from now on.
But that isn't going to do it for me. I like design, I like to see bikes like the Demo8 revamp a platform. Giant throws the shock through the downtube, crazy. Rocky and Scott take the classic single pivot and route it to lay the shock down right on top of the bottom bracket, clever. But there's more than just being different. There are functional cues that are important to everyone. I have my own, and I put them in every one of my designs. Several of them stem from the love for my Ellsworth. There are great qualities that each and every bike should hold on to, but it shouldn't get in the way. They say form follows function. But at some point, form will have to take a stand and put the fun back into function.
So what do you think, where is the future of Ellsworth?
The Dude Abides
Last edited by UP Dude; 11-09-2006 at 06:57 PM.
Leash Law Enforcer
Or, they haven't sold all the ones from the previous run. I think they may have even said as much in a previous thread.
Originally Posted by UP Dude
Interesting topic. I've thought about the same thing myself. I didn't go to Ibike this year, but I got the same impression from the reports I read. It doesn't seem that much changed with next year's models. And, there didn't seem to be a whole of excitement over anything in particular. Status quo pretty much.
Ells has an interesting approach. Very diversified and not very concentrated. They definitely have their bread and butter with the Truth. The Epiphany also seems to be a new good seller for them. But they also try to appeal to every corner of the market with long travel bikes, road bikes, a tandem and now the "Ride".
IMHO, Ells wants to be the high end answer for every type of cycling. That's a good thing. The only downside I can see to that is that when your efforts are all over the map you may not be as good as you could be in one place if you just focused on it.
I would also like to see more innovation in the industry. But, as you allude to, perhaps we are beyond that. In that case, whoever is the "best" will come down to execution. And, Ells executes awfully well.
Time is not a road.
You musta got some of that good schoolin' to be writin' all that...
Who knows? Mountain biking as a whole seems a bit stagnant right now. Racing is on a decline or at least a plateau, FR is becoming really mainstream but it's about the only growing segment out there - stunts, parks, resorts, etc. Engineering wise, it seems most of the issues are sovled. Everyone builds a bike that's efficient, light and strong. Shocks are better now so different designs are more competative.
I guess you'd have to know the company goals to really answer this question. They did introduce the internal geared Dare a year ago. With the work with Nuvinci, this could be a future evolution of bikes - internal gears. Do they want to corner every market? Be the biggest boutique builder around? What about custom geometry?
Ellsworth has a ways to go in the FR/DH market. The Rogue hasn't been too well received. I think it's geometry needs a rework. And from what I can tell, there are a lot of people lamenting the disappearance of the Dare. The single pivot designs are great compromises at a good pricepoint. They need to bring them back. Santa Cruz has made a business out of the Superlight and Heckler. No one is even close to offering single pivot bikes of this caliber at this price point. With the Isis, Distance, Joker/Chaos, I think Ells could bring it back around. I really miss the boxy designs of the Dare, Isis/Joker days. They were hot bikes. I'd actually like to see more ICT designs with that style front triangle. Very cool...
wpg then, van now
I hope it's another year or two, i'm only 1 season on my Moment, and I don't want to have to convince myself not to buy a new one any time soon.
I think they need to take a good look at the FR/DH section and figure out what they are gonna do. I think its lame they had all those models on "In Development" for almost a year. Build some bikes. I don't want a beach cruiser. I live in the MTN's.
Have to say that some of the Turner's have caught my eye. (ie. Highline,DHR)
On another note. My moment will be replaced some day and we'll just have to see whats out there at that time. I'am in the market for a FR/DH rig by spring, and the Rogue just doesn't do it for me.
UpDude, great post......... I guess so much focus goes onto the compnaies negatives or perceived negatives. We have come to expect huge changes each year. I can remember gettign a Kona Sex1, dam that was a while ago, the FS bikes were changing hugely annually. Maybe we have got to a point where by it will take a few more cycles to see the huge leaps forward in technology. Chad1443 makes a good point, so many bikes are far more efficient with the technology with shocks.
I did love my Dare, it was ballsy and looked great, I too miss that frame. The Rogue is cool, but does not look as sweet as the Dare. I was excited about the internal gearbox Dare we were shown last year. But to no avail, nothing came through the range. I have a Nicolai GBoxx on order, purely while I am still relatively young, want to experience an internal gear box bike. I would have jumped at the Dare..........
I haev a signature Ride on order, should be here in 5 weeks, more so as a piece of art really, hey who really needs a cruiser? no one. But am going to do it. Dave has been great to deal with on this bike, spoken many times.... So will get an Ellsworth back in the stable................... Am rambling, once again great post UpDude...
The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"