I wanted to use the launch of our new site to talk about Knolly Bikes and its future direction.
Over the past decade we have grown Knolly from literally a garage company to a well respected player in the high end mountain bike market. We're known worldwide for our engineering focus on product design and manufacturing and also supporting our most important asset: our loyal customer base (thank you!). We've established ourselves as a company that doesn't beat to the "industry drum": we do our own thing. It's a bit weird (perhaps cult like? Ha!) for those on the outside and a revelation for those in the KNATION!
Last year we made a defining strategic business decision to take Knolly on a path that's at odds with almost every other frame manufacturer in the mountain bike industry (it really wasn't that hard of a decision: we've been acting this way since the start!). But we did crystallize this decision as official company policy and hammered it into the core of our brand. That direction is promoting the Knolly Ride Experience and it is completely focused on the 3 Pillars of Engineering / Product / Customer and not Marketing / Hype. That's not to say that we won't do any marketing - of course we will. But, we know that you've heard this same shtick before in a variety of ways: Commitment, Innovation, Lifestyle etc... At Knolly we firmly believe that we can walk the walk and not just talk the talk: we have a solid history of making engineering first products and supporting customers to the highest level. We're dedicated to going "all in" and are betting our future on the Knolly Ride Experience and its 3 Pillar approach.
The second decision that we've made is to be more open: perhaps that comes with the confidence of reaching an established size. We're still a tight knit group of overworked people, but we're more than a few people now and this means that we should have some time to get the KNATION community updated and engaged more often. In the past, we've kept our story (perhaps Knolly's so-called "secret sauce") under wraps: we weren't really that open about what Four By 4 is or how it works. We just designed our technologies into our frames and expected everyone to be OK with it. For sure - face to face - we'd blab on and on and bore you with every little nuanced detail but our core philosophies and design direction were not clearly spelled out publicly. It was just assumed that it was cool and awesome and that of course you - our customer - would buy it! The launch of the new website is the perfect place for us to advertise, in our engineering way, what is unique about Knolly (and there is a lot!).
We have come to realize that as a "brand" (Ack - we're a brand!!!) we have to act like a brand: we need to keep loyal customers engaged and updated with the newest information. So we are going to be more inclusive with our customers. In essence, we want to be a better company: not just one making neato bikes on the fringe but one that truly engages and captivates its customers for the long haul.
Now I know that's all well and good, but I know that people want something to chew on and the above is heavy on white bread and lacking in the filler department. So here's some filler!
What have we been doing this past year? Publicly, it probably doesn't seem like a lot has happened since the release of the Warden Carbon, but we've certainly been busy behind the scenes. A huge focus has been on building the foundation to support our continued growth: while not exciting, it's critical for us to do this to ensure support for our dealers and re-sellers and ultimately our end user customers. Along with our 3 Pillars commitment, we've also made some very key product design decisions. The biggest decisions that we've made are actually philosophical and that is that our focus will be only on high quality manufacturing. We are a high end engineering and manufacturing company and we've put the resources in place over the past 12 - 24 months to take this to even higher levels. Despite the intense consumer pressure for carbon everything, we've decided to keep our alloy lineup going - as well as flush out our carbon lineup: all of it high end. We've seen a lot of customer demand for carbon but the reality is that making it the way that we want to is expensive and even huge volumes won't get the cost down that much. So, we're going to start to twin our product line over the next couple of years and ultimately aim at getting most products out in both high end aluminum and high end carbon. We definitely feel that we haven't even come close to tapping aluminum's potential and that honestly, we can make a better alloy bike than the majority of carbon frames on the market. And, we can definitely bring out the highest quality carbon products.
So, with all of these new philosophical design decisions, what are we actually working on? The answer is pretty much everything - at once! Why? Well, the majority of the industry has been playing a game of catch up for the past four years: this started with 29ers, then 27.5, then Boost, the recent introduction of MSS, and on and on and on... While Knolly is very pro-development, having this many changes in a short period of time (perhaps initially with the best intent, but ultimately most of them became purely profit / marketing driven decisions) is not exactly healthy for the industry and in particular customers. We have been super busy developing the basis for our next generation of product. It's still a ways away, but yes, it does include a new 29er platform in both carbon and alloy. And while we're chatting about new models, we are for sure working on a new Podium: it's a completely new design direction and not slated to be ready until 2018 but we will start releasing teasers over the next month or two on both bikes.
So I look forward to trying to keep this blog updated fairly regularly in the future and getting some information out about what's going on in the background at Knolly.