Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is cool... and I'd totally forgotten I'd done this... it was a long week after all...



Well, I rolled in from Vegas at 2:00AM this morning. Got myself a couple hours of sleep and now I'm trying to take stock of all my photos, business cards I collected and gathering my thoughts... and there are lots of each.

This was the best Interbike show experience I think I've ever had. Being on a winning team always makes things better, but the overall response to the line and all of the major changes we made to the bikes were received far better than I dreamed. I am over the moon over how the bikes were talked about and the number of shops, industry reps, other industry company folks and other bike company people who walked in to the booth to look at the line and said, "WOW!" Though I am the "face/ voice" of the Masi brand, a lot of the credit goes to the folks behind the scenes who help to make the bikes possible- Wayne Doran (Product Manager), Pat Crosby (Haro MTB Product Manager who has helped with some design work), Rick Ortiz (graphic artist and catalog designer) and Pete Demos (Artistic Director). Beyond that, it must be further recognized that the efforts of former Senior Product Development Manager, Mike Varley, paved the way for many of the bikes in the line. I have been very lucky to get to be responsible for stewarding the rebirth of one of the very best names in cycling history. The product line now represents the strongest offering in many years. To say that I am pleased with the bikes and the new catalog would be an understatement. Though I am always very enthusiastic about the brand, I sincerely believe that this is the very best range of product we've ever produced and that we are on the verge of becoming one of those brands that people in and out of the industry will be talking about and listening to.

So, yes, it was a great Interbike and I am very happy. That said, I'm also very tired and need a nap! I'll be following up with many more thoughts, tales and tons of pictures.

Thank you for your patience with the spotty posting the past few months during this massive relaunch of the brand- it is nothing short of a miracle that we were able to pull it all off in such an amazingly short period of time. I am more confident than ever that you will like the new product range. The new/ revised/ updated website will be up very soon, but the new catalog is already in print and available... so go to the website and get one ordered.

Ok, time for a little sleep.


PS- I forgot to mention; check the Monday edition of the Boston Globe, in the Business section, for an article on commuting bicycles. Ross Kerber of the Globe came out to Dirt Demo and rode the new SoulVille and also rode the Hangover/ Lake Mead ride on a new Gran Criterium. There might just be a picture of the SoulVille in the article... so keep your eyes peeled.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

We're here!

I still have to download some photos off the camera, but we're here in Boulder City. Got things mostly set up and ready to go tomorrow. Gotta get a few things at the store and then I'll be ready to go...

... and I got a short ride in already! Took a short spin with Jill Hamilton down to Lake Mead (which is lower than it has been in 40-50 years). It's been a gorgeous day here and the weather is nice... should be sunny and clear the entire time.

Ok, now it's time to go get some dinner and then hang out by the pool and have a beer and a cigar!

Tomorrow is the beginning of the fun!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sin City, here I come!

Well, at the crack of dawn tomorrow, I'll be loading up and heading off to Lost Wages. Hopefully I can manage to keep my wallet either in my pocket or in my hotel room as much as possible.

Festivities begin with two days of demo out at Bootleg Canyon. Then it is off to the neon city for three days of inside exhibition. I love the two days at Dirt Demo and am really looking forward to getting the responses to those first few rides people have on the new SoulVille, Caffe Racer Doppio, 3VC Ultegra and the Gran Criterium... I'm obviously hoping for good things. I know I was grinning when I rode each of those bikes, so I am hoping to see a lot more smiles in the next few days.

The indoor "tradeshow" is the part that is the most routine, if you will. It's the regular "tradeshow" that we all know and love. However, over the past few years (though it's been developing for longer) the show has begun to lose some of its soul. It's become more of a time to shake hands with existing customers, most of whom have already seen the products and have orders for them, rather than an unveiling of anything new. Plus, with folks like Trek and Specialized both doing private shows for their retailers months ago and opting to have a very minimal presence at the show, things have just felt a bit "flat". However, there is something about this year that just feels different...

For one, my new catalog was just delivered yesterday. Normally it is out a couple months prior to the show and the dealers have had a chance to look it over and place their orders before seeing the product in person in Vegas. This year though, they get their catalog when they see the product for the first time (aside from the ones who read this blog or have been visited by a sales rep). To me, that is exciting. I live for this stuff! I live and breathe this product 24/7, so this is a big week coming up for me. Plus, this year, we get to watch as Las Vegas hosts the final of the US Crit series (currently lead by Mark Hekman of MY A&F/ Pro Development Team). AND... there will be an Industry Cup race that same night. My plans had been to do the race, but having not touched a bike in more than two weeks (and a very steep entry fee), it ain't looking so likely. BUT... I will definitely be there to watch the A&F boys lay the hurt to the field in the series finale and then stand there screaming for them when they collect the numerous prizes they are destined for. Needless to say, I'll be beaming like a proud papa when MY boys stand on that podium. It'll be a great night, indeed.

On top of that, something very intangible feels different about this year. Maybe it is because we (Masi/ Haro) are doing something radically different for our booths this year. Maybe it is the new "energy" in the company itself and maybe it is just an underlying current of change and optimism that seems to be bubbling around the biz. Regardless, I can honestly say that I haven't felt this excited about the actual "show" in many years. Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Looking forward to finding Rich Kelly from Interbike Times and going for a pre-show stroll around the exhibit hall and geeking out over cool shtuff. I can't wait to see what is new and who is coming out with the next must-have item/s (aside from me)... and now I hear that SRAM is buying Zipp and now has the wheel segment of their world domination in place. I get to be a judge in a video contest and I will hopefully get out of the booth long enough to be in a live podcast/ videocast of the Spokesmen. AND... I might even find a way to say something intelligent to Eddy Merckx for a change... rather than just staring slack-jawed at him as he signs my poster (though that is still very unlikely). I'm hoping that I get a chance to hang out with Bob Roll for a few minutes again this year- last year was simply a riot. He's the same dude in person as he is on TV... trust me. AND... I hope to actually get out each day I can and go for a ride. It's harder to ride once we get into the city, but the first days in the desert are great riding around Lake Mead. It's become a ritual for me and I hope to do it again this year and ride down to the Hoover Dam and look at the breathtaking views- though with my current state of being out of shape, riding back up the long climb will be even more "breathtaking".

So, Vegas- here I come! Brace yourself because I'm gonna be ready to have a good time with all my friends!

Today, in the midst of all my packing and nervous energy, I stopped long enough to get out and go for a short one hour ride around the town (San Diego). I have not ridden a bike in more than two weeks and have probably only ridden about 5-6 times in total over the past month or so. Needless to say, an hour felt pretty long but was well worth the sweat.

Today was a beautiful stormy day. This morning, the rain was coming down sideways and in buckets with very gusty winds as a Pacific storm blew through. I had to go in to the office this morning for a moment and at times, the rain was so hard that I could barely see past my hood! It doesn't happen here often and it didn't last long, but we do actually get rain from time to time in our semi-arid desert. The best part about a rain here is that the sky is freakishly clear and blue afterwards. It was, though cooler and windy, a gorgeous day today.

A view of our little commercial fishing fleet harbor.

The wind was pretty heavy, so the water on the bay was pretty choppy.

The San Diego skyline, as seen from the fishing fleet harbor...

I don't know if these are crab or lobster traps, but the entire pier was covered in them.

It felt great to get out, even if it hurt more than it should have.

So, if you're going to be in Vegas for the show, I hope you'll stop by the booth and say hello or at least come out to demo a sweet new bike (even if it isn't mine).

As always, I will try to snap as many pictures as I can and I will try to blog as often as I can find the strength to. Don't be upset if this space goes quiet for a few days... I'll be back with more great stuff. (Plus I still have some great pictures from Eurobike left too!)


Friday, September 21, 2007

Urgent; Bike Bloggers at Interbike...

Unless I missed the memo, I haven't seen or heard anything about a bike blogger meet-up at Interbike this year. I missed the first one two years ago and made the last one last year. It's a great gathering of blogging bike buffoons and hopefully we can still pull one off this year.

If interested, let me know either through the comments here or via email; tjackson (at) masibikes (dot) com. Last year, we met for a few cocktails and great conversation at one of the many small bars at Treasure Island. Any ideas or suggestions for this year? Lemme know...

See you all at the show!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

SoulVille Step-through frame designs;

Ok folks, I will have a formal poll posted on the blog soon, but here you go;

SoulVille step-through Option A- borrowed from the Dutch bikes. Simple and elegant with a single swooped top tube, joined to the down tube with "struts".

SoulVille step-through Option B- this is actually a modified mixte frame, complete with small diamter double top tubes that bypass the seat tube and are welded to the drop out. Very much like the old Euro bikes of years past.

Go ahead and vote for your favorite. As far as I am concerned, I like them both and do not feel like there is a bad version either way. Being that I like Democracy, I am leaving it to a vote, so start voting and tell all your friends to vote as well.

NOTE; This poll is just for the frame design itself- nothing else. This isn't for color, or graphics, or part spec... just frame design. You can comment here, but please place your vote in the poll that will be on the left side of the page.

As always, thank you for your valuable feedback!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Collegiate Track Nationals

Over the past weekend, at Collegiate Track Nationals, Bennet van der Genugten (who also rides for the A&F Pro Development Team) of Marian College rode his Masi Coltello to multiple medals and a few titles.

BVDG wrapped up the National title in the Kilo and in the Team Pursuit, 2nd in the Points Race and 1st in the overall Omnium!

The Flying Dutchman (he's from the Netherlands after all) rode superbly and had this to say about his beloved Masi steed afterwards; "That bike dude.. no joke, its really really nice, when I put a 52x15 on there the disc sucks up like 1 cm from the seat tube, its a flat out rocket ship!"

I don't know about you, but looking at the hardware he just brought home from Nationals, I'd say he's probably right!

Congratulations Bennet- all of us at Masi are very proud of your incredible rides. Thanks for helping us look good (gooder).


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Are we there yet?

Is it Vegas yet? Lord, merciful Jeebus... we finished building the booth for the show today. It got crated and put on a semi today, so it is officially out of our hair until we get to Sin City in a few days.

(Totally OSHA approved...)

Oh yeah, and this morning, before the sun came up- in all my spare time- I finally jumped back in on an episode of the Spokesmen Podcast. It was great to join the crew again... and also reminded me how I've been absent from the world of blogging and podcasting for far too long- not to mention actually riding a bike (it's been way more than a week since I've been on a bike). Anyway, it was a great show so go give it a listen.

Ok... good night... I'm beat to hell and need some sleep.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Katie was here...

She's got an artistic sensibility- to say the least.


Friday, September 14, 2007

TGI- freakin- F!

Thank God/ Buddha/ Allah... it's Friday!

I didn't leave the office last night until just before 11:00PM... but the final catalog product is amazing. I can't wait to get your responses to it. It's beautiful- even though I am admittedly biased- and I predict you'll like it plenty. A big round of thanks has to go to Rick Ortiz and Pete Demos (the "Graphic Bitches") and Wayne Doran (my Product Manager) and Pat Crosby (the MTB Product Manager who has been kind enough to help with Masi frame drawings- like the SoulVille). Without the help of these folks, I'd have a heck of a lot less to talk about.

Enjoy your weekends...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I can't wait for Interbike...

... because then I'll be done with late nights at the office and the mad, mad scramble... for a little while at least.

Wrapping up the new Masi catalog tonight- heads off to the printer first thing after we finish proofing tonight.

I have beer at home that should be cold by now- hopefully very cold.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Even more Eurobike photos...

It's Friday! Sadly, I've had a splitting headache the past two days that is bad enough to blur my vision... so this will be a short post with minimal commentary...

These were all over the place! In Friedrichshafen, where we stayed as well, the bike racks were full of these. They are free loaners and pretty darned cool. Lots of people were using them too... so if anybody from Interbike happens upons this post... hint, hint...

Cinelli stills makes some of the prettiest looking bikes around. All of their carbon bikes were simply stunning. I will always have a soft spot for these bikes... even though (just like my bikes) they are now made in Asia (along with several Colnago models and other Italian brands... but I digress).

I have to admit a soft spot for the Orbea bikes too. This new TT rig is pretty slick, even with all the weird angles. In some ways, it hardly looks like a bike... but it's still cool. The most unique feature was the saddle with built in bottle holder for the tri crowd. I wish I'd taken a better picture of just the saddle... because it is pretty wild looking.

Now for some of the cool bits and pieces...

In case you haven't heard (if you've been in a cave or under a rock), SRAM has a new component group coming... it's light (less than 2000gm), it's expensive (more than Dura Ace) and it's dead sexy!

It's been a while since I've gone on a SRAM bender... but it's time to do it again. This stuff is amazing! Truly... the shifting is super smooth and precise. The shifting bugs in the front shifter (lack of ability to trim the front derailleur to prevent chain rub) has been fixed, the bearings are ceramic (lighter and smoother- but durability is debatable), the crank is lighter and stiffer, the shifter reach is adjustable, the cable routing can be in front of or behind the handlebar (like Campagnolo) and the entire group is lighter. I can pleasantly say that I have had nearly zero issues with my Rival group that I began testing last year. The shifting has remained very precise. The wear has been very good. The only complaint I've had so far has been with the crankset/ bottom bracket- the seals are so tight on the bearings that the crankset does not seem to spin freely and has not loosened over all the months of riding and the non-drive crank arm was constantly loosening. I fixed the crank arm issue by regreasing the contact points and retightening very tightly, however the BB still feels stiff. That said, I am still very happy with the performance of the group and am anxiously awaiting the chance to get my hands on a Red group to test on an extended basis.

Nearly every road brand at the show offered a Red equipped bike. Last year, when the Force and Rival groups first came out, that was not the case. Clearly SRAM has made their case and gained some serious industry support. I have very good friends at Shimano and absolutely love the product they and Campagnolo produce... but SRAM is doing a lot of the right things and Japan and Italy need to really pay attention to what the folks in Chicago are cooking up.

All of that said, it would be foolish to ignore the big dog on the block, Shimano.

The new carbon Dura Ace crankset is awfully pretty... but rumor has it, it will be very not-cheap.

Another rumor has it that the cranks are very, very stiff though.

On top of the really cool stuff that Shimano does, they have the PRO branded parts as well. These are parts designed by the Europe side of the Shimano family... and they are awesome. The stuff ranges from simple bars and stems to incredible wheels and other accessories like sunglasses, etc. It's a big product offering.

They make some really danged cool stuff and I hope to get my mitts on some of it to beat up on. You never know what might end up on a bike...

Ok, I surrender. The headache wins and I am calling it quits for now.

More later... I promise.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

More from Eurobike...

Here are more cool pictures of the fantastic sights of Eurobike... as experienced by yours truly...

I don't care who you are... a Ferrari Colnago is simply Bad Ass!

And this was one of the coolest "retro" rigs I found. It was just kind of tucked away in the Cinelli booth- sort of like an after thought. I, of course, made a bee line for it as soon as I saw it.

These guys had some of the most gorgeous city bikes I have seen. Better yet, I saw several of them in use around the city... proving their appeal.

I like simple, understated graphics like these...

... no wait... like these. Cube is one of the biggest and most popular brands in Germany. I've seen the name before, but never the bikes in person before. They have a very large and impressive range of bikes (thankfully for me, not available here).

I thought the TT bike was pretty cool.

Walking around all day makes you thirsty.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cool stuff...

Ok, I found this in my email when I returned from Germany and it is just too darned cool not to share... I've always been a fan of Wired, so this is pretty exciting for me.

Now for some bike porn from Germany!

The bike of Theo Bos... I felt insignificant just standing in front of it.

This was one of the nicest old bikes I saw at the show and in Germany.

This was one of the prettiest looking city bikes I saw at the show, but certainly not the only one. There are more useful, simple, utilitarian bikes in Europe than you can possibly imagine. The US is way behind Europe on this front... way, way behind.

This beauty was in the Brooks booth... I nearly had to lie down after I saw it. Ok, I did lie down, but it might've been from the heavy lunch and the jet lag.

This bike came nicely accessorized... to say the least. The brand is called Starshot and they are primarily a clothing company (with really cool stuff), but they are moving into branded bikes too.

I know this is just a tiny little teaser... but you'll just have to wait another day for more (there's only about a thousand pictures left to go through).


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm not dead... it's just jet lag.

So I made it to Eurobike and back, without major incident. How is it that one of the very techiest countries in the world can have such bad wi-fi service? Email and internet was barely functional for me the whole week- hence the total lack of posting. Rest assured though, the camera was out and I got plenty and plenty of pictures.

Right now though, the jet lag is kicking my butt... so I'm off to bed!