Journal

Experience ee

Precision, ingenuity and the love of the ride… That’s the essence of ee

In the fall of 2016, renowned cycling components designer Craig Edwards joined forces with Cane Creek, forming a lasting partnership to not only manufacture and distribute his game-changing eeBrake but also to work hand-in-hand with Cane Creek designers and engineers to develop new products that pushed the sport of cycling into new frontiers.

From that partnership, Cane Creek’s ee line was born.

What Makes a Product ee?

In order to earn the right to be called ee, a product must meet the highest standards of function and innovation. This begins with a rigorous product development process designed to take great ideas and turn them into excellent products.

This unique approach and uncompromising commitment to meticulous execution results in products that have surpassed previous industry bests and whose beauty is truly in their function.
We use this process to guide us internally and hold ourselves to this high standard so that we know we have achieved a product of the highest quality and performance that can be deemed the best.

Three guiding principles shape the framework and practice of the ee design process:

Free of Convention:

We believe in innovation rather than following established standards. An ee product is born from questioning the norm and using a new lens to discover connections between different but related facts. When joined together, these facts can create a clear view of something novel, which has never been seen, developed or commercialized before. Something that is truly revolutionary.

eeNut

eeNut

How do you improve on an age-old design? Ignore it completely.
The starfangled nut has been around since the origin of the threadless headset and is, still to this day, at the heart of threadless headset preload design. So when Craig Edwards set out to create a lighter weight preload assembly designed for carbon steertubes he could have easily been bound by that classic design.

Instead, however, he broke free from convention and developed a recessed cone shape that created increased tension and stiffness facilitating precise headset adjustment setting it apart from both the original star nut design and other lightweight caps.

Relentless Engineering:

Engineering is the practical application of art and science. Lessons learned from earlier experiences become the foundational underpinnings of further advances. This process is repeated until the assurance has been gained that all aspects of the product requirements have taken it beyond the state of the art.

eewings spindle

While designing eeWings, we knew we wanted to design a crank that is both extremely durable and ultra-stiff while remaining in a weight class that’s comparable to leading carbon cranks. The solution? A design that relied on both relentless engineering and the choice to use titanium, a superior yet expensive and difficult to work material.

Throughout the development process, this focus on relentless engineering and testing resulted in some truly superior features including a 30-tooth hearth joint joining the crank together, hollow tube arms for a superior stiffness-to-weight ratio and a CNC machined aluminum preload with a titanium bolt for a more precise and durable setup.

Slave to Logic:

The design process draws upon intuition, imagination and systemic reasoning to explore the many possibilities of what can be created. Maintaining a strict adherence to logic-based decisions creates boundaries for product development ensuring that it is the best it can be for the right reasons.

eebrake regular mount

eeBrake pad holders offer simple and easy tool-less pad installation and removal. This was achieved by asking a simple set of logical questions:

There must me something better than the standard “set screw” design.
Why not make a tool-less pad holder?
Can a no back out feature be achieved without a tool?
Pads can bend. How can the design take advantage of a pad’s inherent flexibility?
Design idea: permanantly place the “no back out” feature on the pad holder and design a way to bend the pad around the “no back out” feature during installation.

ee Attributes

The end result of this simple yet effective protocol is a better product that achieves remarkable results. To gain the ee designation a product must display the following attributes:

Beauty in Functionality:

Performance and purpose are prioritized over preconceived notions of what a product should look like. The function of the product must be so extraordinary that the resulting form that it takes defines the appreciation of its appearance.

Peerless:

An ee product is unequalled on multiple levels. It bears uncompromised quality and is the very best that can be offered in that category.

Counterintuitive:

An ee product cannot be taken at face value, it exhibits the most unlikely idea and contradicts conventional wisdom. When a person first looks at the eeBrake, the appearance suggests one of stiffness and power, yet also of weight. The awe a person exhibits when they pick it up or see the actual reading on a scale suggest that their intuition had told them something different.

 

Being Frank – Why Be Different?

 

Brent Graves Cane Creek
Brent Graves, President and CEO

Not that it is my aim to defend a competitor, but the recent launch and subsequent dialogue around Cannondale’s new Lefty Ocho raises an interesting, if not common, debate. Some ask or challenge why it is better to do a single-sided fork, and if it is not better, then they suggest that it should not be done. After all, why should anything new not be superior to what’s currently available? If a new product is different but not necessarily superior, why do it? But here’s the thing: when it comes to function/performance, engineering is an application of science, math, and tests that ultimately lead to a solution. The key words here are “ultimately” and “solution” – note that the latter is singular. Given enough time and work, ONE best solution (i.e. design) will be discovered.

Let’s look at road racing motorcycles. In the 1980s superbike racing in the USA was very competitive and popular. And the bikes used transversely-mounted inline four cylinder motors. The four Japanese brands were winning on Sunday and selling on Monday (forget that most motorcycle shops are closed on Mondays!). As the 90s rolled in Ducati was trying to turn its business around and saw superbike racing as a way to make the brand relevant again to U.S. riders. However Ducati’s trademark engine design was an L-twin. However, for a given engine displacement, a twin makes less power than an inline four. So Ducati had a choice to give up their “unique” engine design or be uncompetitive. Fortunately for Ducati the superbike promoter saw the addition of the Italian brand as beneficial to the racing series and provided a handicap – twins could use a larger engine to offset their inherent design deficiency.

Why didn’t Ducati just create and race the superior inline four configuration? In professional racing winning is serious business, and engineers are always seeking the path to the “solution” to go faster. But racing is a marketing tool for brands, and while results are critical, there is a point wherein not compromising the brand’s DNA is even more critical. Ducati did not want to sellout their DNA to become an “Italian Honda” even if it meant fewer race victories.

So brand and product managers can get to points of serious conflict with their engineers: “If we remove this stupid hump in the top tube, the frame will be 1.7% lighter and 12% stiffer” says the engineer. To which the product manager says “but then we’ll lose our signature look and be more like the other frames out there.” This is a true example, and in this case 1.7% was 15g, or a big bite of a Snickers bar! Or possibly in the case of the Ocho, the engineer complains that a single-side fork raises hurdles that would not be there if the fork was of standard design, but the product manager responds with “but we own this look.”

Beyond the commercial marketing side of things, there is the reality that things that are different and veer off the path of the optimal engineering solution can offer other value. Going back to motorcycle engines, twins have a distinct sound, feel, and power delivery that result in a different riding experience that many riders find more satisfying. Furthermore, as I’ll bet is the case with the Lefty Ocho, going down the non-optimal path may result in new ideas in the attempt to address the constraints of an inferior design. I’m not saying the Ocho is an inferior fork, but the reality is a single sided fork is a less rigid structure. So Cannondale had to come up with innovative solutions to address the inherent lack of rigidity. It is possible, that such innovative solutions enable the Ocho to even outperform a standard fork when the standard fork’s engineers were not required to come up innovations.

And then there is “variety is the spice of life.” Regardless of brand DNA, winning, optimal design, etc. there is the reality that the world would be a boring place if only the optimal designs were available. In that world, all cars would look and drive exactly alike for maximized efficiency, we’d eat the same meals for maximized health benefit, our sunglasses would all look the same for maximum eye protection, and the houses we’d live in would be built the same for maximized use of space and energy efficiency. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to give up Pinot Noir because it was not the optimal red wine varietal!

OEM Partner Highlight – Orange Bikes

 

OEM Highlight: THE FORMULA CONCEPT

Call us sentimental, but in our 30th year we can’t help reminiscing.

In the early days of Orange we had an exclusive model we named the Formula. They were never intended for sale, they were simply the best of the best and issued only to a select group of Team riders.

Based on that concept, we’ve decided to reinvent the Formula spec for the 21st century. Available on the iconic Five and Alpine 6.

So exactly like the original Formulas – but with one tiny difference…

…now you can have one too.

 

 

 

Declare your independence from mass produced suspension with the HELM 27.5 Cherry Bomb. Named for the iconic red fireworks, the Cherry Bomb sports matte black lowers with a firecracker red metallic gloss crown and graphics. It’s available in both coil and air sprung versions however production will be limited to a total of 100 forks sold on a first come, first served basis. Order Yours Today.

Being Frank – Think before you type

 

Brent Graves Cane Creek
Brent Graves, President and CEO

Let me be… um, frank. Some forum commenters are losers. Unwilling to use their real names, these commenters pontificate without accountability, common sense, tact, and in many cases knowledge. There have always been these types in the crowd, and I expect there will always be. But in the age when the heckler sounded off during the gathering of a village of a hundred, the person could be seen, challenged, evaluated, and disregarded if they spewed garbage. Now with amazingly powerful and portable digital devices, one can say anything, anywhere, anytime, in seconds, and invisibly without consequence.

As a young product manager I was told that one had to have thick skin to succeed. More specifically a successful product manager needed to develop a good and fast filter that enabled them to discern to whom to listen. Whether the message related to one’s product was positive or negative, it needed to be heard if the source was credible. That was easier to discern when customers expressed their opinions in person or in written letters, and product reviews were printed in monthly magazines. Now the sheer volume of voices on the internet can make one want to avoid it all. But the product manager must still be attentive to the credible feedback.

The recent introduction of the Cane Creek eeWings titanium crank received tremendous response, and we were certainly interested in what was being said. It turned out to be the biggest and best response the company has seen in years. While the hecklers were out there, they were outnumbered significantly. But the sheer stupidity of some of their statements stood out, while others were clearly misinformed or making reckless assumptions.

There were comments like titanium is soft, turns green over time, and is one of the most flexible metals. All of which are incorrect. Then there were the experts that said titanium cranks must be more flexible than carbon cranks and that spindle joint is not as durable as a splined or lobed interface. Well we’ve been testing cranks for months to ISO bicycle industry standards (required in Europe), and eeWings consistently flex significantly less than carbon cranks under a specific load and absorb more force before permanent deflection. This result is due to a combination of titanium’s superior stiffness compared to aluminum (remember, those carbon cranks are connected by an aluminum spindle), the lack of deflection in the titanium Hirth joint compared to an aluminum lobed joint, carbon fiber is great under tension but unidirectional fibers must be laid up carefully to handle bending and twisting loads that are translated to a shearing load at the spindle compared to titanium’s equal strength in all directions, and the fact that regardless of material, a tube’s stiffness is greatly impacted by the size and shape of its cross section. Early titanium frames were flexible because they were built from small diameter tubes whereas aluminum frames were much larger in diameter.

There were also the inexplicable comments such as the spindle parts do not look machined, the opportunity cost to the company was not worth it (how in the world would someone know what it cost us to develop eeWings and what we had to pass on to do so?), the SRAM ring interface is obsolete (the brand that made 1x reality for the masses and produces more 1x cranks/rings than anyone in the world), and the Chinese cannot weld titanium. The last is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the crank is not made in China.

I have a special place for the proclamation that the world does not need a $1,000 titanium crank. First, this begs the question of what any of us really needs to enjoy riding a bicycle much less just to survive. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re a bit past the fight for survival stage. Not to get philosophical, but we live in a WANT society and hopefully in relation to cycling the WANT is something that enhances our riding experience. Second, so a $450 carbon crank is attainable for some and subjectively deemed worthwhile – by those that have or can attain one! So maybe the rider with the $80 SLX aluminum crank thinks no one NEEDS at $450 carbon crank! Lastly, there are many, many things in life that I neither need nor can afford. However, some of those things I appreciate for their beauty, for the fact that someone achieved their dream, because they accomplished something others could not, or for the honorable reason of simply making the best possible thing. I’ll sign off with “to each his own.”