BikeRadar's technical editor, James Huang, has decided to branch out beyond the world of journalism by launching his own carbon fibre bicycle componentry company called cc: (say ‘carbon copy’).
According to Huang, cc: will exclusively sell direct to consumers online via the company website and will offer the most comprehensive range of real carbon fibre components – not wrapped carbon or ‘faux’ carbon – of any current entity.
Regularly in-stock items will include the usual suspects such as handlebars, stems, seatposts, saddles and rims but also more cutting-edge items such as cables and housing, brake pads, handlebar tape, and even bearings.
“I wanted to include the bread-and-butter stuff but also decided to take the risk on some unproven bits that could potentially offer big performance advantages,” he said.
“The bearings are especially intriguing as they replace one of the last bastions of heavy steel on a bicycle. They’re not super-round and roll a little rough but the weight savings should more than make up for the increase in friction.”
Interestingly, Huang plans to do no engineering work or independent testing whatsoever. Instead, he plans to source all of the items straight from established Asian manufacturers using ready-made designs and moulds and will rely on the manufacturers' own in-house testing to ensure safety.
“Though it’s not the norm, some companies already just buy ‘pre-fab’ parts from these companies, slap their label on them and then call them their own anyway,” he said. “I figured if they can do it, so can I – plus I can get better pricing on most of the stuff since I’m blood-related to most of my vendors anyway. Some buyers might recognise some familiar shapes from other brands but mine are absolutely better.”
One might assume that this direct-from-factory model would result in lower prices but Huang plans to do the exact opposite. In fact, cc: parts will be priced substantially higher – by as much as 50 percent or more – than even pricey brands such as Zipp and Reynolds in order to instantly garner some exclusivity and cachet.
“Over the last few years as technical editor of Cyclingnews – and now BikeRadar – I’ve come to find that people will believe that just about anything is top notch if it has a high enough price tag,” he admitted.
“I mean, seriously, who in their right mind is going to admit to their buddies that they just spent US$600 on a handlebar and don’t actually like it?”
One area potential buyers certainly won’t take issue with, however, is cc:’s surprisingly generous lifetime warranty policy. No matter the type or age of the part or reason for dissatisfaction – be it a grass stain, user error or ‘JRA’ catastrophic failure – simply return the item to cc: and the user will get a new one in return with shipping being the only cost paid out of pocket.
“I believe that anyone paying that kind of money for something should at least receive unparalleled support in return,” Huang said. “And given how little I’m paying for these things, I figure I could replace every item sold 10 times over and still end up with a big wheelbarrow full of money to push around.”
Huang says his cc: web store quietly went live last week and has already taken several orders merely through word of mouth. He has provided himself with an array of test samples so expect to see several reviews – which he promises will remain objective in spite of the apparent conflict of interest – on both BikeRadar and Cyclingnews in the coming months.
For more information, check out the company website.