King: If you’re going to pay a lot of money — we don’t make a lot of money on what we do, no one is getting rich — but our stuff is expensive. We try to make sure that for that money that you spend, that you get as much as you can possibly get. From the finish to the function, all of that. You wouldn’t expect to buy a Ferrari with an orange-peel paint job. It’s got to have everything, right? The finish and stuff is all very important to us. We continue to try to be the best at that as we can, and make the strides that we can as we can afford to do it, and try to make everything back really compatible.
Beaudin: What, mechanically, drives you just nuts? What haven’t you been able to solve that you’ve wanted to solve, on a bicycle or perhaps in life?
King: That’s a fun thing to ask a question about. As you enter the field or realm of doing this stuff, you could have that kind of thing in mind, right? I want to do this, or I want to do that. But as you do this for a long period of time, you realize that it’s way more complicated than that. And that, there’s issue of practicality and quality and perception that all kind of complicate how all of this works. You do have to ultimately boil it back down to some simple concepts, which is: we wanted to be the best experience for the user, whether that’s the price of it, the function of it, the longevity of it, the appearance of it. All of that stuff has to weigh in with — I don’t want to say equal parts — but with balanced parts. To be able to isolate any particular aspect of that and say ‘I want to tackle just this one thing,’ and then say ‘now I’m done with that,’ well, there’s usually these other things involved in it. So you can’t say ‘God, I want to make this the lightest.’ Does that make it the best? No. That’s a part of it, but it’s not all of it. So I can’t say that there’s one particular thing that has been the stumping whatever that is about solving one problem. It’s usually a bunch of [problems]. When you look at it that way, it becomes a much more challenging problem. How do you solve this and make a thousand of them the same? Because a lot of [problems] you can solve on one or on a few. You know, ‘I want to make the rear hub quieter, well I got a little trick I can do to lap those teeth in a little bit, and it’ll really quiet it down.’ Can we do that to every one of them? Not practically. Maybe. Do we need to? No, we have a lot of people calling up and saying: “Oh, we love the noise that it makes!” I would have never guessed that. I intended to make a silent hub, and it came out being re-beaded, right? And no one wants to let go of that! Ok! So, I don’t always use my judgment as the final judgment of the way things should be as perfection. We take the feedback and work with that. Once again, that’s about satisfying the customer to give them as much as they can possibly get for what they are paying for.
Beaudin: So you did the headset, the hubs, the frames, all the small parts, the bottom brackets. Is there anything left for you? A next step?
King: Oh, there’s always stuff left. Next step? No, it’s just a continuation of the same stuff. What’s the next component going to be? I don’t know. Is there going to be bearings in it? I don’t know. There’s more stuff. You can look at the bike, we don’t occupy every spot on the bike. Some guy asked me about brakes today, and I said ‘well, ok.’ The insurance company doesn’t like brakes, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to stop us, right? Is there really a lacking in the industry for good brakes? What’s an item that there really is a lacking in the industry for something good? Maybe that’s our next target. So that’s how we kind of look at that stuff. What’s it going to be?
King: Well, that could be one of them. I won’t give away any secrets, but that could be one of them. There are other places that would be obvious too that we’re looking at. Is it going to be complicated? Is it going to be mechanical? Is it going to be bearings? I don’t know. Not very many bearings left. Pedals, that’s another high-liability item. Does the industry need another concept in pedals?
Beaudin: We’ve been waiting on that Garmin Vector for a while.