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by Dave Rome
July 20, 2020
Cannondale and GT appear to be following the lead of Cervelo and most boutique brands by removing year models from their websites and moving toward a series-based lifecycle for bikes. The news comes as the two sibling brands announced to dealers that they will release new bikes based on an actual calendar year, and not the somewhat confusing mid-season release that is the industry status quo.
These major changes are designed to ease the strain on dealers who traditionally have only a short window to sell bikes before being forced to discount stock at a loss.
Currently, much of the industry works on a timeline where new bikes are announced in the middle of the calendar year, directly in the middle of the peak riding season for the key European and North American markets. In turn, dealers are often left with stock gaps awaiting new models, while consumers expect discounts on the “old” ones.
This isn’t a new issue and the industry has long discussed the idea of making a change. It appears the current global pandemic was the catalyst for Dorel Industries Inc, the publicly-traded parent of Cannondale and GT, to finally take such a risk that could open dealer floors for competitors to move in with any change in supply.
Cannondale and GT hope to solve a long-standing issue that the existing sales cycles produce. Graph from cyclingindustry.news.
So what does this mean for you? We contacted Chad Moore, Cannondale’s media relations manager, to find out. “It means that when most people looking to buy bikes are ready to do so (springtime for most regions), they will be met with the freshest bikes from both Cannondale and GT at a time when it makes the most sense,” Moore told CyclingTips. “Instead of seeing all of the new bikes in June / July / August, when they are in the heart of the riding season, they see them at a time when it is most appropriate for their shopping experience.”
Cannondale and GT have already removed year models from their respective websites. And come the start of 2021, both brands will begin the new strategy of offering “Collections”, rather than labelled annual models.
In reality, these collections won’t be too different from the current norm. Fresh paint options will still arrive on an annual basis, and the bikes will exist for approximate three-year lifecycles between major overhauls. The exception here, at least in theory, is that shops won’t feel the pressure to discount and clear out bikes that are part of a continuing collection as there won’t be an advertised year model to age them.
“When a particular platform, such as SuperSix EVO or Grade, get completely refreshed, [then] that’s a different story and the change will be obvious,” Moore said. “However, year over year we will strive to make very small spec updates and simply come with new colors.
“In addition, we will carry over ‘core’ colors so that they live beyond just one Collection year. This also allows us to have some core colors that are, for lack of a better word, more mainstream and then some seasonal colors that come and go with each Collection. With that approach, we can say that a platform is relevant for around three years before it gets a complete overhaul.”
And what about those new model releases, the ones that often arrive inline with major races and events? According to Moore, “Yes, new models, major platform updates and key innovations will be somewhat of an exception. That said, we are going to always try to bring those to market at the same time as we refresh each Collection year. However, as you know, we are beholden to our suppliers and when they plan to release their own major updates. In those cases, we have to make challenging decisions that are in the best interest of our dealers and riders.”
In an article published on cyclingindustry.news, Russell Merry, General Manager of the UK market for Cannondale and GT said, “I think the biggest obstacle is the commercial bravery to try to lead and change the industry. We have had time to stop and think whilst meeting record demand. This is a global initiative that will require the support of our customers to see it succeed.”
And with that, as the customer, how do you feel about year models when shopping for new bikes? Does it matter, or have the likes of Ibis and Santa Cruz (and more recently Cervelo) had it right all along?