Cannondale smartly puts its newest, most innovative bike front and center with the words "Meet Simon" and no other explanation. Upon clicking, the reader peeks at an unorthodox but stylish bike design that gives all who set eyes upon it the fair warning that these Cannondale bikes might not be like everybody else’s, and that this bike manufacturer doesn’t care if its bike doesn’t fit in perfectly, as long as it is very well-made. The image alone of the new bike named Simon is showing that Cannondale is interested in innovation, in moving the bar higher toward creating better bikes.
That has proven to be true over the company’s history as it has built more and more innovative bike frames and components that are now used worldwide by professionals and amateurs alike.
Some thought clearly went into the site’s language as well. Readers can sign up for a newsletter by joining the ChainGang. And it subtly has Cannondale-related news headlines flipping through, one after the other, on the home page as well.
It sounds crowded on the home page but much like their products, all the machinery meshes together to make a smoothly flowing site. While the site puts its products right up front – well-designed, straightforward sections include Bikes, Apparel, and Gear – the company philosophy starts to become clear in the Cannondale Planet section, in which it chronicles why it likes to fight “the good fight.” That is to say, not “an altercation at the corner pub with some guy who called us out for wearing a bike helmet” but big things that mostly focus on the cycling lifestyle and the environment.
Whether it’s riding your bike to work, going “quietly past the bored multitudes stuck inside tin coffins on the expressway during rush hour,” or supporting projects that help inspire more people to ride or create more and better places for people to ride such as giving an entire freshman class of a Wisconsin college Cannondales, the company is actively involved in finding new and better ways to do these things. Clearly, Cannondale dedicates money, time, and effort toward many bike-related causes, which has got to help some consumers decide that this is their chosen brand.
This kind of thoughtfulness toward the planet is to be commended, but one also hopes that Cannondale can make smarter business choices for itself as well. Back in the late 1990s, the company made a fateful error and decided to get into manufacturing off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Those product lines ended up being sold at a loss and that financial drain forced the company into bankruptcy protection in 2003. The bicycle division was sold to Pegasus Capital Advisors that same year and then sold again to Dorel Industries, which moved the bikes’ manufacturing from America, where it had been from the start, to Taiwan.
The lack of a “Made in America” sticker on its products doesn’t seem to be slowing the company in the slightest. Cannondale seems committed to building its relationship with every consumer of its products. Under the Cannondale Planet section heading is also a collection of downloads and videos for the ardent Cannondale fan. The videos represent something that the site does well throughout: The talking head gives visitors a one-to-one kind of feel, a sense of intimacy that serves the brand well.
The Support area also establishes an air of closeness to its consumers. Not only does it provide all the manuals and instruction books here in case you left them in the trunk of your tin coffin or back at home, but it has an area for Cannondale customers to post any cycling-specific questions and get public answers from “Brad.” Some of the previous questions and answers may come across as gobbledy-gook to the non-cycling obsessed, but the concept of such a service warms the heart in a world where such one-to-one service is disappearing. Still, the last time someone posted a question was last July, so one hopes Cannondale doesn’t have someone waiting intently at his computer each day.
The company also sponsors a few professional cycling teams, including Team Liquigas, with Ivan Basso, one of the world’s top cyclists, as its leader. Information for these teams can be found in the News portion of the site, which also provides news on new products as well.
A very effective tool on the site is the Dealer Locator, which can handle international requests as well as for consumers who want to find stores that specifically sell cycling tools or apparel or footwear.
The website reflects the Cannondale brand promise: to serve every possible cycling need or provide a forum to help accomplish that. In a world where service seems to be getting shunted aside due to the lack of time by the few employees left at many organizations, it is kind of refreshing to find a place that seems to seek out the individual need and direct its attention to each consumer. The site’s general relaxed but knowledgeable and service-heavy feel serves this high-end brand well.