More expensive rides roll into Park City |

More expensive rides roll into Park City

After hosting the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the National Mountain Bike Series, Park City continues to cement its reputation as a premier cycling destination with a visit from American bike manufacturer Cannondale which began earlier this week and should wrap this weekend.

Cannondale, a specialty bike builder based in Connecticut, brought virtually its entire workforce as well as 250 bikes to Park City. The company also invited several hundred dealers from throughout the United States. This conference marks Cannondale’s largest gathering of the year and its biggest opportunity to demonstrate its newest products.

In many respects, the meeting most resembles an auto show in which manufacturers parade the latest designs in front of an audience of businessmen who make noises of pleasure or displeasure after each spec is mentioned. Bikes are introduced with video preludes and Cannondale personnel even go so far as to analyze the buying trends common to the purchasers of each bike. Some bike buyers are known to be avid drinkers of Diet Coke, for instance, while others repeatedly shave its legs.

Cannondale dealers see these products in continuous sessions that last from around 8 a.m. until the early afternoon. Following theses sessions, both dealers and Cannondale employees hit the trails around Park City. To test, and comment, on the new year’s models. For Cannondale employees, this is a unique opportunity to both see the fruits of its labors and to discuss what changes might best fit the bike for next year. Many of the employees look forward to these rides all year.

Many of the decisions that influence which bikes ultimately wind up in stores are made on trail. Virtually every model in Cannondale’s production line was on display and loan near Prospector Square for dealers to test ride. Cannondale even hired the services of White Pine Touring to both ferry cyclists and to lead rides on the local trails.

Although Cannondale has held its get-together in other locales, Bill Rudell, director of marketing, said that Park City is probably his favorite venue for the event. Park City, he continued, allows Cannondale clients and personnel to go on trail and road rides difficult enough to really gain an appreciation of its products. He wants people to ride by the Cannondale motto and "feel it" while testing its bikes.

Dealers felt its rides in the mountain trails surrounding the Rail Trail and on a long road loop out of Park City and through Kimball Junction. To promote its road bikes, Cannondale brought in team professional road cyclist Ivan Basso while Tinker Juarez, professional mountain biker, went on the mountain bike trails. Dealers seemed to gravitate toward its personal styles of riding as they took demo bikes onto the roads and trails.

The newest bike that people tested Cannondale’s week long foray into Park City was its new commuter model, "the Quick." In response to high gasoline prices, commuter bikes are quickly gaining a larger piece of the bike market. The Quick, which hits bike stores soon, is available in several different models varying in price from around $500 to $1,500. The premium carbon model, in some respects, could be the substitute for an expensive car as it integrates high-end design aspects borrowed from automakers as well as expensive components. This extremely light carbon model is designed specifically to appeal to people who have an established sense of style and income to match. Less expensive versions will not look as sleek, but still perform comfortably as commuter bikes.

Cannondale also introduced a completely new line of full-suspension mountain bikes called "Rize." The full-carbon-framed bike is mostly notable for its front suspension, a "Lefty" fork that integrates a technology called "PBR." Built as a response to other bikes that place suspension control on handlebars, the Push Button Remote fork places a button at the very top of the fork reachable to cyclists while riding. A single push of the button can lock out or release the shock so that a rider can control the amount of travel in its suspension without having to step off the bike.

Doug Dalton, product tester for Cannondale for 11 years and Park City resident for four years, was an instrumental part of bringing both Cannondale and the IMBA to Park City. "The infrastructure is perfect," he said. "Above all else, it’s just the trails."

Next month, Giant, a California-based manufacturer of bicycyles, will visit The Canyons where they will hold a meeting similar to Cannondale’s. Patrick VanHorn, corporate communications manager, said they couldn’t think of a prettier place to introduce its bikes.

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