Looks like Ellsworth has a new owner, after less than 18 months with BST Carbon running things. I remember back a few years ago (ca. 2008), Ellsworth was THE bike to have, at least around here. To my mind, at least, they haven’t been relevant in quite some time. Is Ellsworth fading away very, very slowly?
I’m with you Aaron. Ellsworth was the bike to have for quite a while. Seems like they have dropped off the map over the past several years. I rarely see one on the trail anymore, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people ride them here in NorCal.
It’s a tough business, but less tougher for companies like Ellsworth who already made a name for themselves. It seems like it all comes down to a failure in marketing and brand recognition, because to my knowledge, I’ve never heard anything negative said about the products they produce. You can’t make a great bike and expect it to sell on it’s quality alone. Ellsworth was supposed to be at Outerbike last year and I was planning on test riding/writing 1-2 of their bikes…but they didn’t show. I wrote an email and asked why but never got an answer.
Titus is another good example. Started and sold by the very well respected Chris Cocalis, who now makes Pivot Cycles, Titus was put in a position to win after Cocalis sold it (there are some good articles out there as to why, but it was investor-related visionary differences), but they failed to produce. They had an enormous cult following at the time, and the “Racer X” was “the” boutique XC bike. They still have a cult following where they thrive in small circles in the Pacific NW, but they’ve failed to market the brand to the US. If it wasn’t for liking their facebook page as a former owner and fan of their products, I too would join most riders into thinking that On One just let them drop off the map. You never see them at demos or at Outerbike. You never see an ad for them. They don’t send their bikes out to magazines or online sites like Singletracks to get tested (talk about free advertising!). They don’t use social media very well to get the name out there. Maybe that is their intent if they want to remain a homegrown grassroots organization, but that seems like a very poor business strategy.
I’m no marketing guy, and I’m not saying I could do better, but as a rider…if I don’t hear about a bike, I don’t know it’s out there. Who here knows what a “Hightower” is? If you do, that’s what I’m talking about. It was only launched 24 hours ago, and lots of folks are talking about it…
Classic story of a good company with great quality, getting bought and sold as a commodity. Once “investor” groups or companies take over brands, they (typically) go to crap, and afterwards, struggle to regain momentum after they get sold again. They buy them for the revenue they produce, and more often than not, don’t have qualified people (meaning the investment company bean counters aren’t really bikers) and it’s all about cutting costs and making money. The passion and soul gets taken out of the company once the deal is done and job duties get transferred and absorbed by the Big Boy. I saw this first hand at a company I worked for for 10 years. It was a military / spec ops / LE company founded and run by the same, but once we were bought by a huge public company, people in suits with MBAs started deciding our direction, none of which had any military / LE / spec ops backgrounds. They were clueless, still are, and have taken that brand down. But it’s onto the next acquisition, and they mask the loss, ignorance and poor performance of that acquisition, in another one. Sad.
I think On-One has let Titus fall off the map. It probably wasn’t intentional, but my guess is their staff is stretched thin and they choose to focus on their own brand – even though they own other makes. Planet X, On-One’s US distributor, looks like it’s a place where brands go to die. I just saw some Tomac’s on their site!
I guess my thinking is, at some point it’s just time to let a brand go. And I think Ellsworth is at that point now. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to let your own brand go since Tony Ellsworth is still involved, but wouldn’t it be better just to start from scratch now? Sure, there’s name recognition there, but there’s also a lot of baggage.