First off, Merry Christmas everyone!
Thank you to those customers who alerted me of the issues being discussed here. I shouldn’t be writing on a forum on Christmas Day but out of respect for my loyal customers who have been running my brakes on several bikes for over a decade and who may be following this thread, and for the moderators of this forum who hate to see threads turn petty, and also out of respect to those who have a legitimate protest due to some less than acceptable behavior or support … here is my response:
There are a few points made in this thread that are valid but there are some that are just plain wrong. Let me first address the valid points. There are the three things that I think would motivate the negative comments in this thread. One, a competitor trying to devalue the competition, two, an unreasonable forum abuser, and third, a disgruntled customer … it is the disgruntled customer that I hope to appease.
Almost two years ago, Ciamillo suffered major production delays and customer service diligence issues. I say diligence because there has never been an intent here to take advantage, take someone’s money, or leave them hanging with any issues. Due diligence and execution of customer support is directly related to not only the degree of intent to satisfy the customer but also the resources to do so. The recession put a strain on a lot of companies and we were no exception. I am not using the recession as an excuse but rather an explanation for not having the resources to handle the 200+ daily emails we receive regarding all sorts of inquiries from sales, to sponsorship, tech support, warranty, etc. For any of you who were a victim of a support shortcoming, I am truly sorry for your experience. But beyond saying I’m sorry, I have been quick to understand the frustration in a situation and take steps to make up for dropping the ball. Sometimes I set optimistic timelines that often fail to be met due to some unforeseen problem. But there are also many deadlines I have set which are completed ahead of schedule… for the ones in which I drop the ball, I do take responsibility. I often upgrade an order to a more expensive model if I miss the quoted time for delivery, … if a mistake is made on a custom order, I often ask the customer to keep the incorrect product and supply a second correct one at no charge. I express packages whenever there is a setback in my shop due to a machine being down, a tool being broken, materials not delivered on time, employee sickness, final inspection rejects, materials certifications not meeting minimum requirements, out of tolerance batch runs, etc. The point is, my customers are extremely important to me. I am the designer. I run an artisan operation. I have my family name on my product. I am proud of what I do and I enjoy making people happy with what I make. If a mistake is made, I will over-compensate to make things right. In fact, I now have just as many people helping me handling customer support these days as I do helping me build product.
• a brilliant, ethically motivated MBA, Bob Oliva (firstname.lastname@example.org
• an extremely caring customer service director, Kristi Hutchinson (email@example.com
For the points that are not valid…
Incorrect point: Zero G Crank
First, this carbon/aluminum crank project is called the Ciamillo Gravitas Crank not the Zero G crank. The details of the project are being posted on a blog at http://www.caw-designs.com
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. Zero G is the model of brake that I started my business with in 2002 and I was doing business then as Zero Gravity. The name changed to Ciamillo when the Negative G came to market. In the future, Zero G will refer to a lower price point level of my designs and may include an all aluminum crank similar to the current modular design (more on the design later).
Incorrect point: I came here looking to get seed money from WW members and conducted a shady bait and switch.
I did not post anything about my pre-order on WW. I sent an email to my database of existing customers promoting a pre-order offering. Please note the nature of a “Pre” – order… it implies “pre-production” but implicit representation was not extended to the customers who contacted me to participate. I explicitly stated that the original design at the launch of the pre-order was still under development, that the design may change, and that the weight may change during the testing process. If you are one of the 100 pre-order customers and you are not happy with the delays and the changes in the design, I am happy to refund your money. Of the 100 people who pre-ordered, 2 have asked for their money back and they both received their money within days of requesting. Again, I did not start either of the two posts regarding my project… it was customers hoping they were doing you and me a favor by making you aware of this project and the discount offer being extended in exchange for feedback. Many of the customers have unique projects, different sizes, BBs, even MTB applications. The overwhelming majority of these customers are just as excited to work with us as we are with them.
I’d like to address the comments made about the PR blunder and the shady business practice of asking for a 50% deposit on a product still in development. The offer in return was for a deep discount and to be one of the first to receive a new component. Only 2% have asked for their money back and their reason for requesting the money back was, for one, due to the engineering and design changes, and for the other, that he was presented a very good deal on another crank design. If these folks were not happy with the new design, they had every right for a refund and we gave it to them. Not to beat a dead horse here but this model, using customers as investors in a new project, is not new, nor created by me, and was not concealed.
Regarding the new crank design…
Many know that I attempted a crank a few years ago and got my ass kicked. The economy was strong then and money was good. I was distracted with the marketing campaign for high performance monofin and development of the fin at the same time. I had little experience with carbon fiber but was optimistic about the ability to make a superlight crank from 7075 that came in as stiff as Dura-Ace. I spent a lot of money and time on several prototypes and concluded that aluminum was not going meet my requirements.
I dropped the crank project and decided to learn to work with carbon fiber on a new brake called the Gravitas. A WW member (juanmoretime) received the first prototype over two years ago and it has been on his bike ever since. I have built over 2000 sets in the past two years and have refined the process of compression molding carbon fiber parts. I designed the parts, machined my own molds and worked out methods of producing the strongest parts quickly. My confidence in carbon fiber parts fabrication is strong so I took on the Gravitas Crank project with my French distributor Olivier Bally. Together we resolved the details of an aero-carbon-fiber crank design in BB30. The project started with wanting to utilizing some methods I had developed in compression molding the Gravitas carbon fiber brakes. When the prototype was finished, the next step was to begin testing and duplicate tooling and fixtures for production. I like to do things in parallel so many of the prototyping fixtures and molds were made at the production level using mold steel and well made fixtures. I had a lot of money already invested in the original Gravitas crank design. The flex testing producing fantastic results with the bending loads but there was more torsional flex than I was comfortable with. The bugs I was working out with the design were minor but still had my attention at the time of the pre-order and they were as follows:
1. Excessive torsional flex.
2. Slight play developing over time with the aluminum spindle and carbon arm interface.
3. Too heavy.
I began working on the torsional flex problem first and was hopeful that some modifications to the carbon core would solve the problem. I began to focus on the orientation of the fibers but the compression molding process I was working with was limiting the number of fibers I had running in the direction of the spindle axis. The other two fiber directions were fine. At the same time I was incorporating the other two problems into a solution. That is when the idea for basing the structure around carbon tubes was born. The idea for the tubes solved all problems but it was a bitter sweet realization. Not only had I presented a design that would end up being quite different from where I was headed, I also had a lot of time and money invested in tooling that would then be obsolete. The pains were worth it and the more I developed the current design the happier I became with it. From the pics, evaluation is difficult but the modularity of the design, the core of the structure resting in the engineering of simple tubes, and the super robust locking system for the tubes to the alloy parts makes this design not only great but creates ample room for tweaking custom length, custom strength, and yes, custom weight. With the design robustness and strength resting squarely on the proper engineering of the tubes, I decided to take the sophistication of perfect tube engineering out of my hands and into the hands of a composite engineer whose business is dedicated to engineered carbon fiber tubes. Working with high-modulus carbon, we have engineered the tubes for a proper balance of torsional and bending stiffness as well as strength. Another core feature of the design is how we lock these tubes to the transition pieces. What I call the Pinned Tube System (PTS, patent pending) creates a robust locking system for the high strength carbon fiber tubes to the transition pieces of the Crankset (the pedal end and the base). If you look at the photo below, you can see the four large hollow blue aluminum tubes pressed into the transition pieces. The holes for these tubes are bored after the carbon tubes are epoxied into place. The bored holes intersect the carbon by almost half the diameter of the tube so when the aluminum pins are pressed into place they create a key to the carbon tubes which lock them into place. The large surface area of the pins perpendicular to the tube axis easily contains the torsional load on the large .590 diameter of the individual tubes.
gravitas-crank-2-small.jpg [ 36.53 KiB | Viewed 1537 times ]
Hopefully my response is adequate but again if there is anything that is not addressed properly regarding past, present, or future customer support, please contact me, Kristi, or Bob at:
Ted Ciamillo 770-364-7933, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristi Hutchinson, email@example.com
Bob Oliva, firstname.lastname@example.org