| A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and alliances. - Wikipedia|
Maybe more than any other country, Germany has long embraced the idea of buying mountain bikes directly. In a market where customers tend to place more emphasis on value and technical details rather than brand, it is the natural home for this business model. A few years ago you could spot these bikes a mile away - they tended to feature a generic frame, decked out with high-end components and as many cables and levers as you could possibly fit onto a handlebar. It is fair to say that you could not sell many of them outside the German market they were designed for.
Canyon were one of the first of these brands to look towards wider horizons, to start to make bikes for an international market. That meant going back to the drawing board and putting together bikes that can not only win the coveted magazine tests in their homeland, but could be competitive on a world stage. In no small part due to their work with Fabien Barel, today their bikes are towards the forefront of "modern geometry" and proven race-winners in the Enduro World Series. This what makes Canyon such a disruptive force in the mountain bike market - their current bikes are on a par with the established top brands in terms of quality and performance, yet through their direct sales model they can keep the price significantly lower. We visited their headquarters in Koblenz, Germany to take a look at how they prepare the bikes for their customers.
Every aspect of every component that Canyon put their name to is tested against a myriad of loads and stresses - from impacts on the headtube, to how much force the dropout can take, depending on the test they may face 100,000 cycles or having the force or load increased and increased until the material can no longer take it.
If you're going to produce 100,000 bikes per year you're going to need quite a lot of kit to do that, so you're going to need a lot of space to store the frames, components and finished bikes.
Within just a few steps the frame becomes recognisable as a bicycle, rather than an assortment of components.
The fully assembled bikes are setup to shop standard - all the gears are indexed, brakes tested and alignment of the contact points setup. The mechanics take each bike for a quick spin up and down the hall floor to make sure everything is working order, so the customer can take the bike out of the box and, after some minimal reassembly, get out and ride.