Creation Process: Gorilla Monsoon
Above: the author outside Joshua Tree testing the prototype Gorilla Monsoon in January 2017
With the release of the Gorilla Monsoon, and because folks love getting peeks behind the curtain, we figured that now would be a great time to talk a bit about our design process and how we go about creating a new model.
How do we decide what we’re going to make?
We work ahead. We’ve already planned our models through 2021, because depending on the scope of the project (new dropouts, how many prototypes does it take to get right, etc) it can take anywhere from 2 to 2.5 years for a model to make its way to our dealers. This forces us to be creative and imagine what and where our riders, ourselves, and our dealers will want to be riding several years in the future.
For the Gorilla Monsoon, we’ve had plans to build a monster cross that would take our love of riding cross bikes to the most trail worthy, shreddy conclusion for the last six years. We’ve long known that fat tire drop bar bikes were awesome, but we never quite got around to the project as there was always something else that seemed more important. Then 2016 rolled around and we decided that now was the time.
A few things were happening at this moment that greatly shaped the outcome of the GM, namely that dropper posts were becoming ubiquitous and everyone wanted to start pushing their rides further and further out into the wilderness on bike camping and exploring missions. We like fun and are down with those things, and after our experience touring through the backwoods and fire roads of Tahoe on the Space Horse and our cross bikes (peep the video), we had enough of a great time to convince us that the monster cross needed to be exceptionally capable at long off-road endeavors in ways that those bikes were never intended to be.
We looked at our geometry plans and realized we could easily accommodate three water bottles, front and rear racks, fenders, and mounting for Surly’s great 8 and 24 pack racks without making any compromises to the handling of the bike. So boom, it got all the features.
Nate Choma and Chris from Defiance Bicycles in the Tahoe Area. It was rad, but we could have used more mounting options for our gear and bigger tires
How do we pick paint?
This also happens at the time of initial inception, and is the domain of our Art Director Saisha. She looks at what we’ve done, in the past, the use case and user profile for the bike (who, what, where, why), what is trending (so we can aim to potentially avoid it), and what was popular decades ago. As with many things All-City, we wear our influences on our sleeves and often look to the past for inspiration on creating the future.
aka, the fun shit….
It varies from bike to bike, but we basically toss all of our other bikes aside and ride the new thing. Ride it in every circumstance we can, in as many setups as we can, to figure out what’s wrong and what’s right.
For the Gorilla Monsoon, we received the protos in December when MPLS is snowbound, so I headed off to California to put this thing to action on some dirt. In all honesty I was pretty skeptical of the whole dropper thing, which the engineer and product manager were insistent about, and in one ride in California my mind was changed.
Climbing out of the city in the Verdugo Mountains, photo by the Radavist
To my great surprise I was actually using the dropper on long climbs in order to work different leg muscles and on the descents the low seat height allowed me to comfortably sit in the drops, where I had the most control, for extended periods of time. I was both sold and hooked. The dropper was well worth it.
Descending in the drops, photo by the Radavist
The hope is always that the bike is good out of the gate and no changes are needed before we can place our orders and get them out into the world. it takes somewhere around 3-4 months for us to have a prototype produced so if a second round of protos are needed, it greatly extends the development time line. Fortunately on this one, we felt like we nailed it and were ready to work on spec and get it ordered.
Spec is our Product Manager Max’s territory, and is based on intel from Nate our Sales Manager who sets the pricing targets based on feedback from shops, his own instincts and some market research. Max then takes that info and builds the best bike he can for the price target. Our litmus test is always “would I ride it,” “would a bike shop mechanic ride it?” The answer must always be “yes”.
This is often a very difficult job as we invest so much into the frame itself that it can be very difficult to compete on paper with bikes from companies whose frames cost way less to make because they don’t do the things we take so much pride in such as designing our own dropouts, frame parts, E.D. Coating, wet paint, etc. We’re not saying that our bikes are better or worse than any others, it just that each company must make choices based on what they believe in. Our goal is to bring beauty and detail back into production bicycles, this is our guiding principle. We don’t make Shimano or Sram, we make All-City’s. The frameset is what our riders invest in when they buy one of our bikes. That is where the heart of the money goes.
This is also the fun stuff, where we get to decide how to best present this bike to the world. We knew we wanted to get back to Tahoe and we knew we wanted to launch it with a rad lady. So we hit up our team rider Christina Peck, she brought her party shirt, and voila. Photo magic. We decided to shoot the bike naked, so that the frameset wasn’t obscured by bags, racks, or fenders. Also, as this is our shreddiest drop bar bike, we wanted to present it in its most ripping form.
And that our friends is how a Gorilla Monsoon is born. We hope that you are as stoked as we are about it.
Hitting stores early April.
You will be able to find the Gorilla Monsoon at the following partner shops:
|THE COMMUNITY BICYCLIST, INC||LITTLE ROCK||AR||thecommunitybicyclist.com|
|KISSING CROWS CYCLERY||VANCOUVER||BC||www.kissingcrowscyclery.com|
|HUCKLEBERRY BICYCLES||SAN FRANCISCO||CA||huckleberrybicycles.com|
|GOLDEN SADDLE CYCLERY LLC||LOS ANGELES||CA||goldensaddlecyclery.com|
|KING KOG OAKLAND||OAKLAND||CA||kingkog.com|
|ELEVATION CYCLES||HIGHLANDS RANCH||CO||http://www.elevationcycles.com/|
|CITY BIKE TAMPA LLC||TAMPA||FL||citybiketampa.com|
|GOLDFINCH CYCLERY||CEDAR RAPIDS||IA||WWW.GOLDFINCHCYCLERY.COM|
|FREDERICK VELO LLC||FREDERICK||MD||http://www.frederickvelo.com/|
|JOES BIKE SHOP||BALTIMORE||MD||joesbikeshop.com|
|ANGRY CATFISH BICYCLE SHOP + COFFEE||MINNEAPOLIS||MN||http://angrycatfishbicycle.com/|
|HUB BICYCLE CO-OP||MINNEAPOLIS||MN||thehubbikecoop.org|
|MICHAELS CYCLES||PRIOR LAKE||MN||michaelscycles-mn.com|
|OAK CITY CYCLING PROJECT||RALEIGH||NC||oakcitycycling.com|
|MONKEY WRENCH CYCLES||LINCOLN||NE||monkeywrenchcycles.com|
|BELMAR BIKE SHOP||BELMAR||NJ||belmarbikeshop.com|
|KING KOG BROOKLYN||BROOKLYN||NY||www.kingkog.com|
|CHAIN RING RHYTHM||EAST AURORA||NY||www.chainringrhythm.com|
|DIRTY RIVER BICYCLE WORKS||CUYAHOGA FALLS||OH||dirtyriver.bike|
|ROLL: DEVELOPMENT CO. LLC||COLUMBUS||OH||roll-online.com|
|PARADISE GARAGE LLC||COLUMBUS||OH||paradisegarage.com|
|WESTERN BIKE WORKS||PORTLAND||OR||https://www.westernbikeworks.com/|
|RIVER CITY BICYCLES||PORTLAND||OR||rivercitybicycles.com|
|FAT TIRE FARM||PORTLAND||OR||21stbikes.com|
|HUB CYCLERY LLC||BEND||OR||thehubcyclerybend.com|
|METROPOLIS CYCLE REPAIR||PORTLAND||OR||metropoliscyclerepair.com|
|BICYCLE REVOLUTIONS LTD.||PHILADELPHIA||PA||bicyclerevolutions.com|
|CITY CYCLE SUPPLY||JOHNSTOWN||PA||citycyclebikes.com|
|RACE READY REPAIR||CONROE||TX||WWW.RACEREADYREPAIR.COM|
|WEST END BICYCLE COMPANY||HOUSTON||TX||westendbikes.com|
|TRANSIT BICYCLE COMPANY||DALLAS||TX||transitbikes.com|
|BIKENETIC LLC||FALLS CHURCH||VA||bikenetic.com|
|SAINT CLOUD PTY LTD||FITZROY||VIC||www.saintcloud.com.au|
|DESCHUTES RIVER CYCLERY||OLYMPIA||WA||deschutesrivercyclery.com|