Last modified: March 29, 2013

Product Development: When Things Don’t Make It

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I've been wanting to share the tale of the now canceled Macho King cantilever (a Zona version of the Macho Man) for a while now, but I've been afraid to show you something that you can't have.  We've been getting a bunch of questions about a Zona Macho lately, and as I feel there are a number of interesting behind the scenes info / how AC works aspects of the story, this is my attempt to let you know what happened and why.

Now a lot of people have warned me not to share this kind of information, for a number of reasons:
a. people will bitch and complain that they can't get one
b. consumers don't need to know this level of background detail
c. you're letting competitors know what you're working on
d. competitors will know your capabilities and testing standards

So what I'm getting it is that we're taking a risk by letting  you in on the goings on behind the scenes, please don't hassle us about it.  It is what it is. We're bummed out too that it's not a reality.  But those are the breaks.  We're moving on.

While it's a touchy subject, if the old Bridgestone catalogs have taught me anything, it's that bike nerds are always stoked to learn about manufacturing and design process.  Why we do what we do, etc.

The concept:
make the most amazing cantilever bike we can before cantilevers become obsolete, and push the boundaries of what a production bike can be.

This was to be our most "handbuilt" frame (though of course all of our frames are handbuilt) in that it would include a level of detail and complexity that none of our other bikes posess. 

To that end we decided to give it "full internal" cable routing (though it is external on the chain stay), with a quadruple top tube and a double downtube piercing.  We would also make it out of the always delightful Columbus Zona tubeset and give it a more heritage english BB shell. 

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the now canceled Macho King proto

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racing the proto at Bandit Cross
 

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the double top tube and single downtube inlets

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visible is a custom seat collar that we're working on, the finished version should be even more refined. No ETA available

We actually received first round proto's fairly early last year and commenced ride testing.  They rode amazing as you would expect any frame built with high grade steel to do and the quality of the construction left nothing to be desired.  They were flipping flawless.  

I'll let you judge for yourself, but in our eyes they were simply gorgeous.  The paint scheme remains my favorite to date (rest assured it will be used on something somewhere down the line), and the clean lines of the bike were positively NAHBSian. 

We knew we had a real winner, even writing this revisiting the project I'm getting all misty about what could have been. 

So what happened?

Well testing happened.  I'm sure you're aware that most bicycle companies perform some sort of testing to ensure that their bicycles are safe.  We over at All-City actually use the European Union standards which are harsher and stricter than their American counterparts.  Now the thing about testing is that modern standards were not really designed for steel.  They were designed for aluminum and their appropriateness for steel is a question of some debate.  The metals don't act or react the same. 

That said, they are the standards to which we've decided to hold to, in order to ensure that frames that wear an AC badge can stand up to the punishment that we know you dish out. In the Macho King we had a frame which 40 years of steel bike design and our own riding tells us is perfectly safe and reasonable, yet it didn't pass our requirements.  There was no question of what to do, we would go back to the drawing board and try again.

So we worked with Columbus to produce a custom Zona tube (I'm not saying which tube or how it failed because some information needs to remain proprietary to All-City, and we'd like to keep some of what we learned close to the vest) and tried again.  This time it made it through almost all of the required cycles but ultimately came up short.  We were close but running out of time as we wanted it to arrive in June 2013 in time for cyclocross selling season.

Due to the high sample and testing cost, and because we were also working on the 612 Select disc version, we decided to simply cancel the bike and focus instead completely on our disc development.  It was a sad and difficult decision, but ultimately the correct one for the brand.  We certainly haven't given up on doing a higher end version of our steel cross bike, it's just that it won't happen in canti.

We shot for the moon and came up a bit short, but we learned a lot from doing this project.  We pushed our frame builders, we pushed our supply chain, and we got to work with Columbus on designing a custom tube.  We have a better idea of what our capabilities are and what our partners can accomplish.  It's not coming out, but the project was far from a waste of time.

This was intended as a mic drop product that ultimately failed, yet from it's ashes emerged the Macho Man Disc and way cooler shit to come. 

Stay tuned.

Comments image

Chris Bonner

March 29, 2013

Sometimes the truth is the hardest part.
As long as you have learned from it, the company can move on and develop way cooler bikes, and awesome technology.

If we didn’t aim for the stars we’d never have got to the moon.

Its refreshing to see a company put safety before profit as well. As from the way I read the article it sounds like it would pass US tests ;)

Ivan Stone

March 29, 2013

What a beauty.
What a pity.
But ultimately the right decision.
Now to focus on a Nature Boy Zona disc ;)

Nick

March 29, 2013

Macho Man Disc Zona is going to be the coolest bike I have ever seen.

Alex

March 29, 2013

Really glad you posted this. I’ve been holding off from buying a Macho Man because I thought the Zona version must be just around the corner.

Personally I’d be interested in a lightweight Macho Man, i.e more butted tubes and none of the (relatively) heavy internal routing.

Great article though, I’m sure everyone appreciates the explanation.

Will

March 29, 2013

Thanks for posting this, interesting to read. That seat collar is very nice.

Also, +1 on the Macho Man Disc Zona!

Evan T

March 29, 2013

To the All City Staff;

Thanks for putting this out. I’m a shop employee and the owner of a Mr. Pink and a Thunderdrome, and it’s nice to get a simple up front answer to what happened.

I still am waiting for a high quality steel CX frame and I suppose I’d like to make the point that what I want as a professional mechanic and avid racer is a externally routed frame (ease of maintainance), BB30 (stiffness), steel (pure joy of the ride), external cup head tube (personal preference, I despise internals… But that’s another rant for another place), disc specific (it’s a race bike, not a nostalgia bike), with some aesthetic touches for beauty (dropouts, lugs, seat post collars etc.).  I kinda would like a Specialized CruX disc, but it’s not in steel.

Stay classy y’all.

Robert

March 29, 2013

Thanks for sharing. Although I was saving up for the day you released this bike, it’s great to get closure to the rumors.

Thomas

March 29, 2013

+2 on the Macho Man Disc Zona. By the way, I don’t know much about the 612 select. How does that compare with 4130 and Zona?

Brad M

March 29, 2013

Like many others, I’m waiting for a Macho Man Disc Zona.  For what it’s worth, I’ll put in another plea to keep the cable routing external.  Internal routing has a list of negative compromises, and in my eyes not one positive attribute.  Also, the rear brake guides should be hose-compatible for those of us that would like to use a flat bar + hydros.  Thanks for listening.

Gibbs

March 30, 2013

Gorgeous bike—but I can’t feel too much regret, since the sexy AC zona cross frames are never made small enough for a woman of average height so this bike never would have been an option for me, anyways.

Michael

March 30, 2013

Tragic, because that sounds super epic. But very cool to hear a bit about the process.

Now, Nature Boy Zona Disc? You would have me immediately. Feel free to send unproven prototypes!

Harrison

March 30, 2013

Thanks for the up front answer.

I’m digging around for a commuter and gravel/cyclocross racer. I was pointed towards steel and in-particular Zona. The Macho Man is growing on me, but the prospect of having a Zona Macho Man is tempting to wait…

Jake

March 31, 2013

I plan on getting the Macho Man Disc once it comes out. However I have one concern about this bike, and that is that the brake mounts are not post style. I really hope that in the future years to come and models down the road that all-city revisits this and makes some revisions for a post mount system. Besides that one little thing im totally stoked on the Macho Man Disc! HURRY AND RELEASE HER ALREADY!!!!!

Anthony

May 27, 2013

That is one beautiful bike!  I love the attention to detail that you guys labour over. Bit of a shame it didn’t quite make it. Looking forward to the release of the Macho Man Disc down under.  Keep up the great work.

CX Hot Dog

February 5, 2014

Am I missing something?  How does the Zona Nature Boy pass testing standards but the Zona Macho King does not?  These frames are identical with the exception of the dropouts as far as I can see.  If it was the top or downtube internal cable routing that created the failing tube, external routing could have fixed that.  So I feel like maybe it was QBP corporate BS that killed this frame more than testing.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love my Macho Man!  So much that I paid to have mine custom painted with a matching enve fork. It rides amazing and I can stear it with my hips like a race bike.  My regret I’d that it will be my “B” bike as it’s a bit heavy.  Zona would have fixed that!  Also, disc is awesome for commuting and gravel, but once the wet mud hits the rotors, your pads are done.  The non-pro racers are going to have disc failure at some point.  Canti ones are lighter in steel and more reliable, and that’s a fact!  The new seat clamp is pimp!

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