In the words of Cleveland CycleWerks' co-founder, Scott Colosimo, "we build the bikes, you live the dream."
As a rider myself, I can safely say that Cleveland CycleWerks (CCW) manufactures some very cool looking bikes and sells them at a reasonable, entry-level price point. So, if you are looking to "live the dream," a CCW bike may be the place to start your search.
The CCW value proposition starts with good design. Every rider that I know wants a bike that looks good to their eye and makes them feel proud to ride it. It's no wonder that CCW bikes boast eye-catching designs. After all, Colosimo is a Cleveland Institute of Art graduate who refined his design chops at companies like Johnson Controls and Dirt Devil before joining forces with CCW co-founder Jarrod Streng to form Cleveland CycleWerks.
But, design is only half the value prop equation. Price is the other half. What's different about CCW bikes when compared to other larger manufacturers is their price. You can get into a CCW bike for under $5000, delivered. This wouldn't cover even a third of the cost of doing a custom build from a base Harley bike, for example.
In fact, if you're a regular reader of my column then you know that I wrote a piece on Harley last month that suggested that it needed a brand overhaul because HD's future rests with the next generation of motorcycle riders, who don't have the money to ride their father's motorcycle. CCW offers an alternative that may be quite attractive to a new rider who wants a nice looking bike that they can handle (lighter weight, smaller engine) at a reasonable price.
Challenges to Overcome
While CCW is on its way in doing great things, it does have its fair share of challenges to overcome in order to guarantee its long-term success. These include issues related to domestic brand recognition, distribution, service delivery and access to capital.
For instance, branding is an issue for the company in the United States. While CCW sells its products worldwide, and has distribution in 23 countries, it is highly recognized in India and Thailand, where its bikes have grown in popularity due to their hip designs and decent price points. But, they've got little brand recognition domestically. There's a need for CCW to create a buzz in the US marketplace to spur the growth that's needed for the company to flourish.
Finding a CCW dealer in the US is another challenge. It's tough to sell a bike in the States, if you can't find a place to see it and give it a ride. While the firm has plans to improve the situation, it needs to put those plans in action in order to drive the sales in the US.
With the lack of domestic distribution capabilities comes a service challenge, too. It's likely that an improvement in distribution will improve service delivery, as sales and service are often driven under the same roof. But, again, building a network of qualified independent garages with quick access to parts can go a long way in keeping CCW's value proposition front and center in the minds of bike buyers in the US.
Like every other small business doing business on a global scale (Besides the US, CCW manufactures its parts in Korea, China, Taiwan and South Africa), access to the capital needed to support its growth initiatives is a challenge. But, of course, that problem can be overcome with exceptional business planning and a product that can sell.
To close, Cleveland CycleWerks is a modern, global small business born in the USA and it has a product that is worth considering, especially within that all important Millennial market segment. If they catch on with the Gen Y / Gen Z rider, they'll have the hook needed to keep those customers for many years to come. From the outside looking in, I believe that CCW just may have what it takes to give the "big boys" a run for their money.