Podcast: Brad DeVaney of Litespeed / OBED – 30+ Years in the Bicycle Industry

podcast brad devaney litespeed

Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, sits down this week with bicycle industry veteran Brad DeVaney. Brad has been with Litespeed Titanium and most recently OBED Bicycles since the early 1990’s. Brad has an infectious passion for cycling that shines through in this conversation.

Litespeed WebsiteOBED Website (JOM of Gravel Cyclist has a GVR in for review)

Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport

I’m your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don’t need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.

This week on the podcast. We welcome Brad Davine from Lightspeed and obit bicycles.

If you’ve been around bicycles for a while, you’re probably familiar with the Lightspeed titanium brand. They’ve been building bikes out of Tennessee since the late 1980s. Brad joined the team as a young man in the early 1990s. And has been following his passion within the titanium frame building industry.

For many, many years since he’s worked with the likes of Greg Lamond and the LA Sheriff’s cycling team, he’s worked on projects for NASA and done a ton of exciting things for the industry. You won’t meet someone who’s more friendly and passionate about the sport of cycling. So we were happy to hear when they turned their attention to gravel cycling.

A handful of years ago. In addition to the Lightspeed brand. The company also owns the obit brand. Obit is a direct consumer carbon brand that has been making inroads for the last few years. I’ve really been impressed by. Both the refinement of the design in the obit frame set its modern day gravel bike.

But equally impressed with the amount of customization that the team has been able to build into your process. You can customize the paint and decal logos on the obit models before they’re delivered to your door directly. I encourage you to check both brands out and give a listen to this conversation. I think you’ll get a lot out of Brad’s experience and how he contextualizes.

The different performance between titanium frames and carbon frames. Before we dive in i need to thank a new sponsor this week our friends over at trek travel.

Those avid listeners may recall. I had you in Shepard from truck travel on the show. Back in episode 98 and September of 2021. To talk about the Jarana. On a gravel experience. Since that time I’ve been eyeing a trip with our friends at Trek travel. I was so excited. Jarana comes up so often.

In both road and gravel cycling as a place you have to discover. Certainly after that conversation with UN I was completely committed ultimately to getting over there. It took a while COVID got in the way, but I’m now settled in, on a trip on November 6th through 10th. This year in 2022, and I wanted to invite you to join me. I figured it’d be a great opportunity. I know it’s not easy to get over to Europe. There’s both the expense and the time you’ll need to take.

But I couldn’t be more thrilled to commit to this trip with Trek travel and to explore the fabulous trails around Gerona.

We’ll be staying right in the heart of Gerona at the hotel. Nord. To experience everything the city has to offer.

The track team is going to design some gravel rides around the undulating and rolling Hills around your Rona to make sure that we experience everything we can. During that week in Spain. I know I’m going to train my butt off to try to be fit because I want to ride. Everything that’s possible to ride in the area. I know this trip gives a lot of flexibility for riders to explore and ride as much, or as little as they want.

During the week. So there’ll be options for everybody. I know it’s going to be a killer experience and I’m hoping and optimistic that some of you will be able to join me.

I’ll put a link in the show notes for the Jarana gravel bike tour, where you can simply visit Trek, travel.com and search Jarana gravel bike tour.

I’ll be working with the Trek travel team to put together a little something special for any gravel ride podcasts guests that joined us on that trip. I very much, I’m looking forward to seeing some of you November six through November 10th in Spain. With all that said let’s jump right into my conversation with brad davine from lightspeed and obit bicycles

 

[00:04:19] Craig Dalton: hey, Brad, welcome to the show.

[00:04:21] Brad DeVaney: Oh, it’s great to be with you, Craig.

[00:04:23] Craig Dalton: I’m excited to continue our conversations. We’ve interacted a couple times over the years, but it’s great to kind of have you on the podcast and just learn a little bit more about you.

[00:04:32] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. Yeah. It’s yeah, there’s a lot of history, right? I mean, the and, and the topic at hand, you know, the, the gravel category it’s It’s that it’s that common meeting spot where you all seem to be finding these days with with old friends and.

[00:04:46] Craig Dalton: I feel like this is a double header episode, cuz we get to talk to you about both the light speed titanium brand and also the Obi carbon brand. And just get your unfiltered opinions on what bikes are good for what types of riders? I think that’s gonna be a really valuable part of the conversation for the listener.

[00:05:03] Brad DeVaney: Oh, good. Good. Yeah, that’s that? That’s what fires me up the most, you know, we’re we’re, we’re really open to multiple materials. And building what we love. So, yeah.

[00:05:15] Craig Dalton: Let’s set the stage a little bit just by getting a little bit about your background, how, how you came to be passionate cyclist and ultimately get into the business side of the sport.

[00:05:25] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. Man, I, I don’t enjoy talking about myself, but you know, just a, a, a kid that grew up racing bicycles BMX road, mountain. And was really fortunate to have sponsorship when I was super young and, and you know, bikes being provided and traveling and, and living you know, a kid’s dream, life racing, bicycles, and you know, everything stayed super competitive through those years.

And, and

[00:05:52] Craig Dalton: part of the country did you grow up in Brad?

[00:05:54] Brad DeVaney: I grew up in the Southeast here in Tennessee, and you know, lot of not, not a lot of national events happened here in Tennessee. And so my, my base was Atlanta, Georgia, where you know, where Schwinn bicycle company was a, was a big deal back then. And they had a, a major distribution center there that, that our team was stocked out of.

And we would go up Chicago to headquarters. Very infrequently in the three years that that I raced with the team there. And, but there was the cool thing was I was the perfect demographic within the team. I was the perfect age that they were looking to develop new products. And so, the bikes that I was riding were typically the prototypes and where the rest of the team were all on production bikes.

I was getting some bikes rotated. From beneath me and, and that really lit a fire. I didn’t, I didn’t realize that fire would turn into a career.

[00:06:47] Craig Dalton: Did you find yourself at that age, having that ability to be very discerning about, oh, this frame feels this certain different way. Even if the changes were fairly.

[00:06:57] Brad DeVaney: yeah, it, it, it came to realize Sometime later, my dad was he’s to this day he is, he’s a Motorhead he’s, he’s always tuning something. It’s not always race inspired, but he, he built some pretty crafty two wheeled and four wheeled race machines through the years. And growing up in a, you know, where in our garage, we.

Cutting welding modifying strip it down, machine it, modify it, you know, sort of mindset. He taught me how to take caged ball bearings and Polish them and, and use valve grinding compounds, and then clean ’em and what levels of grease. And so as an 11 year old kid, I went on the road with, with a manager and teammates.

And had the ability to release a wheel. And my choice of wheel at that point in time was Aniah seven B the, the seven X was the hot rim out and it was It wasn’t a full double wall, but it, it had some channels within the extrusion that were, I felt were unnecessary. And the lighter seven B was just that it was lighter.

It was faster. It was more fragile of course, but I had Campon Yolo track hubs with Ari seven B rims you know, spec spokes and spec nipples. I was really, really particular as an 11 year old kid, but to use that particular rim. I had to be able to lace wheels. I, I didn’t have that luxury even at home.

I didn’t have that luxury. So when I egg shaped or, or, you know, flat spotted a rim, I could change them out. And it was, was pretty adept at it. So my, we would be at a motel, you know, somewhere in Florida or Texas or New York or wherever we were racing on any given weekend. And it wasn’t uncommon on a Saturday night between, you know, Saturday and Sunday races.

that, you know, there would be a, a group of dads sitting around drinking beer, watching the 11 year old monkey lace of wheel, because that was kind of a funny thing. So, yeah. Sorry for the story, but

[00:09:03] Craig Dalton: No, I love

[00:09:04] Brad DeVaney: it out of me. Yeah. Yeah. So, yes. To answer your question. Yes.

[00:09:09] Craig Dalton: So that was back in your BMX days. And sounds like later, you kind of transitioned to road riding and, and mountain bike racing.

[00:09:15] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. Yeah. The road bike came around first. You know, I was, I was almost 16 working at a local motorcycle shop before I could drive and, you know, a good form of transportation was bikes. And you know, I ultimately wanted a really good road bike and, and Made that happen. And then through my high school years really loved, loved the road bike and was racing locally off to college with that.

And then during college, I was I was fortunate to have gotten some attention through the local shop and, and got some sponsorship and, and ended up on a Raleigh. Mountain bike. We were selling rallies. The local rep, you know, saw what I was doing. I was really trying to rep the brand because that’s what we were selling.

And, and we sold GT Raleigh and, you know, a few others, but that was, that was the aggressive rep of the day. And, and he was he was good to try to find a way to reward me and for what I was trying to do in the shop. And, and that got me my first mountain bike and, you know, off, we went always, it, it was fun.

Great

[00:10:17] Craig Dalton: Yeah, back those early days of mountain biking were a lot of fun. And I remember there was always, the shop teams were such an important part of the movement back then, I feel like, and you would, you would get your, you know, the brand that you sold in the shop and they would agree to give everybody a pro deal or something on the frames.

And it was a really great time to be part of the sport.

[00:10:36] Brad DeVaney: yeah. You know, and coming from BMX, the Raleigh thing was kind of cool. Tomak was doing his magic and. He you know, I, I couldn’t call him an old friend. He was somebody that I looked up to certainly you know, BMX and, and you know, I, I was fortunate to, you know, compete at a, at a good level. It was all age group based.

I was never old enough to to compete as a pro. And as he, you know, Kind of broached that he moved into mountain bikes and, and wow. What a, what a legend he game. But and that, that was sort of the pattern that I followed in my equipment choices and, and paid really, really close attention to what was happening on the world cup level of those days.

And that was a driver for.

[00:11:18] Craig Dalton: so after you hung up your, your sort of racing cleats, so to speak, was it immediately obvious that you wanted to go into the bike business?

[00:11:26] Brad DeVaney: No, I was, I was still racing. I was still racing, working retail going to school. And that’s when you know, the guys at light speed were, were a local business in the area that I was in. So. I was building outside of work. I was building in my own little shop at home where I did overhauls and rebuilds and paint jobs, and a lot of things you know, side jobs I’d do pretty much anything that involved a bicycle.

But I, I was building show bikes for those guys and you know, when you’re a resource and, and you turn things around as quickly as you can. You know, it turned into a job eventually to be honest. And they, they didn’t really care what I was that I was studying engineering or, you know, they just needed extra help.

And, and so I worked in the shop a lot. I, you know, minored tube SETSS and a aligned bikes and, you know, a lot of things within our operation. But when it came time you know, I was always ready to to design as well. And. That fell in pretty naturally. So that’s, and, and I was still competitive at that point in time road and offroad was was really my focus.

[00:12:35] Craig Dalton: And did you, presumably you started riding titanium bikes around that time.

[00:12:39] Brad DeVaney: Yeah, it was tough. I I’d actually broken. I’d actually broken my Sera. I had a, a Hammi down seven 11 team bike. It was one of Ron keels bike. He had, he had won the, we kind of got a little bit of history. I was racing for a team that through true temper sponsorship here in Tennessee, our team acquired or was able to acquire several of the motor or not motor seven 11 true temper CADA built team bikes.

They were labeled as Huffies And so Bob roll and Andy Hamson and RA Alola and you know, some of those guys at that day and age but Ron keel was the guy that was closest to my size, and I was able to get one of his bikes out of this batch, that true temper owned and, and got for us. So I’d been racing that bike for a couple of seasons working here at light speed part and full time.

And when I snapped that bike I was able to you know, jump onto a loaner bike for a few weeks and then finally worked it out so that I could have my own. So, and that was, it was out of necessity. You know, I, I came onto titanium out of necessity and, and that’s when I really started going bananas on design elements because I, you know, I was looking for, I came from top level steel had been working with selling.

Doing, you know, Sera we had a fit cycle and used the fit kit and so forth at the retailer that I’d worked with. So I was pretty passionate about all that. And you know, when I’m, when I’m out of that environment into a manufacturing environment, I’m still working those tasks. And with that mindset out of my own home shop and Yeah, I wanna jumped onto titanium.

I wanted to tune things. I wanted to change it. I wanted to get more of a, not a Columbus SL or SLX tube set. I was looking further ahead to like Columbus max

[00:14:32] Craig Dalton: And I think, you know, to contextualize it a little bit for the listener, you know, this was the era where you really had, you had steel bikes and maybe some early aluminum bikes from someone like Cannondale at the time and titanium was that next level. Next generation material that I think at that point was very much a premium product in terms of how much it costs.

So it felt very exotic at the time.

[00:14:55] Brad DeVaney: It was, and, and, and the tube sets I knew could be advanced. That was, that was one of the things is that if you were looking at a, a light speed, a Merlin, a moots, you know, that was kind of the three big players at the time. Everything was pretty much straight gauge, round tube sets. And, you know, I, I wanted to see beyond that.

I was I was, you. Driving towards a cycling specific titanium tube set. It wasn’t just titanium. And I think that became one of our ad slogans back in, you know, in those early nineties, it’s not just titanium it’s light speed titanium. And what made it light speed titanium was the, the obsession to create.

A cycling specific titanium tube set. And we did that by manipulating wall thicknesses, tapering, the tubes, shaping the tubes and all of that. Having engineering purpose, not just some visual marketing blind. So that’s, that’s really what we, and we continue to work by those same principles today.

[00:15:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It’s so interesting. Given the sort of production process of a carbon frame versus steel or titanium where you’re really manipulating the tubes. And you’re just, just a lot of hand work that goes into these products.

[00:16:08] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:10] Craig Dalton: Well, we could go long and deep on titanium and the history of that period,

[00:16:14] Brad DeVaney: a deep hole brother. It’s a deep hole. Let’s back away. Let’s let’s let’s come closer to the surface. You got listeners.

[00:16:21] Craig Dalton: we’re gonna fast forward, but I think we’ve at least set the stage that you’ve had your hands on titanium for a few decades now as the light

[00:16:30] Brad DeVaney: More than 30 years.

[00:16:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah, which is amazing. And, and the brand is such a storied brand in America, producing in Tennessee when it came to gravel, starting to come to market, how quickly did light speed kind of move into that territory?

[00:16:45] Brad DeVaney: Yeah, we were pushing it. Um, ,, you know, one of our brands Quintan we’ve got a, a, a tremendous triathlon following and not just road cyclists, not just offroad, cyclists, but also triathletes we’re converging into this space. And that that’s once again, AC acknowledgement to the beauty of this, this platform.

But the, a real innovator within triathlon founder of the Quintana brand Dan infield, he, he drives a, a really good form for multi-sport athletes and, and he was begging me, please build me a custom gravel bike. And, and we already had a production gravel bike in the works and planned. , but we weren’t wholly agreeing internally what that might become.

And you know, Dan and I saw pretty eye to eye on this. And so when, when I built his bike, he really he really chanted and blew horn and wrote articles. And, you know, he, he made it a real focal point of of his website

[00:17:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. A couple points to make, just to interrupt for a second. So when Brad talks about multiple brands, American bicycle group, the parent company owns Quintana, which is a triathlon brand. You mentioned light speed and O I D. And kind of manages all three brands along the way. So as you’re taking inputs, it’s just interesting, I think for the listener to understand that, and then follow up question on that custom bike and, and granted it’s gonna timestamp it whatever year it was not this year.

What was the design spec? What, what did your friend, what was he saying? I need for this to be a good, fun gravel bike for me.

[00:18:26] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. You know, he was really he was really focused on his road, fit specs, and, and Dan has a school of thought that he teaches, he coaches it’s the fist fit methodology. And he, he holds classes and I’m certified in it. And as well as thousands of other people that, that have been through his camps and.

I I, I have so much respect for that. But we disagree almost every time we get together, you know, he, it’s, it’s fun to debate with, with someone you love so much. And but yeah, the, the whole geometry and fit principles were different. And especially in the smaller size bikes, cuz we’ve got a longer fork and that creates some design constraints and so forth, but he really, you know, he had this road bike and these are the stack and reach numbers that he wanted on that gravel bike.

And I was like, no buddy, no, no, let’s bring that. Let’s let’s change that let’s tailor this let’s change stem link let’s you know, and, and, and what it really came down to was his Terrafirma was different than mine. You. His terrain is different than mine. And what we’ve learned over time is, you know, there’s no wrong answer.

It it’s all about where you live and where you ride on a, on a weekly of basis. And so he still has that bike. He still loves that bike. I’ve probably had three or four since then. but it’s, it’s, you know, that’s my job is, is to develop and create and, and do new things. But and, and I really don’t timestamp anything.

It’s hard for me to look backwards because I’m, I’m trying to constantly wake up, having forgotten what I knew yesterday and look forward and remain creative and, and look for trends and, and develop them if, if possible. So.

[00:20:08] Craig Dalton: When, when you started to think about gravel cycling and how light speed might play in that market, what attributes of titanium were you thinking? This is great. This is the perfect application of this material. And what potentially, what other elements were you thinking? Gosh, maybe this is not the best material for

[00:20:24] Brad DeVaney: Well, I mean, you’ve gotta realize I, I came through the nineties with, with a lot of pro cyclists reaching out to me personally, asking for custom bikes that were gonna be rebranded. For their team use, you know, these were top level cyclists that were coming for specialty bikes, whether it be a climbing bike, a sprint bike, a time trial, bike, whatever the case may be.

I’m creating the, all these specialty bikes for over a decade. And as, as we roll into the two thousands carbon, you know, clearly became king of the elite road. And, and what had changed was the, the sponsorship levels and the number of bikes that any given rider was allocated at at their pro retirement pro tour level riders, they had so many more bikes at their disposal that.

You know, the old mindset of having that one great climbing bike or that one great time trial bike didn’t exist anymore. They had multiples and mechanics were Uber busy because they weren’t riding around with a couple of vans and, you know, a few team cars. They, they had semis pulling up stocked full of.

Bikes and equipment and, you know, sponsorship went up and cost of everything changed and all with those budgets, changing titanium got washed out of the top level just on pure economics. It wasn’t performance, it was pure economics. And, and then you see those economic swing into the, the retail market and the profitability of carbon became so much higher.

Titanium was just, I won’t say it ever became a stepchild. It still remained a nice elite product, but it was for a more mature cyclist. And it was for a cyclist that respected it from a decade prior with those business dynamics, changing our business went we, you know, we worked through that and fortunately we had grown through acquisition.

We had other brands we’re still working with multiple materials. Triathlon road so forth, but for light speed specifically, I’m looking at my love and my passion for road and offroad cycling coming together. And there was no better material. There was absolutely no better material. I mean, a great titanium hard tail is still a great titanium, hard tail.

They bake, they make wonderful, single speaks. When you start looking at drop bar bikes and a utopian drop bar bike that you could just, you know, whacker rocks against it and it’s, it doesn’t care, titanium’s it. And then the ride quality just plays in furthermore. So that I was, I couldn’t have been more fired up to be working and obsessive in this in this category where I’m just retuning.

New ideas to different tire volumes. And, you know, the, the whole formula is just, just a melting pot for me. I I’m, I’m still going nuts, having fun with it. So,

[00:23:39] Craig Dalton: Yeah, your enthusiasm

[00:23:40] Brad DeVaney: and, and titanium, holy cow, it’s, you know, I’ve got some athletes who, who um, you know, we talk to on a, on a weekly basis that. You know, they’re begging for both, you know, Hey, can I do a, you know, can I ride a tie bike at this event or a carbon bike or that event?

And you know, we struggle with that trying to represent brands through specific athletes.

[00:24:03] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. As you and

[00:24:04] Brad DeVaney: me to make tougher carbon bikes and, and lighter titanium bikes. So, you know, you just, you’re always balancing the virtues, right?

[00:24:11] Craig Dalton: Yeah, maybe that’s a good segue. Introducing the carbon brand, which is Obi. And just kind of when that came about and what the thinking was.

[00:24:20] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. So, OED OED was started because we had, you know, for 20 years we’ve been working in the carbon channel and, and in a value stream where I had developed relationships with and, and one primary or a primary relationship with a family owned. Carbon frame maker. And I would go over and visit with them multiple times per year, depending on the number of new products and new projects we had going on.

But as, as Quintana was really cruising along product wise and, and quality standards were, were just going so well. And, and, you know, the, I. Kind of had, had worked all the product that we really needed to develop and, and what happens in my job because I’m a multitasker within our business. You know, I, instead of my development mind, I’m spending more time on process and quality systems and that sort of thing.

But with, with some free design space and, and on my calendar, I felt like I really encouraged. You know, the, all of our team members here that we should consider new products and consider a brand that was you know, just an adventure outdoor brand. And, and that was just dirt bikes, just fun, dirt bikes and offroad bikes.

And because it really hasn’t been our, our nature as a whole group. I, you know, I have this passion and it doesn’t mean everybody else has to, but at that point in time, we were growing and, and a lot of our staff were also dirt minded. And the, the economics of, you know, who can afford our bikes internally and externally became a, a, an awareness.

You know, we, we really became aware of, of.

[00:26:10] Craig Dalton: yeah.

[00:26:11] Brad DeVaney: How, how available are we with, with our passions and our products? And so it just made sense that, that we use our current suppliers and our current quality systems to deliver some products. And, and we, we started it with open model product. We didn’t even design and invest in tooling.

I, I love that, that we started that way. and, and came with a, a value bike with, you know, cooperation I’m developing the, the, the or designing and, and the factory was was funding the tooling, and we allowed them to sell some of those models outside of our markets and so forth. And. we evolved and, and it took off quite quickly.

We were able to establish the, the brand itself was, was successful. And now we’re, you know, we’re producing our own clothes models that, you know, they’re exclusive to us. And so yeah, it was, it’s been a really, really good experience for us to re you know, re exercise the principles of how we develop products and, and who our customers are and focus on their needs.

So,

[00:27:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah, the timelines actually sounds pretty interesting because you know, back three, four years ago, I think it was less defined. What a, what the perfect gravel bike was gonna look like. And through a lot of trial and error from a lot of companies, I think we’ve arrived at these very, very versatile bikes that can handle pretty wide variety of.

Gravel cycling terrain.

[00:27:42] Brad DeVaney: Yep. Yeah. Yeah, it’s fine because I, you know, I’m, I may be spending time in a wind tunnel, developing super arrow, cutting edge products. The next thing you know, I’m, I’m out on the dirt. Trying to find watage the most recent was finding the most efficient wheel set. For me, going to Kansas on the lowest fitness I’ve ever gone there. and, and understanding my efficiencies and what zones I need to be riding in. And it was such a good exercise, but I was doing so on a bike that I had had in the wind tunnel. And I knew exactly how many watch at what wind speeds and what y’all angles. And I’m, I’m literally thinking about this stuff on course and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a strange place between my ears, but that’s that’s what

[00:28:28] Craig Dalton: This is hearkening back to the kid who was lacing wheels at 11 years old in a

[00:28:33] Brad DeVaney: brother, if you only knew I’ve got, I’ve got a wheel to rebuild right here beside me right now. It’s

[00:28:38] Craig Dalton: So when we talk about the ground up design that you ultimately arrived at with the Obi, what are some of the specs, like what type of tire size, what were some of the takeaways that you kind of took away from that process?

[00:28:50] Brad DeVaney: you know, first thing is, you know, we want a racer design. We, we had a really univers. Super capable bike and, and we wanted the, the option to go fully integrated. So cable free, fully tucked cables or exposed cables. That that was one of the design requirements going in. And if you’re gonna have a super clean, most modern presentation of a bike, it needs to have proven shapes.

And so, so I don’t know if you can see in this, but you know, I’m showing you a down tube that shrouds a water bottle extremely well, but it, it it’s super functional. This, you know, this isn’t a razor arrow shape, but it’s so functional at the speeds that we’re riding in the winds of wherever. I won’t just say Kansas, but and then when, when you get to tire size, you know, This thing’s gonna house some of the fine tread fifties.

You start getting more Nobby you’re, you’re stepping down. I mean, if you’re getting to a super Nobby tire that you think you’re gonna be loading up with mud, it’s gonna, it’s gonna step down proportionately. So, so yeah, we’re, we’ve got amazing tire cleaner. You see a, you know, a seat tube relief. so we’re not wedging rocks and cracking carbon in a dumb spot.

You know, when I say dumb non-intelligent spot of the frame that doesn’t really have function other than stiffness. And by reshaping this tube, I’m picking up stiffness. I’m blowing out a big box section down here that really amplifies some stiffness at the BB round seat, 2 31 6 drop or capable.

You see this modular brace. That actually is so that I don’t have to embed rack mounts. If a guy wants to put rack or underside, it’s tapped to drill for fender. So just option friendly, but super cutting edge, clean racey. I mean, even the seat stays have got a really, you know, arrow, triangular shape to it.

[00:30:48] Craig Dalton: Can I ask you, did you say the C post is 31 6?

[00:30:52] Brad DeVaney: yeah, 31 6.

[00:30:53] Craig Dalton: Interesting. Cause I, you know, I, I’m just curious to, to get your thoughts on why that size. Yeah.

[00:30:59] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. So, you know, we hear that and, and I listen to a lot of people saying, and, and we sell a lot of titanium seat posts. If you’re buying a titanium seat, post a lot of people, oh, it’s gotta be 27 2 so that you can get the, the soften more flexy feel. And 31 6 is, is a platform that. I’m not restricted with droppers.

I’m not restricted with stationary post. It can be zero offset, rear offset. I’ve just got more options available for my customer. And that was a big change. That was a big change in going into this bike. And, you know, we, we do build the component selections and options with our bicycles is amazing.

Any given model that you buy, you’ve probably. Eight different seat, post options. So it was important that every option on our shelf fit the bike and with

[00:31:48] Craig Dalton: I have to say

[00:31:48] Brad DeVaney: that’s not possible.

[00:31:49] Craig Dalton: I was playing around on the Obi site today and I have to say one of the things that I was super excited to see was basically the custom color selector.

[00:31:57] Brad DeVaney: Yeah. The color blocking that we do is is a lot of fun, literally thousands of options.

[00:32:02] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So you can, I mean, for the listener, you can choose your, your base color of the frame. You can choose your decal color, you can choose the color of your fork and lots of beautiful options. I have to ask just cuz of the business geek inside me. How are you doing that? Operationally?

Are you building frames raw and then just leaving them, getting ’em painted.

[00:32:21] Brad DeVaney: So, yeah, all of my carbon we bring in raw. I, I, you know, it’s not painted over. There’s no fillers, nothing is hidden from me. So our quality standard is higher. On carbon than it’s ever been because we do all of the prep work, the sanding, the prep, the base coats, the painting, the graphics application.

So it may as well be within defined options and let the customer choose it. It allows me a built order system. That’s very complicated. It’s not easy. I’m sure. There’s MBAs that. Sit back and look at our business models. Oh yeah. Let’s duplicate what these guys are doing. No, it’s, it’s not so easy even within you know, what appears to be canned options.

How we process and flow is, is really a learning process.

[00:33:10] Craig Dalton: It’s very operationally challenging to run a customized operation. I’ve I’ve run one myself and, and I hear you. That’s why I was so impressed. I love

[00:33:19] Brad DeVaney: single order is custom. Yeah. That’s, that’s what we have to be willing to provide.

[00:33:25] Craig Dalton: Are you doing that? That painting in Tennessee then? Okay.

[00:33:27] Brad DeVaney: Oh yeah, yeah. Every bit of it right here in the building. Yep.

[00:33:30] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. Impressive. Truly impressive of me that earnestly

[00:33:34] Brad DeVaney: Thank you. Yeah, we just completely revamped our, our painting operation. We’re, we’re actually gonna do a little bit of a a show and tell. And, and produce some content that’s gonna be coming within the next month or so that shows some of how we do it.

So yeah. Be, be ready to see some of

[00:33:52] Craig Dalton: Awesome. So, I mean, we started offline talking about when you’ve got a customer coming through the door. Now you’ve got a world options. You’ve got carbon bikes, you’ve got titanium bikes. How are you helping the consumer navigate

[00:34:06] Brad DeVaney: It’s fun. It’s so much fun. Holy cow. And I’m always that contradictory guy with our sales team. They, they, it’s a love, hate relationship. I’m sure for them, I, I love them, but they don’t always love me. Being at I was talking about being at VWR and, and kind of standing in for some sales folks there so they could participate the hate.

Um, But it, it was wonderful to have folks coming up saying, what’s the difference? and the difference number one is, are, are you bothered when rocks fly off the front wheel or your buddy’s front wheel and hit the down to your bike or the top tube, or, you know, hearing those stones hit your bike is bothersome.

Tough and composites are, are what we build our bikes with. And that’s, that’s a big piece of it. These Aren. They’re, they’re close to what would’ve been super elite road bikes, not too many years ago, but we, you know, we’ve developed toughened composites to a point that they’re very gravel worthy also that they can withstand some chainsaw and, you know, the, that the natural things that happen in gravel riding.

So durability does lean towards titanium. It’s, it’s not impervious. You can dent a titanium bike, whereas a carbon, you dent it. It’s gonna need a repair. It’s just, it’s just fact of the matter ride quality is something that’s very, tuneable in both materials. You know, it just takes a different skill set in how you develop to.

Diameters wall shapes, thicknesses, all of that. When you’re, when you’re obsessive about creating titanium, we go through that and provide multiple models. So we have a pure race bike. We have what I consider a high performance SUV, and then we’ve got something that’s more of a touring model. But then we also have the full customization.

If you need custom geometry, if you need custom tube selection, no problem. We can provide that. That’s, that’s something that our consultation process we typically take. I say we engineering will take that order from sales and go into a consultation process with with that customer and develop the bike carbon, believe it or not, isn’t always the stiffest that that’s where I start to contradict.

The, you know, the theories of material and it’s fun to have demo bikes setting, ready to ride, and a guy come back and say, wow, that carbon bike was softer than the other, or that carbon bike was softer than that titanium bike. Whereas that titanium bike is the softest of the mall. Um, And being able to tune car titanium above and below what is considered now, the carbon standard is a lot of fun for me, but having a really well tuned carbon bike and our offering is is so gratifying and That’s what’s really gone into this latest GVR model that, that I was just holding up and using as an example is it’s is got vertical compliance, the bike.

When you stand, when you corner the bike rips, it just, it responds really, really well. And it’s a, it’s a platform that, that I look forward to how we continue to provide that and, and what may come years down the road from. And it is, it is absolutely inspired, different performance characteristics in titanium.

So I’m, I’m playing, you know, good versus evil or one versus the other. However you wanna look at whichever team you choose to join. That’s I’m, I’m the guy that’s that, you know, and, and playing those games and, and one advancing because of the other. And, and I think that’s one of the real benefits of my job.

[00:37:46] Craig Dalton: Absolutely. If people are looking to purchase a light speed bike, is that directly through you or is there a dealer network? They would go through.

[00:37:53] Brad DeVaney: Both both. Yeah. That’s, that’s something that you know, we love our, our longstanding dealers and, and honor them in every way possible. We try to drive business through their doors. As the OED brand was created. You know, we’ve, we’ve been forced out of a lot of shops with light speed, just, just due to the business dynamics that the bigger players have created in shops today.

And that’s unfortunate. So in, in creating the new brand, we, we made that consumer direct whereas light speed also is available consumer direct in, in areas that That’s necessary or even desired because sometimes a light speed dealer in town. Isn’t the service provider for someone that’s interested in a light speed and you know, so we we try to make everyone happy there and, and work, work openly.

[00:38:39] Craig Dalton: Nice. And then you mentioned being out at BWR. North Carolina. And then also out in Emporia in Kansas for Unbound, are the teams traveling to other events this year? If gravel, cyclists are looking to find you and test some of these bike.

[00:38:53] Brad DeVaney: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Once again, I, I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth, I would’ve been in Kansas. Would’ve been at BWR Asheville. Next stop will likely be S B T be out Steamboat. And yeah, from that point on we’re, we’re a little bit flexible. Just based on a lot of.

Event obligations that, that our, our true event team has on their schedule, cuz we do support a lot of events within cycling and triathlon. And we have, we have a good team of folks that, that work on that

[00:39:22] Craig Dalton: Right on, well, I’ll make sure that the listener has in the show notes, the websites and social handles to make sure they know how to get in touch

[00:39:28] Brad DeVaney: on a weekly basis. Yeah. Please do jump on the jump on the websites we keep. We keep live chat. And you know, if, if we’re not in house those questions get answered first thing in the morning, and then it’s always best to catch someone live. And, and I, I love the dynamic. I is listeners may not have heard in our conversation earlier.

Our business has, has completely changed in the past couple of years how we’ve chosen to To try to really link directly with consumers and, and provide direct answers. It’s, it’s, it’s been a, a big growth for us and we want to hear every issue. We want to know every squeak, every rattle, every great story.

That’s, that’s something that we weren’t doing. When we were wholly working through bike shops with light speed and. We’re better engaged with our consumers today. And, and that really inspires our product development. And I, I try to keep those channels completely open as well, but, but we do like to communicate and answer every single question.

[00:40:32] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that’s great to hear. I’m sure it garners a lot of support from the cycling community, just to be able to, you know, chat someone or pick up the phone and talk to someone. I feel like for me as a consumer, you know, just makes you feel that much more connected with the brand.

[00:40:45] Brad DeVaney: We hope so. That’s, you know, as, as passionate cyclists that’s, that’s how we want to be treated. And so that’s, that’s what we aim to.

[00:40:53] Craig Dalton: Amazing. Well, I appreciate all the time, Brad, and I appreciate your sort of lifetime, your career of putting energy into making all these fun bikes for riders around the

[00:41:02] Brad DeVaney: Thank you, Craig. You’re you’re a giver brother. You are a true giver and much respect to you and, and what you provide right on.

[00:41:11] Craig Dalton: world. Cheers.

That’s going to do it for this week’s edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks for Brad coming on the show. I appreciate everything he’s done in the world of gravel cycling and cycling in general with Lightspeed and the new obit brand.

Until next time here’s to finding some dirt under your wheels.

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