Free product idea

Miscellaneous 7 4

One of my favorite parts on my current road bike is the Giant aero seat post shown in the picture to the left. It looks great on the bike and, with its 4:1 length to width section profile ratio, has a much lower drag coefficient than a standard round post. Due to its location on the bike, an aero seat post provides a pretty significant aerodynamic improvement when compared to some of the other aero bike parts that are available today. The only problem is that these posts can be a bit expensive. The other day I was thinking, what if someone made a slip-on aero post cover for a standard 27.2mm seat post? The plastic part could be made inexpensively and could even have a film dipped faux carbon fiber finish (like the one found on some sunglasses). Maybe a little tab at the bottom could register the part in the frame’s seat post slot to ensure proper aero alignment. Good idea, huh? Well, probably not (why else would I offer it for free). The 2:1 ratio of something like this would not provide much of an improvement in drag coefficient over a standard round post, so the product would really just be for pose value. I do think that if it were sold in the right channels, quite a few people would buy a product like this because it would be a cheap way to get the look of an expensive part. Ultimately, I think that most of those customers would eventually regret the purchase and wish that they had just gone ahead and paid more for the real thing. If you have a long-term marketing strategy, you have to ask a deeper question than “will this product sell?” Every interaction that a customer has with your product shapes his or her perception of your brand. So, why did I sketch this idea if I don’t like it? Because I sketch all kinds of ideas that pop into my head before I go back and evaluate them. Why am I posting an idea that I don’t like? I guess so that I can make my point about the difference between short-term sales driven and marketing driven product design. But hey, if you still like the idea, have at it. After all, it’s free.

Note to all interested: I didn’t do a patent search, so you might want to check into that before you make 10,000 of these things.

7 Comments

  1. Tim Jackson- Masi Guy November 7, 2005 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    That is frightening; I just had this very conversation with a friend of mine about a week ago. He’s actually doing a bit if work on the idea now…

  2. bikefridaywalter November 7, 2005 at 12:57 pm -  Reply

    maybe i’m dumb, but if the aero seatpost is a good idea in terms of reducing drag, then why is the cover not? i think it’s a great idea if it works.

  3. James November 7, 2005 at 1:10 pm -  Reply

    The idea would work, but barely. A 2:1 airfoil shape has a drag coefficient that is only slightly better than a round tube of the same frontal area. In the case of the real Giant aero post, the front is only a half inch wide while the section length is about 2 inches. This 4:1 shape is an efficient airfoil with a greatly reduced drag coefficient over a .5″ diameter tube. Theoretically, you could make a more efficient 4:1 ratio cover, but the part would have to be about 4 inches across and would tend to look funny (does that make sense?)

    I will concede that the idea is not completely worthless, just maybe not as good as it first seems. At any rate, I am not doing anything with it.

  4. todd November 7, 2005 at 4:44 pm -  Reply

    Never underestimate pose value.

    Remember those fake cell phone antennae you could get to stick to your car window?

    Why not also stick some LEDs in them for visibility?

  5. Graham November 7, 2005 at 5:15 pm -  Reply

    Priced right and I think it’s a winner! It has to be at the lower end of the price scale to be of much value beyond upgrading to the real part. I like Todd’s line of thinking regarding the upsell. Solve more than one problem with this product and you can sell for even greater margin.

  6. James November 8, 2005 at 8:34 am -  Reply

    I like Todd’s idea as well. A line of LEDs along the back ridge has potential to make this into something fairly useful. It would look a lot better than the typical clip-on tail light.

  7. jeanthibca December 11, 2005 at 5:29 pm -  Reply

    It already exist. It was supplied with the M4 Specialized. However, it is UCI-banned. An aero seatpost (like the Cervelos) is legal, but not an aero fairing.

    Just for fun, I designed one out off an aluminium king can.

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