I'll cut straight to the chase on this one -- Sunday rocked up to this year's Interbike show with a major surprise for everyone. Not only did they have a subtly cool booth with handmade exclamation marks and a display of their usually clean graphic design, but they also had complete bikes.
This was big news: previously just a frame and accessories brand, Sunday launching completes was one of the main talking points of the show, and a must-see when doing the circuit of the BMX Zone -- because their bikes are seriously impressive, especially since this is their first stab at it -- but with influence from Odyssey and creative team they have involved, this perhaps shouldn't come as any surprise. Up to now here on ESPN, we've featured companies who have years or decades of experience in making a growing range of bikes each and every year, but this time, it's the turn of the guys who have just gotten into the game. Here's Jim Cielencki from Sunday Bikes, giving us the exclusive insight into what's going in to their new line of bikes.
What inspired you to start making complete bikes?
We've always wanted to do them, but we never felt we could do them unless our other products and team could back them up. Throughout all our connections and efforts, we knew we had something to offer, but we were waiting for the right time. And now, five years since Sunday was born is the right time, and this is the first time we are doing complete bikes. For the past five years, Sunday has just focused on making high-quality frames, forks and bars. Our goal for 2010 is to keep doing the same high-quality products, but to now broaden our focus and apply the features that we are known for to a range of different products. It's nice to be able to provide a very well thought out and designed bike to a kid who's just getting into riding. And at a great price too.
Founded: April 1, 2005
Owner: Jim Cielencki
Based: Buffalo, NY (Soon to be Austin, TX)
Manufactures: Frames, forks, handlebars, complete bikes.
Team: Aaron Ross, Gary Young, Ian Schwartz, Kurt Rasmusson, Joe Cox, Alex Magallan, Jake Seeley, Eric Lichtenberger, Lee Dennis, Jim Cielencki
Founded in 2005 by Jim Cielencki, Sunday Bikes has consistently raised the bar in product design, from 41-Thermal heat-treated frames to wave tubing to freestyle-friendly cruiser geometry.
Did you take people by surprise by launching complete bikes?
Yeah, apparently. At Interbike, so many dealers were surprised and excited about us doing completes. A good number thought the completes were just team rider's own personal bikes or just pieced-together show bikes. It was a relief because there was a sense of nervousness that people might think this hurts Sunday's image as a high quality brand. To be honest, no one expressed that concern at all especially since we still have all the high quality products that back the completes. Sunday is now a more well-rounded brand with high-end products for very skilled riders to completes for new riders that need well designed bikes that help them to learn quickly.
What's the feedback been like on the completes so far?
It's been really good and really positive. To be honest, I was taken back by how well it was received. I didn't realize how much shops wanted to have Sunday completes. We've always relied on distributors to do our selling and we've never heard about the demand for Sunday completes. They've never said that the shops wanted them. The completes are competitively priced and put together, so the shops are excited.
How's the move to Austin, TX, going?
It's going slow, but it's almost there. Everything is ready to roll down there, I just need to finish up some house things and move down there. It was 86 degrees there yesterday, so my motivation is really high right now. It's just hard to leave home. Most of the USA writes off Buffalo, but I know a lot of riders that have visited where I live and really enjoy how close things are to each other. During the summer I drive about 300 miles a month, maybe. I ride bicycles everywhere.
What are your thoughts about older complete bikes, now?
They are awesome! Nah, I'm definitely psyched for bike riders today. Every company is making these really good bikes that are basically what the pros ride today. If they aren't that, then at least the geometry is the same. Riders have it good today. They could be getting an orange GT with curved toptube and three-spoke mags like we did back in the '90s. No wonder why kids started skateboarding back then, the learning curve on one of those was terrible.
So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?
As with any company, there are many people involved. Chris Cotsonas and I did most of the speccing of the parts. Richard Tang did all the legwork in Taiwan. Jim Bauer did all the graphics with the help of Aaron Ross and myself. But in the end, nearly everyone working between Sunday and Odyssey was involved in one way or another.
We've always been feeling out the complete market, we just really wanted to wait until we were happy with where our frame quality was at. It took us basically three to four months to get the bikes to Interbike.
Does the team get involved along the way?
Our first completes are based around Aaron Ross's Funday bike, so he had a great deal to say about the colors, stickers and dimensions.
And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?
There are a total of three different 20-inch BMX models and one 24-inch BMX model. There are five total colors in the 20-inch and two in the 24-inch. We decided to do the 24-inch complete because people mostly believed the geometry worked, but they weren't willing to spend the money to find out. A shop could now let someone try it out, see that it works and be able to afford it without spending too much money. It works out perfectly and allows a way for adults and bigger riders to get into BMX without having to deal with the twitchiness of a 20-inch.
Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?
There are three different Funday models starting with the AM at $360, then the EX at $460 and finally the PRO at $650. All of the bikes have a Sunday original feature, the Wave downtube, and they also share the same size frame at 20.75. As you move up the line, the bikes get better and better. The EX has full chromoly bars and forks and the PRO is full chromoly frame, fork and bars. One of the biggest features is having a great deal of Odyssey parts on our bikes throughout the whole line. The AM has two parts while the EX has six and the PRO has 12 different Odyssey parts including Twombolt cranks, a Vandero 2 front hub and a V3 cassette hub. There is a lot of bang for your buck. The 24" Model-C complete retails for about $550 and comes with a full chromoly frame, fork and bars. There's eight different Odyssey parts including V3 cassette hub, Aitken 24-inch tires and EVO II brakes amongst others. The best part is it carries over the same proven geometry of the Model-C frame, fork and bars. So, if you have a guy who is nervous about riding a 20-inch but doesn't want a MTB, then he can give this ago.
Which single bike took the longest to figure out?
I think with most companies, it is always the low-end bikes that are the most difficult. There's less room to move things around. You have to balance a number of variables and it never seems like you can make everyone happy.
Which was the toughest detail?
Hmm, the toughest detail I'd say was just getting the line correct and up to speed. I've always heard people having disaster stories with first runs of things, so we were keen to watch out for major mistakes. The goal is obvious -- to provide great geometry, a good parts package and a great price.
Which is your favourite bike; which one are you most proud of?
Well, I'm really fond of the PRO just because of how good it is for the price. Yeah, it's a $650 bike, but having Odyssey Twombolts, a 9t V3 cassette, and a Vandero 2 hub is amazing. Then add in the other Odyssey parts along with the Funday geometry and you get this really great bike for the price.
When did you start working this year's range -- how long does it take?
We've always been feeling out the complete market; we just really wanted to wait until we were happy with where our frame quality was at. It took us basically three to four months to get the bikes to Interbike and since they aren't available until Sunday's fifth birthday on April 1st, 2010, we still have some time to really iron out the details.
Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?
For me, being a 36 year-old man, I'd ride the PRO or the Model-C. Both would be amazing! I've been on a 20-inch BMX for almost 30 years, so riding the Model-C and still doing tricks is a fun change of pace. The PRO is definitely a solid bike, which would work just fine for me too.
Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?
Oh, yeah! I can't wait! The plan is already mostly figured out, but we need to finalize a few more things over the next month and a half before I can get the 2011's started.
Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies -- which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?
Everyone has some really dialled bikes for sure and each one has there own special take on things. I'm a big fan of Verde. Those guys have good specs, great graphic design, an awesome team and just a good feel about them. The Luxe is a good bike!