Friday, June 20, 2008

Odyssey Homer

As my good friend 'anonymous' has noted countless times in the comments section of various posts, I like Odyssey. Not in the explicit way that has often been suggested, but in a "wow, they're a company that does things the right way" sort of way. I've never met any of the guys in person, but I've e-mailed with Chris Cotsonas and Nuno Oliveira and Ben Ward (and, to a lesser extent, Jim Bauer) for years. A bunch of us have New York roots. And while I've never met any of them, I consider them friends.

It's strange, because when the company first appeared, Odyssey was...different. Yes, there was the revolutionary Gyro. But there were also Flying Wedge bars, drilled-out brake calipers and levers (ahead of their time!) and the notorious Barefeet tires. Later, there was the Xtro hub, and the tinfoil fork that went with it. If there were riders designing the products, they must not have ridden much.

But early this decade, things started to change. It started at the tail end of the "overbuilt is better" era. Hazard rims. Milk Bars. The Richard Gear. Then the floodgates opened. An affordable cassette hub, Hazard Lites, Civilian Bars, Race Forks, Jim C and Twisted PC pedals. Items that quickly became BMX staples. And when G-Sport's George French joined forces with the in-house guys, things got even more fun. The Elementary stem. The Director fork. Wombolt cranks. Plegs. The Elementary was absurdly light, yes, but it also addressed an old problem (how to hold your handlebars to your forks) in an entirely new way. Rather than just drilling and machining an old design and calling it new, Odyssey innovated. Leading is much harder than following, especially in a trend-driven market like BMX.

There were problems, of course. First-generation Wombolts broke, cassettes ghost-pedaled, Elementaries slipped. But the same problems were immediately addressed. Odyssey has a huge online presence, as well as one of the best warranty 'divisions' in the business. If you have a question or a concern, an e-mail or post on any BMX messageboard will usually be met with a quick (and helpful) response.

All that said, I have to call them as I see them. And their new CFL frontload stem, while pretty with all its laser engraving and color options, seems to be a little, dare I say, superfluous? Late to the party. For a company that's built its reputation on innovation to introduce a 53mm reach, 11.something ounce frontloader now just doesn't set right.



It's not that I have a problem with the product itself—it doesn't appear to be machined to death or anything—it's more that, with so many similar products already on the market (including the welcome return of the original Solid stem), I thought Odyssey would go in a different direction. Bring something new to the table. Say, a longer Elementary, or one with rise (if that's even possible). The CFL is fine, it just seems unnecessary. Kind of like its namesake.

43 comments:

MaxiBMX said...

I thought so too.

Anonymous said...

That's the only oddyssey stem I would even think about running. Nice one.

Anonymous said...

I agree, their warranty division has been great in my experience.

Anonymous said...

If you suck any harder the skin will simply peel off their dicks.

The Elementary stem cannot & should not be considered their design. Any designer that has ever picked up Solid Works knows that this design is a fence post bracket used within the SW manual for training. They copied it. Are you listening????

Odyssey claims to be so high and mighty yet they are no better than the next.

Oh yea, take the cock out of your mouth and wipe off your face.

Anonymous said...

My uk homer was approximately 30x better than my odyssey homer, but at least they're willing to help when it's needed.

I wish you wouldn't have posted the link to the solid stem.

Russ said...

Haha. Sorry. I still regret that I got rid of mine.

And all I really said about the Elementary was that it addressed an old problem in a new way. It did, no?

anonymous strikes again.

Anonymous said...

Spelunker

Anonymous said...

shit russ, you just committed blog suicide if I ever read one. you have managed to taint every thread you’ll ever post following this and every prior post is now in question when it comes to other brands. i do appreciate your honest though.

Russ said...

I'd like to think that my personal relationships with company owners or employees won't keep me from expressing my feelings about said company's products.

Whether I wrote about it or I didn't, it would still be true. Isn't it better that I put things out in the open?

Albert said...

I say you do a post completely on the Solid stem and its many copies.

Russ said...

I'm just curious, now that Solid brought back their OG stem, will S&M bring back the Redneck LT? Or, even better, the original Redneck and Challenger?

Stephen said...

It's not bad looking, but yeah, the market is flooded.

That said, at least it isn't a Kink Relief or that abomination that Mutiny put out there.

Anonymous said...

Odyssey doing a frontloader is about sales. Nothing more. There's nothing wrong with that. It has the Odyssey name on it, so you know you're in good hands. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking they've done something different with it. The Elementary is cool, but a lot of kids are afraid of it. After all, it's different, and kids only want to be different like all their friends(think about it).

VxD said...

My favorite part about the anon post was this...
"Odyssey claims to be so high and mighty yet they are no better than the next. "

When has Odyssey EVER ONCE claimed to be high and mighty? Or even implied they're high and mighty?

But sadly, anon is right. Odyssey has copied other designs. I was looking into it and they used a screw to tighten it down, and what's that, nothing but an inclined plane wrapped around a post. Not only are they copying, they're copying a simple machine! And then, their "innovative" wedge system? NOTHING BUT ANOTHER INCLINED PLANE!! C'mon odyssey, do something original for once.

GSport George said...

Hey Anonymous,

Please provide a link to this Solidworks tutorial you speak of.

I designed the Elementry about 10 years ago using a piece of paper and a pencil. At the time the idea of designing anything on a computer that took 10 minutes just to rotate a 3megapixel jpeg by 90degrees was laughable...

Since the Elementry was launched there have been countless people claim it is the same as, for example, the ACS wedgelock stem, or that the Director fork is "identical" to an old Mongoose fork... ALL these people really do, is display their own ignorance and inability to grasp fundamentals of the designs.

The Bicycle is THE single most patented item. And ANY patent search inevitably brings up a host of designs that might bear superficial resemblence. The US patent office looks at ALL of these for conflicts, and believe me they bring up even the most wildly vague links... yet they didnt have a problem with the Elementry... but then I guess they are JUST professionals doing their jobs wheras YOU have the benefit of being an anonymous prick with the design flair of a half flushed turd..

ryan said...

So are Friday quizzes a thing of the past?

Darren Hough said...

Ah, I think they were just trying to make sure that Ody had all their bases covered with stem types. Now they have a top load, a frontload, and the Elementary. I have an Elementary, and apart from a bit more fiddling to get it together to start out with, and the occasional fear of crushing my bars, think it's absolutely great. Over the years I've run four different pairs of Ody forks, their brakes, levers,
the Format Stem, tires, seats, posts, pedals, and I've had nothing but good experiences.

It's amazing to me that people can be salty about their products. Guess it just proves that some people will be haters no matter what, or maybe they're just too young to remember what 99% of bike companies USED to be like.

You'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that Odyssey isn't the most progressive company in BMX today, or maybe ever really. They've brought a level of engineering and design knowledge coupled with actual riding experience and excellent customer service that's rarely been duplicated in BMX's 35 or so year history. Of course there are other companies that have done this as well but the post 1997 or so Odyssey is very notable in this way.

And just so people know I know what I'm talking about, but not part of an Odyssey ad campaign, I AM an industrial designer, I've been at least a decent rider for many years. I've talked to Chris off and on over the years, I'm friendly with him but we've never met him or G in person. I applied for job over at Odyssey several years ago and didn't end up getting hired, and I STILL think their products are amazing, and I still think they are great designers and cool guys. Name one company in BMX that has more innovation, better customer service, more attention to detail, and better understanding of what will and won't work in the real world, while still making products that aren't insanely expensive. You can't because Odyssey just might be the only ones doing that.

Darren Hough said...

Oh and just to clarify, I didn't think you were being salty about the stem Russ. It was more directed toward the haters on BMXboard or various anonymous posters in the comments section here.

Anonymous said...

Nuno is the man

Russ said...

Friday quizzes will still occur on occasion.

--Nuno-- said...

I agree with anonymous June 21 10:33 am

-Nuno

Anonymous said...

Oh no you didn't!? The CFL is awsome. Canadian football is better then American cheeseball for sure.

Drew K said...

Odyssey parts I currently run on my bike: Seinor seat(replaced my Aitken seat), Pro dirt forks, Medium brake lever, Liner brake cable, PC pedals. Odyssey parts that I HAVE once ran on my bike: Aitken tires(front and back), Aitken seat, Elm street tires. Number of my friends that run or have run Odyssey parts on thier bikes: ALL OF THEM. Times Ive herd my friends say anything bad about thier Odyssey parts: NEVER. Times my friends, or my own Odyssey parts have broken: NEVER. Odyssey is awesome!

bobby p said...

i guess this would be a good time to address my current problem with my elementary v3 stem. i installed a NEW v3 onto a NEW race fork with tree branch bars that were a month old. i ran the og elementary stem and it came loose on me negative one times-thats how awesome it stayed tight. my new stem wont stay tight. at all. suggestions?

bobby p said...

ben- i posted on sprfls about a elementary problem, but i figure i might get a quicker response on the actual odyssey site. i have the v3 and i cant get it tight for the life of me. i know my way around a tool box, it just seems like i am going to tighten too much and crush my bars/steer tube. any tricks you might have for me? it makes me sad when my bars move. help a fellow rochesterian out brotha!

Anonymous said...

I've been running the same solid stem for literally the past 6 years with no problems. I odyssey could figure out a way to make the elementary design look like a solid stem, I'd be sold.

The Meat said...

"Any designer that has ever picked up Solid Works knows that this design is a fence post bracket used within the SW manual for training."
I used to work for a sw reseller training people to use the program and ive never seen this?
When i was in the cubs i used a similar sort of knot to tie some logs together, does this mean i can sue G for stealing my idea?

gsport george said...

well fuck you all, i'm sick of you little bitches

so what if it's a rip off?

jobsy said...

george, i love you, yout two comments here drove me to sign up and comment!
gentlemen, george laced up his first home-machined homer in 1992, and did a no-handed fakie wallride one day later.
he's bickered with british bmx through the 90s and made some of the best and worst products (and stickers) i've ever seen.. all whilst paying himself the dole!
i'm stoked he's got odyssey behind him, most of their new stuff is light years ahead of the rest of the taiwan catalogue drilled out branded crap, and some of you have to RELAX! and i tried to make a pitbull work on skyway tuffs, and haved owned a TKO stem, so i know what's bad..

Anonymous said...

odyssey stuff isnt so innovative, i think fly bikes address 'out of the box thinking' soo much more.

Anonymous said...

george do you need some tissues for those tears you fuckin limey bastard.

anon 7:32 is correct. this is all a joke. it is a huge circle jerk for the odyssey group. stop trying to pretend it’s not.

MaxiBMX said...

You forum trolls are despicable. Most are smart enough to see past your sad attempts to defame people.

I can't wait for a new post. Huuurry!

Stephen said...

Any chance of an updated "leading edge" seat getting made to give me something extra to grab on toboggans?

Maybe?

Anonymous said...

That second comment purporting to be by me, was not.

gsport george said...

Balls.

As I was saying the second comment claimin to be by "gsport george" is fake and was not posted by me...

G.

VxD said...

I was about to say, don't trust that what someone says on here is actually by them unless the post is tied to a blogspot account, especially if it's particularly out of character, but the (presumably) real George beat me to it.

It's the SPRFLS blog, not a product review in some magazine where Russ was paid to write a good review for a terrible product.

Honestly, I find this format more neutral than most other bmx media.

tim said...

low blow at the cfl? ouch buddy...

Aaron said...

No kidding... American football is so boring.

Chris from Odyssey said...

The CFL stem is just a running update to the CFN stems (2001?). And the Classic Stem (top load) was just an update to the old GI Stem (2000?). The sales justify their continued existence on our end.

The Elementary Stem was granted a utility patent without protest on its claims from the patent office. Any legitimate patent attorney will tell you that's a very rare thing, and it only further solidifies that the idea was easily considered "unique" and worthy of protection by the most qualified group of professionals in this country.

Please refer to George's original post on the Elementary for the rest.

ryan said...

Chock full of light?

http://www.odysseybmx.com/dailyword/archives/ID-cover.html

ryan said...

Vector bars-
http://bmxroots.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/oldmetal_museum_vectorpro.jpg

Dragonfly mike s bars-
http://www.global-flat.com/upload/parts/2004-11-11-20-32-43L5DJMR.jpg

KHE swiss miss craps-
http://www.global-flat.com/upload/parts/2006-04-02-11-05-54350_swissmiss_2.jpg

ryan said...

WFF?

Anonymous said...

G french didn't desgin the elementary stem I did I met him at a bike show in the ody stand and showed him my disign that I wanted to make whith odessey my company name is revolutinary elementary design aka red the elemetary gets it name from me mentioning my co. name g didn't seem to think my idea wold work at the time and walked of saying he had to go to a meeting in the back of the odessey stand my name is mark searl my e mail adress is marksearl@hotmail.co.uk or marksearl1973@homail.co.uk it wold be nice if my name was on the stem as I wanted ie r.e.d so g what do you say can I have some credit for my design I have loads of others all as revolutionary as the elementary and If i worked for ody things would get realy intresting!