Laura OLPH (and possibly Snakehead Ed, as well) sent me an article about two Japanese brothers, and their solution. From the article:
Nobuo, the president of the family business, had just trounced younger brother Yutaka in an endurance race. Yutaka blamed the bike and took apart the rear axle. Sure enough, it had been partly crushed during the four-hour ride.So what did they do? They developed the new Gokiso wheel. From the article:
The Gokiso wheels the Kondos have made out of titanium and carbon fiber provide what they say is an incomparably smooth ride. Spin ’em on a test rack at 18 mph, and the bike wheels take six minutes to come to rest, compared with about 90 seconds for a high-end, resistance-impaired competitor. But it’s a level of quality few can afford: Each pair costs $7,900. In four years, Kondo has sold 30 and about 1,000 of simpler models that go for less than $3,300 a pair.The sole voice of reason in the entire article:
Alberto Moel, an analyst at portfolio manager Sanford C. Bernstein, says a big part of Japan Inc.’s problem is that engineering, not marketing, often drives product development. His take: “You made this stuff on the expectation that your customers would pay more for it, without stepping back and asking whether they really would.”Japan is weird.