Vital MTB's The Inside Line Podcast - Episode 10, Elayna Caldwell, Brand Director of MTB at SRAM

 

I am honored to share an interview with The Inside Line's first female guest, Elayna Caldwell. Elayna is Brand Director of Mountain Biking at SRAM. She has a long history in our sport, starting out as a hobbyist racer and eventually finding her way into the industry by way of a an entry-level marketing position at RockShox back when it was based in Northern California. We discuss some of her journey in the sport, how she arrived at the top of the SRAM food chain, women's racing and the women's market in mountain biking, as well as, triumphs and challenges of her career. Elayna is a candid woman who won't hesitate to share her opinion, and her genuine passion for mountain biking shines through. I hope you learn something, laugh and enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it. -spomer

Some of the items discussed in the interview

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5 comments
  • mp

    5/11/2017 7:06 AM

    Thanks for the interview – it takes guts to put yourself out there, while the rest of us are icons on a screen.

    I guess you're not going to respond to anything below, but fwiw:

    You want more women racing and you see the way to achieve that is through holding more races (even with disparities in prize money)? How does that help? It increases the women in racing because the same 10-20 women are going to more races? Seriously curious. I wonder then what the purpose of prize money is anyway. When I raced, I saw it as an incentive. I was more likely to attend races that paid. It allowed me to continue feeding the habit and offset some of the out of pocket expenses (when I placed of course).

    It seems like what's really happening and what folks don't want to say is that ultimately, big US bike corporations don't really care about women in racing. If they do little-to-nothing, it'll stay at 4-5% and that's sufficient for them.

    I find the racing-is-everything... we-want-to-win approach pretty interesting. In the last 10 years, racing has seemed increasingly less relevant to what people run even as the coverage has gone through the roof. And guys riding 12hr days at the far ends of the world (EWS) really irrelevant.

    Sombrio gear is indeed awesome.

    Outside the US, you mentioned that there are lots of women at events - whistler in particular. Part of that is that in those places, riding a bike is part of an everyday lifestyle. You don't have to be an enthusiast to ride a bike in Canada - it's just what people do to get around town, and the transition from that to the sport side of things is much easier.

    And Spomer, you mentioned that people say SRAM is just marketing... that's more of a joke. Folks like to say that because companies like SRAM come off as detached and extremely corporate. All people see are the products, new standards and the marketing shoved down their throats. They don't get a sense that the companies are working for them, they don't see the engineers, product managers, factory-workers, etc behind them. These interviews really just reinforce that thinking. 500 engineers? Interview one of them please. Let them talk straight about the rationale behind QR/20mm->15mm->20mm all in a span of 8 years.

    And re: boost... "that was a little slow" not because people don't like change, but people don't like knee-jerk standards that invalidate the previous standards with little-to-no good reason. 2% increased stiffness is not a worthwhile reason. Seriously.

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  • sspomer

    5/11/2017 7:21 AM

    good questions/comments. i'll answer what's addressed to me - we have Brandon Sloan of Specialized and Chris Hutton of SRAM and Chris Cocalis of Pivot interviews completed and in the queue. They should give you some of that product-development insight you're looking for...patience : )

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  • slyfink

    5/23/2017 7:56 AM

    I came here to see if there was a discussion of your podcasts... I really like them, keep it up! I also really liked this episode, Elayna was interesting and candid.

    However, I did take exception to the boost comment. No, I'm not a luddite and afraid of change. IMO, and as mp says, the negatives of this new standard outweigh the benefits by a large margin. Not being able to carry over previous equipment (in my case King hubs) is a huge pain in my ass. If the industry had gone to 150mm, a standard that already existed, then I wouldn't really care as much, but adding 6mm and stopping 2mm short of an existing standard seems... insulting to your customers. And, as much as this standard might be relevant to 29" wheels, smaller wheels are already stiffer by virtue of shorter spokes, and better bracing angles. Maybe they could have just left boost for big wheelers.

    So yeah, I didn't like being labled a luddite, and I get that she has to defend their decision, but I'm still allowed to call BS. and vote with my wallet. and it's not because I'm afraid of change. That's money they might have accessed already.

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  • traildog

    5/10/2017 8:11 PM

    Would be interesting to hear if she thought there were brands who do benefit from the "lifestyle" marketing in EWS about riders "just having fun". Totally agree that it can be annoying, even from a fan standpoint, i just always figured that was a deliberate brand strategy rather than something the riders were driving

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