Project 321 Hubs: New Canadian Ownership
If you're a rider in search of Made in Canada products, there are plenty of things to be excited about, and now there's one more: Project 321, the well-respected hub brand formerly based in Bend, Oregon, has been bought by a Canadian group and is being moved north of the border. Full details are below, including answers to some questions I put to Mark Wells, Project 321's business development manager. Find the release after the break, and the Q&A after that. And we'll bring you more news from Project 321's new leadership team soon as they get ready to announce the brand's Gen 3 hub in the near future.
We are excited to announce that Project 321 is under new ownership!
Here is what you need to know:
- Project 321 Inc., a newly created stand-alone Canadian entity, has acquired the Project 321 brand and its hub-related assets;
- Project 321 Inc. has the capacity and ambition to scale into an industry leading cycling component manufacturer that will focus on OEM, aftermarket, and direct sales;
- A Generation 3 (“G3”) Project 321 hub is currently being tested and its official release date will be announced this quarter;
- The Generation 2 (“G2”) hub has been discontinued and is no longer available for sale; and
- Existing warranties will be honoured, and spare parts and service will continue to be available.
Project 321 Timeline
Project 321 was founded 17 years ago by Jake Liles in Fresno California, and initially produced motorcycle gas caps. The foray into bicycle components began in 2005 with the development of Lefty fork adapters. Bicycle hub manufacturing started in 2011, initially utilizing drive rings and pawls sourced from Industry Nine.
Project 321 introduced its magnet-actuated pawl hubs in January of 2017 with the launch of the G2 Hub. The G2 was equipped with a class-leading 216 points of engagement and unique optionality for both quiet and loud driver configuration. Overall, the G2 offered a compelling combination of high-engagement and low-drag, quickly developing a reputation for outstanding performance and reliability. In late 2017, Jake moved shop from Fresno to Bend, Oregon. The move enabled him to increase quality and production capacity by bringing nearly all manufacturing in-house. In the years following, Jake and his partner Sam grew Project 321 into an internationally recognized brand with a dedicated following.
G3 Hub and Stan’s
With over five years of experience manufacturing and refining the G2 hub design, Jake was confident that any issue observed in the field with early versions had been addressed with running design changes; the G2 was now tested and proven. True to his nature, Jake got restless and started thinking of a new and improved G3. Around the same time, Stan’s No Tubes approached Project 321 for help developing a rear hub, and Jake went to work on a new design.
Ownership Transition and Moving North
With the launch of the Stan’s MPluse hub (which includes several G3 components manufactured by Project 321), the global increase demand for cycling components, and the commitments of a growing family, Jake and Sam started to feel that it might be time to start to look to transition Project 321. Around this time, Jake was introduced to Bryden Richardson, the CEO of a precision manufacturing company that was exploring the idea of designing and manufacturing bicycle hubs.
It’s funny how the world can work, as they both had exactly what the other was looking for. Jake had a strong brand and a product known for quality and reliability. Bryden and his team had experience scaling businesses in precision manufacturing (North Arc Precision) and sporting goods components (TriggerTech). TriggerTech was founded in 2013 and has grown to become an industry leading supplier of trigger components to OEMs, aftermarket, and consumers in the firearms and crossbow space. To meet the growing needs of TriggerTech, North Arc Precision was created to act as a stand-alone precision manufacturing business with specific expertise in Wire EDM fabrication, CNC machining and complex assembly processes. North Arc Precision has the capacity and expertise to meet Project 321’s growing manufacturing needs on day one.
Research quickly turned to negotiations and after a few months Project 321 Inc. was formed as a stand-alone entity to acquire the brand and hub related assets from Jake and Sam’s holding company, JLSO Inc.
Project 321 is moving all operations to a 42,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Mississauga Ontario. From Canada, Project 321 will have the capacity and ambition to scale into an industry leading cycling component manufacturer that will supply OEMs, wholesalers, wheel builders, retail shops, and consumers directly.
A brand-new G3 hub is currently in is in the final stages of testing and its official release date will be announced this quarter.
G2 hub production has been discontinued, but service and spare parts will continue to be available. All existing warranties will be honored from the new Canadian headquarters.
We are excited to bring hub manufacturing to Canada and invite you to sign up to follow our story. We look forward to working with you!
-The Project 321 Team
A NOTE FROM JAKE AND SAM (former owners of Project 321)
“To Our Dear Customers, Friends and Family,
How do you begin to say goodbye to something that has been a part of your daily life for nearly seventeen years? For us it starts with THANK YOU.
Thank you to our customers. Who helped us to grow an unknown brand of quality American-made products from an idea in a garage to an international brand. Your trust and support means everything to us.
Thank you to our employees, past and present. We never could have made it this far without a team of people who believed in our vision.
Thank you to all of the friends we have made along the way. We could not have imagined some of the deep and lasting connections that have come from starting and running this company.
Thank you to our families, especially our parents. Without you we could not have survived our children's early years!
And thank you to the new owners of PROJECT321. Who have given us the opportunity to transition into a new phase of our lives and to watch the brand we started so many years ago develop in big and exciting ways.
This has been an amazing and unique journey and we are beyond grateful to everyone who has been part of it.
With Much Love and Gratitude,
-Jake and Sam”
Want a little hub sound excellence (with machining in the background)? Of course you do...
NSMB: Can you tell me a bit more about the new owners and leadership team at Project 321?
Project 321: Our leadership team, comprised mainly of Finance and Engineering professionals with a strong background in R&D and precision manufacturing in the automotive industry (and who are also avid cyclists). The leadership team own the majority of the equity of Project 321. There are a few other private investors who are friends and family of the leadership team. There are no corporate or institutional investors involved. Project 321 is a stand-alone entity - Project 321 is not a subsidiary of TriggerTech, nor is TriggerTech a shareholder of Project 321.
Before anyone gets triggered, can you explain a bit about TriggerTech and what they do?
Sure, here are few things to know about TriggerTech:
- TriggerTech is a Canadian company that was founded in 2013 after an “aha moment” where Mats Lipowski and Greg Baniak, two automotive engineers, developed and patented a way to make a crossbow trigger work on the principle of true rolling friction (conventional triggers utilize sliding friction).
- TriggerTech’s innovations have resulted in a step change in performance and safety of firearms and crossbows. The following article talks in a bit more detail about what sets TriggerTech apart:https://precisionrifleblog.com/2019/01/20/best-trigger/
- TriggerTech’s primary product are triggers for bolt action rifles which are primarily used competition and hunting.
- TriggerTech has become an industry leading supplier to major OEMs, Custom Builders, Military and Law enforcement agencies, and various aftermarket channels.
- TriggerTech is proud to have supplied triggers to support Ukraine’s war effort, something that is particularly meaningful as the company has a strong contingent of employees with Ukrainian heritage.
Will the new G3 hub be the same or similar to the hubs Project 321 is currently manufacturing for Stan’s? What else can you tell us about the G3 hub? Can you share any tasty details before the official launch (pawl system, weight, pricing, etc)?
Like the legacy G2 hub and the new Stan’s MPulse hub, the new G3 hubs will have a healthy number of points of engagement for quick power transmission, and run on magnet actuated pawls which help to keep drag to a minimum. The G3 was developed by Jake Liles, Project 321’s founder, and is a refined and improved version of the G2. Yes, it will share some components with the Stan’s MPulse. I’m sure you can glean a little more from our teaser shots as well!
G2 hubs were available in a wide array of colours. Can we expect the same for G3? Is anodizing going to be done in-house or will you use a (presumably Canadian) supplier?
To start Anodizing will be done by a supplier in Canada. The contract has not been awarded yet and we are still evaluating supplier capabilities.
Are you able to let us in on any of the rim and wheel manufacturers you will be working with, other than Stan’s?
We’re currently exploring our options – stay tuned!