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    MELBOURNE, Australia (BRAIN) — BikeExchange has appointed Mark Watkin as its new global CEO.

    BikeExchange was founded 10 years ago by Sam Salter and Jason Wyatt as a marketplace for people who want to buy and sell quality cycling products and services. Now that the business has a presence across nine countries globally, a dedicated CEO position was needed, Wyatt said.

     "We are excited to have someone of Mark's calibre take the helm at BikeExchange," Wyatt said. 

    "With over 20 years' experience in brand, media and advertising MD roles for global agencies, we are confident he will lead BikeExchange's into an exciting new era. Having Mark join us at this time is ideal for our business: it follows a recent launch of a new global strategy and a renewed and exciting emphasis on the consumer."

    Watkin began his career at Saatchi & Saatchi in London before spending four years at independent digital agency Hyperlink Interactive. In Australia, he worked for George Patterson Y&R Melbourne for nearly seven years before his appointment as managing director at TBWA Melbourne, and most recently, managing director at BWM Dentsu Melbourne.

    Watkin said the role is an exciting opportunity to mix his passion for business and his passion for cycling and sport: "I'm thrilled to be joining the BikeExchange business in their milestone, tenth year. Jason, Sam and the team have built a terrific and widespread platform and community. Cycling has always been a daily part of my life too, whether I'm commuting, doing group rides or racing."

    "The more we discussed the global CEO position, and the more I understood about their recent strategy work, I just became more and more buoyed by the potential ahead – in the end, I jumped at the opportunity to take the role."

    BikeExchange is owned and operated by Marketplacer, and is one of more than 20 online marketplace business currently operating on their proprietary software platform. The appointment of Watkin follows the recent appointment of Nick Baker as CEO of Outdoria, also a Marketplacer site, in August.

     


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    SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — AllTrails an online guide to the outdoors used by hikers, runners and cyclists, has announced a new partnershipwith leading air quality analytics provider, BreezoMeter, to offer real-time, hyperlocal air quality data. Alltrails' Pro users will now be able to choose the best routes for their activities by taking air quality into consideration.

    The new partnership will allow for an easy to understand color-coded air pollution map to layer over the trail maps on the Alltrails platform.

    "With air pollution becoming an increased health concern, this data is integral to informing our users of local air quality conditions and keeping outdoor enthusiasts healthy while out on the trails," said Ron Schneidermann, the CMO at Alltrails.

    BreezoMeter provides data on 17 different pollutants and three different types of pollen as part of its analysis.

    "We're very excited to work with a leading outdoor recreation company like AllTrails," said Daniel Elkabetz, head of business development at BreezoMeter. "It's a great fit for us to help put actionable data in front of people who need it to make better decisions for their health. Hikers, runners, and bikers of all skill levels need good air quality to ensure top performance, and with Alltrails' Pro version, they can now see which trails are the best for them at any given time."

    More information at alltrails.com.


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    GREENSBORO, N.C. (BRAIN) —  Bikerumor.com has added Christophe Noel to its editorial team. He comes from five years as senior editor at the Overland Journal and Expedition Portal, where he covered the overland offroad, motorcycle, and bikepacking market for print and online. Noel has contributed to Singletracks, Bikepacking magazines and websites, among others.

    "Cycling, and mountain biking in particular, is one of my biggest passions," says Noel. "I'm very excited to be coming back to that, and honored to be writing for such an industry and consumer go-to site like Bikerumor."

    Noel will be contributing to BikeRumor's new AASQ (Ask A Stupid Question) and Suspension Tech series and writing the new Tire Tech series, which explores the design, construction and technical details that make bicycle tires work. He will also be contributing more off-the-bike and related news, including some adventure vehicle info.

    "Even we want to see more than just bikes sometimes," said Bikerumor founder Tyler Benedict. "As we near our 10th birthday, we've undergone a complete website overhaul, and we're evolving what we write about to reach new readers. Christophe will be a key part of that, and I'm stoked to bring on someone with so much experience that can also introduce new ideas to our team."

    Bikerumor's editorial team now consists of eight regular contributors in the U.S., Canada and Europe.


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    Jackie Mautner teaching a class at Portland's Community Cycling Center.

    PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — Framebuilder Supply has awarded Portland framebuilder Jackie Mautner its first Women Build Bikes grant, which consists of a $1,200 credit toward framebuilding materials from the supplier.

    The company said it is "committed to removing barriers to innovation and this includes barriers that make it harder for women to establish themselves in the framebuilding world."

    Company co-founder Tony Tapay said at the recent Handbuilt Bike Show in Portland, he and co-founder Mike Cobb noticed there were almost women builders.

    "This certainly wasn't the first time that we've noticed the lack of representation of women at bike industry events, but this time we came away motivated to do something about it, especially as it pertains to our niche of framebuilding. In pursuit of this, we decided to create a yearly grant - Women Build Bikes - to assist up-and-coming female framebuilders. Our first step was reaching out to a number of women in the bike industry, seeking their assistance in identifying promising candidates for this grant. Jackie was one of those nominated, and when she responded to our questions, her answers really demonstrated an understanding of what we were setting out to do."

    In response to one of the questions, "What do you believe you bring to the framebuilding world that is unique?" Jackie wrote, "First and foremost, I hope to build the community of women, transgender, and non binary folks within the frame building industry. Creating spaces where we can support one another on our own individual and/or collaborative journeys, as well as breaking down barriers to achieving our goals such as under-representation."

    Tapay said the company intends to make the grant an annual event, but may change the focus as needed.

    "Each year we'll invite the previous years' recipients to participate in the process, insuring that we keep our attention on underrepresented groups. The name and focus of the grant could change or expand, but for right now the focus is on women."

    Cobb said, "We just really see a more diverse industry as a sign of health. It brings in more ideas and more resilience." 


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    LONG BEACH, Calif. (BRAIN) — Zwift is now offering retailers wholesale prices on membership cards, suggesting that brick-and-mortar retailers can bundle indoor training products and make it easier for new users to get started with the online cycling program. 

    Zwift, which recently raised its membership fee to $15 per month, calls the new program "ZED" for Zwift Experience Dealer.

    "This program aims to help close sales on trainers, both smart and traditional, sensors, exercise mats, water bottles, and other gear vital to indoor training, the company said.

    ZED retailers can purchase Zwift membership cards containing either three-month or 12-month subscriptions. The cards will be available wholesale direct from CycleOps and Wahoo, or through distributors Hawley (USA), Cycles Lambert (Canada), and Madison (UK). The company said it expects to add more distributors.

    "One of the biggest barriers in indoor cycling is figuring out the gear needed to get started and how much or little a trainer setup can cost," said Mike McCarthy, the VP of business development at Zwift. "By bundling hardgoods with software like Zwift, retailers can create a compelling, easy to understand package that will get customers into a new category, riding their bikes more often, and increasing demand from their local bike shop."

    Zwift is offering participating dealers in-store marketing collateral and promotional materials outlining the fitness benefits of indoor cycling and Zwift.

    Applications are available at zwift.com/zed/join. A current directory of ZED dealers can be found at zwift.com/zed.

    Bkool also announced this summer that it would offer dealers wholesale memberships to its ride software. 


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    BOSTON (BRAIN) — Velotooler, a peer-to-peer app for bike mechanics, is now offering a program for bike brands needing assembly and deliveries.

    The company has created a business account system that gives access to participating mechanics, who Velotooler said are "professional, vetted and insured." Velotooler currently has about 100 mechanics registered and another 200 in the process of registering.

    Bike assembly starts at $65 while annual full-service plans are $152 per year and include assembly, follow-up visit and tuneup.

    "The full service plan will help smaller companies with less dealership coverage to service their clients or deal with unexpected recalls and warranty service," Velotooler said.

    Velotooler schedules assemblies and other services and after the bike is complete and delivered the business account holder gets and invoice with all the details.

    At the time of the first service, Velotooler creates a profile registration for the bike and its owner in its database, which could be useful for the bike owner, future mechanics and the bike brand.

    Velotooler is in test mode with this program with several bike brands and a large retailer that the company declined to name.

    For more details on the Velotooler platform contact Yahor Buben at yahor@velotooler.com.


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    It's Tuesday morning and I pick up my phone to a very angry woman. "How could BRAIN possibly say women can't keep up with men on a bike? How could you publish such views as an industry magazine?" This female racer was infuriated and I could hardly get a word in edgewise.

    The issue at hand: Our publishing of Pinarello's press release about their new Nytro e-road bike on Monday.

    I tried to explain, this was a press release submitted by Pinarello, and that the statement that had many readers up in arms was verbatim from the company. It was their marketing statement — who they thought this electric road bike appealed to and would be the customer for it. For that reason it was in quotation marks. It's not our view, or even our words.

    "Nytro aims at a wide target, from the one that has no time to train but would never miss a weekend ride with friends, to women who would like to follow easily the men's pace, or even the ones who desire to experience cycling as a new way of life, climbing easily and going downhill safely, enjoying every single minute on the bike," the company said.

    Our staff edits press releases all the time, taking out superlatives such as "world's greatest, the best ..., the highest performing ...," and the list goes on. Those claims cannot be substantiated and it is our job to present information as factual as we can. But in this case, a statement from the company as to who they're targeting their new e-bike to was not a technical claim but an audience statement.

    Some readers questioned our judgment and why we would publish that statement at all, claiming that by doing so we somehow agreed or condoned Pinarello's views. Let's be clear: Bicycle Retailer & Industry News does not support or condone sexist marketing. But we do write and include how a company is marketing a product. To censor their language out would be to inaccurately portray their philosophy or viewpoints.

    Shouldn't readers be aware of how brands market their products? For years, many companies have gone about it in a very backwards or ill-fated way and this is clearly one example of how marketing can go wrong.

    Twenty four hours after its posting, our story had 21 comments, and cycling websites including Bicycling, Cycling Tips, Cycling News and Cycling Weekly featured stories not only on the release but the Italian bike company's Instagram campaign featuring a female who "always wanted to go cycling with her boyfriend, but it seemed impossible," implying that she couldn't keep up.

    With a badly worded press release and corresponding social media campaign, Pinarello's story about its entry into e-bikes was reduced to a commentary about gender in cycling. E-bikes can be an equalizer between riders of different fitness levels, regardless of gender. However, Pinarello's word choice and statement did not express that. It implied that all women need help keeping up with male counterparts.

    It's not on Bicycle Retailer to edit to ensure that Pinarello's statements are not sexist. We are, however, glad that it has sparked the conversation about how companies talk about their products, brands and women.

    As an aside, I'll point out that Bicycle Retailer has three females on staff. And I, for one, have been told verbally what Pinarello states in this press release several times by various brands. Perhaps that's why it has become such a hot button — many players in the industry have for years implied or made these claims in some subtle or not so subtle way. But today, women aren't just going to shrug it off as stupid marketing. They're going to be turned off to the brand or to cycling, and they're going to vote with their wallets.

    As the informational source for the industry, we aim to be critical of the content we publish and let readers know the difference between company marketing and statements and our magazine's views, and we welcome your feedback.


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    STOCKHOLM (BRAIN) — MIPS, the organization behind helmet technology intended to reduce brain injuries from oblique impacts, is suing POC, alleging the helmet maker's SPIN feature infringes on its intellectual property. POC, based in Sweden, was one of the first adopters of MIPS, which is now licensed by many helmet makers. POC began using its SPIN technology instead starting this summer

    MIPS announced this week that it had been granted a preliminary injunction in Germany to prevemt sale of POC products with SPIN. 

    MIPS said it is in the process of executing the order against POC. POC is permitted to appeal the order.

    In addition to the POC suit, MIPS announced earlier this month that it had been involved with a patent dispute with a Canadian helmet maker. It said it expected that dispute to be resolved in the next 5 months .

    POC continues to use MIPS in some products. MIPS said POC represents less than 1 percent of its net sales. In 2014, BRG, then parent company of the Bell and Giro brands, made an investment in MIPS and Bell Technology Acquisition continues to own 16.5 percent of MIPS' shares. It's not clear whether Bell Technology Acquisition continues to have a relationship with the Bell and Giro brands, which are now owned by Vista Outdoor.

    MIPS is publicly trade on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange; its revenues in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 were about $14 million. Its January-through-September sales werre up 55 percent over the same period in 2016.

    POC was founded and remains based in Sweden. It was owned by Black Diamond Equipment for several years, but in 2015 was sold to Investcorp Group, an investment firm that also owns the Dainese protective brand. 


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    Jeff Rowe, vice president of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, says a trained service staff can turn lost sales into opportunities.

    By Jeff Rowe

    Where are you and your staff, at the IBD, getting technical training on an ongoing basis?

    Some brands push that information out through their Territory Managers.  Sales staff are brought up-to-speed at an annual Sales Meeting or Product Launch, and are tasked with disseminating that information throughout their territory as product makes it to market.  

    Other brands have in-house training, and some take the show on the road.  Some brands even have abbreviated sessions at Interbike.  

    It is vital to the survival of the IBD that you are recognized as past masters on any new product or technology. 

    In the past two weeks, a major component manufacturer traveled with three staff to a major city in the southwest, and had five techs turn up for education on what is new and what is in the pipeline. None of those five Professionals worked in a brick and mortar shop.

    At The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association Technical Workshops in Denver, the same manufacturer taught a roomful of Professionals for three hours at a time, two groups per day, for three days.  Surprisingly to some industry members in attendance, the majority of mechanics attending were there on their own dime.  Retailers and employers had not subsidized their time, travel, or lodging.

    Isn’t this the IBD’s last line of defense, staff capable of recognizing what they are seeing, knowing how to assemble, install, service, and repair it? 

    It is entirely possible that your customer bought their new dropper post on-line and brought it to you to install.  We all know how frustrating this is for an IBD trying to stay profitable in today’s economy. But don’t let your pride drive away a potential customer; take a moment to count to ten, congratulate them if they bought a compatible diameter, and install it!  Advise them that service will be required after 20 hours of riding, and explain some of the most common wear issues with their setup.

    Will it be more common or less common, going forward, that a cyclist comes in who has bought a high-end bike on-line, “built” it themselves, exchanged their one-piece cockpit with the manufacturer, and have no idea how to, or even desire to, cut and refit hydraulic housings, completely re-cable derailleurs, and wrap those bars beautifully again.  

    The difference between the IBDs that survive and those that do not can be seen in whether the above scenarios end as lost sales or SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES.

    The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association has two more scheduled Technical Workshops: January in Portland and February in Washington, DC.  Consider the impact to your business if someone like your Service Lead returned from one of these Workshops with hands-on training in SRAM, RockShox, Campagnolo, DT Swiss, FSA, Vision, and other products, as well as a Business Development shot-in-the-arm from Winged Wheel and Brett Flemming.  That is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to capture a huge long-term return on a small up-front investment in your staff and your business.

    These intense sessions will not take the place of week-long visits to SRAM Technical University, etc., but they will give your shop a big advantage over others in your market, and may stoke a fire for more continuing education with both service and retail staff, brightening your future even more.

     


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    SAUSALITO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Spurcycle, best known for its small, U.S.-made bike bell, is launching a new multi-tool. The $69 tool, simply called "the Tool," is machined from Grade 5 titanium by Paragon Machine Works and includes a slim fabric case.

    The tool consists of a compact body with sliding handle that allows for quick T-form or L-form leverage depending on adjustment. Chrome-coated S2 steel bits are quick to swap and allow easy replacement if damaged. Included sizes span 2 mm hex, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, T10 Torx, T25, and Phillips #2.

    The carry case is made in San Francisco. It stows in a jersey pocket with no sharp edges to dig into the rider's back, with enough extra room to securely stash some emergency cash or a couple glueless patches.

    Spurcycle's Tool is the most recent collaboration of brothers Nick and Clint Slone, following the Spurcycle Bell, Key Clip, and Multi Pouch. The Tool will be sold through IBDs and is available online at spurcycle.com.


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    FORT COLLINS, Colo. (BRAIN) — A Colorado-based investor group has agreed to purchase Niner Bikes. In a statement released just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the company did not identify the new investors except to say, "They're a group of passionate cycling enthusiasts who want to help us grow, innovate and thrive. Their involvement guarantees that Niner will continue to be here for our riders, supporters and industry partners for years to come."

    In the statement, Niner's founder and president, Chris Sugai, said, "We're happy to have a partner that shares our vision for the future, one who enables us to take Niner's products and services to new heights.

    "I'll still be directly involved in the day-to-day operations, working diligently with our incredible team to explore and push the boundaries of this amazing brand's potential."

    The statement said the reorganization will have little day-to-day effect on the company's operations. 

    "Our capable team remains intact. That's important. Everyone here will continue to support Niner's mission of supporting trails everywhere, of building the riding stoke, and of creating incredible cycling products for riders who love to hit the dirt."

    Sugai co-founded Niner with Steve Domahidy in 2004. Domahidy left the company in 2011 and later founded Domahidy Designs, which was renamed Viral Bikes. Mike Gann, who had been with Niner for six years, including the last two years as president, announced earlier this month that he had taken a job with Look Cycle as VP of sales and marketing for the U.S. market. 

    BRAIN reached out to Niner on Monday for more details. Watch for an updated story soon. 


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    CARLSBAD, Calif. (BRAIN) — Campagnolo North America plans to hold its annual fundraising ride this Saturday, Dec. 2, to benefit Rady's Children's Hospital in San Diego.

    The ride will start and end at Campagnolo's headquarters in Carlsbad. Rolling time is 9 a.m. and the route covers approximately 32 miles. Campagnolo said there will be beer and pizza after the ride.

    Participants should bring an unwrapped toy as a donation, which will be given to a child who will spend Christmas in the hospital.

    Campagnolo's offices are located at 5431 Avenida Encinas, Suite C, in Carlsbad..


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    PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — Sage Titanium Bicycles has announced the appointment of Sean Kneale as its U.S. sales manager.

    The Portland-based company offers U.S.-manufactured titanium road, cyclocross and gravel bicycles. The brand's owner and designer is David Rosen. 

    Kneale, who has nearly 20 years of marketing and sales experience in the bicycle industry, is responsible for creating a nationwide dealer sales program, consumer and dealer relations at industry and dealer events, and the implementation of the Sage brand growth program.

    "We are excited to have Sean join our team as he brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience. Those qualities will enable him to expand the Sage dealer network into parts of the country where we have seen strong growth from both a sales and a consumer following point of view," Rosen said. "We have been steadily growing for the past three years and Sean's addition will ensure we are able to continue that trend and reach our next sales goal level."

    Kneale said, "I've kept my eye on Sage and their beautiful titanium bicycles since seeing them exhibit at the Amgen Tour of California San Diego last year. Getting the opportunity to work and ride for them is something I am very excited about! I'm looking forward to growing the brand across the U.S." 


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    GUILFORD, Conn. (BRAIN) — Thomson Bike Tours, one of the largest international bike tour companies, will exclusively provide Canyon Bicycles in its rental fleet next year. The tour operator will use the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8.0 Di2 models.

    "We're always on the lookout for the best equipment, and to build synergies with our partners. We've chosen Canyon because they've been the go-to bike for the number one pro tour team for the last few seasons and came highly recommended to us — plus they are now operating in all our target markets," said Peter Thomson, the CEO of Thomson Bike Tours. "There's great potential for both parties. Regarding the bike, the Canyon Ultimate is a fantastic all-rounder with an emphasis on climbing — which is what we do!"

    Thomson Bike Tours is the official tour partner of the Tour de France and one of only two operators worldwide to hold Official Tour de France Premium Tour Operator status. In addition to numerous trips to the Tour de France, Thomson specializes in challenging trips throughout Europe's famed cycling regions.

    Blair Clark, president of Canyon USA, said, "Partnering with Thomson as its official bike is a win-win for everyone involved — and mainly the riders who will be able to experience any of Thomson's world-class cycling trips on a high-performance machine that was built for the types of adventures Thomson offers."


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    BATH, U.K. (BRAIN) — Kask worked with designer and former pro cyclist Iris Slappendel on a new collection of apparel for women, called "Protect Your Style."

    The Protect Your Style kit will be available in selected stores globally starting next month and will include a Protone helmet, a jersey, a pair of socks and a cycling cap, all designed by Slappendel. 

    Slappendel said, "I design cycling clothes that are fashionable, so you have more fun on your bike. When designing the Protect Your Style range I was influenced by bold colors and geometric lines. It was great fun experimenting on where they would fit best and I'm really happy with how the items have turned out, they work really well together."

    Ylenia Battistello, Kask's cycling brand manager, said, "Knowing women enjoy seeing female-specific products in store we are really proud of the Protect Your Style kit. It delivers no compromise on performance, materials or fit, and the designs from Iris make a solid statement."

    All the items in the Protect Your Style kit will be available in small, medium or large; the jersey also is available in XS and XL. All products in the Protect Your Style kit are designed and made in Italy.

    More information at kask.com


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    Photo courtesy of Pacenti Cycle Design.

    MCDONALD, Tenn. (BRAIN) — Kirk Pacenti has two new partners at Pacenti Cycle Design — Duncan Lloyd and Luke Humphreys — and a new focus the brand's own expanded product line, showcased on a new website that launched recently.

    Pacenti is now offering a carbon and aluminum wheel and rim line, along with a line of P-dent bars and stems. There are no tires or mountain bike wheels, which is surprising as Pacenti was pivotal in launching 27.5 mountain bikes.

    The new site, pacenticycledesign.com, has a B2B wholesale side along with consumer direct sales.

    Kirk Pacenti said he is returning to product development for his namesake brand, after a few years of focus on projects for other companies.

    "Dealers have always liked our rims, and for many years we were the go-to place for 27.5 tires and rims," he told BRAIN. "But dealers wanted wheels and I didn't have the time to develop a wheel line." 

    "I know it's surprising not to have mountain wheels right away but I wanted to let the Boost thing settle down before redesigning the mountain wheels. We have road wheels now, and dealers have been ordering quite a few of the Carbon 30s. And we just got our P-Dent patent and have started manufacturing," he added.

    P-Dent, as the name implies combines a handlebar "dented" in the center so it can snug up against a fork steerer closer than a round handlebar. This allows P-Dent stems with extensions as short as 20-millimeters, with 25-millimeter and 30-millimeter extensions also offered. P-Dent handlebars are 35 millimeters in diameter. Because of the design's short reach, the company has requests for women's and kid's versions, which they may entertain in the future.

    Lloyd joins the company as director of operations and co-owner and fellow new co-owner Humphreys is handling sales and marketing. Lloyd and Humphreys are based in the U.K., where Pacenti Cycle Designs already has a distributor in place. And the company is looking to pick up distributors in other markets.

    "We will be dealer direct in the U.S., though bikewheelparts.com will also sell hubs and rims and other small parts," Pacenti said.

    Pacenti said he will not chase OEM business as he has in the past. However, suppliers of long and low geometry mountain bikes are interested in spec'ing his P-Dent system. He is not sure if the company will get back into supplying tires as he said he is not sure what they could offer that is not already on the market.

     


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    SAN JOSE, Calif. (BRAIN) — BicycleBlueBook has hired longtime Trek sales rep Jeff LaSelle, who will represent the company in seven Southwestern states.

    LaSelle had been with Trek for 24 years, more recently managing the North Texas and Louisiana territories for the company.

    For BicycleBlueBook, he will be covering Texas, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. 

    "Jeff fits the profile of our ideas business development partner," said Steve Parke, national business development manager for BicycleBlueBook.com. "He has that winning combination of long-standing retailer relationships and more importantly, their trust. His addition has jump started our efforts in the Texas area in the first week on board," said Parke.

    LaSelle said, "After such a long run with a prominent company like Trek, I wanted to choose my next endeavor carefully and really maximize all the learning I gained over the years of building the territory. When this opportunity came along, I didn't hesitate a second to make contact and find a way to join them." 


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    DENVER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Niner Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday ahead of a planned acquisition by a Colorado investor group.

    The company had announced Nov. 22 that a group had agreed to purchase the company, not mentioning the planned Chapter 11 filing or naming the investors.

    On Tuesday, it filed a petition with the Colorado Bankruptcy Court in Denver listing assets of $9.8 million and liabilities of $7.9 million.

    In an interview Wednesday, company co-founder and president Chris Sugai said the Chapter 11 filing was the most efficient way to sell the company to the group, which is called Columbia Basin Partners.

    "This was the cleanest and fastest way to do it," he told BRAIN, noting that the court filings show the company plans to emerge from the bankruptcy by Jan. 30 and to complete the sale prior to that date.

    In a previous interview, Sugai said Niner had been looking for an investment for some time.

    "To remain competitive we felt an investment was necessary, in order to greenlight some projects we feel are important," he told BRAIN. He said he was happy with the agreement reached with the investors but declined to say whether he would retain any equity in the company he co-founded in 2004.

    In that interview, he said Niner had been profitable for five of the last six years, but lacked resources to invest in R & D and marketing. He noted that Niner was competing with larger brands, including the major international full-line bike companies and niche brands like Santa Cruz, which was purchased by Pon Group in 2015.

    The bankruptcy filing opens the possibility that other entities could make a bid for the company. Sugai said he was aware of that risk and said he hopes Columbia Basin Partners succeeds in buying the brand. "We've been working with them for quite a while," he said.

    He declined to identify the partners beyond saying they are three experienced businessmen who are also bike enthusiasts. He said they are committed to growing the company.

    "We will be a stronger company when we come out of this. They are not buying the company to strangle it; they like the company and they want to grow it. We think that once we can see a renewal in advertising and R & D, Niner can continue to grow."

    On its website, Columbia Basin Partners said it was not a "fix and flip" investment firm. "(W)e acquire businesses for the long haul," the site says.

    Sugai said Niner will remain committed to sales through independent dealers in the U.S. and its international distributors. according to the filing, Niner has about 400 U.S. dealers and sells in 35 countries. International sales account for approximately 30 percent of its sales volume, with Europe representing approximately 13 percent of total sales.  

    Sugai said he didn't expect the bankruptcy to change the brand's relationship with its vendors.

    A background section of Niner's bankruptcy petition also sheds light on Niner's past and hopes for the future.

    "Although the Debtor has achieved tremendous growth since inception, an overleveraged balance sheet has stalled growth over the past few years as the Debtor has needed to focus on making principal and interest payments on debt rather than investing in growing the business," the filing reads. "The Debtor has been engaged in an extensive pre-petition marketing campaign and has obtained an initial stalking horse bid for the sale of its assets. Through the Chapter 11 Case, the Debtor seeks to sell substantially all its assets before the end of January 2018 in accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 363 in an effort to recapitalize the Debtor and continue its growth ...

    "With a recapitalized balance sheet, the Debtor will be able to, among other things, hire the engineers and product managers necessary to design bikes for women, to begin offering kid’s models, to create electric mountain bikes, and continue to increase models with different wheel sizes. The Debtor also believes that by enlarging their omnichannel footprint they will be able to increase brand awareness and engagement, ultimately leading to substantial revenue growth."

    Sugai founded Niner in 2004 with partner Steve Domahidy, who left the company in 2011. According to court filings, Sugai owns 68 percent of the company. Domahidy continues to own 2.5 percent and a handful of other current or past employees own small shares as well.


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    The THM Fibula brake.

    BREMBATE, Italy (BRAIN) — THM Carbones, the high-end German component brand purchased by 3T last year, is eyeing growth in the U.S. market by adding sales, support and fulfillment for the brand through 3T's U.S. operation.

    THM previously was distributed in the U.S. via a worldwide distribution center in Italy that it shares with parent company 3T.

    "This is great news for our customers," said 3T America's general manager, Dave Koesel, in a news release Wednesday.

    "We are getting many inquiries for THM components from our 3T Exploro customers who want to build the best and lightest bike they can. Now we can offer a much shorter delivery time frame, along with sales and technical support right here in the U.S.A.," he said.

    A new U.S.-based business unit, THM North America, is directed by Koesel and located in Aliso Viejo, California. THM North America will carry out all dealer and consumer sales and support functions. Order fulfillment is hosted by 3T's U.S. distributor, Vittoria Industries North America, which warehouses THM stock in its central U.S. logistics facility.

    "We have a long-standing partnership with VINA that works very well," said Koesel. "With the growing demand for THM products from customers in North America, it makes sense to expand that partnership to bring fulfillment, sales, and service into a dedicated U.S. operation that can easily be accessed through our e-commerce platform."

    He said the new system eliminates foreign currency concerns. "THM is no longer a foreign business entity with potential exposure to import duties and currency fluctuation. The price you see on the www.THM.bike webstore is the price you pay," he said.

    THM offers some of the world's lightest components, including 295-gram Clavicula cranksets, the 120-gram Fibula brakeset and the 80-gram Tibia stem, all designed and manufactured in Germany.

     


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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (BRAIN) — Park's newest tool is a combination corkscrew and bottle opener with a blade for removing foil. The tool, model number BO-4, features all stainless-steel mechanisms housed in a forged aluminum case.

    "This is a top-quality beverage tool perfect for the workbench, toolbox or wine bar," the company said.

    It retails for $47.95.

    More information at: parktool.com/product/corkscrew-bottle-opener-bo-4.


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