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    GOLDEN, Colo. (BRAIN) — A nonprofit here is proposing to build several sections of singletrack trails adjacent to paved sidewalks, to allow children and beginner mountain bikers a taste of trail riding.

    The Golden Giddyup, a local trails group, is proposing the "Singletrack Sidewalks" pilot project on city property. The group proposes that the new trails would be constructed by the Golden Giddyup Trail Team in partnership with neighborhood organizations and the City of Golden Parks staff.

    The city is gathering input from the community about the plan, which includes six segments of singletrack around town. The longest proposed segment is 0.69 miles; two of them are just a tenth of a mile each.

    The group is collecting comments on its website; a public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28. 

    Golden is home to Yeti Cycles, Commencal's U.S. headquarters, Spot Brand, and Feedback Sports, among other bicycle industry members. Bentonville, Arkansas, and Eagle, Colorado, also have built similar singletrack around their communities, and every community that contains dirt and bikes has miles of social trails alongside sidewalks that serve a similar purpose. 


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    SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Interbike said it will add $1,000 to the existing purse for the overall winner of the 2018 Mechanics Challenge presented by Park Tool.

    The third annual contest, which consists of timed challenges that test the skills of bicycle mechanics, is free to badged attendees of Interbike and will be held Sept. 18 and 19 on the show floor in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. The winner's package includes Shimano products, the soon-to-be-released Park Tool BX-3 Rolling Big Blue Box, and hotel accommodations at Interbike 2019.

    The $1,000 award brings the prize package to its largest ever. Mechanics who want a chance to win must pre-register for the qualifying rounds of the Mechanics Challenge on Active.com. More information and registration for the Mechanics Challenge can be found on the Interbike website.

    The Mechanics Challenge is presented by Park Tool, with support from the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, Shimano, Gemini Timing, Continental Tires and Project Bike Tech.


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    Fishman (center) is president and co-founder of Pure Cycles.

    By Michael Fishman

    Editor's note: Michael Fishman is the co-founder and president of Pure Cycles (originally called Pure Fix), which sells traditional bikes and e-bikes through IBDs and consumer direct. This article has been edited slightly for BRAIN's audience; Fishman's original article is on Medium.com.

    I'm writing this to give you a glimpse into how a small-business owner is dealing with the recent increase in tariffs on Chinese-made goods being imported into the U.S. In this post, I will give you a quick background on the tariffs, how the tariffs impact my company, Pure Cycles, what I did to try to stop the tariffs from happening, what the bike industry did to stop the tariffs, and why this is bad for the bike industry and future potential bike riders.

    A Bit of Background
    Earlier this year in March I was getting nonstop questions from friends/family/employees about increases in tariffs for steel and aluminum coming from China into the United States. I made it my mission to talk with friends within the steel industry, and scoured articles and various sources of bicycle industry news to find out how and if this was ever going to directly impact importing bicycles and bicycle parts for Pure Cycles. Everyone that I spoke with and everything that I read kept coming back to how these tariffs were extraordinarily unpredictable and that the tariffs were not being used to achieve the supposed outcome. A tariff, simply put, is a tax on goods coming into a country. Tariffs in the U.S. are used to make the price of products produced outside the U.S. more expensive so that the U.S.-made option is more attractive.

    "I would love to make our bicycles in the U.S. for so many reasons, but as of right now it is just not feasible."

    In the case of steel, only 5 percent of the world's steel is produced in the United States as the infrastructure and technology to produce steel efficiently is in other countries. When the 25 percent tariff on steel from China and other countries was made official in June, this was a big hint that our administration was not putting tariffs in place to protect U.S. industry but that they had an ulterior motive, which was starting a tax war to "end an era of unfair trade deals."

    This put every U.S. company producing goods in China on notice, and since we produce all our bicycles in China, we started to scramble to look for other manufacturing options. Finding another manufacturer outside of China to manufacture 10-plus different bike models is not an easy task, especially given that over 90 percent of all bicycles sold in the U.S. are imported from China. Even more than the steel industry, the infrastructure and expertise to produce bikes are mostly in China and there is nothing that our small, young bicycle brand in the United States can do about it. I would love to make our bicycles in the U.S. for so many reasons, but as of right now it is just not feasible. I kept telling myself that bicycles were safe from tariff increases since there is no bike manufacturing industry to protect in the U.S., but, sadly, I was wrong.

    On June 15, the U.S. Trade Representative first announced a list of 284 categories that made up $16 billion worth of Chinese products that could be hit with a 25 percent tariff and electric bikes were included. Electric bike companies (and any other company affected) were given a couple of weeks to send letters to the USTR and Congress to let them know why their products should be excluded from the tariff, and a decision was expected to be made by the end of the year. I submitted letters on Pure Cycles' behalf, as did most of the other companies in the bike industry. Surprisingly, the USTR quickly came back on August 7 and announced that starting August 23 all electric bikes (and $16 billion of other Chinese products) imported to the US from China would be hit with a 25 percent tariff.

    This situation is the definition of unpredictable. Not only were electric bikes included in the 25 percent tariff list, ignoring the fact that these tariffs are not protecting the U.S. electric bike manufacturing industry, we were given less than three weeks to fit these massive cost increases into our business. Overnight, e-bike duties went from 0 percent to 25 percent. To make matters worse, on top of these electric bike tariff increases, the USTR announced on August 1 that the U.S. is considering another 25 percent tariff on $200 billion in Chinese products, and this time the list includes all non-electric bicycles and bicycle parts & accessories. While I, and the rest of the bike industry, are again submitting our letters to the USTR and Congress to have bicycles and bicycle-related product excluded from the tariff increase, I can't imagine that our administration's predictably unpredictable behavior will change. I fully expect in the very near future that all the bicycle-related products that we import from China will have a 25 percent tariff.

    Pure Cycles' Impact

    So, now where does this leave my business? How should I deal with these 25 percent tariffs to our best-selling new bikes, and how should I deal with the proposed 25 percent tariffs to all our other products? Should I focus on the short-term, leave prices the same, and just weather the storm thinking that these trade wars will end shortly? Or should I believe that these increased tariffs are here to stay and make significant changes to my prices and completely change my marketing material and confuse and upset my customers?

    Before answering these questions, I think that is important to explain why we make our bikes in China and China's role in the bike industry.

    Although there is a stigma about products made in China, I, and the rest of the bike industry, have found this stigma to be completely unfounded. The fact is, China is making over 90 percent of all bicycles coming into the U.S. for a reason. China has spent years investing in infrastructure and processes that allow them to be some of the best in the world.

    The bicycle infrastructure that Chinese companies have built is remarkable. Everything that you need to build a high-quality bicycle is in China  — from bicycle assembly factories to frame manufactures (steel, aluminum, carbon) to painting facilities to component fabricators ... you can find them all close to one another.

    While we would love to make all our bicycles in the U.S., the infrastructure to make this a reality is currently not in place. If you are interested in buying a 100 percent American made bicycle you will be looking at spending thousands for a handmade frameset and very expensive components (there is nothing wrong with this but I just want to give you proper perspective). The facilities that are attempting to produce bicycles at scale in the US (like Kent who assembles their bikes for mass-market retailers, like Walmart, in South Carolina) are all just assembly plants who are getting the components sent over from China.

    We should not be ashamed that we make our bikes in China. We should celebrate that China is able to produce a high-quality bikes at a fair price, which then enables more people to get on bikes. We should never lose sight that bikes are the most efficient form of transportation, that they are the healthiest form of transportation, and that they are fun! If China is the country that can make the highest quality bike for the best price, then that is where bikes should be produced. It is in every countries' best interest to put their resources in their highest skilled areas, and trade with other countries for the products they can't produce as well domestically. This is a fundamental principle of macroeconomics.

    As soon as I got news that electric bikes were included on the list of 284 categories that were subject to a 25 percent tariff I tried to fight against these tariffs. I sent letters to the USTR ( see here), Congressman Adam Schiff  —  the Congressman in my district (see here), and the two California senators  —  Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris (see here and here). The most interesting part of this process was the responses from Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Harris (see here and here).

     Congressman Schiff did not reply. In summary, both senators said that they understand our concerns, that they disagree with the current raise in tariffs, and that they are also concerned with how the economy will respond. Although my efforts did not lead to anything, I will continue to fight the additional 25 percent proposed tariffs even though we believe the same result will occur and all bicycle products from China will soon carry the 25 percent tariff.

    So, now that you see how my entire business (and most of U.S. bike industry) is reliant on our partnership with our Chinese manufactures you can truly understand how much this trade war is going to impact the bike industry. Sadly, since we are a small company and since we only had three weeks to prepare for this 25 percent increase in duties, we can't afford just to eat the increase in costs and we have no choice but to raise our prices for our electric bikes (and most likely soon do the same on all our bikes and bike accessories). What used to be an extremely affordable $1,999 smart electric bike (Volta) will now be $500 more expensive and will retail for $2,499. This dramatic rise in price is necessary to ensure that we can continue to operate and are able to make the required margins to survive. The only comforting thing with this price increase is that I know other bike companies will have no choice but to follow suit.

    Not only will these tariffs impact our sales of electric bikes in the short term, but the long-term planning for our future electric bike development is also now up in the air. We have plans to release many more electric bikes over the next 1—2 years (such as our cargo electric bike, Capacita) but it is tough to plan in this trade war environment.

    We are currently receiving quotes from new manufacturers in Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries, but this process will take at least another 12 months before this will make any impact to our business (and we suspect that these countries will not be able to make the high quality product at the desired affordable prices that we need). Lastly, we looked into assembling bikes in the U.S. but the 25 percent tariff is also on electric bike parts from China (ex: motors) and there are no manufactures in the U.S. producing these at any reasonable scale.

    Bicycle Industry Impact

    We are lucky to be in an industry where there are so many passionate business leaders and advocacy groups that fight on behalf of the industry for the betterment of our customers. As soon as the electric bike tariff was made official our industries' largest advocacy groups, PeopleforBikes and Bicycle Product Suppliers Association came out and provided the entire community with information on how we could help to remove electric bikes from the list of 284 categories. Industry leaders from top companies like Trek and Kent testified in person against these tariffs (all in all, over 230 letters were submitted to the USTR). The industry is also filing a request for electric bikes exclusion on behalf of the entire bicycle industry but, sadly, I am skeptical that this will work.

    The industry argued these main points to try to get electric bikes excluded from the 284-category list:

    • No one is producing electric bikes in the US at any reasonable scale because the infrastructure to do so does not exist.
    • These tariffs will not lead to US brands looking to manufacturer in the US but instead will lead brands to manufacturers in Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries.
    • The tariffs have the potential to hurt jobs within the bicycle industry without having any positive impact on US manufacturing.
    • Even U.S. brands who are trying to make bikes in the U.S. are against these tariffs. One example is Kent International, one of the leading volume sellers of bikes in the US distributing mostly to Walmart, Target, and other big department stores. Kent opened a facility in South Carolina in 2014 to try to bring bicycle manufacturing back to the US and are starting with only the assembly and painting process (almost all frames and components are being imported from China). Kent argued that tariffs on imported parts from China are undermining their efforts to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US and will make it difficult to continue to grow and offer more jobs.
    • Sales volume of bikes has been relatively flat over the past 20 years and electric bikes are finally giving the industry the opportunity to expand and to get more people on bikes. These tariffs could ruin this opportunity as the tariffs could increase the price of electric bikes outside of the average consumer's budget (decent electric bikes were already $1,500-plus before these tariffs).
    • To add to the irony of this situation, while US companies will have to pay 25 percent to import electric bikes from China, China e-commerce sellers can ship bike products into the US without the collection of duties and without the collection of sales taxes. This will allow an unfair advantage to Chinese sellers and will harm our independent bike shops and our U.S. e-commerce sellers.
    • The Trump administration said the tariffs are necessary to protect national security and the intellectual property of US businesses, but the bicycle industry does NOT have these problems. If the bicycle tariffs are not protecting national security, intellectual property, or US manufacturing then why are bicycles included as one of the categories?
    • The EU put a huge anti-dumping tariff on all electric bikes from China earlier this year and news just came out that 33 percent of all importers have stopped their e-bike imports from China and have not found an alternative solution. Read more about this here.
    • Industry leaders and advocacy groups are doing a fantastic job at being loud, educating the community, and hiring talented lobbyist groups to speak with the right people. Yet at the end of the day, we just don't have enough money and influence to make a difference when it comes to these tariffs.

    Consumer Impact

    The tariffs are going to force U.S. bike brands to raise the retail prices of their bikes and passing these additional tariff costs onto customers will lead to a slowdown in consumer spending. Less consumer spending will ultimately lead to fewer bikes being ridden and more expensive transportation for low-income people.

    In addition to raising prices, these tariffs could also lead to fewer jobs in the bike industry as companies will be forced to spend less and could even result in some companies going out of business.

    Conclusion

    As you can see, my business and the collective bike industry have spent a lot of effort in trying to reverse these tariffs by listing numerous reasons why electric bicycles should be excluded but, in the end, it has not been enough, and it seems the policy changes are out of our control.

    In the past eight years of running this business, I have learned a lot about how policy changes are made and what I've realized that it really comes down to money and influence. The industries that have enough cash and high-powered friends can influence policy while the others can't, regardless of rational and what is better for the overall public. It is a shame that the comparatively small $6 billion U.S. bicycle industry has little pull because bicycles make the world a better place. The bike is such a compelling product. It's healthy and fun benefits should not be ignored. Everyone should be against any policy that has a chance to put fewer bikes on the road.

    As for Pure Cycles, I know that we will continue to succeed and do what we have always done with every other obstacle in our way over the past eight years ... survive and thrive!

    How You Can Help

    If you want to help end this 25 percent bicycle tariff and have your voice heard, please fill out this form on peopleforbikes.org.


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    BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The International Mountain Bicycling Association has launched an online survey. The nonprofit says findings will help guide its advocacy work. IMBA worked with the SRAM Cycling Fund and Ohio University researchers on the national survey, which is open until Sept. 20.

    IMBA said it's seeking "the diverse opinions of America's mountain bikers to understand their habits, access to trails and levels of engagement."

    The survey asks about a variety of topics including mountain biking experience, how respondents were introduced to mountain biking, type of riding they engage in and prefer, the kinds of local trails that are available, frequency of mountain biking, duration of rides, people they ride with, other sports they engage in as well as how much they've spent on bikes, how many they own, how much is spent on service and related parts, and where respondents have purchased mountain biking equipment and gear.

    The survey also asks about traveling for mountain bike trips, races, and how much time and money is spent on destination mountain biking.

    Aside from user experience, IMBA also asks about what respondents believe are the biggest threats to gaining trail access, about e-MTB use on mountain bike trails, and views on bike access in federal Wilderness Areas.

    The survey takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It's open to U.S. residents ages 18 and older and can only be taken once per person. Answers will be anonymous.

    "Much is known about the habits and priorities of passionate and engaged mountain bikers — those who read mountain bike media, belong to local advocacy groups and take mountain bike-specific vacations. While their opinions are critical to the success of this survey, so, too, are the little-understood experiences and desires of those who ride only occasionally and casually, and those who might not even ride at all but are interested peripherally in mountain biking. Understanding what might engage more casual riders in mountain bike volunteerism and providing them their desired experiences is critical for both advocacy organizations and land managers," IMBA said in its news release.

    IMBA said it will provide a high-level summary of the findings at its 30th anniversary celebration in Bentonville, Ark., October 26-28. The findings will be available online via IMBA.com after that date.

    Readers can take the survey here: ohio.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_e8ugn6H4uebaBRH.


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    PHILADELPHIA (BRAIN) — Advanced Sports Enterprises is consolidating some back end functions at its two e-commerce brands, Nashbar and Performance. The two brands are moving toward operating on the same inventory system and consolidated warehousing. ASE closed the Nashbar warehouse in Ohio at the end of July and also consolidate some positions at its Chapel Hill, North Carolina, facility.

    In 2000, Performance bought Nashbar, which Arnie Nashbar founded in New Middletown, Ohio, in 1974.  In 2016, ASI — the owner and distributor of Fuji, Breezer, SE Bikes and other brands — bought Performance. ASE was formed as the parent company of ASI and Performance.

    Despite the merger, Nashbar and Performance have continued to operate on separate systems and ship from separate warehouses until this year.

    Nashbar and Performance are continuing as distinct online retail brands, ASE's CEO, Pat Cunnane, told BRAIN. "They are separate brands just like Fuji and SE are separate brands," he said. BikeNashbar.com is positioned to compete with other discount and close out e-commerce sites while PerformanceBicycle.com competes with e-commerce retailers "that carry a wide selection of leading brands," Cunnane said. Performance also has 104 brick-and-mortar locations, while Nashbar hasn't had a physical storefront in many years.

    Shipments to Performance and Nashbar customers are now coming from the same warehouse, but the packaging and labeling are distinct for each brand.

    Cunnane said the warehouse closure resulted in the elimination of 31 jobs in Ohio; however, three employees have transferred to Performance, and the company has added 14 warehouse positions in North Carolina. The consolidation of systems meant the elimination of 15 positions in Chapel Hill; 9 people lost jobs while other employees were reassigned to new positions.

    ASE also has a customer service facility in West Virginia that services both brands. Cunnane said there were no positions eliminated in West Virginia.

    In testimony about proposed bike tariffs in Washington on Monday, Cunnane said ASE has nearly 2,000 employees in the U.S. and annual revenues of more than $250 million.


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    Dave Watson.

    REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (BRAIN) — Dave "Crazy Dave" Watson, a cycling team founder, race official and mail order purveyor of European cycling gear, died Aug. 18 at age 82. 

    In the early 1970s, Watson was a ski patroller in Vermont who took up cycling to stay in shape in the summer. His interest led him to launch "Crazy Dave's Racing Components." He imported bike brands like Somec Air, Cinelli, Marinoni, Oschsner, Basso, Holdsworth, Bob Jackson, Redcay, Medici and Gios. He also sold hairnet helmets, tubular tires, wheelsets, framesets and hard-to-find racing components like Dura-Ace track rings, Modolo brakesets and Campagnolo groupsets.

    In 1972, Watson founded the Fuji Cycling Team, which became one of the longest-running clubs in the U.S. under the tutelage of Tracy Lea. Watson individually sponsored riders such as Sue Novara Reber, Karen Bliss, Nancy Neely and others,  providing them with tires and components and helping them in their racing careers.

    Bliss, now chief marketing office at ASE, the parent company of Fuji, knew Watson for more than 35 years, she told BRAIN on Monday.

    "Dave stayed in touch with a few folks from the 70s and 80s when he was running his business. He was always a part of the Fuji Family and attended the Fuji party at the Philadelphia race every year until 2016 (the race's final year)," Bliss said. 

    Watson was a USCF official for some of the classic races such as the Tour of Somerville, the Tour of Nutley, and the Rahway Criterium.

    He grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. His parents, originally from Scotland, emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. He had an older sister and younger brother both of whom predeceased him. He was married for a short time in the 1970s to Patricia. He had no children.

    After graduating from Nutley High School, where he played basketball and was captain of the golf team, he joined the National Guard. He was a squad leader and sharp shooter for nine years before he was honorably discharged. He received his New Jersey Underwriter's License and went on to a long career selling insurance for Prudential.

    In 2003, Dave moved to Rehoboth Beach where he was active in the Presbyterian church and was generous with his time and financially to the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware. He died at his home due to numerous health issues. No memorial service is planned. 


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    CORK, Ireland (BRAIN) — Aqua Blue Sport, a UCI World Tour team, will shut down at the end of this season, the team announced Monday.

    The team was notable because it launched with an unusual business plan, relying on a team-owned "multi-retailer online marketplace" site for part of its funding. The squad also stood out for its choice of single-chainring 3T road bikes, marking the first time a 1x group was used regularly in top level road racing.

    The 3T sponsorship agreement included the sale of 3T bikes on the team's e-commerce site, aquabluesport.com.

    The Ireland-based team counted former U.S. pro road race champion Larry Warbasse among its members. It had been negotiating to acquire another pro team, which apparently would have secured its future, but that agreement fell apart.

    In a Twitter announcement Monday, the team said all negotiations with that team have ended.

    "We, Aqua Blue Sport, started this project over two years ago with huge ambition, gusto and optimism that we could actually make a difference. This year we have found it increasingly difficult to obtain race invitations and recognition from race organizers in how unique and how well supported our project should be."


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    BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — PeopleForBikes has scheduled a second webinar to update the industry on the Trump administration's proposed and enacted tariffs on bicycle products, including the e-bike tariff that took effect last week. 

    The webinar is Thursday at 9 a.m. PT. 

    The organization said updates will include information on the e-bike tariffs, a higher proposed tariff rate on other bicycles and related products, and actions the industry can still take as the U.S. Trade Representative winds down its public comment process.

    You can sign up at: register.gotowebinar.com/register/839319191058326018.


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    SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS, Calif. (BRAIN) — Mountain bike advocates and land managers on Sunday will celebrate the reopening of one of the region's most popular mountain biking and hiking trails, the Gabriel National Recreation Trail through the Arroyo Seco canyon. The trail was destroyed in 2009 in El Niño-fueled flooding that followed the ferocious Station Fire in Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains.

    After a lengthy environmental review, restoration work on the 4-mile section of the 26-mile trail began in late 2017, with six volunteer chainsaw operators clearing downed trees to restore the trail corridor. The Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) led monthly volunteer work days from November to July. Local retailers including Pasadena Cyclery, Incycle Bicycles, Golden Saddle Cyclery and Montrose Cyclery sponsored work days.

    Advocacy group the Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) secured grants from REI and Southern California Edison to hire trail builders Belfree Contractors to conduct technical work on the trail, but the majority of the trail work was done by more than 100 volunteers over 283 work days, CORBA stated. Trail closure signs were removed last week by volunteers and officials from the U.S. Forest Service.

    A mile-long section of the trail has been moved out of the sand and gravel wash it follows and has been restored on the hillside. "It's a much better trail now than it was even before the fire," CORBA president Steve Messer told BRAIN.

    The MWBA will hold a volunteer appreciation celebration this Sunday, Sept. 2, from noon to 3 p.m. at Loma Alta Park in Altadena, California. Representatives from CORBA, the U.S. Forest Service, REI, local bike shops and clubs will all be on hand. Several groups plan to ride, hike, run, bikepack or backpack the trail in the days leading up to the celebration.

    CORBA stated: "CORBA has been proud and honored to work so closely with MWBA and the Forest Service to help rebuild this historic and important trail. We are very grateful to REI and Southern California Edison for the grants in support of the project. CORBA extends our sincere thanks to all the volunteer groups who maintain other sections of this 26-mile trail, including the Boy Scouts, the Sierra Club, the AC100, the Angeles National Forest 50 trail runners and the Haramokngna Native American Cultural Center."

     


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    WILTON, Conn. (BRAIN) — Cannondale's new Topstone bike line includes three gravel bikes with aluminum frames, starting at $1,000 retail.

    The bikes are named after a favorite dirt road section near Cannondale's global headquarters in Connecticut.

    "Built for smashing out big miles on the roughest of gravel roads, Topstone's confident rider position, nimble handling and grippy high-volume tires make it an ideal weekend tourer, an all-weather commuter, or simply a supremely comfortable all-around road bike," the company said.

    The bikes have a SmartForm C2 Alloy frame with clearance for 700c tires up to 42 mm wide. The bikes also have a full carbon fork with a tapered steerer and a 12 mm thru-axle. The Topstone features similar stack and reach measurements to Cannondale's endurance road bike, the Synapse. It also has Cannondale's OutFront Geometry, which pairs a slack head angle with a 55 mm fork offset. The bikes also have an internal cable routing for a dropper seatpost, mounts for top tube storage, and multiple mounts for carrying three bottles or large frame bags.

    The new line includes a model with SRAM APEX 1 part and a dropper post ($2,000), a model with Shimano 105 parts ($1,650) and a model with Shimano Sora ($1,000). The bikes come in XS, S, M, L, and XL. More information: cannondale.com/thetopstone.


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    The company said its tire production capacity will be increased by 40 percent before the spring selling season.

    BANGKOK, Thailand (BRAIN) — Vee Rubber Corporation, the parent of Vee Tire Company, is adding staff and expanding production in Thailand in response to demand from OEM and aftermarket customers in the U.S.

    The company said its tire production capacity will be increased by 40 percent before the spring selling season.

    The Trump administration has proposed a 25 percent tariff on a wide range of bike products from China, including bike tires. The U.S. Trade Representative is expected to decide next month whether to go ahead with the proposal. 

    But Vee officials said they are already seeing increased demand from the U.S. industry. 

    "We're taking swift steps to add capacity to our factories, which essentially means hiring and training additional staff," said Veerawat Sukanjanapong, brand director for Vee Tire Co. "Our tires are made by hand, which requires skilled, trained labor."

    Jason Rico, the company's North American sales manager, added, "We're in a unique position to help brands and distributors that have been buying in China, and need a new supplier. We already own the machinery for this expansion, as well as our own rubber plantation."

    Vee has five factories including a mold-making facility in Thailand, one factory in Vietnam, and one in India.

    Most brands that have tires made in China are scrambling to prepare. Rico said the proposed tariff "is simply not a livable solution for American companies or consumers.” 

    WTB, for example, has a long and close relationship with the Innova tire factory in China, which makes all of the brand's higher-end tire models. WTB's president, Patrick Seidler, told BRAIN last month that there is little time to switch factories before the tariff could take effect.

    "If this happens, we will lose customers, lose margin and not make a profit. If we lose money, we have less to invest in the company and less money to employ more people here," Seidler told BRAIN. 

    "In the short term, we are expediting shipments of tires into this country to get our fourth quarter inventory in place. That’s all we can do; we don’t know how long this will last, no one does."


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    Limited numbers of bikes with the new $2,000 upgrade are hitting the market, allowing Fox and bike brands to educate retailers on it.

    SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) — As a $2,000 upgrade, Fox's new Live Valve electronic suspension control system certainly fits the "halo product" category. And the suspension brand is rolling out the system with a handful of bike brands, who, in turn, are selling Live Valve-equipped bikes through a handful of their top retailers initially.

    That makes it a more manageable task for Fox and the bike brands — Pivot, Giant and Scott to start — to educate their dealers on the new system, said Mark Jordan, Fox Factory's global communications manager.

    "We've got tech vans all over the world that do that stuff, including three in the U.S. They will visit some of those key shops. Those are the shops that will get the bikes first and the guys who are the most interested in it and are better equipped to handle it," Jordan said.

    In addition to the tech vans, Fox has dealer education materials on its website and the bike brands that use Live Valve are also training their dealers on it.

    Fox is also focused initially on getting its distributors up to speed on the new technology and providing them with diagnostic and tuning tools. Jordan said some of those tools and more in depth training will eventually trickle down to dealers.

    The Live Valve system includes accelerometers on the fork and on the chainstay, and a battery and controller on the frame, all connected by wires. The wiring is internal except for where it extends from the fork crown to the frame. Fox doesn't shy away from the system's complexity: a key marketing phrase is "The system is complex, but what you get is simple. It's doing the work for you." 

    Most brands are putting the controller and battery on the downtube.

    The system promises to open and close valves hundreds of times during a ride, without the rider having to think about it. It senses the terrain 100 times per second and opens the compression damper as needed. It also senses whether the bike is climbing, descending or traversing and adjust accordingly. The comapny claims the battery lasts for about 14 hours of riding.

    New bikes will arrive at dealers with the system fully installed. Dealers will need to plug in a wire or two, make sure the battery is charged, and perform a calibration, which involves standing the bike upright and holding down a button for 15 seconds. Sag adjustment is done the same way as other Fox shocks and forks, and mechanically the shock and fork are similar to previous Fox products, so service is about the same.

    The controller has five Bump Threshold settings, allowing the consumer to choose the level of firmness in the system. Each controller arrives with a custom base tune determined by the bike manufacturer. By connecting the controller to a PC with a micro USB cord, those settings can be customized. Initially, only manufacturers and distributors will have the tools to perform those custom tunes, but Jordan said eventually some shops might be given access.

    Bike brands also will be able to make custom profiles available for download by consumers, he said.

    "For example, Pivot could make a Mach 5.5 2.0 update available, or Scott might make several profiles available with different levels of plushness," he said. Those profiles could be downloaded to a PC with Windows 10 and uploaded to the bike's controller with a cord.

    As far as sell-through support, Jordan said initial demand is high from the dealers who specialize in selling upscale mountain bikes. He said consumer awareness is helped by the fact that Fox has previously launched Live Valve in other markets. The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor comes with Live Valve-controlled shocks, for example.

    "It's a pretty elite kind of halo product at the price it comes in at. And there are not a lot out yet. Pivot got a handful, Scott has theirs. There are not huge numbers so they are going to sell quickly," Jordan said.

    Pivot spokesman Ron Koch said the company had sold all but one of its Live Valve-equipped Mach 5.5 bikes as of Tuesday afternoon, the same day the product was announced publicly.  "I wouldn't be surprised if (the last bike) is gone by the end of the day," he said. Koch said Pivot held back two Live Valve bikes to bring to the Interbike Outdoor Demo next month.

    Some Live Valve-ready frames have been on the market for several years, including three Rocky Mountain bike models (Rocky Mountain is not offering a new bike with Live Valve, however). The Pivot Mach 5.5 has been Live Valve-ready since its launch early last year. Some Fox fork models also have been Live Valve-ready for several seasons. In addition to the brands mentioned, Niner Bikes told BRAIN it is working on a Live Valve bike, as well. 

    Fox will sell aftermarket kits for about $1,800 retail to retrofit Live Valve-ready bikes. 

    More information: ridefox.com/content.php?c=livevalve-bike.


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    COTATI, Calif. (BRAIN) — Yuba Bikes' new Electric Supermarché builds off the brand's front-loading cargo bike, the Supermarché, with an electric pedal assist option to consumers.

    The Electric Supermarché features a Bosch CX Performance motor, a 500wh battery pack, and is designed to handle more torque, which allows it to power up hills and move larger loads, ideal for cargo bikes.

    The company said the low center of gravity on this bike is the key to its easy handling and stability. The bike has cable actuated steering, which the company said "allows for more versatile and seamless steering range, and ease of movement for a bike of its size."

    The Electric Supermarché can carry two to three children and 220 pounds up front or 80 pounds on the integrated rear cargo rack.

    The Electric Supermarché will retail for $5,999 and be available to customers starting in September. The company will show the bike at Interbike in Reno next month. 

    More information: yubabikes.com/cargobikestore/electric-supermarche.


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    LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (BRAIN) — New label requirements for California Proposition 65, a law requiring that products sold in the Golden State warn consumers about exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer or birth defects, are going into effect Thursday.

    The state amended Prop. 65 labeling to require that it identify the specific chemical that can cause cancer or reproductive harm back in 2016, but implementation of this change is taking effect Aug. 30. More than 900 chemicals are part of Prop. 65 but not all products contain threatening levels of them.

    Under the old law, companies could have a generic warning that said that a product contained harmful chemicals without detailing which ones. Now not every chemical has to be listed, but those that a company is aware of and tested for should be.

    If a product is sold to California consumers through brick-and-mortar or online channels, manufacturers are required to comply with the new label requirements unless they were part of a group settlement in 2006 that included a safe harbor warning.

    Fines for noncompliance can be up to $2,500 per violation per day, starting Sept. 1, 2018. Compliance is enforced by legal firms and groups that file complaints on behalf of the public, often doing testing of their own and sending notices to companies about failing to comply with requirements.

    The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association sent a letter to its members informing them about the changes to California's Prop. 65 last summer.

    Twenty two bike companies were part of the group settlement in 2006 when litigation over lead content in cable housing and handlebar grips came to the fore, and as such are exempt from the new requirements. This group can continue to use the labels approved back then as part of the settlement. The 2006 settlement also protected downstream customers of the 22 companies.

    The 22 companies in the settlement group were Chia Cherne Industry Company, Shimano, SRAM, QBP, Pacific Cycle, Trek, Giant, Specialized, Bell Sports, Raleigh, Cannondale, Cyclereurope USA (including the Bianchi brand), G. Joannou Cycle Co., Dynacraft BSC, Electra Bicycle Co., Felt Bicycles, Advanced Sports (including the Fuji brand), REI (including the Novara brand), Scott USA, Iron Horse Bicycle Co. and Kung Hsue She.

    For more information on Prop. 65, go to p65warnings.ca.gov/new-proposition-65-warnings


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    PITTSBURGH (BRAIN) — Dick's Sporting Goods has reported a slight increase in net sales for the second quarter 2018, which ended Aug. 4. Sales for the quarter were up 1 percent over the same period last year, to $2.18 billion. The company reported consolidated net income of $119.4 million for the quarter, up from $112.4 million reported in 2017.

    Consolidated same-store sales decreased 4 percent in the second quarter over the same period last year (based on an adjusted calendar due to a 53rd week in 2017). The company also held 6.4 percent less inventory at the end of the second quarter compared with the same time frame in 2017.

    Dick's CEO Edward Stack attributed the larger than projected decrease partly to the company's decision to cease sales of assault rifles earlier this year, and to Under Armour's recent move to expand its distribution to more lower-priced retailers.

    But Dick's e-commerce sales continue to increase and were up 12 percent, comprising 11 percent of the company's total net sales compared with 9 percent during the second quarter in 2017.

    "We delivered double digit growth in e-commerce, private brands, and athletic apparel excluding Under Armour, however, as expected, sales were impacted by the strategic decisions we made regarding the slow growth, low margin hunt and electronics businesses, which accounted for nearly half of our comp decline," Stack said. "In addition, we experienced continued significant declines in Under Armour sales as a result of their decision to expand distribution. We are very confident our sales trajectory will improve next year as these headwinds are expected to subside."

    Dick's reported a consolidated net income for the 26 weeks ended August 4 of $179.5 million, up from $170.6 million in 2017. Net sales are up 2.6 percent to just over $4 billion for the year, but consolidated same-store sales are down 3.3 percent over the same period in 2017. The company anticipates same-store sales will decline 3 to 4 percent on a 52-week comparative basis, compared to a decline of 0.3 percent in 2017.

    Dick's continues to invest in omnichannel development and also opened five new Dick's Sporting Goods stores during the second quarter. The company currently operates 729 Dick's stores in 47 states, and expects to open 19 stores and relocate four in 2018. The retailer sells bikes from GT, Schwinn, Mongoose, Strider, Pacific Cycles and others, as well as cycling parts, apparel and accessories.

     


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    SALT LAKE CITY (BRAIN) — Black Diamond Equipment, which sells skiing, climbing and hiking gear through specialty retailers, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walmart, demanding the company remove its products from a new microsite of "curated" premium products. The microsite was developed with outdoor retailer Moosejaw, which Walmart bought last year.

    Black Diamond has sold through Moosejaw for more than 10 years. On Monday, Walmart and Moosejaw announced a new section of the Walmart website, at walmart.com/cp/9874393, featuring products chosen by Moosejaw.

    According to a news release, Black Diamond's letter directed Walmart to stop using the Black Diamond and diamond logo trademarks "in a manner likely to confuse consumers into believing that Walmart is an authorized dealer of Black Diamond or that the new outdoor Walmart.com site is otherwise associated with or sponsored by Black Diamond."

    The letter also demanded that Walmart stop using several hundred copyrighted photographs.

    “We did not see or approve the statement which Walmart released Monday and have never sold to Walmart,” stated John Walbrecht, Black Diamond’s president. “Black Diamond remains committed to our specialty retail partners and we do not plan on deviating from this strategy.”

    Walmart removed the products from the site on Tuesday. The company also released a statement:

    "We’re really excited about our new Premium Outdoor destination curated by Moosejaw. At a time when the outdoor industry is working hard to expose more people to the amazing experiences they can have outside, we feel like it’s a really positive development.

    "The decision to be part of this new experience will continue to be up to each brand, and our hope is that brands, and even other retailers, share our commitment to driving a truly inclusive outdoor industry. As we grow the Premium Outdoor Store, we will continue to look for leading brands and retailers that want to reach a new, wider audience."

    Black Diamond is owned by Clarus Corporation, which also owns the Sierra and Pieps outdoor brands. Clarus is traded on Nasdaq under the CLAR symbol.

     


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    SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Interbike has announced details of the annual Industry Breakfast that it is presenting in conjunction with PeopleForBikes and the National Bicycle Dealers Association on Tuesday Sept. 18, the opening day of the show.

    Joining the previously announced keynote speaker, John Venhuizen, the president and CEO of ACE Hardware, is Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes. Blumenthal and his team will introduce a new PFB initiative called Ride Spot and moderate a panel discussion titled, "Powerful Business-Building Strategies to Get More Kids and Adults Riding Bikes."

    The panelists for the breakfast session are: Brandee Lepak, Austin McInerny, and Robert Ping.

    Lepak is the owner of Global Bikes, the founder and executive director of Trips for Kids Phoenix, and board chair of the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

    McInerny has served as president of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the largest youth mountain biking organization in the United States, since 2012.

    Ping, the national executive director of Trips for Kids, is a youth bicycling expert and social equity advocate who has facilitated pedestrian-and-bicycling initiatives in more than 50 communities.

    "The challenges facing the bike industry and bicycle retail are complex," said Blumenthal.

    "PeopleForBikes strives to address them in a variety of ways. For example, we've worked closely with retailers to develop a new program, Ride Spot, to help them better engage with the 29 million Americans who ride a bike fewer than five days a year. The panel we're presenting at the Industry Breakfast will focus on other proven strategies to get more kids - and ultimately adults - out on bikes."

    Following the PeopleForBikes presentation, Venhuizen will deliver a keynote address titled, "How Brick and Mortar Businesses Can Win the Battle for Relevance and Consumer Preference," in which he shares how ACE Hardware Corporation's 5,000+ independent store owners compete and win against the Goliaths of the retail world. His presentation is the first of three informative, power-packed sessions in the IBD Summit at Interbike — a new retail education track that is offered free of charge to registered attendees of the show.

    To accommodate this expanded content, the Industry Breakfast has a new two-hour format in 2018. As always, attendees are encouraged to arrive early. Doors open at 7:15 for the first-come, first-served event, which includes a complimentary hot breakfast and is capped at 700 attendees. The program starts at 8 and concludes shortly before the tradeshow opens at 10 a.m. 


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    Part of Apache Bicycles' 2018 Eurobike display.

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BRAIN) — Apache Bicycles, a 17-year-old bike brand based in the Czech Republic, is planning some changes to its marketing, which outraged many on social media in recent weeks.

    The company plans to eliminate some model names, including the Scalp e-bike model, and remove historic photos of Native American leaders from its marketing. It will no longer dress hostesses in costumes and war paint at trade shows, Lukáš Bárta, the CEO of BP Lumen, the parent company of Apache, told BRAIN in an email.

    “We want to find (a) generally acceptable way to continue using the Apache brand in the future,” Barta said.

    The brand was little known outside of its home country before it appeared at the Eurobike show in Germany last month, in a bid to expand its distribution to other parts of Europe.

    After the Eurobike display received attention from BRAIN and others, Native artist Gregg Deal was among those on social media who criticized Apache’s use of Native designs and themes.

    “I personally think that nobody except Native people should be using Native iconography,” Deal told BRAIN in an interview this week. 

    "The coloring books, the paper headbands with the feathers … even the most ignorant person in America is like, ‘yeah that’s a little bit much.’” — Artist Gregg Deal

    Much of Deal’s art uses humor and surprising associations to look at the role of Native images in popular culture, from the Washington Redskins to hipster headdresses. Apache Bicycles caught his attention because Deal is a longtime cyclist, starting as a mountain biker in Park City, Utah, where he grew up. Now he rides a ‘cross bike on gravel roads near his home outside Colorado Springs.

    If Native imagery is used at all in marketing, it should be done with care and should benefit Native people and communities, he said.

    “We are the lowest, poorest demographic in the United States … if people are benefiting from (Native images and themes) financially, that’s money that could help communities and individuals in Indian country that are trying to make a living … this is all Indian land and by extension of that, Native people should be one of the richest people in this country, but we are not — we are the poorest. And so taking something, even something that somebody might view as small and simple, is still taking and it’s taking from the poorest people in America, and that’s a gigantic load of crap,” he said.

    Besides the lack of Native support, the Apache Bicycles display was offensive in other ways, Deal said.

    “Most of the photos they used are old Ed Curtis photos, which are useful for documentary purposes. But a couple (of the people in the photos) are in ceremonial dress, which is really, really inappropriate to use in marketing and put on display. The people in those photographs — their great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren are still alive, they have living relatives and their images are being used for personal gain and marketing purposes. So you can talk about appropriation and whether or not these things are OK, but there’s also a moral, human element to it. Did you do your due diligence? Who is that person in the photograph? Did you get permission from the family to use that photograph? How much money are you making from this marketing campaign?

    “Then there’s the low hanging fruit. You have European white girls dressed in costumes that in this country are marketed as 'Pocahottie' costumes. The coloring books, the paper headbands with the feathers … even the most ignorant person in America is like, ‘yeah that’s a little bit much.’”

    Apache Bicycles’ Barta told BRAIN that no one has ever complained about the brand until this year. “To be honest, I did not expect such negative feedback because of using Apache name as a brand and Native Americans topic for our marketing. We are almost 20 years in the market, we have thousands of customers, business partners and fans here in Europe and we never heard anything bad about our brand. It means that it's nothing bad here in Europe,” he said.

    He said the company has received dozens of complaints via email and social media since Eurobike.

    “Some of them are very vulgar, some of them are serious,” he said. He said some messages are just complaints while others make an attempt to educate the company from afar. He said he is open to learning.

    “We like Indians from our childhood because of famous movies based on books from Karel May. Indians are our heroes, many people live like them here in Europe. We celebrate them. It never occurred to us that it would hurt anyone,” he said.

    He said the company is working on developing a statement it can share with people who email about issue.

    “Now we understand how sensitive this topic is and that’s why we decided to make immediate steps, which should … decrease the impact of our marketing activities on Native Americans’ souls.”

    Use and misuse of Native images remains pervasive in the U.S., in the mascots of sports teams, the names of SUV models, patterns and model names on outdoor gear and much more. But in recent years non-Natives in the U.S. have come to see some of it as inappropriate, and social media has given critics a platform they previously lacked to express disapproval — even of a brand sold thousands of miles away.

    That’s why many at Eurobike this year were shocked by the Apache display.

    Among those was Odia Wood-Krueger, co-owner of Terrene Tires and Esker Cycles. Wood-Krueger works for the Indian Education Department for the Minneapolis Public Schools and is a member of the Métis Nation.

    “This is an interesting juxtaposition of my two worlds, colliding right now,” she told BRAIN.

    Wood-Krueger said it’s common for bike industry and outdoor brands to use Native iconography without getting permission or working with Native artists, although she’s seen some improvement in recent years.

    "I think it can be a challenge for brands to identify Native professionals; we aren't walking around in buckskin and feathers. Combine that with appropriation of patterns, symbols, and sacred objects, we tend to be cautious and somewhat mistrustful when people reach out. That’s why when I saw the Apache Bicycles display I thought, ‘wow, this is really amazingly terrible,’” she said. “They really have no sense at all of what they are doing.”

    "I'm not Apache and it's not my place to speak for anyone from these nations. Perhaps Apache Bicycles should reach out to the individual nations for input. That said, I am honestly unsure if anything can be salvaged from this branding."

    "It seems that Apache Bicycles created a mishmash of what they thought would make a cool, edgy brand — black and white images of chiefs, fake buckskin, war paint, paper headdresses, tepees — and completely missed the mark. And don't even get me started on the Scalp model. The sad reality is that Apache Bicycles still doesn't understand the real issue — as Native people, we're tired of having someone else tell our story the way they think it should be told."


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    The Detroit Bikes Axel is part of the Assembly line, which ships to consumers nearly fully ready to ride. It's sourced from Asia, but final assembly is done in Detroit. It retails for $499.

    DETROIT (BRAIN) — U.S. bike manufacturer Detroit Bikes, which sells bikes that are made with U.S.-sourced chromoly frames from its factory, is being approached to handle bike assembly for other suppliers, something company president Zak Pashak says is due at least partially to the tariffs on e-bikes and anticipation of proposed tariffs on complete bikes and parts.

    "We are starting to field that from e-bike producers because of the e-bike tariff that went into place," Pashak told BRAIN. "I think we will see (assembly) increase eventually.

    "We have been approached by other companies about assembly work already and I think it is in anticipation of tariffs. We're doing three to four contracts for different companies. It is starting to trickle in and we're going to see a lot more of it over the next couple of years, I think," Pashak added.

    Pashak began making bikes in 2013 out of a 50,000-square-foot factory sourcing U.S. chromoly steel, and aimed his products for specialty dealers. But despite efforts to gain traction at IBDs, he was disappointed at the reception at shops. More recently he has added Asian-sourced bikes, which he assembles in Detroit and are offered at lower price points.

    He's also started consumer-direct sales and launched his Assembly line of bikes, which are easy to unpack and adjust and come with tools and a floor pump.

    "It's part of us going more direct to consumer, but it's primarily about a drop in pricing. When we started marketing ourselves to the consumer, a lot of our customers especially when shopping online, they expect bikes to be pretty cheap or more affordable. That customer we were reaching didn't want an American frame. They didn't care that the frame was made out of chromoly. To some customers a bike is a commodity, a bike is a bike," Pashak said.

    "We realized we couldn't continue to force all of our customers to buy expensive American-made chromoly offerings. We split our line into two tiers. We have Assembly bikes where we do wheel building and bike assembly and packaging in Detroit. That's our entry level. Then we have our U.S.-made chromoly bikes. They will have an upgraded component group that matches the chromoly frame. That will raise prices on U.S.-made stuff a bit. It will be a pretty premium offering."

    Pashak said he's generally brought down prices on bikes to be more in line with competitors.

    Pashak said unless the administration decides not to implement the proposed tariffs on Chinese bike parts and components, his growth in assembly work is limited. The only savings for suppliers who onshore assembly would be on importing a complete bike.

    "We need to see a slightly different tariff structure," he said. "That could be really helpful for us if they didn't have the same tariff on parts. But when you have tariff on bikes and parts, it's a wash."

    As for his cost for U.S. steel, Pashak said he hasn't seen price increases as a result of tariffs implemented earlier this year on imported steel. He currently sources his chromoly steel from Plymouth Tube. "It's really expensive, and the main application for it is race cars.

    "I haven't seen any huge change in pricing for my U.S. steel. They were already charging a ton for the chromoly I'm buying," he added.

    For Pashak, U.S. assembly makes sense and he said he's able to make his Chinese-made but U.S.-assembled bikes competitive with similar products that are 100 percent made in China. His Detroit factory has capacity to assemble 800 bikes per day, and Pashak said he's got plenty of capacity to take on more contract assembly work, and he's more aggressively seeking that business.

    "There is a lot of potential for onshoring U.S. jobs in terms of bicycle assembly," he said. "Final assembly is a whole lot different than manufacturing. You shouldn't expect a significant higher price for something assembled here. It should make more sense to assemble in the U.S."


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    GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (BRAIN) — DT Swiss has updated its U.S. minimum advertised price policy and its enforcement.

    As of Sept. 1, as part of its 2019 product and pricing updates, DT Swiss will be increasing their MAP price by 10 percent, such that MAP will now be equivalent to the brand's MSRP. DT Swiss said it will also be increasing its communication, education and enforcement efforts related to its MAP policy.

    DT's aftermarket sales and marketing manager for the Americas, Matt Thompson, said, "Considering the rapid changes in retail, elusive consumer habits, ongoing changes to associated legislation, intense pressure on those who do business at retail or wholesale and — not least — trade factors, we feel that it's more important than ever to protect and build upon our brand value. We certainly don't think that these steps are the final ones in our strategy, but we believe that they are critical for the continued success of DT Swiss and all of our partners."

    The company said it expects to make further updates to its domestic and global brand protection activities in the coming months.

    Inquiries about these changes can be made to info.us@dtswiss.com.


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