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    IRVINE, Calif. (BRAIN) — Bosch will launch its new Kiox e-bike computer to the U.S. market at Interbike. The Kiox has a color display abd separate handlebar control, and provides data including speed, personal performance, cadence and battery state of charge. The Kiox is compatible with an optional heart rate monitor and the company said more connectivity functions will follow.

    "Kiox is our best and brightest display with more useful features than ever packed into such a compact unit," said Claudia Wasko, vice president and general manager of Bosch eBike Systems Americas. "With its ability to connect to the rider's heart rate via wearable sensors, Kiox also marks our first step in North America connecting e-bikes to the e-biker's digital world."

    Bicycle manufacturers can choose to install the 1.9-inch display with the Bosch mount or integrate it into the stem with custom solutions. The Kiox was recognized with a "Best New Product" Award at Eurobike 2018.

    Bosch said the high-resolution color display is readable in direct sunlight and in the dark. It is protected from scratching by Gorilla Glass. A magnetic holder provides a secure grip and allows easy removal and attachment. The integrated display battery provides up to 20 minutes of power in the off-board mode and displays a summary of the day's activities. The on-board computer is controlled by the separate Remote Compact control unit on the handlebar.

    "The palpable pressure from the buttons of the new rugged remote gives the e-biker clear feedback — easy, safe and intuitive," the company stated. 


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    FAIRFAX, Calif. (BRAIN) — The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame has named six new members for its 2018 induction: Josh Bender, Ken Chlouber, the Kennett Brothers (Simon, Paul and Jonathan) and Steve Peat.

    The inductee-elects will be honored and officially inducted the weekend of Sept. 21-22 at the Hall in Fairfax, California. The weekend's events include a meet-and-greet Friday night, celebrity rides on the trails of Mt. Tamalpais on Saturday morning, and Saturday night's dinner and induction ceremony.

    The 2018 Inductees represent diverse mountain biking backgrounds and expertise:

    • Josh Bender was one of the earliest stars of the emerging freeride scene in the late 1990s, known for riding massive cliff drops and pushing the boundaries of the sport in such videos as the "Down" and "New World Disorder" series. His influence led to the founding of the Rampage big-mountain freeride event in his adopted hometown of Virgin, Utah.

    • Ken Chlouber founded the Leadville Trail 100 race in its namesake Colorado town (elevation 10,000 feet) in 1994. Thousands of aspiring endurance racers apply for the race lottery each year. In 2002, Chlouber established the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that works to address the community needs of Leadville and provides scholarships to local students. "He is a true pioneer in the sport of ultra-endurance mountain bike racing," the Hall stated.

    • Simon, Paul and Jonathan Kennett are credited with transforming off-road riding in New Zealand through their trail-building efforts, national guidebooks and organizing world-class races and festivals including the country's first "dirt brevet," the 1,100-kilometer Kiwi Brevet, founded in 2010.

    • Steve Peat's downhill racing career spans nearly a quarter-century starting in the early 1990s. His accomplishments include 17 UCI World Cup downhill wins and 52 total World Cup podiums. Peat raced his last World Cup in 2016, but continues to race local enduros and other events and serve as brand ambassador for longtime sponsor Santa Cruz Bicycles. "He had early success in the sport and has been a favorite with fans around the world. Hailing from Sheffield, England, 'Sheffield Steel,' or 'Peaty,' has always contributed and given back to the sport," the Hall stated.

    Tickets are on sale now for the induction weekend events, including the induction ceremony, at eventbrite.com/e/mountain-bike-hall-of-fame-induction-weekend-september-21-22-2018-tickets


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    LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (BRAIN) — Crankrbothers is now offering two versions of easy-release cleats, designed for those who are new to using clipless pedals. 

    The company is offering the easy release cleats with 6 degree of float or 0 degrees of float. Both release at a 10 degree angle. Crankbrothers standard cleats have a 15 degree release angle. 

    The 6 degree cleats are identifiable by a rose finish, while the 0 degree cleats are bronze colored. 

    Standard release cleats also are available with 6 or 0 degree float. The 6 degree standard release is colored gold, the 0 degree is silver. 

    The new cleats retail for $26.99 and are available now. 

    More information: crankbrothers.com/collections/pedal-accessories/products/easy-release-cleat-kit

     


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    LONGMONT, Colo (BRAIN) — Deuter USA says it will not participate in Walmart's new premium outdoor online store, curated by Moosejaw. Black Diamond last week let Walmart know if did not want to be included, sending a cease-and-desist letter to the retailer. Walmart later said it would give all brands the option of selling through the store.

    The store is part of the Walmart website but the product are chosen by Moosejaw, an outdoor retailer that Walmart bought last year. Deuter said its products will remain on the Moosejaw site.

    Deuter said it expected its products to be removed from the Walmart store within the week.

    "While we appreciate the concept of what Moosejaw is trying to accomplish with this new initiative, we have decided this is not the right time to participate." said Deuter USA's president, Bill Hartrampf.

    "We are constantly evaluating and supporting ways to provide the best products and services to specialty outdoor consumers, wherever they are," said Hartrampf. "We will always maintain Deuter's commitment to our core markets, premium quality and the spirit of outdoor recreation."

    In a statement last week after the Black Diamond news, a Walmart representative said, "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."


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    SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Robert ("Bob") C. Fox Jr. has retired from Fox Factory Holding Corp.'s board of directors, effective Aug. 29.

    Bob Fox founded Fox Factory in 1978 and served as CEO and chief engineering officer at different times. Since 2008 he has served as a director.

    Fox earned a bachelor of science in physics from Santa Clara University in 1961, and an MBA from Santa Clara University in 1968. He began developing motocross suspension in 1974 and in 1976, Kent Howerton won the 500cc AMA Motocross National Championship on his AirShox and Marty Smith followed with another 500cc Championship for Fox in 1977. These championship wins created a demand for Fox suspension and Fox Factory was born the following year.

    "On behalf of our board of directors and management team, I would like to thank Bob for all his contributions during his tenure as a director on our board," said Larry L. Enterline, Fox's current CEO. "His keen business insight and unparalleled passion for the brand he founded will be greatly missed."

    Enterline continued, "I'd also like to thank him on behalf of the entire organization for his relentless pursuit of innovation that built the company that we all have the pleasure to be a part of and is still alive at Fox today."


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    SALT LAKE CITY — ROTOR America has boosted dealer support at its Salt Lake City headquarters with the addition of Michael Zanetti as lead account executive.

    Formerly working as an event and outreach manager in the specialty run channel, Michael raced U23 pro XCT and graduated from Lees-McRae College. He has also worked at IBDs in Northern California.

    "This is a great opportunity to align my passion with my career, and I am excited to support the dealer network for an innovative brand like Rotor," Zanetti said.

    Lori Barrett, Rotor's vice president of development, said, "Michael is a great addition to our American office. His love of the cycling industry combined with his competitive and achievement-driven background will keep Rotor customer service focused on the IBD."

     


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    HELSINKI (BRAIN) — Amer Sports says its Mavic cycling business is "under review" as Amer updates its strategy and looks to focus its portfolio of brands, which includes Salomon, Arc'teryx, Peak Performance, Atomic, Mavic, Enve, Suunto, Wilson and Precor. It was not clear whether Amer's other cycling brand, Enve, is also under review.

    Mavic has been an underperformer among Amer's brands in recent years. In its financial reports, Amer generally lumps together Mavic and Enve (which Amer bought in 2016 for about $50 million) as its Cycling division, without specifying the individual performance of the brands. However, in commenting on Amer's 2018 first-half financial results in July, president and CEO Heikki Takala singled out Mavic, saying the company's "legacy aluminum wheel business" was weighing down results in the Cycling division. He said Mavic's apparel and helmet businesses were performing well, as were carbon wheels, but that Mavic had more aluminum wheel manufacturing capacity than it could use and OEM orders for alloy wheels were lagging.

    In the first half, Amer's Cycling division reported sales of about 60 million euros ($70 million) down 13 percent from the same period in 2017.

    On Wednesday, Takala said Amer was continuing to prioritize "Softgoods, Business to Consumer, China, United States, and digitalization." But he also said Amer was looking for "areas of faster growth, higher profitability, and better asset efficiency, first through the integration of the acquired Peak Performance business, and by the choice to focus the portfolio with the decision to place the Mavic cycling business under strategic review. Today Mavic represents approximately 3.5 percent of the (Amer Group) sales."

    The company said it will release more details about the updated strategy at an event in Helsinki on Thursday. 

    In the U.S., Mavic and Enve have moved toward separating their operations recently. Amer appointed Isaac Wilson as Mavic's North American commercial director, giving Mavic its own U.S. manager for the first time in several years. Previously, Sarah Lehman had overseen Mavic's U.S. operations, in addition to being CEO of Enve, where she remains. 

    Mavic also moved its North American headquarters out of the space it has shared with Enve in Ogden, Utah, and into a new headquarters in Park City, Utah. With the move, Mavic hired its own staff for customer service, dealer service, service course, warranty and repair, instead of sharing those operations with Enve.

     


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    E-bikes and disc road bikes also driving sales, contributing to 3% growth in IBD revenue.

    BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Retail sales of 29-inch mountain bikes grew $36 million in the 12 months ending in June, taking dollar share from 27.5-inch bikes, according to The NPD Group. Twenty-niners now account for 41 percent of dollars sold in mountain bikes at IBDs.

    The NPD Group's Dirk Sorenson shared this among other insights in a recent webinar discussing cycling trends as the industry prepares to head to Reno, Nevada, for the Interbike show in two weeks.

    Mountain bikes accounted for $600 million in sales at IBDs over the past year, making up the single largest category at specialty stores. The category grew 5 percent through June of this year, with most of the growth in full-suspension bikes.

    Sorenson noted that with SRAM's Eagle 12-speed drivetrain spec'd on bikes in the $2,500 to $3,000 price bands, many consumers are moving to that price range. But the $4,500 to $4,999 price band is also growing in mountain bikes.

    The road category was down 5 percent to $424 million in IBDs, while 'cross/gravel bikes (a subcategory of road) were up 15 percent to $66 million. In road, the typically most popular price band — $500 to $2,000 — is losing share to bands above that. Sorenson attributed that to widespread adoption of disc brakes.

    Unlike road and mountain where consumers are opting for more expensive bikes, in e-bikes it's the lower price bands where the market is seeing gains. The category has seen a 78 percent increase year over year at bike shops, reaching $101 million in sales, according to NPD data.

    Sorenson listed the top 15 categories at IBDs over the past year, showing the strong growth in e-bikes, shop service (up 10 percent, or $315 million in total business), components (up 3 percent, or $73 million in total business), and shifting/brakes (up 4 percent, or $68 million in total business).

    Overall, Sorenson said sales at IBDs were up 3 percent to $3.1 billion from June of 2017 to June of this year. Sales of bike accessories declined 3 percent while all other categories were flat or grew slightly over the period.

    Considering the entire bike market, including "rest of market" retail (online, sporting goods, mass, and outdoor), sales June through June grew 2 percent to $5.8 billion, Sorenson said. Sales of complete bikes were up 3.5 to 4 percent. Helmet/footwear and gloves were up 3 percent and shop services were up 6 percent.


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    GIVISIEZ, Switzerland (BRAIN) — Scott's new Ransom model is a carbon enduro bike that can be used with 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheels, with a suspension linkage chip that can be flipped for optimum performance with either wheel size. 

    The Ransom has 170 mm of travel front and rear, modern, progressive geometry and weighs 2,650 grams (5.84 pounds) for frame, shock and hardware

    "Having ridden the Ransom extensively for some time now, I have to admit that I am surprised day after day by how capable it is. I raced downhill for nearly 15 years, and never thought that I would be able to reach similar speeds on a 170 mm Enduro bike. This thing is just pure speed, pure fun," said Scott ambassador Andrew Neethling.

    There are five models of Ransom available: a full carbon model in 27.5-inch and 29-inch options, a Hybrid version with a carbon front triangle and alloy rear end, and two full alloy models, the 920/720 and the 930.

    More information: scott-sports.com/global/en/page/ransom.


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    Photo from the grand opening of Decathlon's San Francisco lab store in April.
    The world's largest sporting goods retailers will open its second location in the U.S., converting a former ToysRUs in Emeryville, California.

    SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Decathlon, which claims to be the world's largest sporting goods retailer, plans to open a 47,000-square-foot store in Emeryville, California, in the spring. The planned location is in a former ToysRUs store and will join Decathlon's "lab store" in San Francisco, which it opened in April. 

    Decathlon specializes in developing its own house brands, including the B'Twin road bike line and RockRider mountain bike line. This is the second go at the U.S. market by the privately held France-based chain. Decathlon entered the U.S. market for the first time in 1999 when it bought the assets of MVP Sports Stores, a New England sporting goods chain with 20 locations. It rebranded the locations as Decathlon but shut down all but four of the stores in 2003 and shuttered the remaining stores, which were all in Massachusetts, in 2006. 

    When Decathlon opened its San Francisco store in the spring, it also soft-launched a U.S. e-commerce site, which initially served only California residents. On Aug. 1, Decathlon opened the site to all U.S. residents. 

    "Our future store in Emeryville will feature over 100 different sports and allow our customers to find everything they need to 'get in the game' in one stop, with plenty of opportunities to discover and try out new sports," said Decathlon USA's chief executive officer, Michel d'Humières. "Through this fun, interactive retail center, we are working to build a community around Decathlon in the Bay Area, similar to what we've accomplished abroad."

    The Emeryville store will be six times the size of the San Francisco location, which allowed the retailer to test the waters in the U.S. market.  

    "We strategically chose to open a smaller-scale store in the city before expanding to this larger retail center in order to better understand the needs of local sports enthusiasts and develop our interconnected retail and online experience. Since our launch, we've had an enthusiastic response to our store and have developed a thriving relationship with the community, and we've decided it's time to introduce the U.S. to our first full-service Decathlon store environment," said d'Humières.

    While several major sporting goods chains have shut down in the U.S. in recent years, Decathlon differs from most because it exclusively sells its house brands. The company said its vertical integration allows it to offer better prices than other retailers. 

    "At Decathlon, our goal is to reduce the barrier to entry for sports and make sports more accessible to anyone, anywhere by creating real value at true cost," said Decathlon USA's chief operations officer, Sophie O'Kelly De Gallagh. "Our current San Francisco store features 50 sports, but this new store will include our entire line of products, over 100 sports, offering every sport and every piece of equipment to our community and helping people of all ages and skill levels to get outside and be active."

    Decathlon also hosts weekly activities cycling workshops.


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    BEND, Ore. (BRAIN) — Abbey Bike Tools's Chain Tool spent two years designing and testing its new chain tool, which will begin shipping next month. But the company likes to say that Abbey founder Jason Quade spent 10 years working as a pro mechanic, breaking three chains a day, in developing the new tool. Thus the model name, Decade. 

    The tool's threaded body and lead screw are made from chromoly and receive a low-friction powder vapor deposition coating that Abbey said provides "a silky feel you've never felt in a chain tool before."

    The freely rotating pin is made from a shock-rated tool steel and the company said it will likely last as long as the rest of the tool. The chain tool comes with a spare pin in the handle and they are cross compatible with Shimano and Campagnolo pins.

    The tool's most unusual feature is the interchangeable mid plate. The saddled part that holds the chain in position can be swapped to work with nearly any shape or width of chain, from 7-speed to 12-speed, including those that haven't been released yet. "This ensures that your investment won't become obsolete when company "X" comes out with an 18 speed cassette in 20 years," Abbey said. 

    The tool also peens Campagnolo 11 and 12 speed chains to factory specs using a backstop that threads into the backside of the tool as a stop. Mid plates for 1/8-inch singlespeed chains will be made available in the future.

    The company is now taking pre-order and expects to begin delivering the tool in early October. Retail price is $175. 

    More information: abbeybiketools.com/collections/new-additions/products/decade-chain-tool.


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    VISTA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Haro Bicycle Corp. has announced organizational changes in sales and product management — promoting its sales director and bringing aboard new product managers for its BMX and lifestyle bike lines.

    Rickey Strawn, Haro's director of sales the past four years, has been promoted to vice president of sales. In a release, Haro chief operating officer Joe Hawk said, "Rickey has been instrumental in re-engineering the domestic sales structure, re-establishing growth and positioning it for continued growth in what has been largely a flat market for decades."

    Star BMX rider Mike Parenti has joined the company as product manager for the Haro BMX brand, overseeing product development for juvenile, freestyle and race bikes as well as P&A. For Haro's Premium BMX brand, the company has named Kellen LeBlanc product manager. An employee at Haro since 2007, LeBlanc most recently developed the line of steel gravel and adventure bikes for Haro's Masi brand. He will continue in his duties for Masi as he takes on responsibilities for Premium.

    Haro previously had one product manager for both BMX brands, and that needed to change, Hawk told BRAIN this week. That product manager has left the company.

    "Keeping the personalities of Haro and Premium separate was a bit of a challenge. We had reached a point where there was stagnation there in terms of ideas. So we felt we needed to do two things: One was we needed to split up the duties and separate the duties because the two lines are completely separate. The other thing is we needed to bring in some fresh wind, and that's what really prompted the change," Hawk said.

    Similarly, the product manager for Haro's Del Sol lifestyle line has left the company, and industry veteran Robert Kahler has been hired to fill the role. Kahler has worked for GT, SRAM and, most recently, Felt Bicycles.

    "We made a change to shift gears and be able to give Del Sol a fresh new approach going down the road," Hawk said. "We were able to connect with Robert Kahler, who was at Felt in a similar category. Del Sol is a brand that has had some growth but it hasn't really been born in terms of its brand identity, so we're hoping that Robert can not only bring some product expertise to that, but the increased focus can help that brand develop."

    With the changes, Haro's head count remains the same, with 23 employees at its headquarters in North San Diego County plus sales VP Strawn based in Seattle.

     


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    RWC changed its DU Bushing Pilot to this shade after Park's complaint.

    MINNEAPOLIS (BRAIN) — Park Tool is suing Real World Cycling, an Arizona specialty bike tool maker, over the shade of anodizing on three of RWC's aluminum tools. Park has held a trademark on use of blue on bike tools since 2008

    RWC specializes in suspension service tools and supplies. The company's owner, Chris Streeter, said it uses varying color anodizing on different tool sizes to help mechanics quickly identify the right tool for the job. He said he has offered to change to a different shade that he feels is significantly different Park's trademark blue, but that Park "claim(s) to 'own' the entire spectrum of blue, which I found, and still find, to be a preposterous claim."

    Streeter, who said he feels he is being "bullied" by Park, told BRAIN he intends to defend the suit.

    "It will cost my small family business thousands of dollars to defend against these false allegations, which amount to nothing short of an attempt to use the greater financial resources of a large corporation to bully my small company in to making concessions that Park Tool has no legal right to demand," he said. "Perhaps to my own detriment, my personal sense of justice compels me to fight this intimidation."

    Park filed suit last month in Minnesota's U.S. District Court. It is claiming RWC has infringed on federal and state trademark and trade dress laws, and engaged in unfair competition and unlawful trade practices.

    The original shade of blue used by RWC.

    Park is asking the court for a permanent injunction preventing RWC from selling blue tools, and to award legal fees, and up to three times the actual damages incurred as a result of RWC's use of the shade. Park did not specify the damages, leaving that up to the court to decide.

    In its complaint Park said that over the years it has prevented at least five dozen companies from selling blue tools and related products, either with out-of-court settlements or lawsuits. In its suit against RWC, Park said companies ranging from Shimano, Trek, and Giant to Ice Toolz, Serfas, and Mr. Tuffy have "acquiesced" to its demands over the color.

    "Knowing we work in a small industry our first choice is to always work directly with fellow bicycle industry companies to settle any disputes amicably, which is also what we offered to do in this case," Park Tool's owner and president Eric Hawkins told BRAIN in an email. "99+% of the time we are able to work these things out between us in a direct and amicable manner.

    "In the extremely small percentage of times when the other company refuses to resolve the dispute amicably we are then left with no alternative but to take the necessary steps to protect our intellectual property. Even then we hope that an amicable resolution can still be found," Hawkins said.

    An image from Park's complaint.

    Park's complaint includes copies of emails between Streeter and Park's attorney, Molly Eichten, starting in October last year. In the emails, Eichten asserts that Park's trademark and trade dress rights include several shades of blue surrounding the Pantone color code 2935. She shared a Pantone chart with 2935 at center and varying shades extending toward black, violet, green and gray, with a red-dotted line around the area that Park claims. "Simply put, stay out of the red box," Eichten told Streeter in one email.

    Streeter responded that it was his belief that Pantone 310, a turquoise shade that is within Eichten's red box, would not violate Park's trademark. In the emails Streeter agreed to make immediate changes to the shade of blue on three tools in question, and to change photos on the company's website as well.

    However, he told BRAIN, "I clearly let them know that I would NOT give up the entire spectrum of blue."

    In a later email, Streeter rejected Park's claim that his company was trying to benefit from Park's reputation.

    "Please let me set the record straight with regard to that. Were consumers to confuse our tools with Park Tools, our perceived value would decrease significantly. Unlike your client's mass-produced, overseas-manufactured tools, our tools are 100% designed and manufactured within the United States and have a look and feel that is totally unique." 

    Streeter said the Nov. 9 email was the last communication he had with Park until Park filed its complaint on Aug. 2.

    Streeter said that last fall RWC immediately switched photos on the company website to show the three tools in Pantone 310. As for the actual product, RWC immediately changed the color of the DU Bushing Pilot since it was ready to do a new production run of that part. 

    He said the color of the 36mm Fork Seal Press had already been lightened considerably on a previous run, although not to the Pantone 310 since the run predated the discussion with Park’s lawyers.  He said that tool is slated to be changed to 310 on the next production run. 

    The third tool, the BB30 Cup Tool, is pictured on the site in the 310 shade, but is still shipping in a darker shade. He said RWC still has about 100 pieces in stock. "I would have been, and remain, willing to absorb the cost of stripping, re-anodizing, and re-marking those tools if Park wanted to negotiate in a reasonable manner (i.e. not try to force me out of the entire blue spectrum). As it stands, the next run of the wrenches is, of course, slated to be done in the Pantone 310," he said.

    RWC has until Oct. 9 to file a response with the court. 


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    Takala at Thursday's presentation.

    HELSINKI (BRAIN) — Amer Sports CEO Heikki Takala made clear Thursday that the company is considering selling off both its cycling brands, Mavic and Enve. In the most gentle but firm way, Takala said there might be a better owner out there, somewhere, for the brands, both of which he called "iconic."

    "We are not able to give them enough scale and synergy potential," he told invited guests at a Capital Markets Day presentation Thursday morning. "Rather than going and keeping going and keeping going and trying — we've been trying for quite some time and we've done good things but it's clearly taking a lot of time and effort and it's not responding in line with expectations.

    "Hence we say we are going to put it under strategic review to make sure we understand: are we really the best owner of this business."

    On Wednesday, Amer announced that it was putting Mavic under review, but didn't say whether Enve, which Amer bought in 2016, was included. In his presentation Thursday, Takala made clear he was referring to both brands and that the review would examine whether they should be sold off.

    He said Amer was re-examining its large portfolio of brands with an eye toward becoming a more focused company. Amer's brands include Salomon, Arc'teryx, Peak Performance, Atomic, Mavic, Enve, Suunto, Louisville Slugger, Wilson and Precor. He said Amer has been seeing the best performance in recent years in softgoods, direct-to-consumer sales, and sales in China. Ball sports (Louisville and Wilson) also are strong, but not growing fast, and Suunto sales have been growing, but at the cost of significant new investment in product development in recent years.

    The cycling division, Mavic and Enve, has been underperforming, however. In the first half of 2018, the two brands' sales were about 60 million euros ($70 million) down 13 percent from the same period in 2017. The brands' full year 2017 sales were down 10 percent from 2016

    When he announced the first half figures in July, Takala indicated his patience might be wearing thin. He said Mavic's "legacy aluminum wheel business" was weighing down results and that Mavic had more aluminum wheel manufacturing capacity than it could use while OEM orders were lagging.

    On Thursday, Takala reiterated the concern about excess manufacturing capacity.

    He said that while the cycling market has been "quite dynamic in certain segments, our capabilities and capacities may not have been exactly in the right place. We have a bit too much factory footprint and things like that, which are fixed assets while the market continues to move somewhere else."

    In a later presentation at the event Thursday, CFO Jussi Siitonen said that Amer had hired an investment bank to assist it in the review process.


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    The new Felt logo.

    RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Felt Bicycles has rebranded, with a new logo, new corporate colors, and a new website.

    The company, which was acquired by Rossignol Group early last year, also has a new dealer education platform, developed with Myagi. 

    "We're thrilled to be taking the Felt brand in an exciting new direction, one that highlights our company's Southern California heritage and long-standing commitment to providing riders with innovative products and the best technologies that enhance the riding experience," says Eric Sakalowsky, Felt's VP of global marketing. "Our new F-wing logo and colors are fresh, modern, and evocative of the performance mindset the brand has. We want to re-invoke Felt's creative spirit and underline the fact that the brand is reshaping itself to be synonymous with the speed, flow, and sense of freedom that one feels while riding a bike. Our new look and feel will help the Felt brand stand out and create a connection with riders."

    Felt moved away from its previous colors, which were black, red and white — a color scheme shared by several other cycling brands, not to mention a certain trade magazine and website. 

    The new dealer education platform includes video, interactive, and informative content designed to educate retail staff members and provide them with technical and selling knowledge. Felt dealers can register for their free account at myagi.com/s/feltdealerusa.

    Felt has also been rolling out a new "showrooming" sales program that is designed to set up retailers with display bikes and quick shipments of sales bikes as needed, reducing the dealers' need to carry inventory. In recent months Felt also has restructured its sales force and moved into new, larger headquarters building that has more room for expanded product development staff and others. 

    The company recently launched an all-new, carbon version of its Compulsion Enduro mountain bike, along with an array of high-performance e-bikes.

    "Felt is charging forward with a renewed focus on what we do best," said Sakalowsky. "By retaining all of our engineering, prototyping, and research and development efforts in-house at our Southern California headquarters, we're able to continually push the boundaries of product creation. We have a steadfast devotion to iterative aerodynamic development, as well. All of that is the result of our commitment to giving our riders the best-performing bikes in the world, which will be evident in upcoming product releases."

    The new website is at feltbicycles.com.


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    LONDON (BRAIN) — Rapha has cut 15 jobs at its headquarters in the name of reducing redundancy and costs, the company said. The company said sales were up significantly last year but that it now focusing on long-term profitable growth rather than short-term sales.

    The move comes a little over a year since RZC Investments, a firm run by Walmart heirs Steuart and Tom Walton, had bought a majority stake in the brand for about $250 million.

    A Rapha spokesman told BRAIN, "In 2017 Rapha delivered our 14th consecutive year of strong sales growth, with revenue increasing by 32%. As we entered 2018, we adjusted our trading strategy, prioritizing long-term profitable growth above short term sales. As part of this, we are simplifying certain areas of the business, in order to reduce costs, and consolidate and strengthen our position. These actions will result in the reduction of a limited number of positions in our London headquarters."

     


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    Saris's owner said his company has been "abandoned by bicycle trade and industry groups" who sided with importers.

    COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (BRAIN) — When Ali Yazdian began planning his bike rack company about three years ago, he was determined to manufacture in the U.S., as much as possible near his home in the Salt Lake Valley. Yazdian largely succeeded, publicly launching Alta Racks — named for the ski town 8 miles from the company's headquarters — in fall 2017. Alta offers an upright hitch rack that can carry as many as six bikes.

    Alta racks are manufactured with parts made at three different fabricators in the Salt Lake City area, and its wheel baskets are made in Illinois. Packaging is sourced locally with U.S.-made paper. The wheel straps would be familiar to backcountry skiers because they are ski straps from Voilé, a 35-year-old Utah company.

    When Yazdian saw the Trump administration had proposed a 25 percent tariff on auto racks made in China, he smiled.

    "We have been abandoned by our bicycle trade and industry groups who have sided with members of the industry who have sent most of their production and manufacturing overseas and outside the United States."— Saris' Chris Fortune

    Many of Alta's competitors in the upright rack market manufacture in China, and Yazdian said the tariff would "level the playing field."

    Racks and many other bike products were included among the $200 billion in Chinese goods that could get hit with the tariff. A decision is expected this month.

    Wisconsin's Saris Cycling Group also strongly supports the tariff. 

    Saris' owner and president, Chris Fortune, submitted a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative in support. 

    "Saris, a dedicated American employer, currently consists of two production facilities in Madison, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with over 200 employees, four product divisions and sells or distributes our best-in-class products in over 72 countries around the world. We are incredibly proud of the economic impact we make locally and regionally with our local sourcing of 92% of our raw materials from within 120 miles.

    "Our situation is simple. All our competitors choose to invest in other countries while Saris invests here at home.

    "We have been abandoned by our bicycle trade and industry groups who have sided with members of the industry who have sent most of their production and manufacturing overseas and outside the United States."

    At least six Saris employees also submitted letters supporting the tariffs.

    Companies importing racks from China, on the other hand, have said the proposed tariffs could "cripple" their business.

    For example, Kuat's Bill Kaufman submitted a letter to the USTR opposing the tariff. Kaufman said his company employs 27 people in Missouri and that all Kuat's tooling is held at its partner factory in China.

    "We have built a sustainable, rapidly growing business in Missouri. We have achieved this through design, customer service and quality assembly from our partners in China. We are home to many young men and women who are achieving their goals financially and professionally. Before the proposed tariff increase, we had plans for continued growth to 40+ full time employees here in Springfield over the next few years. This tariff will have a negative impact on our business and stunt our growth as it will result in profit loss due to an increased cost for our product," Kaufman wrote. 

    A freestanding base is also available for the rack.

    Yakima also submitted a letter in opposition, while Thule endorsed a letter to the USTR from Snowsports Industries America in opposition to the tariff (Kuat also endorsed the SIA letter).

    Yazdian's journey to Alta

    Tariff aside, Yazdian has personal reasons for manufacturing in the U.S. His family immigrated here from Iran when he was 13.

    "We were running away from a war and religious persecution," said Yazdian, now 49.

    "We went from living quite well to having almost nothing. My sisters and I had to work through high school to support ourselves. My father would never accept government support. He said we had to make it on our own. It was really a beautiful thing. I was able to get loans to go to college and I became a computer engineer and eventually became vice president at an aerospace company.

    "I think being able to come from nothing is a great thing about this country. Almost everywhere else it's basically a caste system. So I feel like I have to pay back.

    "I had offers to go to China to build this [rack] for almost nothing. But I wanted to prove this was possible. It takes diligence, it takes finding the right partners," he said.

    The trade war hasn't always benefited Alta. The steel racks weigh upward of 70 pounds, and when a 25 percent tariff on imported steel took effect in March, Yazdian's material costs went up immediately. He has been able to absorb those costs so far.

    U.S. manufacturing means Alta can't offer retailers the margins they expect. Nevertheless, a handful of shops carry Alta, including Over the Edge stores in Utah, Colorado and Nevada.

    Alta also sells online and via Competitive Cyclist.

    Alta racks, which start at $1,185, have features beyond the novelty of being made in the U.S.

    With a background designing products for the military, including off-road vehicle products for special forces and border patrol, Yazdian prefers upright racks because they aren't leveraged off the vehicle like horizontal racks. The design also increases ground clearance off road.

    GPR is an acronym for General Purpose Racks. They accept attachments for skis, snowboards, kayaks and more. Alta offers an optional bike workstand, a free-standing garage storage stand with wheels, a table attachment for tailgate picnics, and a hammock interface for the trailhead lifestyle. Three different wheel basket sizes accommodate different tire sizes, and the racks are available in a variety of powder-coated colors.

    "It's not a bike rack, it's a life rack," Yazdian likes to say.

    While Yazdian expects the tariff, if enacted, to benefit his company, when asked if he supports President Donald Trump, he said, "There is no yes or no."

    After all, Trump would likely have opposed allowing Yazdian's family into the U.S.

    "With any president, I support the role and respect it," he said. "[I don't] necessarily agree with all the policies. This country will be great long after. There is no better."

    Alta will be exhibiting at Interbike's Outdoor Demo at Northstar Resort, Sept. 15-17. 

    Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the Sept. 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. 

     


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    The Gates 22-tooth rear sprocket.

    AMSTERDAM (BRAIN) — Gates Carbon Drive and Enviolo have collaborated on a drivetrain for high-speed e-bikes, also called speed pedelecs, which require taller gearing to achieve speeds of up to 28 mph.

    With input from Gates, Enviolo re-designed its stepless and automatic shifting groupsets to allow product managers to spec a 22-tooth Gates rear sprocket on all e-bike categories--city, trekking, sportive, cargo and commercial. Due to clearance limits, bicycle manufacturers were previously limited to using a 24-tooth Gates sprocket with a larger front sprocket to achieve the higher gear.

    The new product also eases fitment issues for front sprockets mounted on mid-drive motors, enabling the use of a smaller front sprocket to improve frame clearance on models equipped with larger tires and with shorter chainstays.

    "Gates is committed to expanding the e-bike market and facilitating the adoption of Gates Carbon Drive belt systems across all bicycle market segments by developing strategic applications and working directly with manufacturers to develop new products that serve consumers and bicycle brands," said Chris Vasiliotis, global product engineering manager for Gates Carbon Drive.

    "The combination of the Gates Carbon Drive system with an Enviolo internal gear hub, which creates a quiet and very low-maintenance solution for the consumer, continues to gain popularity and satisfaction in the market. As such we have used our great relationship to expand our product offering, enabling our customers to have more flexibility in designing bikes for specific use cases," said Richard Hilgart, a product manager at Enviolo.

    Production of the new enviolo groupsets started in September and orders can be placed now with Enviolo. Orders for the 22T sprocket (part number CT1122VMN) can be placed with Gates or Universal Transmission for Europe. 


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    Eoin Comerford says he was surprised by the industry's vehement response to the online store.

    MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (BRAIN) — Eoin Comerford, the CEO of Moosejaw, says a controversial new curated website featuring premium outdoor gear, part of Walmart's e-commerce site, has the potential to expand the outdoor industry's reach.

    Moosejaw, a Michigan-based outdoor retailer, was purchased by Walmart in 2017. When Walmart launched the premium outdoor site last month, several brands that were included objected. Black Diamond, Deuter and Leki were among the brands that pulled out of the store. Black Diamond sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walmart demanding the retailer stop selling its products and using its trademarks on the site, while the other brands opted out more quietly.  

    Walmart released a statement saying it saw the store as good news for the outdoor industry.

    "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," Walmart said.

    Comerford published an article on LinkedIn on Friday, saying the outdoor industry talks a lot about inclusivity but remains "predominantly male and remarkably white."

    He said Moosejaw has always welcomed beginners who are intimidated at other outdoor shops and has always been straightforward with its vendors.

    "We developed the Premium Outdoor Store on Walmart with all of these thoughts in mind. Walmart.com's huge traffic offered the ability to expose outdoor brands, activities and products to a massive audience of new and long-term outdoor enthusiasts, including the very groups that are underrepresented in our industry today. We didn't want to be just another marketplace focusing on sterile transactions and price shopping. Instead, we built a destination where we could partner with brands to tell their story through their own images, technologies and product families. We built a destination where the brands could list their product to the highest of their standards," he wrote. 

    "I wasn't naive enough to think that all outdoor retailers would welcome the Premium Outdoor Store with open arms, but I am surprised by the vehemence of the attacks by some of our industry's leading retailers and the threats to drop brands that participated," he continued. 

    He said the store could usher in significant changes to the industry.

    "At the end of the day, the question becomes, 'what industry do we want to be?' A small, exclusionary, slow-growing industry dominated by one or two large retailers that dictate everything from distribution and promotional calendars, or a large, inclusive, fast-growing industry embraced by a growing customer base and populated by many innovative and inspiring outdoor brands."


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