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    SEATTLE (BRAIN) — Consumer-direct e-bike brand Rad Power Bikes is moving to a new location in Seattle. The move will consolidate the company's offices, warehouse and retail store, currently housed in three different locations in the city.

    Rad Power is leasing 26,000 square feet of space in the new Woodland Business Center in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood starting Jan. 1, 2019. In addition to bringing together its various operations, the new space will also help Rad Power accommodate its growing staff, which has expanded from 20 employees at the start of 2018 to 80 today.

    "We continued outgrowing all our locations. Moving to this new space is to better accommodate our growing team and serve high customer demand," Rad Power co-founder and CEO MIke Radenbaugh told BRAIN. "Right now we have a nice size office in Seattle, but we filled it up months ago. So the new space ties in our retail store with our office space and warehousing all under one roof. When you go there there will be an outdoor electric bike charging station and parking area and maybe even a little organic coffee shop inside that will be a more experiential location."

    Rad Power launched in 2007 and went consumer direct in 2015, jumpstarting its sales growth. And 2018 has been an exceptional growth year for the brand, with sales on target to rise to $50 million from $20 million last year.

    "It's a high-value product with a strong support system backing it," Radenbaugh said of the Rad Power line, which covers a range from fat bikes for on- and off-road use to cargo and utility haulers. "It's a bike that really anyone can get into and enjoy and love. And more importantly, as you put the miles on, which goes by really quick on an e-bike, having a team to support every one of our customers in timely fashion has really been paramount for our growth."

    Fleet sales for the brand's utility bikes have also come on strong lately. "With our electric cargo trike, our bikes are now being used to haul 700 pounds of organic vegetables all over Vancouver, Canada. Those types of applications are what really excites us — providing products to support the transition away from a car-centric lifestyle."

    Rad Power's new address will be 1128 NW 52nd St., Seattle, WA 98107. Phone numbers will be unchanged.


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    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (BRAIN) — Factory LLC, a Pennsylvania-based operating company, has made an equity investment in the sports nutritional brand Honey Stinger.

    Factory LLC has $250 million of capital to invest in food, beverage and pet health companies. Factory said its staff includes experts in sales, marketing, innovation and food science, operations, and finance. The company's 30-person team works out of a 40,000 square foot "innovation and scale-up facility" in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Among its previous investments was taking a $5 million stake in Mikey's Muffins in 2017. Factory LLC was founded by Rich Thompson, the former CEO of Freshpets and Meow Mix, and the founder and former CEO of America Italian Pasta Company. 

    "We are really excited to partner with Honey Stinger, a company that has established itself as one of the premier sports nutrition brands on the market," said Thompson. "Our partnership will allow Honey Stinger to broaden its reach through amplified marketing and distribution programs. Factory will also focus on innovation to expand the company's offering of great new performance-based products."

    Bill Gamber, Honey Stinger co-founder and president, said, "The Honey Stinger brand was born from a decades-long family tradition, so our passion for honey-based nutrition is deeply rooted.

    "We are very proud of the growth we have achieved and the career opportunities we've been able to provide to our team here in Steamboat. As we look to continue building on that growth, it is important for us to choose partners who understand the value of our heritage and share our passion for creating exceptional products. Factory brings the ideal combination of experience, expertise, vision and resources to help drive Honey Stinger forward."

    Gamber was also the co-founder of the outdoor company Big Agnes, also based in Steamboat Springs. 


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    Bouchard-Hall will lead a "USA Cycling partner company." Bob Stapleton will step in as interim CEO.

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BRAIN) — USA Cycling announced Friday that Derek Bouchard-Hall will be stepping down as president and CEO at the end of the year. The organization said Bouchard-Hall will lead what the organization described as a "USA Cycling partner company" that will issue a separate announcement next week.

    USA Cycling's board chairman Bob Stapleton will serve as interim CEO as the board searches for a new CEO.

    Following a career that included the launch of two wireless communications companies, Stapleton has been involved in the cycling industry since 2002, most publicly as the owner of High Road Sports, the owner of men's and women's pro cycling teams that operated from 2007 to 2011. He currently serves on the Union Cycliste Internationale Management Committee and is also the director of the World Triathlon Corporation.

    Bouchard-Hall joined USA Cycling in 2015 following a career that included executive positions with the US Small Business Administration and the online retailer Wiggle.

    "Deciding to leave USA Cycling to take on a new role was the hardest professional decision of my life. I have loved serving the American bike racing community, and my heart will always remain firmly with USA Cycling," said Bouchard-Hall. "My professional career has focused on improving organizations and setting them on a new path. I am confident that I have done that at USA Cycling, and am proud of the team we have in place which will continue improving our ability to support our membership."

    Stapleton said, "The foundation for a brighter future for USA Cycling has been built. But we know that much work remains to be done. The next leader of USA Cycling must have that same sense of purpose and urgency to continue our progress. This will be a fantastic opportunity for the right person."


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    NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Brooklyn retailer 718 Cyclery is deepening its commitment to outdoor gear with a new website and pop-up on its sales floor, dubbed Mighty Hatchet Adventure Shop and Outfitters.

    The idea grew out of 718 owner Joe Nocella's longstanding practice of offering multi-day bike trips and overnight micro-tours out of his shop.

    "We started thinking more about the landscape in New York City for outdoor goods. You have REI and another big location called Paragon, but beyond that there's really nothing in terms of outdoor gear or camping gear," Nocella said. "The thinking leading up to this was that thinking of ourselves as just a bike shop can be limiting, and we thought that being able to rebrand part of this and spread our wings outside the bike industry into the outdoor world would be something that could stand on the shoulders of stuff we already do — all these trips, classes and other stuff. It's just a natural progression."

    The website, mightyhatchet.com, offers such products as knives and tools, camp cooking equipment, fire starters, sleeping gear, and emergency and safety supplies. Free classes at 718 such as the Friendly Fire outdoor cooking class and gear overview, scheduled for Nov. 7, will also be promoted on the website.

    At 718's brick and mortar, a section on the sales floor highlights the new Mighty Hatchet branding. "We're treating it as a pop-up within the store rather than doing a separate retail footprint," Nocella said.

    Nocella recently added accounts with outdoor distributor Liberty Mountain and tent and sleeping gear brand Big Agnes. He also is expanding his stock of camp cooking equipment he already carried at 718 to help equip his tour customers.

    718 offered about a dozen bike trips and micro-tours this year, and Nocella plans to expand that to around 18 outings in 2019. Those trips aren't necessarily great money makers for the shop, but they're invaluable in building customer loyalty, he noted.

    "There's a connection there that's far beyond the usual customer relationship. Once you ride 50 miles and you're camping and cooking, that connection is unbelievable," Nocella said. "And I think that's been a huge part of us being able to continue to do what we do in outdoor stuff and relying on the endless supply of people looking to escape the city for the weekend."


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    EXETER, United Kingdom (BRAIN) — Kirk Pacenti, the founder of Pacenti Cycle Design, is stepping away from his namesake company as Luke Humphreys, who invested in the company last year, takes over as acting CEO.

    Kirk Pacenti had moved into a product development role following the investment. "I'd just like to say 'thank you' for all the support I have received over the years from our valued customers," Pacenti told BRAIN. "We achieved some really great things as a small company, and they were the ones that made it all possible."

    Humphreys, a veteran of the U.K. industry, said he expects to remain the brand's CEO for the foreseeable future. Co-owners Matt Wiessler and Duncan Lloyd also remain with the brand, which is now based in the U.K.

    Humphreys said the brand will continue to develop innovative products and is moving toward dealer direct sales in the U.S. and Europe, ending the use of distributors.

    By cutting out distributors, Pacenti was able to lower retail prices recently while maintaining or increasing dealer margins, Humphreys told BRAIN.

    "When we used distributors, to keep price parity we had to hold retail prices higher than where the market sits. We are restructuring to be more in line with the market," Humphreys said.

    "Now we are selling what used to be a $600 wheel for $400, and our customers can still make a good living," he said.

    Pacenti is working with an industry partner in the U.S. to handle fulfillment to U.S. dealers. He said the operation is set up to handle small dealer orders. The company added a B2B wholesale ordering system to its website last year. It's transitioning to dealer direct sales in the U.K. this fall. 

    "We are not trying to load up dealers with volume discounts. We expect our customers will be ordering one wheelset one day, and maybe a rim tomorrow or the next week. We are very much a single-price structure business. We want to service stores and we understand their cash constraints, ... I grew up in retail and they are still close to my heart," he said.

    The brand also sells consumer direct via its website. Although Pacenti is not pursuing sales through major internet retailers, bike shops are allowed to sell online under the brand's minimum advertised price policy.

    Pacenti is known as a pioneer in the use of 650b mountain bike wheels as well as wider aluminum rims offroad. Humphreys said Pacenti's Forza carbon road wheels have been a success, as have been its P-Dent mountain bike handlebars. He said the brand will continue to develop products that are ahead of the curve.

    "We are pushing harder than we have in a long time on new products. We have new aluminum rims, new disc rims and we are bringing back mountain bike rums, which have been off the market for a while. ... We want to get back to where we are setting trends and leading the industry. The market caught up with what Kirk did a few years ago so now we've got to step out front again.

    More information on Pacenti Cycle Design at pacenticycledesign.com

    Kirk Pacenti can be reached at kirk.pacenti@outlook.com.


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    The Section 201 duties would apply to imports from all countries, and are intended to encourage U.S. bike assembly.

    WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Two domestic bike assemblers — Bicycle Corporation of America and Detroit Bikes — have asked the U.S. International Trade Commission look into imposing tariffs of up to 50 percent on imported bikes. The companies' Section 201 request would encourage U.S. assembly of bikes using foreign parts, they said.

    The extra tariffs, if the ITC and the White House agrees to the request and recommendations, would be on top of existing duties on bikes. Currently most imported bikes are subject to duties of 5-11 percent, while bikes from China are subject to an additional 10 percent tariff that took effect in August and increases to 25 percent on Jan. 1. The same new tariffs apply to most Chinese bike parts.

    The Section 201 duties would apply to imports from all countries, so would discourage importers from shifting bike assembly out of China to other countries to avoid the newly imposed tariffs.

    "This is specifically geared toward driving new bike assembly jobs in America," Zak Pashak, the president of Detroit Bikes, told BRAIN on Monday.

    The tariffs imposed in August were intended to punish China for unfair trade practices, but are not specifically intended to help U.S. businesses. In contrast, Section 201 tariffs investigations primarily look at how U.S. industries are being affected by imports, without looking at what's going on the other side of the border; they can lead to tariffs of a maximum of 50 percent as a remedy. Generally they result in tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) that are collected only after a certain volume of imports has been surpassed.

    Section 201 petitions, allowed under the Trade Act of 1974, are very rare, but have been successful under the Trump Administration, said Kelsey Rule, an attorney who is representing Detroit and BCA. In the last 15 years, there have been only two Section 201 petitions, but both were made during the Trump administration and both were approved.

    "It's one of the tools that this administration is willing to use ... there is a bias toward action in the Trump administration," she said.

    The U.S. has imported 15-19 million bikes a year in this decade. To account for U.S. assembly capacity, the petition calls for a 50 percent tariff that is imposed only after 15 million bikes are imported in its first year, leaving U.S. assemblers an opportunity to make up the difference. Over the following three years, the threshold would go down by one million units per year, encouraging the U.S. assemblers to increase capacity. Section 201 tariffs need to be renewed after four years.

    De minimis, too

    The petition also recommends a reduction in the U.S. Custom de minimis for imported complete bikes. Currently, all imports valued at under $800 per package are not subject to duty collection. The petition calls for a reduction of the de minimis for bicycles from $800 to $50 for at least four years. The bike industry has been lobbying for a reduction in the de minimis for all imports

    Detroit Bikes has already secured several new bike assembly contracts as a result of the new tariffs on Chinese bikes, Pashak said. He said if Section 201 tariffs were imposed, his company would have to gear up for increased assembly work.

    "We think we could (assemble) 400-500 bikes a day if we were running at full tilt," he said. "The thought of running three shifts is exciting; it would mean hundreds of new jobs here in an area where we really need jobs."

    Arnold Kamler, the CEO and chairman of Kent International, wasn't immediately available Monday to comment on the Section 201 petition. Kent owns the BCA factory in Manning, South Carolina.

    In August, Kamler spoke at a hearing in Washington as the Trump administration heard public and industry comments on the Chinese tariffs.

    He argued that the Chinese tariffs discouraged U.S. manufacturing and assembling.

    "We are against all the tariffs, but we feel that manufacturing here should be encouraged, and these tariffs penalize us unfairly and actually discourage U.S. manufacturing and companies that want to invest here and employ people here to make bikes,"Kamler told BRAIN at the time.

    At the hearings, Kamler said he was speaking for his company as well as the Reshoring Bicycle Production Team, a newly formed group.

    Two for two

    Last year after an investigation, the ITC recommended Section 201 tariffs on large residential clothes washing machines (a petition initiated by Whirlpool) and on some photovoltaic cells. Last January, Trump approved tariffs of 20 percent on the first 1.2 million washers imported, increasing to 50 percent on subsequent imports. The quota on washer imports will decrease in the second and third year. On the photovoltaic cells, tariffs will start at 30 percent in year one and decrease from there.

    Whirlpool celebrated its success, but company profits have softened in recent months as the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum have driven up its manufacturing costs.

    Mass market for now

    The BCA and Detroit petition is specifically targeted at restoring assembly work for suppliers who serve the mass market part of the industry.

    Suppliers to the dealer market are taking a wait-and-see approach. For example, Tony Karklins, the president of Little Rock, Arkansas, bike maker Allied Cycle Works, said he met with Rule but decided the time wasn't right to join the effort.

    "It's certainly interesting," Karklins told BRAIN. "We are kind of watching to see if it grows and evolves into other categories," he said.

    The petition was filed last week. According to the ITC, it must determine whether there was an injury within 120 days of receipt of the petition and then must give its report to the President, with any relief recommendations, within 180 days after receipt of the petition.

    More information: usitc.gov/press_room/us_safeguard.

     


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  • 10/22/18--15:20: A note from the publisher
  • SANTA FE, N.M. (BRAIN) — In the October issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, we made an assertion that Interbike had offered free booth space to selected key brands. When I read that sentence I was struck by the fact that no one at Interbike had responded—one way or another—to that assertion.

    I called Justin Gottlieb, Interbike's show director, and asked him directly if that were true and whether an editor from BRAIN, who had written the article, had discussed that claim with him.

    My call to Gottlieb was not prompted by a complaint from Interbike, which owns BRAIN and has licensed the magazine to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. I placed that call on my own initiative out of curiosity at the lack of response from Interbike and the lack of sourcing for the claim.

    Gottlieb, whom I have known for years, said the claim was untrue and that no one from the magazine had questioned him about it. I have no reason to doubt Gottlieb. This was a serious error on our part and has caused some consternation among exhibitors who feel they may have been cheated and, in effect, contend they may have helped subsidize other brands.

    It's true that while at Interbike I had heard such rumors, but that was it—rumors. BRAIN staffers heard the same rumors but apparently failed to find any concrete evidence of booth-space freebies. The assertion we made in the article has no source and, perhaps worse, no response from Interbike in what was otherwise a fair and accurate appraisal of the show.

    As for free space, Gottlieb said Interbike does not give away free space on the convention floor to participating brands. But Interbike does offer free space to a host of non-profits and has for years—non-profits like the NBDA, PeopleForBikes, IMBA and many others.

    On the other hand, it has in the past, and did so again in Reno, work with companies to offer them value-added packages that, for example, included additional space at the Open Air District.

    "We did that to help boost that part of our program," he said, noting that this was Interbike's first show in Reno. Gottlieb and the show's sales director, Andria Klinger, said such value-added programs, especially for larger companies who spend many thousands of dollars to attend, are not uncommon.

    Some companies, based on their investment in the show, were also offered a select number of comp rooms in some of the downtown hotels as part of value-added packages, she said.

    Nonetheless, those value-added packages do not include free space on the convention floor, Klinger added. And it's fair to say that this magazine—depending upon the spend—will work with advertisers on value-added programs as well. It is not uncommon at trade shows or in publishing to do so.

    But more importantly for Interbike, bringing in key exhibitors is what attracts dealers to the show. Interbike, which significantly increased its marketing budget to help promote the new venue, also helped defray the costs of some 50 dealers. Gottlieb said Interbike's intention was to work with key brands to identify high-impact dealers who had not attended Interbike in the past few years.

    "We also wanted to incentivize them to attend on behalf of those brands. That's the first time we've ever had such a program," Gottlieb said. In doing so Interbike's goal was to showcase Reno, Outdoor Demo and the expo to those dealers and to connect them with the brands that picked them to attend, he said. 

    Still, most dealers have enjoyed similar perks from companies like Trek, Specialized, Giant and others who have paid to have them attend their annual product introduction programs. These types of programs are not unusual in any industry.

    I hope this note helps clear the air about this magazine's credibility and its responsibility toward its readers. We erred in failing to talk directly with Gottlieb about the show's marketing efforts and for that we apologize.


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    BOSTON (BRAIN) — The parent company of Clean Bottle announced Monday that it is up for sale, seeking a partner or buyer that can "leverage the brand and its technologies to its fullest potential."

    In addition to the original Clean Bottle, which has a removable bottom and nozzle designed to make cleaning easier, the assets of Clean Designs LLC also include the Square lifestyle bottle. Both bottles are sold at major retailers including REI and Target.

    Clean Bottle launched in 2010 with a guerrilla marketing campaign at that summer's Tour de France, where a "Bottle Boy" mascot chased riders and garnered TV airtime. The company also gained attention appearing on the NBC series "Shark Tank," with NBA hall of famer and avid cyclist Bill Walton pitching for the brand. ("Shark Tank" panelist Mark Cuban, the tech entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, invested in the company.) 

    Clean Bottle inventor David Mayer said that after eight years building the business, "we are ready to see that taken to the next level with new ownership."

    Clean Designs is working with Bell Lap Advisors in exploring options for moving the brand forward. Russell Cree, managing partner at Bell Lap Advisors, stated, "This business represents a nice opportunity to participate in the rapidly growing portable hydration market, with a unique, differentiated, and patent-backed, product line."

    Interested parties can contact Cree at Russell@bell-lap-advisors.com.

     


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    MINNEAPOLIS (BRAIN) — Bike parking company Dero has released a new bike locker and an all-metal pump head for its all-weather public pumps.

    The Two-Tiber Bike Locker builds on Dero's single-tier bike locker platform and Dero Decker 2-tier bike rack. It provides a space-saving solution for covered bike parking. It boasts a steel construction with locking options that include a u-lock/padlock compatible handle or a keyed lock. It also has optional internal gear hooks.

    The Two-Tier Bike Locker ships flat to save on freight, comes in galvanized and powder coat finish options, and has a modular design.

    The new Dero Metal Head has a cast aluminum construction, universal Presta and Schrader valve compatibility, and serviceable rubber gaskets available in a rebuild kit. It can be paired with Dero's steel-reinforced, rotating air hose and line of Air Kit bike pumps. The new Dero Metal Head now comes standard with all Dero public bike pumps. Updates can be made to previous Dero Air Kit 2 and Air Kit 3 pumps.

    More informationdero.com/product/two-tier-bike-lockerdero.com/product/metal-head.

     


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    PeopleForBikes Foundation and Coalition revenues in recent years.

    Editor's note: A version of this article appeared in the November issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. This version corrects an error about PeopleForBikes' dues structure and corrects that Mike Sinyard is not on the PeopleForBikes board, as we originally reported. We apologize for the errors.

    BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — If ever the industry's nonprofits were in the spotlight, it was in 2018.

    The threat of tariffs on Chinese bike goods forced two groups, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and the PeopleForBikes Coalition, to get vocal.

    By one count, 10 percent of public comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on the recent tariff proposal came from the bike industry, even though bike products accounted for less than 1 percent of the $200 billion tariff package. The two groups organized the campaign. (Related: Industry comments pour in regarding proposed tariffs, Aug. 9)

    The achievement came at a time of reduced industry financial support for PeopleForBikes. Weak bike sales curtailed payments, and longtime supporter Specialized Bicycles said it would put its money elsewhere.

    Besides the tariff threat, e-bike legislation, dockless bike share, California's Prop. 65, Oregon's bike tax, and online sales tax collection all required a unified voice from the bike world in 2018.

    Despite the groups' efforts, the tariff was approved. But the bike lobby managed to get helmets and lights exempted and continues to work to get exemptions for the industry and to try to prevent the tariff from increasing to 25 percent in January.

    The industry supports the PeopleForBikes Coalition, a trade association, with dues and donations that totaled $3.7 million in 2017. The PeopleForBikes Foundation receives donations and grants from outside the bike industry. Last year the Foundation brought in $3.1 million.

    The Coalition's revenue from industry dues and donations fell by about $600,000 from 2016 to 2017. Dues are 0.1 percent of a company's total income from bike-related sales. "When bike industry sales are soft, the dues are soft," said Tim Blumenthal, the organization's president.

    The drop from 2016 to 2017 at the Coalition was partly caused by timing — some dues arrived after New Year's and weren't counted for 2017, Blumenthal said. The rest is explained by soft sales and a shrinking Interbike show. Interbike's payment is tied to the number of booths it sells.

    The 2018 revenue is not likely to look any healthier, in part because of Specialized's decision. 

    Specialized's founder Mike Sinyard explained in a recent BRAIN online column that his company was shifting support away from groups like PeopleForBikes and IMBA and toward the Specialized Foundation and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. The Specialized Foundation develops programs using bike riding to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD). "This is where we feel we can help the most people," Sinyard told BRAIN.

    Specialized was a founding member of PeopleForBikes. Blumenthal said he's taking the long view. "I've had a steady conversation with Mike. They are such a big company that it is a big loss for us. But I would add that we run a careful financial show here, so we immediately cut spending when we learned of this. And we are determined to get [Specialized] back."

    Blumenthal said PeopleForBikes is always looking to diversify funding, but support from the industry remains critical. As the bike world changes, support has come from new and unexpected sources, such as Uber, which recently created a $10 million fund devoted to urban transportation and pledged to support PeopleForBikes. The nonprofit had already been working with Jump, the dockless share bike company Uber bought earlier this year.

    Blumenthal said some have urged him to look for more support from the bike share industry, parts of which appear to be exploding with venture capital money. However, he noted, few share companies have turned a profit.

    "What I'll say is that the jury is still out on a lot of these companies and how much they will support us. The checks we get from them are helpful, but they are not a replacement for the bread-and-butter support from the industry," he said.

    BPSA's healthy

    PeopleForBikes often works closely with a smaller organization, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, and some in the industry have called for the groups to consolidate. Run by industry volunteers and one staffer — executive director Ray Keener — the BPSA had revenue of less than $1 million last year. Its budget has nearly doubled in recent years mostly because it created a special e-bike project funded by e-bike suppliers. That group succeeded in passing its preferred three-class e-bike legislation in 10 states through 2018. Its goal is to pass similar legislation in an additional 19 states next year.

    "BPSA has strived to maintain a healthy position during these challenging and volatile industry times," said the group's president, Adam Micklin, vice president of global sales and marketing at Felt Bicycles. "BPSA's work is mission critical to industry suppliers — and retailers — and our members clearly recognize and support the important work that we do."

    The BPSA and PeopleForBikes boards continue to meet to explore a possible merger. Blumenthal supports the idea and said he was "feeling positive" about a merger happening in 2019.

    Related: IMBA looks to shore up industry support


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    Outdoor Foundation's focus is on building the outdoor habit, so young people gain a lifelong love of and connection to the outdoors and receive the many health and wellness benefits

    DENVER – REI Co-op is investing $1 million in the Outdoor Foundation, the charitable arm of Outdoor Industry Association, to support the Thrive Outside program, designed to help young people's social, emotional and academic development through the outdoors. REI joins VF Corp., Patagonia and Thule, which all made significant multi-year pledges during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in July.

    REI's pledge to the Outdoor Foundation happens as the outdoor community gears up for the fourth year of #OptOutside. In 2015, REI closed its doors on Black Friday and paid its employees to spend the day outside with their loved ones. REI invited the world to join its employees outside, and over the past three years, 15 million people and 700 organizations have joined the #OptOutside movement.

    The Outdoor Foundation's Thrive Outside program is focused on getting kids and families of diverse backgrounds outside to enjoy the many health and wellness benefits of nature. The goal is to grow healthy individuals and build healthy communities by weaving the outdoors into families' day-to-day routines and providing consistent outdoor programming. REI's pledge will help build out critical work in select communities across the country focused on how access to the outdoors can help with youth development.

    According to the Outdoor Foundation's 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, getting kids and families into a regular routine of exercising and playing outside is an extremely challenging goal. The report found the following:

    91 percent of Americans say getting outside for their health is moderately to extremely important, but their actions do not reflect this
    20 percent of Americans participate in an outdoor activity only once per week, and 50 percent of Americans are active outdoors only once per year
    Less than 21 percent of children are active outdoors once or more per a week

    "We've got a responsibility as an industry to transform the way the next generation brings the outdoors into their lives," said REI COO Eric Artz. "Time outside is transformative for our kids. It helps them grow in ways that don't exist in a classroom or on a screen. And it lays the foundation for them to be healthier, happier, more connected to their communities, for the rest of their lives. We're proud to be a part of this work, and we hope REI's investment will encourage other businesses inside and outside the outdoor industry to invest in what the Outdoor Foundation is doing for our children."

    "REI leads on a lot of issues, but no single one is more important than the organization's increased emphasis on access to the outdoors and learning how nature helps our kids develop," said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. "REI's investment will, no doubt, help reverse the disturbing decline of outdoor participation and hopefully inspire other outdoor businesses to support the Thrive Outside program."

    "I'd like to thank REI for showing significant leadership through their $1 million pledge to the Outdoor Foundation," said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. "REI's investment will help fuel a movement by funding diverse Thrive Outside Communities with the overall goal of making getting outside a healthy habit for all."


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    IRVINE, Calif. (BRAIN) — Watteam, which has sold some of the least expensive power meter cranks on the market since 2014, announced Friday that it is suspending production of its latest-generation product line and looking for strategic partners that can make use of its technology.

    "The current management decisions coming from Watteam's board of directors is to consider acquisition options and to search for the right strategic partners in order to establish positive cash flow and execute our vision. We are very confident with our technology, our cost-effective hardware and methods of integration," the company said in a statement emailed Friday. A Watteam representative has not yet responded to an inquiry from BRAIN.

    Watteam's Powerbeat cranks have gone through three generations since their introduction at the 2014 Interbike show. The latest generation had prices as low as $259 for a meter that the user installed on an existing left crankarm. Its most expensive option provided left- and right-sided meters that could be easily swapped between two bikes; it retailed for $600. The company sold consumer direct, through bike shops and through online retailers. 

    "As of this week, Watteam decided to suspend its production and direct sales of the Powerbeat product line and to withhold pending orders," the company stated. "Although we are facing the peak of the retail season, the G3 is not at a standard we are confident to supply. With limited resources and production difficulties, this is the optimal moment to make this exciting change towards what we have always envisioned as the future and make it possible.

    "We apologize for the inconvenience that this decision may cause to you, and we hope that our continued developments will bring you greater benefit in the future!"

    The company said its mobile app will remain functional and it would continue to provide customer support and warranty. It also said the "several hundred" customers who have received G3 units can be confident of their quality. 

    "Going forward, Watteam is vigorously pursuing an individual or corporation that will obtain the current assets that have been obtained over seven years of industry knowledge, Big Data and technological advancements. In addition to the Smart Crank being one of the most accurate and advanced power meters, equipped with all the latest features, it will function as a 'One Stop Shop' for manufacturers and customers. Featuring a variety of industry solutions that will bring an end to many problems faced by the manufacturer and the end client.

    "The outcome of having the most cost-effective hardware with a mature and stable algorithm is the Smart Crank. A mandatory bike component integrated into every bike, without additional costs to the end user."

    Watteam's headquarters are in Irvine, California; its research and development facility is in Israel. 


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    OAKLAND, Calif. (BRAIN) — Hydration product maker HydraPak has acquired insulated bottle brand Polar Bottle.

    Launched in 1994 by cyclists Robert Heiberger and Judy Amabile, Polar Bottle was the first reusable water bottle to address heat loss during long rides. With all components sourced near their home in Colorado and hiring local workers for manufacturing and distribution, Heiberger and Amabile produced an American-made insulated bottle that reduced environmental impact while supporting local and national economies. The company said it continues to maintain its focus on sustainability, philanthropy and environmental conversation.

    "Robert and Judy had an incredible vision when they created Polar Bottle, bringing new innovation into the hydration market while also committing to a sustainable model of local production and profitable growth globally," HydraPak CEO Matt Lyon said. "Our brands share many common values, and we look forward to building on their legacy."

    Polar Bottle will continue to operate on a stand-alone basis out of its headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.


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    CORONA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Troy Lee Designs has hired Dutch Schultz as chief operating officer. Schultz had been serving as an executive consultant to TLD, guiding the organization with process improvement initiatives and operational execution to support the brand's growth.

    Schultz also previously served as senior vice president of global product for Volcom Inc., where he was responsible for driving corporate strategy, operations and global initiatives.

    TLD chief executive Jason Steris said, "Having closely worked alongside Dutch at Volcom, I'm excited to have him join the TLD team. At Volcom, Dutch led multiple functions specific to product creation, planning and go-to-market execution, so he brings in-depth knowledge of how the engine of an organization needs to operate efficiently and profitably."

    TLD founcer Troy Lee added, "I am super stoked to have Dutch come on board full time. We have accomplished a lot together this year, and I am really looking forward to the future and what's next for the brand."

    "Having spent the last five months working side by side with Troy and the team, it became apparent that TLD is one of those brands that is uniquely positioned to leverage its existing market leadership to fuel growth moving forward, and I could not be more excited to partner with the team and our customers," Schultz said. "We have a talented and passionate staff, and with a continued focus on day-to-day execution as well as elevating the TLD customer experience, I know we can successfully and authentically meet our collective goals."

     


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    WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Imports of all merchandise at the nation's major retail container ports have slowed from their pre-holiday peak but remain at unusually high levels as importers continue bringing in merchandise before tariffs increase in January, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

    BRAIN will publish the latest available bike-related import figures in our December issue in our regular Trade Watch feature. In September a new 10 percent tariff was imposed on about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including bike imports worth about $1 billion annually. The tariff is set to increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

    "Imports have usually dropped off significantly by this time of year, but we're still seeing numbers that could have set records in the past," said Jonathan Gold, the NRF's vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Part of this is driven by consumer demand in the strong economy, but retailers also know that tariffs on the latest round of goods are set to more than double in just a few weeks. If there are shipments that can be moved up, it makes sense to do that before the price goes up."

    "President Trump's trade war with China and the threat of even higher tariffs in 2019 have created a mini-boom in imports, and businesses have rushed to bring goods into the country ahead of the tariffs," said Ben Hackett, the founder of Hackett Associates. "We are clearly in a politically motivated trade environment."

    U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.87 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 1.3 percent from August but up 4.6 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

    The NRF and Hackett estimate that October imports would be 1.89 million TEU, up 5.5 percent year-over-year. November is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.8 percent, and December at 1.79 million TEU, up 3.8 percent. January 2019 is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.8 percent over January 2018; February at 1.7 million TEU, up 0.4 percent; and March at 1.59 million TEU, up 3.3 percent.

    Imports set a monthly record of 1.9 million TEU in July. While not overall records, October, November and December's numbers are each the highest on record for those months. Before this year, the highest monthly number on record was 1.83 million TEU set in August 2017.

    The NRF forecasted last week that 2018 holiday season retail sales — excluding automobiles, restaurants and gasoline stations — will increase between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent over last year. Retail sales for all of 2018 are forecast to be up at least 4.5 percent over 2017 , according to the NRF. 

     


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    BOULDER, Colo., and WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) — PeopleForBikes and the League of American Cyclists will hold separate webinars next week addressing the midterm elections' effects on cycling.

    At 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 13, the League will host "What the Election Results Mean for Bicycle and Walking." The 30-minute webinar will cover who the new and returning allies are for cycling and will include a synopsis of election results and active transportation issues by Caron Whitaker, the League's vice president of government relations. Interested listeners can register online.

    At 11 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 16, PeopleForBikes will host "The Votes Are In. What Does the Election Mean for the Bicycle Industry?" In the hourlong webinar, PFB policy experts will review election outcomes, including:

    • How the next Congress will function following shifts in the House and Senate.
    • Wins and losses for bike infrastructure funding — including the defeat of California's Proposition 6, which sought to repeal the state's gas tax increase.
    • The changing makeup of state legislatures and governors' mansions.

    To listen in, register online.


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    DURANGO, Colo. (BRAIN) — Diaz Suspension Design has released The Runt, an air fork upgrade that the company said brings coil spring performance to air forks, without sacrificing weight.

    The Runt threads into the top left side of Fox 36, Rock Shox Lyrik, Pike, Yari and Revelation (35mm, Solo Air Only) forks, replacing the existing air cap and any spacers or tokens. It features a dual air chamber, which lets riders achieve small bump compliance, while not sacrificing mid-stroke support or bottom-out resistance, the company said.

    The Runt retails at $200, including a shim kit and instructions to re-valve the mid-valve for most forks, as well as a complete kit for Rock Shox Charger1 forks.

    DSD also offers a complete re-valve, inspection, and new oil and seals service, along with the Runt install, for an additional $225. More information at diazsuspensiondesign.com


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    Photo by An Le from the Giant Bicycles parking lot.
    UPDATED. Giant Bicycles evacuated Thursday as the Hill Fire erupted amid strong Santa Ana winds.

    NEWBURY PARK, Calif. (BRAIN) — Giant Bicycles USA evacuated its offices Thursday afternoon as the Hill Fire burned behind the company's headquarters in the Conejo Valley, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

    "We evacuated at about 3 p.m. It was really close to Giant. We could see flames from our kitchen, and we acted quickly the minute we saw the fire to shut down," said An Le, Giant's global marketing director. "We've been through a few fires, but this is probably the closest one to the office."

    "The office is fine and people have been checking on it, but the evacuations impacted a lot of folks at Giant. Many people weren't able to get home with the 101 Freeway being closed. But everyone is safe," Le added.

    Le was among the people who couldn't get to his home in Camarillo, and at 4 a.m. his hotel in Newbury Park was put under voluntary evacuation.

    "So I drove around to Malibu to head to Camarillo on PCH [Pacific Coast Highway], and even at 4 a.m. I could see the fire was moving very quickly. It's unbelievable, actually."

    Giant's office remains closed Friday as the company continues to monitor the fire.

    The Hill Fire exploded shortly after igniting around 2 p.m. Thursday, driven by fierce Santa Ana winds that continue to push the fire into the Santa Monica Mountains and toward the Pacific Ocean. By Friday morning the fire was estimated at more than 6,000 acres with zero percent containment, but no houses or commercial buildings had been burned.

    About 13 miles away, the Woolsey Fire has scorched thousands of acres since starting Thursday afternoon near Simi Valley. The fire jumped the 101 Freeway on Friday morning, threatening the communities of Calabasas and Agoura Hills and prompting the evacuation of more than 75,000 residents as it moved through the mountains toward Malibu.

    Raleigh Electric president Larry Pizzi told BRAIN he could see the Woolsey Fire burning on the ridge above the company's offices in Simi Valley as he drove from his home in the Santa Monica area this morning.

    "It was pretty freaky. The fire came over the ridge last night. We had 50 to 60 mile per hour winds blowing," Pizzi told BRAIN. "But our office is still 4 miles away from the fire, and even though there is a lot of open space in between, the winds are blowing west for now so it's moving toward the ocean."

    Both fires are burning not far from the Thousand Oaks bar where a mass shooting claimed the lives of at least 13 people Wednesday night.

    "Two of our employees who live in Thousand Oaks were evacuated last night and are affected by both fires. One employee with kids had already been focusing on family time following the shooting, and he texted me at 12:30 a.m. saying he had to evacuate," Pizzi said. "A lot of structures are still under threat, and my heart goes out to people affected. The combination of the shooting and the fire, it feels like we are living in the Twilight Zone."

    In Northern California, the Camp Fire has burned more than 70,000 acres north of Sacramento. The Camp Fire has all but decimated Paradise, a small town of 26,000 near Chico. The Sacramento Bee reported that multiple people have died as a result of the Camp Fire but an official count has not yet been confirmed. 

    According to Cal Fire’s 10 a.m. Friday incident update, at least 2,000 structures have burned, with 15,000 more still threatened, and Paradise Bike Shop owner Rich Colgin told BRAIN in an email that he did not know if his store had burned.

    BRAIN was unable to reach several retailers in Ventura County as many appear to be closed today, due to evacuations and/or road closures in the area. By 1 p.m. today, nearly 150,000 residents had evacuated as the Woolsey Fire burned toward Malibu.

    Serious Cycling, a store in Agoura Hills, was evacuated. Owner Scott Johnson said his Northridge, California, store remains open and customers from its Agoura stores were bringing bikes in for storage as they evacuate their homes. 

    Extreme fire weather conditions, including high winds, are forecast to continue in Southern California through Friday night and return Sunday. Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared states of emergency in Butte County due to the Camp Fire as well as in Ventura County where the Hill and Woolsey Fires continue to burn.


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    RED WING, Minn. (BRAIN) — Industry companies in the Upper Midwest are lending their support to a local community college's new engineering program focused on the design and fabrication of bicycles and their components.

    Next fall, Minnesota State College Southeast's campus in Red Wing, located 60 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, will introduce Bicycle Design & Fabrication, a two-year associate of applied science degree program. In addition to equipping students to enter the bike industry, the coursework was designed to equip them with the engineering skills to work in the region's high-tech manufacturing economy.

    "Where we live in the Upper Mississippi (River) area is the most engineering- and manufacturing-dense area of the country. It's unbelievable how much high-tech employment there is here," said Travis Thul, MSC Southeast's dean of trade and technology. "And you combine that with a very, very low unemployment rate, and it becomes very difficult to try to reach out to young people and inspire them to get into this unbelievably critical career field, which includes welding, machining, fabrication — the core, core technical programs that are critical to our long-term viability."

    Major manufacturers in the college's area include Red Wing Shoes, Valley Craft Metal Fabrication, Gemini Manufacturing and 3D printing company Protolabs.

    The bicycle program was inspired in part by the college's highly popular Guitar Repair & Building curriculum track, which teaches skills translatable to woodworking and other crafts. But the guitar program does not support the region's economic base in advanced manufacturing, Thul noted.

    "When I was charged with reaching out to the next generation of technical students and training them on these mission-critical components, I asked myself, 'What application has emotional appeal, like the guitar does, while still being able to translate these very important technical and employable skills?'" he said. "I'm an engineer, and I've got friends that are engineers who have spent more money on bicycles than probably on their home or their car. It became clear there's an emotional attachment to the bicycle among a very large swath of our population. But if you look at the bicycle, it's also the perfect example of fine engineering skills."

    In addition to welding and machining, those skills include metallurgy, working with composites, mechanical design, CAD drafting, rapid prototyping and thermodynamics.

    "The bicycle is the culmination of every applied engineering skill set into one application," Thul said.

    While the program doesn't launch until next fall, students can begin work on their general education requirements for the two-year degree this spring.

    The curriculum is being designed in collaboration with an advisory committee composed of representatives from such local industry companies as Trek, QBP, Park Tool and Hed Cycling. Trek and retail chain Erik's Bike Shop have also helped recruit faculty for the program through their social media, Thul noted.

    "The industry has committed to participating in whatever way they can. For example, the engineer we're working with at Trek is an alumnus of one of our sister campuses. The hope is that we'll be able to leverage their expertise on a regular basis," he said.

    Luke Strauss, QBP's engineering manager, said that having a degree in this area would be a benefit to potential employees at his company or in the bike industry generally. "As we continue to build and grow our design and prototyping capabilities, it will be great to have a growing pool of students to hire from for internships and careers," he said.

    Industry companies interested in participating in the Bicycle Design & Fabrication program can contact Thul at tthul@southeasternmn.edu or 507-453-1422.

    For more information about the program and to apply, go to southeastmn.edu/bike.

     


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    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BRAIN) — On Monday, Nov. 11,  USA Cycling said it will partner with five military support organizations to provide free memberships to veterans, active military and their families in honor of Veterans Day.

    USA Cycling will offer free Basic memberships, along with a 1-hour consult with a USA Cycling coach, a 10 percent discount on of merchandise at the USA Cycling store, access to partner discounts, member-only offers and a coupon to gift a Basic membership to a friend or family member.

    The USA Cycling membership if being offered to members of Team RWB, US Military Endurance Sports (USMES), Project Hero, Hope for the Warriors, World T.E.A.M. Sports, and Wounded Warrior Project.

    Elizabeth Kollar, USAC's director of membership, said, "We are excited to partner with the military community to welcome new cyclists and help existing riders through their pedaling adventures. Our new membership model provides more meaningful benefits for a wider range of abilities. If you're a beginner, a rider coming back to the sport or someone who has a podium goal, USA Cycling is here to support your journey."

    USA Cycling will work with each organization's membership program to encourage participation, increase exposure to competitive cycling, and help grow the base of support for cycling in the U.S. 

    More information at usacycling.org.


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