Bickerton Bikes sold around 600,000 units back in the olden days and now the folding bike brand is back in the UK through newly signed distributor 2x2. This appearance was the first UK show for Bickerton (in 40 years or so), with stock arriving in time for the key March season. 2x2 told BikeBiz of the kudos the brand is still enjoying, judging by the dealers reaction at the Bike Place. Sporting a decidedly on-trend Farrow and Ball-eque paint job, Bickerton starts with a £399 folder. 2x2 noted that Bickerton Bikes could fill a hole in the folding bike market for IBDs.
The distributor was also showcasing Roux, which it said had been ‘awesome for us’. Highlights include the Vercors T7, an entry-level tri bike near the £500 mark. The beauty of the range is, we were told, that it is UK designed: “Lots of the popular road bike brands are US designed, so there’s not so much cross or audax or tourers from them, but we can do whatever we like with these. Roux fills a gap.”
Just Riding Along
In its first year at the Bike Place, Industry Nine Componentry was showcased by recently signed distributor Just Riding Along. Industry Nine’s typically (but not only) aluminium-spoked line-up was on display, with prices beginning around the £850 mark up to £2,000 and over.
Stanton’s UK-designed bike range is still very new but it has managed to score Dirt 100 awards for its first three years, setting the bar high for next year. Designed in the UK, manufactured in Taiwan, the brand makes use of Reynolds steel with key models including the Slackline and 650b Switchback. Sales are currently online, but Stanton is very keen to link up with more shops to give the brand a wider audience.
Best known for its urban range and sewing up swathes of London’s cycle market with its signature Lennox helmet, Bern is broaching into less familiar sectors, with a wider range of off-road helmets. The new MTB helmets are a sign of things to come, we’re told.
More immediately, Bern has designs on cycle cities outside the capital, not least Cambridge and Oxford, both key targets. But it isn't forsaking London of course – in fact there’s a limited edition London helmet, inspired by the New York version, for 2014.
The range has tightened up with the new crank fit system. In a nutshell the new fit system means dealers will have considerably less stock to hold – around 35 per cent Ultrasport estimated – culling the six model range for men down to three, despite still offering a fit for as wide a range of head sizes. The fit system hasn’t been rolled out for the kids and youths models, however. Bern’s womens models are designed by women (gasp) with a different mould, rather than simply padded out.
Ultrasport and Bern are keen to stress that they’ll be splashing the cash in-store, with free POS, staff gift packs, workshop aprons and staff helmet offers and generally aiming to step up visibility. Finally, our sources tell us that Bern has scored a (sadly debadged) appearance on a 118 118 advert. On that bombshell…
Red Cloud recently appointed cycling journalist and product tester Justin Loretz in aid of its newly launched product development and product launch offering. Aimed at old and new brands alike, Red Cloud can offer everything from product development to focus groups and more.
Sticking with Mark Almond, VIP Bikes, launched between Almond and Kevin Brown last year, has the likes of Velocite in its distribution portfolio, which has been refined largely as a frame and component brand for custom builds and is performing well in the market, BikeBiz is told. There should be some new products from the Velocite range at the forthcoming Welsh Cycle Show in April.
Rotor’s Aero Q-Rings are now available with aesthetic-enhancing bolt covers for Shimano Asymetric four bolt covers, and the top end 3D+ crank is now 35grams lighter, with increased stiffness too. There are new graphics across the range and margin for dealers remains great, Velotech tells BikeBiz. The distributor is also pushing Ceepo which will be making many show visits to boost awareness over 2014, including the London Bike Show, Manchester’s Bike and Tri Show and many tri events including Sandown Park.
Massi is set to get a better online presence this year, not least in the social media world to spread the good word. Pyga’s Pascoe 650B enduro/trail bike garnered plenty of attention during the show too.
In its first ever trade show appearance, Gearmech Hanger was showing off only a small selection of its vast 320 product line-up. That range includes some vintage hangers for ‘90s Cannondales, for instance, as well as all the latest editions for modern ranges. Key to the firm’s appeal is the fact it will supply to retailers in very small quantities – and postage is free – always a winner with retailers. Online the firm has a handy guide to the hangers so dealers can whittle down exactly which one they need if they are in doubt.
Wildoo’s UK-made Velopac Musette has a zip in the top, replacing the traditional popper, by request from team riders. Other specifics include a wider strap and adjuster so it can be held higher on the back and therefore won’t swing around awkwardly. The model on show at the Bike Place was a prototype, but Wildoo is already looking ahead to a potential leather version and customisable editions.
As a company, Wildoo’s export market is growing, now with distribution in Japan. Clothing is proving a winner for the firm, while company-wide sales grew around 30 per cent in 2013. Wildoo has also signed up to the Made in Britain initiative.
Cielo is a focus for Evolution Imports this year. While the frames are handmade they are actually produced in batches and then put in storage, reducing lead times substantially when orders come in. From that point on the frames can be customised, with an in-house paint job and more.
Evo Imports’ in-house wheel build service is getting increasingly popular, BikeBiz is told, basically offering that extra service for dealers so they can spend time working on more profitable activities in the workshop.
Chris King continues to fly high for Evo – “people get it” – and the series of limited edition colours will continue, but you’ll have to be fast to grab one. Last year there was the limited edition turquoise, with purple this year.
Finally in our Evo Imports round-up, the stretchy ESI handlebar tape is new. Made from silicon, the rider can choose how they apply the tape to the bar – because it is stretchy the density is customisable – so you can have it as tight as you like. The silicon properties dampen vibration and repel water to boot.
‘Cable tie killer’ Sugru was displaying its wares in a cycle specific context (we last saw it at the Outdoor Trade Show in September), whether repairing frayed saddles, fixing shoes (pictured left), filling holes and a mind bogglingly large amount of applications. With an appearance on BBC news and a product variation involving a magnet in the works (pencilled in for a September launch), expect to see more of the brand as the trade wakes up to it. It went down well with the Bike Place’s dealer attendees, with around 50 per cent of those visiting the stand making an order, we were told.
Debuting at the Bike Place, one key appearance at the CSG stand was from MD Russell Merry, but aside from the returning boss there was plenty to hold the attention. Rachel Atherton’s winning GT Fury was on display as was CSG’s new POS for Cannondale. With a self confessed aim to give the brand the kind of UK presence it should have, recruits like an ex-Nike store man been brought aboard to come up with POS and solutions for the brand in store. We hear Yeovil’s Tri UK will be pioneering some interesting POS along those lines. Product-wise you may have seen much of what was on offer at previous recent launches, but we can reveal that prices are down on GT suspension bikes due to post launch currency fluctuations.
Sticking with the POS world, Charge is sending out a shop fitter to 20 of its key dealers to create a dealer-specific set up. Product-wise, Charge’s low priced foray into the fat bike market (Cooker Maxi, £1,200) sold out quicksmart. The brand had special edition link ups with Red Bull and Vans on show.
CSG’s Clive Gosling told us the BMX racing market has been picking up over the past six months or so, helped by the fact there’s now over 120 BMX clubs in the UK and councils are installing pump tracks and the like, keen to keep that Olympic legacy going. CSG’s Own brand Xposure is getting some local custom wrapped frames limited edition-style, while Sugoi has a number of new POS options. The new Zap jacket, pitched as the ‘world’s most reflective jacket’, was an eye-catching attraction too, priced at £100 with three colour iterations. At the show there was chatter around Sugoi’s acquisition of Sombrio, but how that affects distribution remains to be seen.
Giga Power Blocks
Giga Power is a sizable OEM supplier of brake pads to the some familiar brands and according to the firm, exhibiting at a trade show for the first time in the UK and looking for new dealers, compares favourably with many leading brands of brakes – head over to the Giga Power site for more on that.
While it is still bedding into the UK market, Rubena has tripled its business in a year, which isn’t too shabby. Product wise, the City and Trek tyres are the biggest sellers and the Highlander is set to come in more size variations. A significant area for development is Rubena’s online presence and a much improved dealer locator, set for launch very soon. In terms of marketing, Rubena is the official tyre sponsor for Savage Skills for 2014.
Santa Cruz has been a big success for Jungle Products, but the distributor is keen to stress it’s not a one-brand shop. Isaac’s monochrome road bike line-up, for instance, has modest stock-in requirements, we’re told, with a mostly carbon range complemented by some new alloy editions.
Juliana’s female-oriented mountain bike range comes from the brain of Juliana Furtado, first launched back in ’99 in association with Santa Cruz, with Furtado’s nickname the Queen leading to those crown head badges. The brand – which is about as far from shrinking and pinking as you can get – has been selling well with Jungle, full of eclectic details like the Joplin range being named after Furtado’s favourite singer and bike decals worth a closer look if you get chance.
Jungle hadn’t long signed BOS suspension before the show, so it was something of a rush to get product to Silverstone, but there it garnered lots of attention. Crucially, Jungle is now the service centre for BOS.
Greenover/i-skute might be best known for Lucky and Grit scooters as well as Nutcase helmets, but it was largely pushing last year’s bike signing Rocky Mountain at Silverstone. The distributor is mainly bringing full-sus MTBs in the UK such as the Element 29er and Thunderbolt 650b. Tech-wise, Rocky Mountain’s patent pending Ride-9 system allows riders to customise geometry and suspension rate however they desire.
New signing Wishbone is pitched at the balance bike end of the market. For those interested, the New Zealand brand is already in stock and on the B2B site.
Transition and Ion took pride of place at Surf Sales’ stand. The Ion clothing and protection range includes everything from bikewear – cargo shorts, hoodies, shirts and tees – to protective shorts, gloves and pads. The brand also brings a full range of eyewear to the bicycle market.
Kali helmets were snapped up by NRG4 late last year, including MTB, BMX, kids and road lids within the range. NRG4 is particularly excited about Kali’s expansion in road helmets, including the Phenom, offering some very reasonably priced helmets. Craig Middleton told BikeBiz that NRG4 has been taken by surprise over Kali’s popularity, with the stock ordered in pre-Christmas selling out far ahead of schedule. Also on show was an early prototype road light from Tumble and Fall, Source hydration and waterproof protection from Loksak – pitched as ideal for commuters with three in a pack for £8.99.