Yesterday afternoon Halford unveiled new brand, 13 Bikes, to the media.
Gathering press from the cycle world, style press and national media, the firm unveiled the range which will be primarily available via the site (available now) through click and collect. A handful of stores, around six (including Inverness and Bristol) will have stock of the brand while the waters are being tested and staff are being trained up.
The Halfords exclusive has been put together by its designer Justin Stevenson, who was given more of a free hand to come up with the range (he told BikeBiz that Halfords had initially been sceptical about one of the bikes – a commuter offering with a Shimano Alfine 8 Speed Hub Gear – but he won them around in the end).
Looks-wise, the range is low-key and understated – branding isn't plastered all over the frame – with subtle splashes of colour that is matched on the rims, saddles, underside of the frames and more. In the main the range is under £1,000.
The '13' name has taken inspiration from superstitious riders who pin the number on upside down to reverse its 'powers' - each bike in the range has a reversed 13 on the seat post.
Matt Davies, Halfords chief exec, was at the launch: "Cycling is more important for Halfords. We've made gains in the premium market and we can compete in this area. 18 months ago we went back to basics and asked 'what type of bikes would complement our ranges?'. We started with a blank canvas."
Halfords chairman Dennis Millard expanded on the point for BikeBiz: "We knew we had to get more premium lines in the store. The difficulty was choosing which one. Or do we just create one?"
We also spoke with designer Justin Stevenson. He told us the bikes are largely specced out with bespoke components and that the idea was to create a cross-sector range from the start: "If we didn't include mountain bikes then it didn't feel like a full range, though road is where it started.
"Some customers aren't looking for heavily branded bikes. 13 Bikes is the opposite of those."