Core Bike: Upgrade, Chocolate, I-ride and Seal Skinz

BikeBiz reports on the latest gear and services available to retailers
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Chocolate Distribution

Fresh off its debut at the London Bike Show and on the distribution firm's first appearance at Core, Honey Stinger was again the focus of MD, Jeremy Crook's exhibition space.
With a comprehensive stock now in, Chocolate can supply the Lance Armstrong and team Radioshack-favoured energy brand. Crook told BikeBiz: "We're a small, but focused distribution outfit dedicated to quality brands. Honey Stinger compliments our portfolio well and I'm extremely proud to be working with a brand with such strong science-based nutrition advantages to its product."
If your store is in need of a supplier of energy and protein sports solutions, look out Honey Stingers line of organic energy chews, Stinger bars and the famous Stinger Waffle inspired by Armstrong's favoured European snack.
Chocolate Distribution also carries Rolf Prima wheels and Kurt Kinetic turbo trainers.

I-ride

Few will have passed through I-ride's exhibition without having noticed Thompson's prototype 'permadized' camouflage and USA flag seatpost and stem designs. Though not confirmed for production, the level of interest at the show should prove an indication of how they would sell if set for the market and a Thompson spokesman told BikeBiz: "The technique involves a dyed paper wrap which 'permadizes' to the post. The technique is only done in two places in America and would add roughly £25 to the cost at retail."

Deuter has broadened its cycle market specific offering for 2011, flagging up the Superbike bag as a key product for urban retailers thanks to its sewn in 'windshield' visibility vest and helmet mounts. A women's specific SL version is also available. Both feature Deuter's Airstripe ventilation ensuring good airflow to the back, 3M reflectives and space for using a bladder, if desired.

Much of the Deuter line has undergone a design revamp with a pinstripe theme heavily present on many models and new female specific designs, detailed in shades of pink. Stock of the 2011 line is available now.

Taking pride of place in the Eddy Merckx line were the EMX5 and EMX7 framesets. Carbon quality on both builds has been upgraded and is now among the highest grade in the cycle business, with the EMX7 boasting a grade 62 high modulus weave. This Team Quickstep-used frameset is designed solely around aerodynamics, making full use of internal cable routing and a seamless transition between frame and fork.

The EMX3, suited to the ever-popular sportive market, was also said to be a key bike in the line "given the market's growth," explained product manager Jaco Ehlers. Built using high modulus grade 30 carbon and carrying Fulcrum wheels and FSA components throughout, various build kits are available, though a Campagnolo Athena groupset spec will cost £2,699 at retail.

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Seal Skinz

It took BikeBiz a few attempts to pin down a Seal Skinz spokesman given that their stand was so consistently rammed with Core visitors.

New recruit, Stuart Andrews who takes on the role of sales and marketing director, told BikeBiz: "Seal Skinz Is making more cycle specific product that ever before, so interest has jumped significantly. We've experienced a stunning growth curve in this sector and as a result are heavily re-investing in research and development of cycling gear. We think around 40 per cent of our business is now solely from the cycle trade and we're looking to grow further."

Key to the Seal Skinz's progress this year is the independent retail business, for which Andrews said the firm will provide plenty of support and point of sale assistance. Product-wise, the waterproof sock line, spanning £25 to £35 at retail, is anticipated to continue to be popular. Each is made from merino wool, which naturally has anti-bacterial and quick drying properties, among other benefits. Further to this, elastic has been added to key areas ensuring a snug fit.

A fresh 'performance line' made up largely of glove product is due to land with Seal Skinz in August and will include children's specific mitts and gloves.



Upgrade

UK-made Cycloc, as well as WTB sister brand Freedom have joined the Upgrade stable.

Though just the one product at present, Cycloc's Andrew Lang told BikeBiz: "There's another three, maybe four products that we intend to show at this year's Eurobike. The flagship product, however, is now available form Upgrade and retails for £59.95, coming boxed with a wall spacer for bikes with longer handlebars. What I don't think many have realised about Cycloc is that it can be mounted at any angle and a bike can be balanced simply using its own weight, hung by the frame's top tube, or seatpost."

The Cycloc is tough too. The unit is made from injection molded Polypropolyene shaped into a Cyclo in Kent. London cycle café Look Mum, No Hands makes good use of Cycloc's product and Lang recommended dealers who are local should swing by to see how it could potentially help solve bike storage issues.

Sub-brand of WTB, Freedom is now also carried by Upgrade, which showed off a line of saddles, tyres, a shallow drop handlebar and some grip designs at Core. Brought in to strengthen Upgrade's urban offering, Freedom compliments certain bikes in the Decade line, particularly the Convert Fixed on which the ThickSlick tyres would be perfect. The Thickslick, as the name suggests, is an extra thick, yet super fast running slick tread tyre perfect for fixed gear riders who frequently lock up the back wheel. A puncture resistant centre strip adds a further layer of protection to an already very flat-resistant tyre.

The long-awaited DMR Bolt frame finally debuted in January too, with a £899.99 price tag and plenty of enthusiasm from retailers. As DMR's first pop at a full-suspension frame, the design and testing process has lasted a while, but Upgrade's co-founder Damian Mason believes it's spot on if "you're after a great stand up and pedal as fast as you can at the trail bike."
"It's quite versatile in its use," said Mason. "It's bottom bracket pivoted, so can be built as a singlespeed, vertical dropout or 12mm bolt-thru. This eliminates the need for any chain tensioning devices as the distance between the BB and dropout remains constant. The Bolt comes with a X-fusion shock tuned specifically to the frame's geometry and the linkage will eliminate any lateral movement."

Pivot also revealed its first 29er, the Mach 429, which is now in stock and ready to ship. The frameset weighs in at £1,799.99 and a build is also on offer for £3,199.99.

Mason continued: "We'd like to find a number of dealers with good local trail centre links. What we'd like to do with the Mach 429 is have customers go out and try it in the real world and perhaps compare it against others."

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