Topeak will reach its 30th anniversary in 2021. James Groves sits down with Extra UK brand manager Matt Beighton as he reflects on Taiwanese relations, industry categorisation and stringent standards
“The last thing you should worry about is your equipment, and when you ride with our gear, you’ll never have to.”
These are the words Topeak vows to live by, and after 29 years of “setting the industry standard for innovation” in bike accessories, the Taiwanese brand is building towards its Pearl anniversary with the launch of over 60 new and updated products throughout 2020.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The Topeak brand was created by a small break-away group of talented young Giant employees in 1991 and one member, Louis Chuang, still heads up the brand today.
“Giant is very stringent on standards, quality control and innovation,” Matt Beighton, Extra UK brand manager, tells BikeBiz. “They essentially lifted that model and applied it instead to a P&A brand.
“Their mantra has always been to combine high quality and good value with constant innovation – that’s the basis of the brand. It’s remarkable how many products in today’s bicycle market owe their origins to Topeak designs.
“We will not release a product unless we believe it offers something better than what is available. Compromising on that would change the mindset of our design team and undermine what we stand for.”
Staying on Topeak
Selling yourself under the equivocal mantle of ‘parts and accessories’ can be challenging in any industry, and in a marketplace replete with viable options, that dilemma only intensifies.
That’s why, despite offering an incredibly broad range, Topeak focuses on three main categories: tools, luggage and inflation.
“What we concentrate on doesn’t fluctuate too much,” says Beighton. “The core three are pretty constant, but there are many additional offshoots that also get introduced to complement the offering.
“For example, we’re doing very well in terms of mudguards and racks. I’ve started categorising them, along with lights as the “commuter” area, because it allows us to bring together a few smaller product groups under one clear heading. But there are many ingenious products in the range that are easily overlooked.”
In each P&A sub-category, there is a multitude of competitors to contend with. Unsurprisingly, the tools, luggage and inflation sectors are no different.
“Due to the breadth of product that Topeak offers, competitor brands vary according to category. But the Topeak name has a strong reputation for product longevity and that stability means that people trust it. We try to build on that both in terms of ongoing product quality and innovation.”
A key focus for Topeak throughout 2020 will be a revamp of its branding strategy. “The strategy first and foremost has been about producing quality products,” says Beighton. “The next steps are to build on marketing elements such as refreshed packaging and branding. There are also newer members of staff in the marketing department at HQ, who are committed to further developing the brand image to reflect the quality and innovation of the product.”
Ingenuity and obscurity
When a P&A brand tells you its launching 60 new and updated products in a calendar year, it’s usually a safe assumption that the majority will be limited to additional colourways and minor upgrades. For Topeak, however, it’s quite the opposite.
“Around 40 of those will be wholly-new products,” reveals Beighton. “Most of them will sit in the three main categories mentioned earlier, but there are also ingenious parts that are more obscure. These may not have as much national focus, but there will be dealers out there for whom these will actually be the most exciting developments.”
An Extra-special partnership
As 2020 gets into full swing, Extra is continuing to build on its close working relationship with Topeak in areas beyond those of a traditional distribution deal. A recently renewed deal with GCN and GMBN provides an opportunity for a strengthened collaboration.
Beighton says he acts as something of an intermediary between the two, working closely with GCN and GMBN to help Topeak promote the most relevant products from their range and organising product giveaways and competitions.
“For example, we did a Christmas hamper giveaway, which was all pump-based,” Beighton says. “It also helps with product development – we can communicate what we need as a market, where we might be missing product and what to look at etc.”
Beighton points to ‘hidden’ accessories as a prime example – products such as the Ninja Master Series, which is a bottle cage capable of holding a tool underneath it. “We’re generally thinking of anything that can be hidden on the bike,” says Beighton. “There’s a chain splitter that goes in the handlebars, and a pump that goes in the seat post.”
“Ultimately, we want to work as closely with Topeak HQ as possible, so they can understand our market needs and create up-to-date products to suit.”
The 2020 Topeak range
Topeak has introduced over 60 new and updated products for the 2020 season. It has implemented a ‘tubeless-friendly’ theme into its inflation and tool offerings, as well as elevating it’s already robust on-the-trail/travel products.
Improving on an already trusted design, the 2020 JoeBlow floor pumps have gone digital. In addition to their traditional wide steel bases and oversized handles, you’ll see extra-long hoses and protective/rubberised, easy-to-read digital faces.
For those that wish to take their inflation on the road or trail, Topeak has multiple updated offerings in their inflation category. From the TubiBooster X (which easily inflates tubeless tyres, like a giant CO2 cartridge) to the Roadie TT hand pumps (which features their exclusive Twin Turbo Technology).
Introducing the complete ‘TubiTool’ product line, specifically designed for the tubeless tyre rider. This category contains all you need for essential tubeless maintenance and quick repairs. Topeak has integrated a plug, plug holder, reamer, air-stopper and cutting knife into one folding tool.
Continuing with the general theme of 2020 (efficiency and precision) the Topeak Tool family keeps growing. Introducing the Mini PT30,/Mini P20, and PowerLever for quick removal/connecting Power links /Master links. The new on-the-go BarLoader stem bag and Frontloader piggyback “FreeLoader” nicely round-out the Topeak Bikepacking Series. The updated FrontLoader has been optimized with stronger materials and a more streamlined mounting process. Pack up freedom with Topeak Bikepacking bags and keep on exploring in 2020.
The PakGo GearPack has been developed to help riders pack up essential gear and clothing in a well-organised fashion. Regardless of rider style, the included transition mat and hide-away shoulder strap will appeal for on-the-go training, racing and travel.
Finally, the Topeak TetraRack series (inspired by Tetrapods — animals with four feet) will securely grab any bike frame with a unique, quick-mount rack holder. No need for rack eyelets and/or seat post clamps, the strut slot adjustment enables the loading plate to sit parallel and secure.