RATZENRIED, Germany (BRAIN) —Vittoria wants to grow its market share in mountain bike tires in the U.S. and recently hired Ken Avery as a dedicated brand and product manager for its Geax off-road tire line.
Manning a big booth at the Eurobike demo, where the company served a catered Italian lunch and wine, Avery said Geax has long been known for producing tires for other brands, but its Italian parent company is now making a concerted effort to push its own brand. Vittoria Group is opening an administrative office in Boston to handle the marketing and sales of Geax tires. Avery said the office should be up and running by next January.
“We’re really trying to invest in mountain bike,” Avery said. “We want to become the leader. This represents the big revival for Geax after concentrating on making tires for others. ”
Avery, who has raced mountain bikes since 1991, has more than a decade of experience developing compounds and tread designs as a consultant for Maxxis. He said Geax works closely with athletes on product development and design. It sponsors Team Jamis, half a dozen cross-country riders and more than a dozen gravity riders including Cam Zink.
He said Geax has made a name for itself with cross-country tires, but that as part of its plan to grow in the U.S. it will widen its selection of all-mountain rubber and include more aggressive and techy tread designs, compounds and casings.
For 2013, Geax is offering two of its most popular tires in the 27.5-inch size: the Saguaro 2.0 and the AKA 2.2. It’s also expanding its mountain tubular range, offering Saguaro, Gato and Mexcal in both 26-inch and 29-inch cotton tubular casings.
Avery said most of Geax’s sales in the U.S. are aftermarket; only a couple of bike brands spec its tires.
Vittoria president and CEO Rudie Campagne said the U.S. represents the biggest market for both brands, but for Geax, the U.S. is the smallest market. But that will soon change, he said, with the company making a huge investment in machinery to produce mountain bike tires and in marketing the brand more aggressively.
Vittoria produces more than 7 million tires a year at its wholly owned factory in Thailand, where it employs 1,500 people. Campagne said the company makes tires for all the major bike tire brands. It operates and distributes its products through subsidiaries in Europe (Vittoria S.p.A in Italy), in the U.S. (Vittoria Industries North America Inc.) and Taiwan.