NEWBURY PARK, CA (BRAIN)—“The line looks really solid—especially the new road stuff."
That was the reaction of Zach Chatelain, owner of Biker’s Edge in Kaysville, Utah, to Giant Bicycle’s 2012 lineup of bikes and gear. Chatelain was one of 222 key Giant retailers who were invited to the company’s annual dealer meeting last week, known as The Link. The Link was held in Westlake Village, California, just a few miles from the Giant USA corporate headquarters.
Meetings to preview Giant’s complete 2012 bicycle line at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza were interspersed with ideal conditions for demo rides in and around the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.
“I was totally excited to ride Giant’s new road bikes and the 29ers on some great roads and great trails,” said Keith Sherman, owner of Cycling Concepts, with stores in Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, Connecticut. It was Sherman’s first time at The Link; he’s been a Giant retailer for only one year. “I’m very jazzed about bringing them into the store, and selling them to our customers, and introducing all the features and benefits they get out of it.” About the entire 2012 Giant bike line, he added, “I think the new stuff is a big improvement on what was already a superior product.”
Giant’s 2012 road bike line has drawn a great deal of attention since it was previewed at its Global Media Camp in Mallorca, Spain, in mid-June. Giant retailers at The Link, like Zach Kinnee of KLM Bike and Fitness in Rochester Hills, Michigan, got an up close look at the redesigned road line and came away impressed.
“After getting to ride the Advanced-grade composite bikes with the new OverDrive 2 headtube, I’m absolutely blown away,” he said. Describing his typical experience on most fast downhills, he added, “I’m a 200-pound guy and usually descents on road bikes are pretty hairy—the front end gets going and it kind of begins shaking. There was none of that on Giant’s new road line. We were going 40-plus miles an hour on a demo ride yesterday and it was rock solid."
The theme of The Link was “One Giant” and, in her opening remarks, general manager Elysa Walk reminded the retailers that “…Giant is the world’s one and only vertically integrated major bicycle company, and we’re seizing that strength like never before.” Stressing Giant’s unique ability to completely control the bicycle manufacturing process—from design to construction to distribution—she said, “We at Giant’s global organization have united all our activities as one seamless unit to increase our strength as the most powerful bicycle company in the world, and bring to you what nobody else can.”
Retailers attending The Link also got to see the corporate headquarters of Giant USA in nearby Newbury Park. An open house reception and parking lot picnic let them stroll through the employee work area and admire displays including photos, frames, bikes, and championship jerseys belonging to Giant pros past and present. In previous years, The Link has taken place at resorts in Colorado and Utah. Walk told the retailers this year’s location was more personal for all Giant staff.
“We invited you to our home because we consider you family,” she said. “We want you to get to know us better, to meet our whole team, to understand our culture, to ride with us on our home roads and trails. We want you to fully unite with us.”
(PHOTO by Jake Orness: Dozens of Giant retailers cruise along Pacific Coast Highway testing Giant’s new 2012 road bike line. Demo rides on new Giant road and mountain bikes are part of Giant’s annual retailer meeting known as “The Link.”)