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Denver mountain bike maker wins second grant

Published September 29, 2015
Guerrilla Gravity's Denver showroom.

DENVER (BRAIN) — Guerrilla Gravity, a four-year-old Denver mountain bike maker, was awarded a $30,000 grant Monday night from a city economic development program. The grant is in addition to a $100,000 grant that Guerrilla received from a national JP Morgan Chase program announced earlier this month.

Guerrilla Gravity makes two aluminum frame models at its Central Denver factory/showroom. It sells about 30 percent of its bikes locally, 60 percent nationally via its website and one bike shop in New York, and 10 percent internationally.

President and co-founder Will Montague said the company's unusual business plan helped it earn the grants.

"I think it's just that we have a new approach to the industry. We design and manufacture in-house, which is pretty unique when you look across the whole industry. We allow riders to customize the frame color, decal color and build kit at the time of purchase. And our bikes are custom but are still competitive (on price) with the big bike brands. We are about the same price as a Specialized, Trek or Giant and a lot less than something like a Pivot," he said.

Guerrilla Gravity bikes have a distinctive design, as well. Its most popular model, the Megatrail, features a single-bolt adjustment that swaps its performance between a 150mm-travel trail bike and a 160mm downhill bike. Montague said riders regularly swap the bolt position at the top of climbs to increase the travel, lower the bottom bracket and slacken the head angle for the descent. The bolt change also changes the shock spring curve. Complete bikes start at about $3,800. Guerrilla's other bike model is the GG/DH, a 203mm-travel bike with adjustable geometry for park riding or downhill. 

Guerrilla Gravity has three founding partners: Montague, marketing manager Kristy Anderson, and engineer Matt Giaraffa. The partners recently hired a full-time welder and plan to bring on a second employee for customer service early next year. 

While the partners are all lifelong bike enthusiasts, only Montague, 29, has experience in the bike industry, having worked at the (recently closed) Denver shop Salvagetti's for a summer. Otherwise his experience is with several startups in marketing, social media and customer service. Giaraffa has worked as engineer in auto racing and the aerospace industry.

"I think because few of us have worked in the industry, we don’t know how things are supposed to be done, so we've done things our own way," he said.

Most Guerrilla Gravity bikes are sold online and shipped directly to riders. The company fully assembles and tunes the bikes before shipping so the buyer only has to install the handlebars, thread in the rear derailleur and install the wheels to get going. Montague said the brand is looking to begin working with about five brick-and-mortar shops in key markets next year. 

He said preserving the brand's competitive retail pricing will be a priority as it begins working with retailers. "We're going to try to find a hybrid model that works for the bike shop and us. ... Trek is helping us break ground with their model," he said.

Montague said the recent infusion of $130,000 in grants hasn't changed the business plan much. "We are just paying cash for a few more things now," he said.

The company is investing in more manufacturing capacity by adding CNC mills and hiring a welder. "We're also going to get a new bus that is faster and more reliable so we can attend more demo events," Montague said. 

Guerrilla Gravity's $100,000 grant was from JP Morgan Chase's Mission Main Street Grants program. The $30,000 grant was from the Denver Office of Economic Development's JumpStart Biz Plan Awards. More information on Guerrilla Gravity at ridegg.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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