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Blue continues to rebuild in marketplace

Published June 24, 2016
Blue rep J. "Turd'L" Miller, Tommy Chen and Orli Chinea.

PARK CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — When editors at PressCamp walk into Room 6131 at the Silver Barron Lodge, the Triad Elite SL Di2 is an attention grabber. This is Blue Competition Bicycle’s signature model — a tri bike that looks wicked-fast standing still.

Despite what can only be called a tumultuous six-year series of ownership changes and product delivery issues, including a two-year hiatus from the marketplace, Blue still has enough cachet in the tri market to have put 15 triathletes on Blue bikes at Kona this past season.

For Tommy Chen, Blue’s president, and Orli Chinea, Blue’s longtime sales manager, building Blue’s position in the market remains a challenge. “It’s been an interesting journey with the company,” said Chinea, who’s been selling Blue bikes — first as its Rocky Mountain region rep — since the brand’s introduction in 2004. 

Trouble for Blue began to bubble up in 2012 as the market for road and tri was booming. However, Blue’s then owners eventually got behind in its payments to Asahi Enterprises, which painted and assembled Blue bikes at its Tainan, Taiwan factory. 

To shorten a long story, Asahi refused to deliver about 1,000 complete bikes without payment and Blue was sold twice more. Ultimately Chen, who is also Asahi Enterprise's CEO, bought Blue’s trademark. 

“We had no experience with owning a brand, but we began shipping in late 2014, and we had a rough 2014. It was a very stressful time in my life,” said Chen, who had to answer to the company’s board of directors over the purchase of the trademark.

Chen and Chinea acknowledge that this year’s market is — at the very least — a challenge. But the company, which only sells through IBDs, is willing to work with dealers on minimal orders and flexible dating plans.

“We want to work with IBDs and accommodate their needs as best we can with price, terms and dating programs,” Chen said.

Chen, who grew up in Pasadena and graduated from the University of Southern California, had spent most of his career in hotel management. Family ties brought him back to Taiwan to manage the company. 

“We’re now on a more stable path, but it was tough,” said the 48-year-old Chen while perched on the edge of a sofa. A sample of Blue’s line of bikes filled the room where the Triad, an $8,888 Dura-Ace Di2 equipped bike, took center stage.

For tri enthusiasts, Blue models range from its flagship model to an entry level Triad made with 6061 aluminum and spec’d with Shimano’s 105 group.  Its Aero road series begins with the AC1-Ex Ultegra Di2 carbon fiber model and extends up to its AC1-AL 105. 

The company’s line includes its Axino road bikes, a four-model cyclecross series, called Norcross, as well as its Crew line of mountain bikes. 

Blue also has a new series of endurance/gravel bikes dubbed the Prosecco and its top-line EX Ultegra Di2 can handle tire sizes up to 700x42. 

 

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