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Has Scott Montgomery found the next wave?

Published March 13, 2012

SUN VALLEY, ID (BRAIN) Mar 13, 15:34 MT—Scott Montgomery is entering the third phase in his bike industry career, and he feels he has once again entered the sport's main current.

Montgomery's first big job was with Cannondale, where he rode the mountain bike wave in the 1990s. Then, he went to Scott USA in the next decade, when Lance Armstrong's Tour wins drove interest in lightweight carbon road bikes.

Now, he's joined Club Ride, a lifestyle cycling clothing company based in Sun Valley, where Montgomery has lived for the last few years. Montgomery worked for the brand on an interim basis for four months before deciding early this year that the company had what it took to surf what he sees as the next wave in cycling: supplying technical clothes that work on and off the bike.

Club Ride clothing is "not for the hardcore mountain biker or road biker," Montgomery told BRAIN on Tuesday. "It's for anyone having a good time on a bike. It could be the college kid riding a fixie, or a 58-year-old with bad hips who can't ride like he used to, but still rides. Or the city dweller who is short on cash who says 'screw it, I'm not going to own a car.'"

Montgomery mused on for a few minutes, imagining more customers for the Club Ride duds, including the environmentally conscious commuter, the new, overweight fitness cyclist whose spouse doesn't want to see him in lycra and the partier who doesn't want to get a DUI on the short ride home from the brew pub.

It's a wide cast of characters, and Montgomery says he sees them all in Sun Valley, a Rocky Mountain town with a mix of young outdoor adventurers, lifestyle entrepreneurs and active retirees.

"It's a convergence of all these things here; it's a nice case study," he said.

Talking to his many dealer friends around the country, Montgomery said he feels the clothing category Club Ride targets is about to explode.

"I know this is happening," he said. "Nobody out there today is really kicking ass on it. Nobody has knocked it out of the park and done for cycling what lululemon has done for yoga clothes," he said.

Many have tried, of course. Casual mountain bike clothes date back to the early 1990s when Rock Shox, Syncros and Mimbres Man, among others, offered casual, stylish bike clothes that superficially resembled Club Ride's line.

And of course many brands are aiming at similar targets now, including lululemon, as a matter of fact. In the anything-but-lycra market, brands like Fox, Oakley and Nema have focused on a moto-inspired demographic, while Rapha has offerings for hipster commuters. REI, Bontrager and others offer practical commuting clothes.

But Club Ride appears to have few direct competitors in terms of style and function. Its designers' goal is to make clothes that are up for any ride, long or short, but that don't need to be changed before continuing on with the day.

The tops, for example, feature a technical, wicking fabric with some stretch, media ports, zippered pockets (front and rear), venting options and snap-and-zipper front openings that allow riders to open the shirt wide on hot climbs and then zip it up for the descent. The shorts are similar to other mountain bike baggies with removable liners, but without so many buckles and straps — and no velcro to snag other clothes in the washing machine.

The other difference is Montgomery's experience, connections and ambitions. Since he joined the company full-time, he's quickly helped build a sales force and a dealer base. The line now has 168 dealers and is adding accounts at the rate of about three a week.

"I have a lot of relationships, with probably 2,000 of the 4,200 dealers out there (in the U.S.)," he said. The goal is to open 250 accounts this year and then expand outside the U.S. the following year.

Steve Frothingham

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