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PressCamp Day 1: Brands look to grow the pie with affordable options, women’s models

Published June 24, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — PressCamp’s seventh summer edition and 10th overall event kicked off Tuesday under sunny skies. The annual gathering is staged at the Deer Valley Resort’s Silver Baron Lodge this week and brings together representatives from 25 brands and 30 editors from cycling and non-endemic media for three days of one-on-one meetings in condos followed by afternoon rides.

After only one day of meetings, a couple of themes began to emerge with brands visited on the first day notably expanding their women’s offerings and also offering lower entry-level price points to make their products more accessible to new riders.

Here’s a sampling of what we saw on the first day:

GT mountain and road

GT’s Zaskar turns 25 in 2016, and the brand is celebrating the milestone by going carbon. Taking inspiration from what the Zaskar was in its early days — a do-it-all hardtail that won multiple downhill, cross-country and trials championships — the new carbon Zaskar features “trail-friendly” geometry and comes in four builds — topping out at $4,999 for the Zaskar Carbon LTD spec’d with 120mm RockShox Pike fork, SRAM X1 11-speeddrivetrain and RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post. All four roll on 27.5-inch wheels. The Pro and Expert models can be easily converted to 1-by drivetrains. And the carbon Zaskar comes in sizes XS to XL.

“A lot of people use hardtails for more than XC racing,” said Chris Hopwood, global marketing manager for GT. “We wanted something that suited the needs of grass-roots racers as well as riders who just want to go out and have fun.”

Unlike traditional XC race bikes, cables aren’t internally routed. This was intentional to make it user friendly and easier for mechanics to work on. ‘There’s no crazy complexity. That’s the beauty of the Zaskar,” Hopwood said.

The 130-millimeter Sensor platform was introduced last year, but the Carbon Pro model gets a lighter rear end this year. And entry-level carbon models for both the Sensor and the XC full-suspension Helion now come with alloy rear triangles, which lowers retail prices by $500. “For most consumers, full carbon is too pricey. By going alloy in the rear end, we can up-spec parts and still come in lower on the price for both models,” Hopwood said. “A lot of our competitors were already doing this. Few companies are doing carbon rear because of the engineering and resources it takes to get it right structurally.”

The 150-millimeter-travel Force, introduced last year, gets a full graphics change this year. The 160-millimeter travel Sanction launched last year gets a new Team replica model for 2016, offered as an all-alloy frameset ($2,200-$2,500) or complete with XT/XTR mix.

On the road side, GT showed the new Grade Alloy X, a 'cross version of its Grade model that marries an alloy frame and carbon fork. “Versatility is important,” said Cait Dooley, pavement product manager for GT. “The Grade line was the endurance road line, but we thought it would be fun to hit a 'cross race or singletrack and still be able to do road.” It comes spec’d with a SRAM Rival drivetrain and brakes and knobby Clement MXP 33x700C tires on alloy rims. MSRP: $1,999.

The Grade range now offers nine models including two women’s-specific models spec’d with Sora ($899) and Claris ($799) and a flatbar model. Instead of developing new frame geometry, GT focused on saddles and crank and bar lengths for its women’s bikes, a decision based on extensive rider data from its Guru Fit system.

GT also expanded its women’s range across its hybrid line with a step-through frame for its Transeo. In addition, it expanded the sizing on its alloy Avalanche hardtail 27.5-inch model to better fit smaller women, now offered in XXS. The Zaskar is now also offered in a women’s version, the Zaskar Comp GTw, with sizing down to XXS and women’s saddle and grips, shorter cranks and narrower bars.

All in all, GT offers women’s sizing or models across five platforms, and Dooley said women’s-specific full-suspension mountain is in the near future. Aside from the women’s expansion, Dooley said price points have come down on the pavement range, which includes comfort and hybrids and starts at $369 with disc brakes.

Orbea

Aside from touting its 175th anniversary this year, Orbea gave a sneak peek at its revamped Ordu TT/tri bike, which will debut at the first stage of the Tour de France. Until then, details and photos of the bike are embargoed, but Orbea product manager Scott Warren said it was two years in development. This newer version is the fifth generation of the Ordu.

Meanwhile, on the mountain side, Orbea showed the Loki, a new aluminum hardtail that accommodates both 27.5-plus and 29-inch wheels and features Boost 148 rear spacing. It will be offered in four builds, but Orbea only had a frameset to show. Price hadn't been set. 

The Occam has been in Orbea’s line but gets some tweaks for 2016. Frame geometry gets more slack on both the 27.5-inch model with 140 millimeters of travel and the 29-inch model with 120 millimeters of travel. Both are offered in aluminum and carbon versions. They’re also updated with Pressfit 92 bottom brackets and Boost 148 rear spacing.

The carbon models features new U Flexion (UFO) technology, resulting in a lighter rear triangle, according to Warren. UFO was used on XC models but now is expanding to longer-travel offerings. The spec also changes slightly with Shimano instead of Formula brakes and DT Swiss wheels.

Starting in 2016, all models sold in the U.S. are completely assembled and painted in Orbea’s Mallabia, Spain, facility. Orbea is no longer assembling in Asia – consolidating production to facilities in Portugal and Spain. “We believe it will be more cost-efficient and there can be an increase in quality,” Warren said. “It should also improve delivery.”

Warren said Orbea also plans to launch a custom paint and spec program in September. Lead times on custom graphics will run two weeks, and bikes can ship from Spain within three days, he said.

 Alpinestars

Alpinestars’ Giulio Neri provided a short synopsis of the company’s start in Italy in 1963, and evolution from its core business in motocross to mountain biking, which dates back to the 1980s. In 2010, Alpinestars re-entered the mountain bike market after a hiatus, with apparel and protective gear covering the gamut from XC to DH riding.

Last year it introduced the Evolution Jacket ($159.95), which integrates back protection and water storage in a single piece mostly made from mesh. For 2016, that design is improved with the Paragon Vest, which becomes available next spring. Also made entirely of mesh, it offers two hose-guide options – either over the shoulder or under the arm – three pockets with internal padding, ergonomic back protector, and a long zipper with a chin guard. Price hasn’t been set.

Neri said cycling is the fastest-growing segment for Alpinestars, and in the U.S. the company recently appointed a domestic sales manager and sales reps as part of a direct-sales model. “Our range is expanding — it’s a strong and well-structured range of protection,” he added.

Apparel offerings are designed with construction and fabrics specific to riding disciplines and collections for spring/summer and fall.

Knog

Australian light company Knog is growing its business by diversifying its product mix. The 12-year-old company made its name selling its “Frog” lights and its products were quickly embraced by the fixie market, said CEO Hugo Davidson. This year Davidson made sweeping changes to its U.S. distribution, signing on Highway Two as the exclusive distributor, after working with five different distributors before. H2 will only be distributing its lights, however, so Knog is handling its lock sales directly.

Davidson said a full product overhaul has followed with changes across nearly all of its product range.

In addition, Knog is finding success growing its business by finding new sales channels for products like its Qudos, an external light designed to work with the GoPro and other digital SLR cameras. That external light concept was applied to the iPhone with the Expose Wrap, a phone case with integrated video light, which becomes available in August for $35. The Expose Smart, unveiled last year, is an iPhone case that works with an app to adjust and control the light remotely, like a flash.

Davidson said its Blinder lights all have stronger silicon straps that come in different lengths and are replaceable — addressing one of the biggest complaints from dealers and users, which were straps that stretched and ripped. Each Blinder series of bike lights – Arc, Mob and Road – feature beam patterns and angles developed for a specific type of riding and bike mount.

The Blinder MOB for the urban rider is fully waterproof and USB rechargeable without a cord — it connects directly to a power source with an integrated USB plug. And rather than designing products around lumens, with more lumens equating to higher prices, “we're really targeting specific type of riding,” Davidson said, adding that the Blinder Road R70 is its best-selling rear light. 

For 2016, Knog is launching a new entry-level range of lights called POP. They come in single- and double-AA battery options, for $17.50 and $24 retail, respectively. The lights come in 10 colors and patterns for front and rear and have side visibility built in. “We’re introducing some fun to entry-level product,” Davidson said. The POP becomes available Sept. 1 with matching packaging.

Cannondale

The 2016 model year is a big one for product introductions at Cannondale. “It’s the product year I’ve been waiting for," said PR manager Bill Rudell. "Dealers have been asking us to help them grow their business and cycling, and we’re broadening our product offerings.”

That expansion is coming in the way of new accessories like tubes in grab-and-go packaging that fit easily in jersey pockets, side-load bottle cages, computer mounts and the compact Airport Carry On pump. Cannondale is also introducing lower-priced entry-level mountain bikes like the men’s Catalyst and women’s Foray. The 27.5-inch aluminum hardtails are offered in four builds priced from $379 to $650, all with disc brakes. “Dealers told us, ‘We need entry-level mountain bikes’” Rudell said. “Our entry-level price point last year was $600 and offered no disc brakes and 26-inch wheels and lower spec,” Rudell said. “This effort is to expand the pie and provide more offerings under the Cannondale brand.”

With the global sales meeting for Cycling Sports Group happening at the same time as PressCamp in nearby Ogden, Utah, some of the new models weren’t on hand. Dealers are expected to start streaming into Ogden today for CSG’s annual retailer gathering and product launch. More details on some of Cannondale’s higher-end road and mountain bikes will become available shortly thereafter. Two new road bikes will be launched this weekend at a press launch in Austria, and details are embargoed until then. Sometime in late July Cannondale expects to launch a new 120-millimeter travel bike that will fill the gap between its Scalpel and Trigger models.

Still, Rudell offered up details on the Slate, Cannondale's drop-bar bike for all roads meant to appeal to the “anti-road” rider. The 650b bike comes spec’d with 30-millimeter Lefty fork and 42c tires. Its shorter chainstays and lower bottom bracket allow it to retain efficiency on the road with pretty fat tires, Rudell said. It comes in 105, Ultegra and Force CX1 builds for $2,950 to $4,290. And while it doesn’t come spec'd with a dropper post, it’s dropper compatible.

Finally, the Cypher road helmet, introduced two years ago, gets new antimicrobial pads, thin webbing and a removable polycarbonate aero shell this year. Retail is $199.99. The Ryker all-mountain helmet features larger vents and air cushion pads that redirect impact. MSRP: $129.99.

Stay tuned for more coverage from PressCamp this week.  

 

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