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HIA shows its first US-made carbon frames at Winter PressCamp

Published January 25, 2017
Allied Cycle Works' Sam Pickman with the Alfa road bike, manufactured by HIA Velo.
First day's report from the California media event, including news from HIA, Assos, Feedback and Defeet.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (BRAIN) — With 22 brands exhibiting at the Westlake Village Inn, editors at PressCamp Road had nary a moment to waste, literally running from suite to suite to meet with companies and learn about new products. Meetings began at 8 a.m. and finished at 7 p.m. ECRM, which organizes the January event, built in a two-hour window for road and adventure/gravel demo rides, which most editors and brands took part in.

The fourth Winter PressCamp nearly doubled in number of brands from last year’s 12, which meant a busy schedule on the first day. And this year, the event focused specifically on the road segment, including all-road, adventure, gravel and 'cross.

Lance Camisasca, senior vice president for active lifestyle at ECRM, said the event sold out early, and that the expanded meeting schedule was an effort to make it work in two days, but that if any more brands came on board, it would require adding another day. Why are so many road brands interested in PressCamp given the soft sales in the segment?

Camisasca believes companies are looking for new and different events to get their message out this year, and the January timing is convenient for many folks to leave their office for a few days.

BRAIN packed in 10 meetings throughout the day. Here are some highlights from those meetings:

HIA Velo

With subtle branding, HIA Velo co-founder Tony Karklins said they were going for the "no Nascar aesthetic."

PressCamp was the official launch of HIA Velo’s Allied Cycle Works bike line. The company showed its first model, the Alfa, a high-performance road bike. HIA Velo has been busy setting up its factory and beginning production after announcing its plan to begin making high-volume carbon bikes in Little Rock, Arkansas, last year.

The Alfa is entirely made and painted at the HIA factory with pre-preg carbon sourced from Mitsubishi in Irvine, California. One advantage of sourcing in the U.S. is HIA’s ability to integrate Innegra fiber into its pre-preg, which provides durability as well as flexibility to carbon, said Sam Pickman, the engineer behind Allied’s designs. Pickman said that with this fiber, carbon is less likely to catastrophically fail should it become compromised. HIA Velo has the exclusive on Innegra for the next two years in bike applications.

But the Alfa also is unique in its attention to detail, with chrome-like paint and graphics and internal cable routing. The Allied Alpha comes in six basic sizes, 49 to 61 centimeters. Each size has the option of coming with a 2-centimeter-taller headtube for 12 complete size options.

The frame and fork has clearance for 28-millimeter tires. Alfa has a traditional BSA threaded bottom bracket and 27.2 seatpost. “We want to make it easy to own,” Pickman said. Frame weight for a 56-centimeter frame is 875 grams and framesets retail for $2,700. A bike built up with Shimano Ultegra, a Fizik cockpit and Mavic Aksium wheels sells for $4,000. It has a lifetime warranty.

HIA Velo will be selling consumer direct and through dealers, of which it already signed up 25. Key for dealers, however, is that HIA Velo requires no pre-sesason and there’s no model year designation. The company manufactures just-in-time once a bike is actually sold. And customers can personalize with their preferred spec — down to wheels, cranks, stems, saddles and drivetrains. “We have a robust menu of parts to pick from,” said Tony Karklins, one of HIA Velo's co-founders.

The Alfa is the first of four to six different platforms HIA Velo plans to launch this year under its Allied Cycle Works line. Karklins said HIA’s goal in its first year is to produce and sell 1,500 bikes. For a deeper look at HIA Velo’s Allied launch and factory, turn to BRAIN’s upcoming February 1 issue.

Defeet International

Defeet's new Bespoke crowd-funding site for small-batch product runs launched at PressCamp.

Walking into Defeet’s suite, we expected to see a selection of socks. Instead Defeet’s Shane Cooper, Rob Dickerson and Paul Willerton presented their new cycling-specific crowdfunding site called Defeet Bespoke, where they plan to offer small-batch premium products not suited for mass production, such as its U.S.-made, natural hand-dyed socks, Defeet apparel including jackets, and other unique products such as Yanco’s U.S.-made jersey pocket bags.

“This is not suddenly us going direct or changing our sales model,” Willerton said, adding that Defeet would continue to sell its socks through specialty dealers. “This is small-batch manufacturing for projects we really want to do.”

Funding campaigns on Defeetbespoke.com will last two to four weeks, and if the product receives 100 percent funding, it will go into production.

Defeet began developing apparel and when its factory burned down in 2001, delaying the project. Now, Cooper said, the company can bring those jackets and a vest — made by a Northern California manufacturer — to market without having to go through the risks of inventory, including forecasting, warehousing and discounting what doesn’t sell.

Defeet Bespoke also serves as an incubator for new products, with popular products perhaps making it into Defeet’s traditional production if warranted. “It’s a way to expand our vision without limitations,” Cooper said. “A model for small ideas.”

Why not just use established crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo? They explain that this is not a one-off campaign, which is how most crowdfunding sites are used — to launch one product or get a brand off the ground.

Assos

Assos' mobile pop-up shop folds up completely into a trailer for easy hauling to events throughout California.

High-end clothing maker Assos is trying to break away from the market perception of being a very exclusive brand in terms of pricing. They want to be seen as more accessible to cyclists, said Chris Mackay. At PressCamp the company showed the Mille bib shorts from its comfort collection, which it is re-releasing with a $159 retail price at the end of February.

The short is made in the same factory as its higher-priced apparel, and it replaces the previous $189 Mille bib short. The fabric is different, including the Lycra, but it includes the same top sheet on its chamois.

For spring, Assos showed the Equipe jersey, which is its light, race-ready option for $169 retail, as well as the Cento jersey, its upper-end comfort jersey with a breathable fabric on top and more stretchy fabric on the bottom half. Mackay said it has a “really forgiving fit/cut,” including no stitching on bottom weld. It will retail for $219.

But perhaps more impressive than its sleek clothing was its setup at the outside expo area of PressCamp. Assos did its product presentation from its mobile shop, a trailer that turns into a pop-up shop/mobile showroom and is being hauled all over California to demo events, charity rides, races, corporate events and dealer demos. Lexie Sarkisian, who recently joined the company as brand experience representative and ambassador coordinator, said the mobile showroom will be hitting events hard to grow the brand’s exposure to the market.

“Our goal is to be open for business 150 days this year,” she said, adding that it’s like having a mobile retail store pop-up anywhere. It’s part of a push by Assos’ new owners, an investment group led by former Black Diamond Equipment director Philip Duff that acquired the brand in 2015. 

Assos also is opening a new showroom, sales and marketing office in Salt Lake City on Feb. 16. The brand will keep its long-standing showroom and office in Montreal, but with a focus to grow sales in the U.S., the new ownership felt the need to have a U.S. office as well. Assos is also committing to partnerships and sponsoring more events including the Malibu Gran Fondo this year.

Feedback Sports

The Omnium portable trainer is growing in popularity with racers, who use it for warm-ups, and retailers who use it for quick fits.

Among the many first-timers at PressCamp was Feedback Sports, which has been growing its selection of products gradually beyond the race mechanics’ work stand that it’s widely known for. Founder Doug Hudson and director of sales and marketing Jeff Nitta highlighted their entry into the tools category this year, with several kits including the Ride Prep tool kit ($129.99 MSRP) that offers 12 bike tools, the T-Handle tool kit ($129.99) with 2.5- to 6-millimeter hex and T25 Torx, and its Team Edition tool kit (MSRP $249.99) with 19 bicycle tools in a case that conveniently attaches to a work stand and has room for extra tools.

All of the tools can also be purchased individually. And to help sell them at retail to consumers, the company uses high-quality box packaging for attractive and easy shelf display.

It also showed its transportable trainer. Feedback is coming off its first full season with it and said market response has been great, with many pro athletes using it as a warm-up tool and retailers using it for quick fits in the store. The trainer, which has a fork-mount design, can be folded and stored in a small bag for travel or storage. It weighs 13 pounds and accommodates road, mountain, 'cross and TT bikes. It accepts standard QR forks and is compatible with all through-axles.

The Omnium offers progressive resistance curve that increases as a rider increases their speed and retails for $429.99, while the Omnium Track offers no additional resistance with more of classic feel of rollers for $399.99

Check back here in the coming days for more product news from PressCamp Road.

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