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PressCamp Road, Day 2: It’s all about gravel and custom clothing

Published January 26, 2017
Not really, but suppliers do pump up these growing segments.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (BRAIN) — The second and final day of product meetings between editors and brands exhibiting at PressCamp Road here in Westlake Village kicked off with 32-degree weather in the early morning. But the day warmed up by noon with the sun peeking out and providing warmer conditions for late-morning rides and for companies exhibiting at the outdoor expo in the Westlake Village Inn parking lot. 

While some of the 2017 products on show here at PressCamp had been released last fall at the Eurobike or Interbike shows or earlier, brands noted that now is when they’re becoming available and shipping to retailers. So PressCamp Road gave them the chance to remind editors about them and build interest as they hit the market.

A couple of themes began to emerge. Suppliers are putting product development and sales efforts behind gravel/adventure/all-road bikes and components and custom apparel offerings. Make sure to check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the page for other fun stuff seen at PC Road.

Here’s a wrap-up on some of the highlights:

Getting dirty on road

Niner’s new RLT 9 RDO is its gravel-race ready carbon model and a popular demo bike for the singletrack and dirt roads around Westlake Village this week.

Niner added to its RLT (road less traveled) lineup with a carbon model designed for the performance gravel rider. The company came out with aluminum and steel versions of the RLT back in 2013. The new RLT 9 RDO (which stands for race day optimized) is a “performance” gravel bike, crafted for riders who want to go fast or race. Think Dirty Kanza or Rebecca’s Private Idaho. So its geometry was revamped. It’s not as long or slacked out, said Lucas Perez, western US demo rep for Niner. 

Niner’s Mike Gann said the bike was in development for three years, and is based on feedback to drop the bottom bracket height and also add some frame compliance with a more compact design and flexible chainstays and seatpost. While its other RLT models were built to bring a traditional mountain rider onto other types of roads, the RLT 9 is geared toward bringing more of a traditional road customer into off-road, Gann said. He said he’s encouraging sales reps to show the bike to high-end road shops, opening Niner to a new market. Gann said that while growth in Niner’s gravel/adventure/all-road RLT lineup is much higher than its mountain bike sales, it still remains a small part of its business overall.

“We saw customers accept the bikes quickly, and it’s bringing new cyclists in as well as getting road cyclists to try something new,” he said. “This was a good way to keep pushing the edges of our brand. It’s a really good add to the line.”  

The bike has clearance for up to 40c tires and is offered in one- to five-star builds ranging from SRAM Apex to Shimano Di2 and Enve wheels ($3,500-$8,800). It began shipping to dealers two weeks ago.

Raleigh showed its Stuntman, which it introduced last year but becomes available now. The Reynolds 631 chromoly frame with aluminum fork can fit up to 700x50c tires, comes spec’d with a dropper post, leather bar tape and saddle and graphics were inspired by the TV show, The Fall Guy, which also gave the bike its name. It comes in one build, SRAM Rival 1x11 with 11-42 cassette and retails for $2,499. The burlier Stuntman fills out Raleigh’s all-road line, which also was on show including the Roker, Tamland and Willard models.

On the component side Kenda showed 35C and 40C versions of its gravel tire, the Flintridge Pro ($59.95) in two casings, a tubeless race tire and city touring/trekking. The tubeless race tire features an SCT casing for a stronger sidewall to be resistant to abrasions.

And FSA showed its SL-K modular BB386 EVO adventure crank ($399.99). The crank offers a convertible spider design for different chainring and chainline configurations, hollow carbon arm with UD carbon finish, in fourth lengths and 48/32T and 46/30T.

Custom, baby

Giordana now offers an expansive line of custom kits to accommodate different fits, riding types and pricepoints.

There were lots of apparel offerings this year at PressCamp Road. But custom options seem to be the emphasis for 2017.

Giordana launched its expanded custom line here. A couple of years ago, the Italian company opened a new factory in Montecchio, Italy, and with the transition from its previous factory, it began revamping its apparel lineups extensively. The latest revamp was to custom, which is all entirely made in Montecchio, with fabrics sourced from the Veneto region, renowned for its textile industry, said Giordana Andretta, national sales manager.

Giordana now offers a Custom collection with multiple levels of kits to accommodate different fits and riding levels, from a Sunday coffee shop ride to a gran fondo or a racing club. The custom line now offers all the premium fabrics and details of Giordana’s in-line apparel but with the option of custom colors and branding.

The collection starts at the entry level with the Vero Pro with a classic, more relaxed cut but with reflective accents, cam lock zippers on jerseys, silicon grippers at waist, two-way stretch on bib straps, wider bib grips ($90 jersey, $110 bibs), and goes up from there with the Tenax Pro offering multiple fabrics on jerseys and stretch in shoulders ($120 jersey, $140 bib), Scatto, which is a mid-level race kit for a more aggressive rider, Sahara Pro (previously part of Giordana’s inline collection and now in custom) for hot/humid weather with extremely lightweight fabrics, G-Shield Pro for cool/wet environments using hydrophobic materials to dry fast, and lastly, its FR-C Pro elite-level kit, which is the same it used by its sponsored ProTour teams including Orica-Scott and Astana.

“This is the most robust collection we’ve ever had,” said Paul Vulcan, Giordana’s custom clothing sales specialist. “We had done custom before but it was more basic. These kits are purpose-driven. Prior to moving to the new factory, we didn’t have the capabilities.”

Andretta added, “You can never replace inline, but custom offers dealers the opportunity to be unique.”

Turnaround is anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks on custom orders. There’s a 10-piece minimum which can be any size and gender mix and Giordana shares shipping costs of samples to dealers. With an online ordering system, the company seeks to make the process as streamlined and easy as possible.

Similarly, FZ Import and Distribution has seen huge growth in its Alé clothing sales, specifically custom. “Shops are moving to custom and the business is moving to custom because the shops can’t compete with prices on apparel with online,” said Pietro Caucchioli, FZ Import’s president. He said custom makes up about 60 percent of overall sales now, with in-line accounting for 40 percent.  

FZ Import is a three-year-old company owned by Diamant SRL based in Verona, Italy. In addition to Alé, FZ distributes DMT shoes, and last August added distribution of Cipollini bikes.

It also makes all of its clothing in Italy and offers a dizzying array of options for custom kits, including its PRR, Ultra and Plus collections, a speed suit, triathlon, as well as kids’ and BMX. Minimum buys are 20 pieces tops and bottoms; with a minimum of 10 for women’s-specific custom. Turnaround time is 45 to 60 days depending on time of year.

“Custom is the future cycling apparel, and the present,” Caucchioli said. 

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