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918XC.com, Hammerhead Bikes Merge

Published November 8, 2011

TULSA, OK (BRAIN)—918XC.com, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, bicycle shop and e-commerce site specializing in 29er mountain bikes, has entered into a merger agreement with Austin, Texas, retailer Hammerhead Bikes.

The merged company will take on the name Hammerheadbikes.com and will be headquartered in Tulsa. Hammerhead Bikes, founded in 2001 as a high-end bike shop serving the Austin off-road market, closed its storefront in mid-October and is in the midst of transferring its inventory to 918XC’s Tulsa store. Hammerhead owner Cody Baron will remain in Austin, working to build national brand recognition.

Under original owner Charles Coker, Hammerhead built a loyal following in the early 2000s with its shop-branded frames based on Titus’ Racer X full-suspension model. Baron, who bought Hammerhead from Coker in early 2008, called the Hammerhead 100X “the great-grandfather of the all-mountain trail bike,” citing its extra travel and modified geometry that differentiated it from the cross country-oriented Racer X.

Some 350 of the frames were sold from 2001 to 2003, but when Titus started making its own longer-travel Racer X, it spelled the end of the 100X, Baron said. In the meantime, the shop became known as a destination for devotees of 29ers and longer-travel bikes.

In purchasing the shop from Coker, Baron—who builds custom steel frames under his True Fabrications banner—had an eye toward reviving Hammerhead as a bike brand and online player. “When I raised the money to buy Hammerhead, I said I don’t want to be a bike shop. I wanted to be a frame brand. I wanted to be an online presence. I was after a national or worldwide brand,” he said.

But Baron said Hammerhead’s efforts stalled out and that the operation had become too “understaffed and underresourced” to achieve its goals. He started seeking a buyer three months ago.

Launched in 2009 with a focus on the 29er market, 918XC.com—the “918” is for Tulsa’s telephone area code—has seen its annual sales grow from $180,000 in its first year to $500,000 in 2010 and a projected $1 million for 2011, said Scott Robertson, who co-owns the company with Ginger Renshaw and has been friends with Baron since they first met on the Austin race scene six years ago.

Robertson said the merger melds 918XC.com’s proven web infrastructure and deep inventory of more than 1,000 products online with Hammerhead’s 10-year track record of high-end customer service and national brand recognition. Both entities bring 29er expertise to the table.

Said Baron: “We will be utilizing the online success of 918XC.com. The Hammerhead bike brand will continue to build boutique mountain bikes and it will be a great opportunity for Hammerhead to resume its place as a global cycling brand.”

And though the Hammerhead storefront has closed, Baron said that “we are still going to try to keep a mechanism in place to have some kind of Austin arm of what Scott’s doing. We just haven’t figured that out yet. We don’t want to abandon the Austin market.”

—Toby Hill
thill@bicycleretailer.com

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