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Steve Hed death and mystery tool story lead BRAIN’s most read story list for 2014

Published December 31, 2014
Mystery no more.

LONGMONT, Colo. (BRAIN) — The untimely death of aero wheel innovator Steve Hed resulted in the most read article on BicycleRetailer in 2014. That story, published Nov. 26, shocked and saddened industry members and consumers alike.

Other well-read stories this year included an article about a bike tool whose purpose puzzled many for years, the shut-down of a consumer-direct wheel brand, and the opening of a mountain bike resort in North Carolina.

The top-10 stories for the year range from those of great interest to retailers and other members of the bike industry — BRAIN’s core audience — to stories that were of interest to all bike lovers, professional or amateur. Here’s the list: 

  1. Steve Hed dies at 59. Published Nov. 26. Hed, credited with creating the aero wheel category and then continuing to push its technology and trends, died a few days after being found unconscious outside a Hed Cycling facility in Minnesota. Hed was remembered as a humble and friendly member of the bike industry, who quietly became a leader in the aero movement, consulting with many brands and athletes as well as running his own company with his wife, Anne.
  2. Left behind, a mystery tool’s purpose is finally revealed. Published Oct. 22. This story traced the history of a bike tool over the course of nearly four decades — from the legendary Schwinn headquarters in Chicago to the high-tech offices of Niner Bikes in Colorado. What was so special about the tool and what was its purpose, anyway? You’ll have to read the story to find out.
  3. Neuvation Cycling shuts down — for now. Published Jan. 6. Industry veteran John Neugent hit on something big when he started selling value-priced performance road wheels direct to consumers via a website. His company boomed for years before shutting down suddenly in 2013. Neugent has since started a new company offering smaller quantities of custom-built wheels. But consumers searching for his old company’s website continue to find BRAIN’s story about the shutdown, contributing to its high readership numbers.
  4. Oskar Blues opens mountain bike resort in North Carolina. Published June 15. Oskar Blues is a craft brewery, restauranteur and bike maker, with locations in Colorado and North Carolina. The fast-growing operation branched out even further this year, buying a farm in North Carolina and adding miles of mountain bike trails with access to a nearby national forest. The farm even hosted a Red Bull dirt jumping competition in its first year in operation. Oskar Blues also has a huge social media following, which contributed to the high traffic numbers for BRAIN’s article about the new venture.
  5. Court orders Eastern Bikes into receivership. Published Oct. 1. For months, retailers who sold Eastern BMX bikes wondered why the brand had gone silent. Eventually, court documents revealed that the company was in a dispute with some of its suppliers, resulting in a judge’s order to put the company into receivership. Watch for more on this story soon.
  6. Giant’s JT Thompson calls out competitors for non-IBD sales. Published Oct. 3. Giant Bikes’ sales chief John “JT” Thompson sent an email to his company’s dealers last fall, pointing out that some of Giant’s competitors sell through non-IBD channels and urging dealers to support brands that support the IBD channel. Thompson got a few facts wrong — for example, Raleigh bikes are sold exclusively through IBDs — but his letter spurred a huge number of comments from BRAIN readers.
  7. Retailer institutes code of conduct for shop kit buyers. Published Oct. 10. Brent Garrigus, owner of Ride Cyclery in Encinitas, California, decided to require customers agree to a code of conduct before riding in his shop’s kit. Garrigus’ unusual policy inspired debate among fellow bike shop owners and consumers.
  8. Trek buys Electra. Published Jan. 6. The first big story of 2014 occurred when Trek announced it had bought the fast-growing lifestyle bike brand, Electra.
  9. Fred Clements: Are bikes the black hole of IBD profitability? Published July 29.  Armed with stats and analysis, NBDA executive director Fred Clements penned a column that got retailers chattering about whether they were losing money on each bike they sold and what they could do about it.
  10. Giant targets sub-$500 bike market. Published March 19. Giant launched a promotion that included lowered prices on several key bikes, in hopes of reaching a new clientele. 

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