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Wahoo Fitness acquires Speedplay

Published September 24, 2019

ATLANTA (BRAIN) — After nearly 30 years of entertaining purchase offers, Speedplay co-founders Richard Bryne and Sharon Worman finally chose one to accept.

On Tuesday, Wahoo Fitness announced it had bought the pedal company from Bryne and Worman. The purcahse price was not disclosed.

“We've certainly had interest over the years; we've done that dance with a few people," Worman told BRAIN on Tuesday. But until this week, Speedplay, launched in 1991, has continued as an independent company, running its own factory in San Diego and to selling direct to dealers in the U.S.

"We liked to say we were the last privateers,” Worman said.

The acquisition continues a recent trend toward consolidation in the indoor training/technology market as brands seek to establish ecosystems of related products. The announcement came weeks after Wahoo released a $3,500 indoor bike and about three months after it bought The Sufferfest training platform. Also in 2019, Garmin has acquired trainer brand Tacx, SRAM has bought PowerTap, and 4iiii has acquired Stac, a trainer brand. 

Wahoo founder Chip Hawkins said he thought Speedplay had the best pedal technology and felt the brand could benefit from product line tweeks and improved distribution. He said when he went to buy Speedplay pedals for personal use a few years ago, they were hard to find and difficult to choose between models. He hopes to fix both problems.

"I think Wahoo has always evolved from pain points I had in my personal life," Hawkins said.

He only half-dodged the question from those who follow this market segment: Will the acquisition lead to a pedal-based Wahoo power meter?

“We never talk about upcoming products,” he told BRAIN. But he made clear that if Wahoo did offer a power meter, it would be pedal-based.

“The power meter should be in the pedals. … It gives you the flexibility to do what you want with the bike. There are a lot of limitations that come from putting the power meter anywhere else.”

As for Bryne and Worman, they said Hawkins was the reason they chose to accept Wahoo’s offer, when so many other companies had flirted with Speedplay over the decades.

“It was Chip,” Bryne said. “They are a pretty disruptive company, and I think they think like I do. They are a technology-focused company and that’s a good fit because that’s what we try to be.”

It also might be appropriate that Bryne, who invented the Turbo Trainer indoor trainer, would years later sell his company to a leader in the smart trainer market.

Bryne and Worman said they would work with Wahoo on a transition but didn’t plan to continue working full time for Wahoo afterward. "In the short term, we're here for a while on the transition. We want to make sure everything happens smoothly and we have nice transition. But ... we haven't really thought past this week," Bryne said. 

Speedplay’s assembly factory will remain near San Diego, where the company employs about 25 people. Hawkins said Wahoo hasn’t decided on a long-term plan for that facility. 

RELATED: Speedplay: From startup to small giant (2009).

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