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Guerrilla Gravity finds record success in the high-end market during pandemic

Published May 29, 2020

Editor's note: A version of this article ran in the June issue of BRAIN.

DENVER (BRAIN) — Guerrilla Gravity has defied the gravity of the current economic state with sales volume and dollars up at a time when the demand for high-end bikes is down.

"I don't think it's ever one thing," said Will Montague, Guerrilla Gravity president. "I think it's a combination of another year of awareness under our belts, ramping up marketing efforts, further refining our manufacturing."

Guerrilla Gravity began manufacturing mountain bikes in 2015 at its Denver location with a small retail space and also sells direct-to-consumer, shop-direct, through national demo centers and international distributors in the UK, Israel, Mexico, Chile, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, April was Guerrilla Gravity's best month ever.

  • Average sale price up $300 per bike year-over-year.
  • Additional manufacturing staff hired.
  • B2B local shop accounts, experiencing supply chain delays with larger brands, up 50%.
  • Increased international sales.
  • Selling bikes at or just over full production bandwidth.

April "was supposed to be our best month ever because that's the trajectory we were on naturally as a company, so it's hard to say if it would've been higher without COVID or not," Montague said.

The spring bounce also benefited from the debut of a new model, the Gnarvana, a "No limit Trail Bike" with 160mm of travel and 29-inch wheels. That joins a stable of four other full-suspension carbon fiber bikes. Guerrilla Gravity also offers the steel Pedalhead "Adventure Hardtail."

Another factor in Guerrilla Gravity's rise is the refinement of its manufacturing with its Revved Industries Carbon Technology that emphasizes toughness, affordability, and domestic manufacturing.

"Carbon fiber was something we really wanted to pursue, but we believed in the benefits of U.S. manufacturing, short supply chain, that sort of thing," said Montague, who added Guerrilla Gravity ramped up carbon fiber production last year. "And traditional carbon had a number of shortcomings, and we set about to find a better solution."

Searching for that better solution didn't mean searching overseas.

"We wanted to make the frames in the U.S.," he said. "That was a requirement, and we wanted impact resistance. That was the hard criteria. It had to be economical to manufacture as well."

Guerrilla Gravity's six-bike lineup features complete custom builds (27.5, 27.5+ and 29) ranging from $3,795-$6,455 and featuring anywhere from 120mm-165mm travel. Carbon full-suspension frame-only options are $2,195 and $1,195 for the steel hardtail.

"It would be relatively straightforward to manufacture carbon frames in the U.S. if we wanted to sell our frames for 4, 5, 6 thousand dollars, but that's not who we are at Guerrilla Gravity," Montague said. "It's meant to be attainable bikes with top-level performance at a very competitive price point."

Add to that lead times under four weeks, and it's easy to see why Guerrilla Gravity is in an envious position right now.

"Because we control so much of our supply chain, so much of it is domestic," Montague said. "We're not having quite the same (difficulties) as some of the folks that are manufacturing overseas. I think cycling, based on what I've been reading, is doing quite well. Not all of the high-end segments are doing as well as some of the $1,500 segments. Since our average price point is going to be just under 5k, certainly a high-end bike but not 7, 8, 9,10 thousand."

Under the timing is everything category, Guerrilla Gravity unveiled a new website in April tied to a free shipping promotion with the launch. Additional financing options also were offered. "From our experience and the feedback from others, it seems that those that have an online store and direct-selling capabilities are faring better than those without," Montague said.

A large percentage of the shop-direct orders are framesets, with the bike shop working with other suppliers to source all of the individual build kit components, "truly delivering a custom made-in-America bike for their customer," said Bobby Brown, Guerrilla Gravity marketing director. "Additionally, our Modular Frame Platform allows riders to swap their bike between multiple models, using Seatstay Tuning Kits. This provides an additional revenue stream for components and small parts to shop-direct partners."

With the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't slowed production at Guerrilla Gravity, it has altered it. A seven-day production schedule is used with morning and evening shifts of about six employees each to ensure social distancing. Face masks are also required, and the engineering and office staff work remotely.

Another future change centers around Revved Industries' OEM aspirations to offer domestic carbon technology to others. "I think the supply-chain diversification and re-shoring some elements of manufacturing, kind of de-risking globally, will become a much more relevant conversation," Montague said. "It was already trending that way, and I think this (pandemic) is going to cause it to trend a little quicker. We've already had pretty compelling interest in our OEM business, and I think that will be a big talking point."

At Guerrilla Gravity right now, all the talk is positive, but Montague has been around long enough to know the future is uncertain during this pandemic.

"We were a little surprised (about the April surge)," he said. "We really weren't sure what to expect, and we still don't know what to expect. Everyone is guessing at this point."

Guerrilla Gravity had its best month ever in April.
Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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