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Redline Foundations project will help BMX brand return to its core, company hopes

Published October 28, 2020
Founder Linn Kastan is re-producing a 1980’s freestyle frame; Kastan's contributions to the sport recognized on new website.

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — Linn Kastan, the founder of the Redline BMX brand in the 1970s, is collaborating with the brand once again to produce a limited edition replica bike and launch a microsite devoted to Redline's history and Kastan's contributions.

Kastan sold the brand to Seattle Bike Supply in 1988; it is now owned by Alta Cycling Group, which acquired Redline, Diamondback, and IZIP from Accell North America in 2019. 

Alta's Larry Pizzi said he hopes the collaboration with Kastan will help bring the brand back to its roots in BMX. Pizzi noted that the Redline brand remains coveted by former BMXers of a certain age who remember it when it dominated BMX racing and freestyle in the late 1970s through the '80s.

"People that grew up with BMX, now have kids or grandchildren getting into the activity and the sport. They (the parents and grandparents) are making the buying decisions and I do think this project will be influential to this audience: It will signal to this tight community that Redline is back, and is making an effort to be true to its roots," said Pizzi, Alta's chief commercial officer.

Under ANA ownership, Redline received little marketing or product development attention for several years. In 2019 the brand collaborated with the rapper and graphic artist A$AP Ferg on a bike and merchandise line. 

Pizzi said the A$AP Ferg project was successful in some ways but did not help the brand's credibility in the BMX community.

Linn Kastan.

"It alienated a lot of people. It made people ask, 'what are these people doing with that brand?'" Pizzi said.

Redline also has offered retro-styled replica bikes and framesets in the past, but never with the authenticity of this project.

"It's been done before, but never with Linn," Pizzi said.

The limited-edition replica kit of the 1980s-era Redline RL 20 II Pro Styler will be manufactured by Kastan at his factory in Mexico. Pizzi said Kastan has the original frame engineering drawings, which are being digitized. The kits will be manufactured in the first quarter 2021 and available in the second quarter.

Kastan previously manufactured his Kastan line of BMX frames and forks at the factory. The Kastan line has been off the market for at least 15 years. Kastan's primary business now is Redline Aviation, which manufactures personal aircraft accessories.

The replica and Foundations website are reminiscent of recent projects at GT (where brand founder Gary Turner returned to manufacture a limited edition run of BMX frames ) and Haro (where brand founder Bob Haro was involved in a project to produce a reissue of a 1984 Haro freestyle frame). 

The company began accepting pre-orders on Tuesday for the $1,600 replica Redline Pro Stylers kits, and they already are sold out.  The kit includes the frame, fork, handlebar, number plate and sprocket. Kastan will make 300 kits for the North American market and 100 for the Australia and New Zealand market.Redline reissue ad.

Pizzi said some IBDs planned to ordering them for their personal collections, but there was no wholesale program. He said there are no immediate plans to continue the collaboration with Kastan beyond the Pro Styler project.

"We hope to do more. We don't have an agreement with Linn to anything beyond this, but based on the response so far he is feeling very positive about it," he said.

He said Redline also is likely to offer other replica models in larger quantities, to be manufactured at larger factories overseas and available to dealers at wholesale.

The Foundations website contains a history of the Redline brand and will be updated continually over the coming months. Bicycle historian Dominic Phipps is producing the historic content. Phipps also produced a Haro BMX history website last year. 

"We want to record the full history of the brand and Linn's contributions. We've had a brand history timeline on the website, but we really want to record it with a lot more content. People ask us about it all the time. Redline is not a huge slice of revenue and we've never paid enough attention to it. The agreement that we have enables Dom to build out all this content on the microsite," Pizzi said.

"First and foremost we want to give Linn the recognition he deserves for what he did with the brand and his role in the sport. I don't think his role has ever been appropriately documented before."

Pizzi has a long history with BMX himself. Early in his career he worked at West Coast Cycle, which then owned the Haro brand, and he later worked at Service Cycle, which then owned the Mongoose brand.

Vintage Redline BMX ad.Today, Redline is sold by several e-commerce vendors, via Alta's own e-commerce site, and by IBDs. Pizzi said he thinks it's possible for BMX to become important for specialty dealers once again.

"BMX bikes are relatively simple, that's one reason a lot of people are buying online. But the more we can focus on the specialty market, there are opportunities that revolve around componentry and up[grading bikes and doing what we used to do in this space," he said.

Alta also owns Diamondback, which has its own long history in BMX. Pizzi said Diamondback will remain in the mountain bike and road/gravel segments. "We're trying to keep our small portfolio (at Alta) very focused and not duplicate categories across the brands," he said.

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