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Despite turbulent times, Haro Bikes is expanding and upgrading its model lineup

Published March 7, 2024

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Unlike many in the industry, Haro Bikes has been busy expanding instead of contracting. Unburdened by inventory concerns that have choked much of the industry, the longtime BMX and mountain bike brand is preparing what new Global Chief Commercial Officer Lars Hjort termed a full-line bike offering.

"It's a challenging but exciting time for us," Hjort said at Taipei Cycle on Thursday. He joined the company at the beginning of the year after stints at Specialized, Felt, and Marin.

In addition to Hjort, within the past year, Haro hired CEO Bjarke Rasmussen, formerly vice president of global operations for Cycling Sports Group; senior engineer Ty Buckenberger, formerly with Specialized; supply chain director Grasie Ooi, formerly with Blix Bicycles Inc.; and chief marketing officer Megan Tompkins, who has worked for Crankbrothers, Specialized, Shimano and BRAIN.

"We did a lot of hires because we are moving the brand from being solely focused on BMX and mountain bikes because we want to play in the big leagues," Hjort said.

Haro will add a variety of e-bike models, city, road bikes, and high-performance road and gravel bikes. At the Mid South gravel event next week, Haro will unveil the Buzzard carbon gravel bike. At CABDA Midwest in January, Haro launched the aluminum hardtail Saguaro with aggressive geometry and a 140mm-travel fork.

"We want to be an action sports performance company. We'll still be in BMX, but we'll be expanding like crazy."

What Haro won't be expanding is its sales channel to direct-to-consumer. Hjort said the approximate 700-retailer network will remain an integral part of the brand's operation.

"We have very low entry barriers to do business with us and low freight allowances. So we really try to support the IBD in the best possible way. We were excited to see how our new bikes would be received because it is a dramatic step up from when we played in the $700 range. Now we're in the $2,000 range. So we were wondering how the dealers would receive that. Would they buy into it? But they are.

"I think you risk losing the loyalty of your best ambassadors going direct-to-consumer. You're closing the doors to the service center, which is your contact point, and I still think and firmly believe that an end consumer likes the security of being able to go somewhere, talk to somebody, buy their bike, and have it fixed there. I also recognize that there is a market for people that are prepared to buy a bike (direct-to-consumer). Today, you can buy a Tesla online. But I believe most consumers like to have a place where they can go to have their questions answered."

The company is building a U.S. assembly line in Vista, California, with bikes expected to be rolling off the lines in three to four months, Hjort said. Haro bikes are manufactured in Asia "for the time being." Onshoring is a possibility down the line, he added.

"For sure, if we can do it in a sound business way. It has to be the right quality and it has to be at a competitive pricing. Politically, you never know what happens with duty rates. So we're definitely getting ready to try and be agile, and that's why we're building the assembly line now."

The Haro Saguaro.
Topics associated with this article: Taipei Cycle Show

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