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Taipei Briefs

Published March 21, 2013

Editor's note: Download BRAIN's Taipei Cycle Show Day 3 newsletter: Day 3 | Day 2Day 1.


Guru makes first appearance in Taipei 

Robert Pinazza made his first-ever trip to Taiwan and to Taipei Cycle this year. The time seemed about right. Pinazza, Guru’s vice president of sales, said the Canadian brand has seen a consistent increase in demand from consumers and retailers in Asia.

The brand set up Chinese distribution a year ago, and also has distribution agreements in Japan and Thailand, but it’s looking to pick up distribution in Australia, Malaysia and other Pacific Rim nations, and was at the show to make those connections.

Guru’s newly released Photon Series of bikes caught the eye of at least one multi-store run and triathlon retailer from the Philippines on Thursday, who dropped in to ask about distribution in that country.

Pinazza said that Guru’s higher-end bikes are manufactured entirely at its Quebec facility, and that appeals to many Asian customers. The show’s timing also coincided with the Photon Series’ midseason launch, providing a global stage to unveil the lightweight carbon bike line, he said.

Guru showed the three-model lineup at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show a few weeks ago. The HL (Hyperlight), R (Race) and SL (Superlight) come in stock and custom geometries. Prices range from $4,500 (stock SL) to $8,500 for the sub-670-gram (54-centimeter size) custom HL frameset. 

 Soma Fabrications takes on the kids

You don’t see many American retailers strolling the aisles of Taipei Cycle. But Bradley Woehl and Kimo Toguchi, owners of American Cyclery, are show veterans. Besides retailing, the duo also moonlight as product managers for distributor Merry Sales’ in-house brands, which include Soma Fabrications, IRD and Paké. So they stroll the show looking for product ideas and sources for their next bike or part.

Here at the show they were going over final spec and details on the Bart and Lisa, two new road/touring kids’ bikes they’re introducing under the Soma brand this summer.

“All the kids’ bikes on the market now are designed as an afterthought,” Toguchi said. “We know it’s not a huge market, but it’s our passion because we have kids and think parents who are into cycling would buy it.”

Woehl has a 6- and an 8-year-old who are his testers. Toguchi has a 6-year-old and a 6-month old.

The bikes, which will come in 20- and 24-inch wheel sizes to start, will be available as steel framesets with separate parts kit that includes kid-size cranks, wheels, pedals, saddles, brake levers and bars (flat and dropbar options).

They should offer weight savings over traditional kids’ bikes.

Toguchi and Woehl hadn’t set a price for the frame and parts kit, but they estimate the complete bike can range between $800 and $1,500 depending on the drivetrain spec shops select. Soma is starting out small, offering only 100 framesets. Tange is its frame and bar supplier.

“Our goal is to drive the price point down to be more accessible,” Toguchi said. 

Cratoni returning to U.S. market

German helmet maker Cratoni is taking a second stab in the U.S. The company recently announced plans to re-enter the already crowded lid market in North America, teaming up with SKS USA, which will be its exclusive distributor. At the show, Cratoni export manager Oliver Lennarz-Kellner had the brand’s 2013/2014 lineup on display. Only eight models will be immediately available for U.S. consumers since the company will have to ensure they meet strict U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission helmet testing before putting them on retail shelves.

Likely the U.S. versions will be heavier since European standards are much more lax, Lennarz-Kellner said. The range begins at $69 for the one-size-fits-all C-Blaze and goes all the way up to the $189 C-Breeze in road and mountain bike versions. The Bullet is a lightweight road helmet that will sell for $159 and weighs less than 200 grams.

Lennarz-Kellner says the company still gets one or two emails a week from U.S. consumers asking for replacement liner pads for helmets the company sold in the 1990s, which is encouraging.

“We’re optimistic about the U.S.,” he said. “We believe in our product. In every category of helmet we’re one of the lightest with fantastic ventilation.” Cratoni has been around for 27 years and is well known in Europe. It’s among the top five helmet brands in market share in its home market, Lennarz-Kellner said. Cratoni helmets are sold in more than 70 countries. The eight-helmet line should be in stock in the U.S. by July.  

CycleOps expands business in China

Wisconsin’s Saris is expanding in China, where a growing middle class is eager for its power training equipment and auto racks, company spokesman Daniel Carruthers told BRAIN. Saris has two distributors in the country for its CycleOps power meters and is developing a marketing campaign that includes the Chinese versions of Twitter and Facebook, “ambassador” consumers, contests and power training clinics, some of which Carruthers leads.

Saris also is selling its auto racks in China, he said.

“Consumers have cars now and they want to transport their bikes outside the city to the mountains,” he said.

Carruthers noted that all Saris products are still made in the U.S. and shipped to China, a system that reduces the possibility its products will be counterfeited by Chinese factories or sold “out the back door” of factories, he said.

“For CycleOps, that’s no problem. And the power meters are very technical and hard to copy,” he said.

Saint-Gobain pushes into road market

Saint-Gobain, a French company that is more than 300 years old, is expanding its business in the bike market, branching out from supplying mountain bike makers with suspension bushings to supplying road bike component makers.

The company’s Norglide PTFE bearings are used in SRAM road bike components, including its shifters and derailleurs. The company’s bike market manager, Paul Humphreys, said front and rear SRAM road derailleurs contain a total of 15 Saint-Gobain-made bearing sleeves.

Cane Creek also uses a bearing from the company in one of its headsets, and Humphreys said a certain “major Japanese component company” he could not name also has used its products.

Saint-Gobain was founded in 1665 as the Royal Glass Works. It’s now a $56 billion company whose primary business is in the construction materials market.

Kali preps new road helmets, grows in Asia

Kali Protectives, which launched its cross-country mountain bike helmets last year, is getting ready to ship its first road-specific helmet, company founder Brad Waldron said. (The company’s Maraka helmet, released early this spring, comes in both road and XC mountain versions.)

Kali’s $190 Phenom model will ship in about 60 days, he said. Another road helmet, still unnamed, will be available in 90 to 120 days and will retail for about $99. Waldron said about two-thirds of the company’s sales are in the U.S., with significant sales in France and Germany as well.

Sales are also growing in Asia, and the company recently introduced its first model sized for an Asian head form. 

Cratoni's Lennarz-Kellner
Topics associated with this article: Taipei Cycle Show

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