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Marzocchi on the block; MTB production continues — for now

Published July 31, 2015

BOLOGNA, Italy (BRAIN) — Andrea Pierantoni, sales and marketing director for Tenneco Marzocchi, is hopeful that a sale of the motorcycle and bike suspension business will keep the Italian brand alive.

Last week, parent company Tenneco announced plans to shutter its motorcycle and mountain bike suspension business and liquidate operations by end of year. A factory in Bologna, Italy, still manufactured motorcycle suspension and parts. All of the manufacturing for mountain bike suspension had moved to Taiwan, but R&D and marketing remained in Italy.

Pierantoni told BRAIN this week that Tenneco continues to talk with third parties who are showing interest in some of the assets of Marzocchi, which would include product patents.

"I cannot comment or speculate on what the outcome of these talks might be and the subsequent impact on the mountain bike business," he said via email. "I am not involved in that process and therefore have no information in terms of status or timing. However, on a personal basis, I sincerely hope for Marzocchi, our customers, our supplier and the mountain bike team that a sale will result."

Pierantoni said that Tenneco will close the motorcycle fork plant in Bologna by the end of 2015, but said that mountain bike product development is still up and running. He noted that a dropper post that had been shown earlier in the year will be displayed at Eurobike and Interbike and that Tenneco will continue to support its teams.

"We intend to be at Crankworx in Whistler with our North American team, and World Cups in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Val di Sole, and the World Championship in Andorra, with Pedro," Pierantoni said.

The motorcycle and mountain bike suspension businesses suffered from "extreme competition" in the market, he noted.

"We have made various efforts over time to improve the performance of the two activities and reduce costs, but these have been insufficient to overcome the difficult challenges in the two wheeler market," Pierantoni said.

"Having said that, I am confident that the significant investments that Tenneco has made in terms of innovation, industrialization, manufacturing efficiency, flexibility, quality, distribution and marketing will benefit any company for which mountain bike is either its core business, or a complementary business," he added.

Marzocchi lost ground when Tenneco's sale of the suspension brand to SR Suntour fell through in 2012, which forced the company to find another fork assembly supplier in Taiwan. But it appeared to be gaining back some OE spec in model-year 2014. Tenneco also invested in a new assembly line in Taiwan with Tenneco tooling and quality control procedures.

"We made a strong comeback in the 2013 model year with innovative Marzocchi technology that responded to evolving customer needs and market trends," he said. "We haven't stopped innovating since and Tenneco has invested in developing a complete line of 2016 cross country, enduro, dirt jump and downhill front and rear suspension and is developing a dropper post, the 27.5PLUS line and a full range of downhill and enduro shocks."

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