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Technology Trickles Down, Adds Retail Value

Published June 22, 2011

DEER VALLEY, UT (BRAIN)—New product lines for 2012 will offer retailers more choices, greater value and a continuation of expensive technology trickling down to lower price points.

One of the most interesting new products to look for—tailored for hands-on involvement by retailers—is a new device from the Saris Group’s CycleOps division that resembles a standard heart rate strap-on monitor that calculates a rider’s power output.

Think of it as a PowerTap system for the enthusiast at a price point that easily introduces them to the world of "power" training, said Steve Chapin (pictured), marketing director, during a meeting at PressCamp yesterday. The device, the PowerCal, develops a power reading based on algorithms that correlate heart rate and power. It will be available in November priced at $199.

What makes it unique for retailers who carry CycleOps is they can work with a customer to help self-calibrate the system. It takes about 20 minutes and enhances a dealer’s conversation with a customer, Chapin said. “It offers a lot for folks who’ve thought about a power system but who don’t really understand it, or who can’t afford it. It’s an eye-opening experience for them and allows them to step into the world of power,” he said.

But CycleOps isn’t the only company bringing new technology to market. A German company with headquarters in Stuttgart, ACROS Sport, has been showing editors a unique shifting system for mountain bikes that operates on hydraulic fluid, much like disc brakes. And it’s generated some genuine interest.

Marius Wrede, general manager, said the shifting system is light, tough and can easily adapt to Shimano or SRAM’s 3X9 or 2X10 cranks and cogsets. Editors who have seen it are eager to get it and independently test the system.

Wrede said some voice concern that the hydraulic lines could get ripped from the rear derailleur, but if that were to happen a rider could easily shift it to a suitable gear by hand and finish a ride. “Retailers are already familiar with hydraulics from working on disc brakes and this is essentially the same,” Wrede said.

One advantage is how close the hydraulic lines can be kept to the frame, particularly the rear derailleur. “We don’t need as much length as conventional systems since binding isn’t a problem with hydraulics,” he said. The system won’t be cheap—MSRP will be $1,999 and Wrede is meeting with distributors.

ACROS, founded in 1999, is well known among German suppliers for its high quality hubs, headsets, bottom brackets, stems, handlebars and other accessories. BTI carries and services some of the company’s parts.

Meanwhile, shifting light cyclists encounter while riding is an issue Tifosi is tackling with its Fototec eyewear. It quickly transitions from light to dark in a matter of seconds, said Tifosi’s Matt Conto. Tifosi unveiled 12 new models for 2012 at PressCamp that add new designs and features for the more than 950 IBDs currently selling the brand. Conto said the company continues to price the majority of its eyewear in the retail sweet spot ranging from $39.99 to $89.99. (A few models for children retail for $29.99.)

Jerry deBin, Tifosi’s vice president of marketing and public relations, said the eight-year-old company founded by Joe and Elizabeth Earley has grown from just three SKUs to 140. Citing data from the Leisure Trends Group compiled in early May, Tifosi has become the best selling sunglass brand [units sold] among IBDs. The company also sells through REI.

And another bright spot for retailers who remember the iconic Performance and Interceptor bikes from GT...well, they’re back but this time they are built around a 26-inch platform and, as Chris Hopgood explained, “For the dad who grew up on these bikes, they’ll want to have one so they can ride around the neighborhood with their kids.” These bikes even sport the old Mohawk-style hubs found on the originals. The Performance ($479 high-tensile steel) and the Interceptor ($679 cro-mo) will be available in August.

Dealers can also look for a Zaskar 29er, a full-carbon hardtail, spec’d with DT hubs, XT’s 2X10 drive train, Formula R1 brakes, and a RockShox Sid. The Zaskar Pro will retail for $4,200. The Zaskar Expert with trimmed down spec will come in at a lower price point.

—Marc Sani

Topics associated with this article: Events

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