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New Swiss brand hopes to offer stable pricing, value-added products

Published October 17, 2018

BAAR, Switzerland (BRAIN) — Piet van der Velde plans for his new cycling P&A brand to offer stable pricing at the upper end of the price spectrum, and said he aims to provide products worth the price.

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Van de Velde is a former product manager at Specialized, Cannondale and other brands, including the saddle brands Velo, Prologo, Selle Italia and Selle San Marco. His new Swiss-based brand, Ere Research, launched with a road tire line in the spring and will soon offer a line of saddles, as well. The saddles were designed by van der Velde and Dr. Roger Minkow, a longtime collaborator with Specialized.

Ere hopes to have U.S. distributors lined up by spring 2019. For now, Ere tires are available in Europe, Australia, Canada, Taiwan and the U.K., although some U.S. consumers have been buying them via European online vendors.

Van der Velde said the tire market is "a category in decay," with neither distributors nor retailers making good margins. He said Ere product design, technology, user experience and packaging is intended to help restore value, while its pricing policies maintain margins (he noted the European e-commerce sites Wiggle and ChainReaction are selling Ere tires at above MSRP).

"When it comes to tires, seeing and feeling is believing," he said. "If (customers) can see and experience on the road the difference and then feel confident that this is the tire they need, they don't need to read four or five pages of convincing information," he said.

Ere tire categories — road race, performance, gravel, wet conditions, aero/time trial, indoor trainer or 4-season — are visually distinguished by their tread design, so customers can tell a tire's purpose at a glance.

Ere's Genus tubeless tires are packaged with sealant, a valve and extender and stickers.

Tires are packaged in "an Apple-type box," complete with sealant and valve or a tube, a valve extender, stickers and a product card that explains the tread pattern and tire technology.

"It sounds a bit over done when you are not used to looking at it that way, but the consumer expects this. We have to understand we are not getting away with a price tag wrapped around a tire anymore. People are expecting something different.

"We've done some deep thinking about how consumers are experiencing products. Many distributors in the bike industry are thinking about what they want to sell, instead of thinking about what the consumer wants to buy."

Besides the tire line, van der Velde is putting his experience to work by launching its saddle line this fall. Working with Minkow, who helped developed Specialized early Body Geometry saddles, van der Velde sought to offer a limited product line, uncluttered by the legacy models that many saddle brands continue to offer, instead offering what he calls "a clean and simple offering."

The Ere saddle line is built on two shapes: flat or curved, for riders of varying flexibility. Each shape is offered in three widths and two nose lengths. Saddles also are available with a "Comfort Trigger," a small lever located under the nose that allows the rider to vary saddle flex on the fly. Ere saddles will retail for about $385 when they become available this winter.

Van der Velde said Ere will add products in three new categories soon. The first is handlebar tape, the other two he's keeping under wraps for now.

Ere recently announced that it was working with retired Swiss pro Fabian Cancellara, who will work as an ambassador and assist in tire product development, van der Velde said. "He's not going to be just holding up a tire and smiling. I expect to work with him on casings and tread designs as Fabian is probably one of the only few former pro's that has experience in all disciplines at the highest level. I've worked with him before and I know that I can expect honest feedback from him."

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