SUN VALLEY, ID (BRAIN)—Suppliers are eyeing the opportunity to pick up share in the hot 29er category as Trek severs ties with some former Gary Fisher dealers.
Some of the 200 U.S. retailers who carried Fisher (but not Trek) will not have the option to keep the brand now that Trek has brought it under the Trek line. Those dealers, who have created market demand for 29ers, will need a replacement in the category and competing suppliers are eager to fill that void.
Gary Fisher was an early champion of the 29-inch wheel mountain bike, but other brands are catching on. While still a niche category, 29er is one of the few mountain bike categories that is growing. And its hitting higher average price points—in the U.S., 65 percent of mountain bike hardtails over $1,000 are 29ers, according to Trek.
“Mountain as an overall category is losing sales. What’s significant is 29er sales—it’s really this year that it just went bam,” said Scott Montgomery, general manager for Scott USA. “Trends start in America for mountain biking. My sense is that you’ll see that escalate around the world, and over the next three to four years become significant.”
Scott is launching a new 29er this week, expanding its line of aluminum and carbon fiber 29ers to five models. Montgomery said the timing couldn’t be better with Trek leaving Gary Fisher dealers exposed. “It just so happens that we’re getting really aggressive with 29ers this year, which is good timing,” he said, adding that he increased his 29er forecasts for the year by 15 percent following Trek’s announcement.
Advanced Sports Inc. also feels well positioned to recruit new retailers as it brings the first 29ers to market under its Breezer brand. “Any change in distribution creates willingness among retailers to look at options,” said Pat Cunnane, ASI’s president.
Breezer will release two carbon and two aluminum 29er versions for the 2011 model year. Cunnane said the Breezer brand, championed by mountain biking pioneer Joe Breeze, offers a good alternative to the Gary Fisher line. “We have one of the authentic guys coming back into mountain bikes at a time when Fisher’s changing,” Cunnane said.