– Eighty seven days ’til the most underrated classic of the year, the Amstel Gold Race. Your enjoyment will be greatly enhanced through a better grasp of the geopoliticial underpinnings of Holland’s, or the Netherlands’, most important bike race:
– At the end 2012 Lampre parted ways with its longtime bike sponsor, Wilier. In its place comes Merida. All-but-unknown to most Americans, the company is a Taiwanese manufacturing powerhouse whose size and influence is perhaps only second to Giant.
Given its heft in the industry, why is Merida invisible in the US? Will the team bikes become available to American fans of Pippo Pozzato, Damiano Cunego and the other stars of Lampre? The answer to the latter question is an almost-certain ‘no’, one directly related to the answer of the former.
The years 2000-2001 were star-crossed for Specialized. It was differentiating itself with innovative product such as its first-generation Body Geometry accessories and was adding dealers like mad, which meant it was increasing revenues astronomically. But like many ambitious companies, it succumbed to the temptation of fueling its growth by getting deep with inventory. After all, nothing stalls sales like a lack of merchandise. Then the dot com bubble (v. 1.0) popped and Specialized was suddenly saddled with a metric ton of inventory. Outside of Specialized, the company with the most to lose was its Asian bike manufacturer, Merida. So in what may be the best investment in the history of the bike industry, Merida bought 49 percent of Specialized for $30 million, a doubly good deal give that part of the purchase price was probably a debt for equity conversion.
What does this have to do with Lampre? It’s a rumor that has long danced around the deal: As part of the investment, Specialized required that Merida would never sell its own bikes in Specialized’s backyard, North America. If that rumor is indeed true, you’ll need to fly to Europe to pick up a Lampre replica.
– Chopping down MTB handlebars., trimming down your steerer tube, lopping off a needless few inches of seatpost. All of it are just another day in the life of the bike mechanic. If you love your local wrench (and you’d better), next time you bring him a cold six-pack for the magic he performs, maybe bring him a particle mask too.
– This week in PRO: