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Cadillac and Columbia

In another sign that cycling is gaining appeal with mainstream America, I've noticed two major corporations have recently launched a line of bikes. Columbia Sportswear and Cadillac (yes, Cadillac) have decided to dip their toe into the waters. Great news right? The bike industry is being noticed by some major outside players!! woo hoo! Well contain your enthusiasm. A long-time veteran of the bike biz and president of real bike company just told me:
"I think calling the Columbia bike "a Portland bike line" is probably stretching it. More like a “made-in-China-specced-by-a-guy- in- Dayton-who-works-for-a-company-on-Long-Island-that-

Very well said. But I'm not entirely cynical about this because there's no denying it's a good sign for the industry as a whole. Bike companies are going to have to be that much sharper with their marketing and communications in order to compete with the exclusive distribution networks and deep pockets of these new players.


At 9:43 PM, May 13, 2005, Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

"Mainstream" companies entering the bike industry, no matter how flawed the approach, ultimately help the overall industry. Why? Because they draw more attention to our little club. The deep pocket companies frequently enter and then exit the industry (remember those Eddie Bauer bikes by Giant?), but their mere presence means that John Q. Public will be that much more aware of the bike world. Frankly, we need new consumers to keep the industry afloat. Those of us who have been longtime consumers or insiders are not replacing our products fast enough and frequently enough to keep the whole industry flush with funds (especially using our friends and contacts to get us stuff for cheap or free). Cadillac and Columbia are both great names to have associated with cyclilng. Do I think they are here for the long haul? NO. Why? Because, just as Porsche found out when they were putting their name on bikes, there isn't a lot of money in the bike industry and those of us in it tend to be very picky and critical. Still, I am happy to see those bikes from Cadillac coming to market. It's good for all of us who hope to continue getting a paycheck from the indutry.

Tim Jackson- Masi Brand Manager

At 9:32 AM, May 14, 2005, Blogger Jonathan Maus said...

Good points Tim. You're right, these companies see a little spike in the bike market (thanks Lance!) and their analysts say, "jump in". But then the reality of the bike business sets in and once they've acheived their marketing objectives, or realize there's not real money to be made, they'll pull out.

The most exciting thing about those licensing deals would be if either company has plans to display/sell/distribute the bikes through new channels. It would be great exposure for cycling if Columbia's bikes were in all their outdoor shops...and I'm sure Cadillac will give token floor space to a bike or two at their dealerships.

Who knows, maybe Columbia will become the next REI?...


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