The Gary Fisher Collection

meeting_gary_fisher.jpg We talked with Gary this morning about his collection at Trek and what exactly that means. He’s very positive about the news, feels good about the changes, and excited to do what he loves.

Joking around, we asked him how it felt to be the Martha Stewart of the industry, with a collection. His reply:

“I’m going to show you how to ride a bike in style.”

And that’s Gary. With his steampunky style, he’s now a brand ambassador for Trek.

I tweeted our concern,

Will @gary_fisher end up on Tires, Stems, shoes like Bontrager? Does the average Trek consumer know that Bontrager is a dude?

In a year or so, we’ll know and I’m sure Gary will tell us more about it over beers at Interbike later this year.

What do you think?



10 Comments

I don’t think I’ve heard of a Gary Fisher dealer that didn’t cover the full Trek lineup, including Klein and LeMond, in their day. The complete set is definitely at a larger shop in my neighborhood (the Penn Cycle manager is quoted in BRAIN), and even the small dealer near my office (Boehm’s). Maybe it’s different for other regions of the country where Trek didn’t grow up just one state over in Wisconsin.

The brand consolidation makes a ton of sense, because there was never much reason to put crappy fenders and a different paint job on the LeMond Poprad Disc and call it the Trek Portland (IMO). I also like the fact that they’re putting longtails in the collection, with an electric assist option, where it seems less like “cheating,” i.e. the Transport+. As long as those chains have to be, an IGH wouldn’t hurt on that model, maybe even the 11-speed Nexus. It’s not like they have a price point to hit.

There are a few exclusive Fisher dealers who no longer have new bikes to sell, don’t know the exact number. The decision makes sense, but also it’s as if Trek is the place where legends go to die: Klein, Bontrager, and possibly Fisher. Of all the industry’s ills, one of them is not understanding brand beyond marketing labels.

Before the consolidation, Gary Fisher (the brand) had less than 600 retail doors (storefronts) in the USA & Canada. Of these, about two-thirds also sell the Trek line and are not significantly impacted by the move. 

The remaining 200, however are on the receiving end of the biggest screwjob of the decade, even if Trek had sound business reasons for doing what they did. Guess it all depends on whether you’re the screwer or the screwee.

For more “inside baseball”-type analysis, you may want to check my bike industry blog, Welcome to Bike 2.0,  at (shortened URL) http://ht.ly/20ksW .

I did a post deconstructing the rationale behind Trek’s move yesterday and I’m working on another one about its business mechanics today.

Throughout it all, Gary Fisher (the person, although the brand too, to some extend) remains a class act of the highest integrity. He’s not a close personal friend, although we’ve known each other on a business basis since 1982.

(Can’t speak for Gary Klein, but I know Keith Bontrager is quite happy with his current Trek relationship. He gets to work on the stuff he wants to work on, has a lot of control over what gets his name on it, and the product, let’s face it, is darned good.)

Thanks Rick! That was one spun up press release and hard to parse out all that was going on. As we said, Gary was “this is all good,” but we’re not so sure that a big personality with a steampunky style is going to maintain his positive view without his name on a bike. I’d rather see him spin off into artisan bike land. My commentary isn’t about Bontrager “the person,” but what happens to names at Trek. Yesterday on a bike ride, I asked a commuter if he knew “Bontrager” and he said, “yes that’s a French brand, right” A brand of brakes in the 80s.” Brands becomes labels to move units, at a company focused on sales.

Is there any reason why the retailers that were formerly carrying Fishers couldn’t just start carrying Treks? Or even just the Fisher division of Trek?

Honestly, this really does seem like great news for GF - instead of having redundant bikes with the Trek line, they can devote more resources to the products they are actually good at (29ers, fer instance) and the more niche products like the longbike, and get way-y-y-y more distribution channels.

Am I missing something?

Also, since when is Bontrager dead? Lemond languished, yes, but I suspect that most of these brands would have died out anyway (or at least lived painfully marginal lives) in a competitive market…

Easier said than done. I don’t know the business from the inside, but if it’s like any other product market, not every Fisher dealer necessarily wants to or can be a Trek dealer. They probably have issues like territory, credit lines, volume commitments, and who knows what else to iron out.

Bontrager is not dead and we understand happy in his current role. The issue I’m talking about is taking a personality and turning it into a label—Bontrager’s engineering talent had nothing to do with wheels and shoes and stems. Look at a Trek wheel and all the names on it and tell me who makes it and designed it? Hed or Bontrager or Trek?

That’s the marketing and brand problem and what may happen to Fisher in a year or so. They could bring back his old Fisher King logo and start putting it on cranks or something. Does that matter really? Well it does to those of us that follow the industry and know a legendary personality and are critical of a company that doesn’t maintain or cultivate brands like its competitors do. Trek is aware of its ssues with marketing and here’s another example and what happens when Lance retires again?

As I said in the post, the business decision makes sense and I think it’s about selling more 29ers in Europe. Any way you spin it though, Gary’s line has been dropped. I take that personally because my first racing bike [was a Fisher](http://bikehugger.com/2009/12/first-race-bike-a-fisher-parag.html).

“Bontrager’s engineering talent had nothing to do with wheels and shoes and stems.”

I don’t know about shoes, but Bontrager started in the industry with wheels. In the mid 80’s he started cutting and re-bending Mavic MA-2 rims to make the first narrow rim mountain bike wheels and he went on to design wheels for other companies.

When I think of Bontrager in the 80s, wheels and forks are what I remember. The Bontrager Cycles Racelite frames came a bit later.

You’re right on wheels—he rerolled rims I believe. I meant the current line of them and your tweets are also right regarding Bontrager’s role at the company, which is much more behind the scenes. My argument here isn’t about Bontrager, just as an example of Trek’s marketing and my guess is he probably wants nothing to do with this discussion.

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