By Chris Meehan | Oct 22, 2017
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Performance bicycles
"We make bikes that people will have forever -- it's both good and bad for us," quips Medlock.
But it hasn't proved a limiting factor. "Of the domestic hand-built frame-builders in the U.S., we're the biggest." The company ships more than 1,000 frames a year and increasingly sells complete bikes.
Moots was a pioneer of titanium bicycles in the U.S. and the company has continues to innovate. "We're a pioneer in 3D-printed materials," Medlock says. "We've been sourcing 3D-printed titanium for almost a year now."
Medlock, a cycling industry veteran, joined the company in August 2017 to lead it forward with a message focused on the brand and consumer engagement.
Medlock's first ride as president of the company was Eurobike where he talked with European distributors and dealers. "I think European customers have even more of an appreciation for metal bikes over carbon fiber," he says. "They understand the metal bike provides durability, longevity and they definitely understand the value of making a long-term investment in a bike based on how it will look not just right now but also 10 years later. That's where Moots crushes it."
Prior to leading the pack at Moots, Medlock brought Germany's Canyon Bicycles to the U.S. after working for Competitive Cyclist and other retailers. Taking charge at Moots "is something completely unique and really nice, a good change," he says. "I really wanted to find something that, a brand that really held integrity, and wasn't about manipulation with pricing and other things the company tries to do to outdo the competitor."
"With Canyon, I spent a lot of time on the product development and design that happened mostly in Germany," Medlock says. However, like so many in the bicycling industry, the company manufactured its products in Asia. "This is an awesome change from that. Everything we build, we build it in-house," Medlock explains.
The company manufactures frames, dropouts, eyelets, and even the tools it uses to make the bikes. "Getting to see everything that we build going to the customer from the very first process of it coming in as tubes and aluminum to going out the doors as a frame set is pretty amazing," Medlock says. "From a quality and sustainability impact, it's a different world."
Still, as the new head of the company, Medlock has to evaluate what direction to take it in. Currently Moots is only distributed through high-end retailers, and doesn't offer direct-to-consumer sales. "Me jumping in and evaluating that is one of the first things I'm looking at. Honestly, we have some amazing dealers and distributors out there that are huge fans of the brand," he says. "They do a lot to cultivate the local markets and bring new customers to the Moots family and our primary focus is supporting them and creating better education and tools for them to be successful."
However, Medlock knows that being a small brand doesn't allow Moots to be in every market. "A place we have to look at is can we deliver a level of service directly to the consumer that makes sense," he acknowledges.
Moots isn't interested in competing on a $500 entry-level bike, according to Medlock. They can't compete on that level. "All our pricing is internally on labor and high-quality materials," he says.
"Our bikes tend to be typically more expensive, but when you look at it, there are a lot of Asian bikes that we're in the same price range of," Medlock explains. "For instance, the top-line Pinarello bike that Chris Froome won the Tour de France tour on numerous times. That frame set retails for around $6,000. Our top-of-the-line retails for less than that. Ours is all produced here and theirs is produced in China."
Looking at the categories, Medlock says gravel and road are great segments for Moots. "We already have a bike line called the Routt and we have several models under the Routt that are really specific for different types of gravel riding, from racing all the way to more metro-style riding. It's been a really good category for us and we want to continue to focus and develop on that area."
Medlock says the company has had "good association" with the mountain bike segment but notes that mountain bike technology has evolved quite a bit in the full suspension trail sector. "Long-travel trail bikes is not a place we're really focused on developing product yet," he explains. However, "We're into some of these crossover categories, so we have a unique bike called the Baxter, which is really right in between a mountain bike and a gravel bike."
Being a hand-built bike company also offers a unique opportunity in terms of selling a bike that meets an individual's wants rather than a mass consumer product. "We're trying to go more towards personalization of the customer experience," Medlock says. "Years ago we only had the bike that came in one color: bead-blasted titanium with white decals. Now we have 10 or 11 finish options. We'll be adding more."
Challenges: "Being a domestic manufacturer. We don't love taking shortcuts, we want the highest quality products and materials," Medlock says. "That's always a major challenge for us in terms of cost. We always try to source them domestically. So that's a challenge. It's not easy."
Opportunities: "How we expand our connection directly with our customers," Medlock says. "I'm focussed on consumer side of this, making sure we're optimizing our brand in the marketplace and also how we're relating and communicating with our customers."
Needs: "The resources that would help us grow are to invest more in marketing and our communication tools for our site," Medlock says.