HOW TO START A BIKE BUSI­NESS

START­ING YOUR OWN BIKE BRAND RE­QUIRES EX­PE­RI­ENCE, SKILL, AND BIG COJONES. HERE’S HOW VIC­TOR MOM­SEN TURNED HIS PAS­SION INTO A BUSI­NESS – IN­SPIRED BY THE COUN­TRY HE LOVES.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Wind - Words by MIKE FINCH Pho­tog­ra­phy by RICHARD PEARCE

I LIT­ER­ALLY ATE, DRANK AND WORKED WITH THE PEO­PLE MAK­ING THE FRAME...

Wand turn your pas­sion into a suc­cess­ful busi­ness?

THE PROCESS

All of the pro­duc­tion and man­u­fac­ture is off­shore. A lot of it hap­pens in the Far East, and there’s al­ways a lot of dis­cus­sion as whether to go China or Tai­wan.

A bi­cy­cle is the sum of its parts: the BB may be from Tai­wan, the rim from China, the spokes from Eu­rope. It can be very con­fus­ing to say that a bike is made in a par­tic­u­lar coun­try, be­cause parts and com­po­nents are sourced from all over. WHEN I MES­SAGED VIC­TOR MOM­SEN to dou­ble-check the year in which he started the Mom­sen bike brand, his re­ply was a quick-fire ‘1975’.

For a mo­ment, I started do­ing the maths; be­fore I re­alised that the talk­a­tive owner of the quin­tes­sen­tial South African bike brand was re­fer­ring sim­ply to the year in which he was born. Fair enough. With­out Mom­sen him­self, the brand would not be as re­spected and loved as it is by so many lo­cal rid­ers.

He soon clar­i­fied: Mom­sen Bikes was founded in 2009, and in the al­most 10 years since, the Port El­iz­a­beth com­pany has es­tab­lished Vic­tor Mom­sen as one of the big play­ers in the lo­cal mar­ket.

Not bad when you con­sider that he’s up against some of the big­gest bike brands in the world here, and yet has man­aged to carve out a niche that started with af­ford­able hard­tail moun­tain bikes, and has now mor­phed into build­ing top-of-the-range marathon MTBs – the new Vipa Ul­tra ar­rives in 2019 – and play­ing strongly in the rapidly ex­pand­ing gravel bike mar­ket.

Mom­sen’s roots are thor­oughly an­chored in South African trails and sin­gle­track. The Baak­ens Val­ley – where Mom­sen head­quar­ters is based – is the cen­tre of all things moun­tain bike in the East­ern Cape.

And he’s stayed true to his South African roots, us­ing his own ex­pe­ri­ence of lo­cal con­di­tions to build bikes that have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing well-specced, hardy and de­pend­able.

“Peo­ple al­ways say things like ‘overnight suc­cess’,” says Mom­sen, a qual­i­fied me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer from PE Tech. “But that ‘overnight’ has been 20-plus years and longer in the mak­ing.”

So what does it take to start a bike brand, It’s im­por­tant to get the right com­pany for the job. I go to the fac­to­ries on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and in the case of the new Vipa Ul­tra [Mom­sen’s lat­est marathon MTB, due for launch in 2019], I lit­er­ally ate, drank and worked with the peo­ple mak­ing the frame to build the re­la­tion­ship and fin­ish the first pro­to­types… and that’s on the back of seven years of work­ing with them al­ready.

The man­u­fac­tur­ers rely on me to make sure the de­sign is right and to en­sure a good con­cept. When I told them about de­sign­ing a hole in the mid­dle of the frame for the new stor­age box on the Ul­tra, it was a chal­lenge. They’d never done that be­fore. Even with his many years of car­bon man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the fac­tory’s in-house com­pos­ite ex­pert ac­knowl­edged it has been his tough­est project to date.

It’s tough for us on pric­ing, be­cause we’re com­pet­ing with global brands who buy 100 000 units ver­sus our 100. But peo­ple think that buy­ing lo­cal should be cheaper. It doesn’t work that way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.